Interview: Maureen Bharoocha making feature film directorial debut with ladies arm wrestling comedy ‘Golden Arm’

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Maureen Bharoocha

Maureen Bharoocha is making her feature film directorial debut with “Golden Arm,” a female buddy comedy about ladies arm wrestling.

The independent comedy also is the debut feature for writing team Ann Marie Allison and Jenna Milly, whom Bharoocha said she met more than three years ago.

“They had seen some of my work and asked me to create a sizzle trailer for this fun script they had written, which was ‘Golden Arm.’ I loved the concept and immediately had an image in my mind of what the movie could be,” Bharoocha told me in an email interview. “Ann Marie was in an arm wrestling league so the fact that it was inspired by her real-life experience was also so cool. Soon after I directed that video for them, they sent me the script and I was very excited to become part of the project.”

As I previously reported on my BAM’s Blog, Bharoocha is best known for her work as a rising comedic director for “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” as well as her films that have appeared on the Lifetime Network, including “I Am Watching You” and “Fatal Flip.”

“I’ve been directing for the last 10 years and most recently I’ve been segment directing on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live!’ Before that, I did several TV movies and over 30 short films and commercials,” she said. “This project feels different because I’m truly leading the creative with a team I’ve handpicked and trust. It’s incredible to have a vision and actually get to execute on that and tell the story I want to tell. I knew it was the right time because I felt so passionate about this story of friendship and strength. I ultimately wanted to make cool s–t!”

The film focuses on a tough lady trucker who trains her girly best friend to compete in the National Ladies Arm Wrestling Championship. Mary Holland (“Greener Grass,” “Robbie”) is playing the part of Melanie, a wimpy baker who needs to get her life back on track after her business falls into insurmountable debt, and Betsy Sodaro (“Disjointed,” “Monsters University”) is playing Danny, Melanie’s best friend and an arm wrestling champ who has suffered an injury and is unable to compete in the tournament.

According to Deadline, the cast also will include Dot-Marie Jones (“Glee,” “Modern Family”), Eugene Cordero (“Kong: Skull Island,” “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”), Ron Funches (“Undateable,” “New Girl”), Dawn Luebbe (HBO’s “High Maintenance”), Ahmed Bharoocha (Adult Swim’s “Dream Corp LLC”) and Olivia Rose Stambouliah (“Soul Mates,” “The Walking Dead”).

Jones will play Big Sexy, the rough-and-tumble mentor who puts her trainees through a rigorous schooling in order to create a winner. Cordero is Greg, an MLB referee who officiates the National Ladies Arm Wrestling Tournament during the off-season. Funches will portray Carl, the crass emcee of the National Ladies Arm Wrestling Tournament, who loves his job a little too much and for all the wrong reasons.

Allison and Milly are serving as executive producers alongside Russell Wayne Groves (“Dealt”), Jane Fleming (“#REALITYHIGH”) and Mark Ordesky (“The Lord of the Rings”), of production company Court Five, and producer Geeta Bajaj (“The Unicorn”), according to a news release.

For the project, Bharoocha said in our email interview that she has been watching all the internet videos she can find about women’s arm wrestling, meeting with lady arm wrestlers in leagues in Los Angeles and across the country and asking Allison many questions about the sport. She said she is pleased to join the ranks of women film directors and to help two female screenwriters bring their project to life.

“As any director, I bring my own perspective and life experiences to anything I direct,” she said. “It is very important to have women, people of color and underrepresented voices telling ALL kinds of stories. Whenever a story can be told in a new way or from an angle never previously seen it makes it more unique and fresh.”

Bharoocha and her team started lensing “Golden Arm” last month in Oklahoma City. The production is utilizing the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program.

“Oklahoma is truly a place of wonder. I have been delighted with surprises around every corner. From the beautiful sunsets, to the rich landscapes, variety of architecture and the fabulous food, it is only a matter of time before the secret gets out about all of the gems of shooting in Oklahoma,” Bharoocha said. “The history of this state is one that legends are made of, and we’re excited to bring all of these elements to life on screen as the backdrop of our film. Oklahoma is a piece of America that Hollywood has not fully tapped into and on behalf of our entire team, I feel lucky to be shooting a movie in this magical land.”

Follow “Golden Arm” on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.


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