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‘2nd Chance’ Director on Making a Doc About an Inventor Who Shot Himself Almost 200 Times (Video)

Sundance 2022: “There were moments when I pressed him a few times to get him to reveal something that factually, I knew was true,” filmmaker Ramin Bahrani tells TheWrap’s Steve Pond

With the new documentary “2nd Chance,” director Ramin Bahrani brings a story to the screen that seems almost too outlandish to be true — a self-made tycoon who invented the bulletproof vest in 1969, and used himself for target practice.

The film, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, tells the eccentric story of inventor Richard Davis, including anecdotes about how he proved that the vest worked by shooting himself at point blank range almost 200 times, and went on to launch body armor company Second Chance.

Bahrani said that while the wild stories embedded in Davis’ life made for a lively documentary, the inventor was still an “unreliable narrator” of sorts.

“He doesn’t always reveal everything,” Bahrani told Steve Pond at TheWrap Sundance Studio. “Not just the facts of what happened, [as] he perceives them in a different way. He wasn’t always fully willing or able to go into certain emotional areas, so really the side characters became excellent foils to Richard.”

In fact, Bahrani said there were times when he didn’t quite believe what Davis was saying in the interviews.

“There were moments when I pressed him a few times to get him to reveal something that factually, I knew was true — I had seen documents — but he wouldn’t go there,” the director said. “Something is revealed in the middle of the film that we realized ‘my god Richard made this whole thing up’ that is quite important to his character [and] who he is as a person.”

However, determined to present a more balanced retelling of Davis’ life, “2nd Chance” spans multiple decades, using interviews from all kinds of people in Davis’ life from his son and second wife to a teenager who had a deadly encounter with the entrepreneur decades prior.

Bahrani also said that while he didn’t agree with Davis’ philosophies, he “liked him as a person,” a sentiment that was shared with several other people in the eccentric’s life.

“Interestingly, even people [Davis] hurt still seemed to care about him, which I liked about him,” the director said. “It made me more drawn and fascinated with this man and his contradictions because he did such amazingly good things, but he also did very harmful things and that made him a compelling character.”

For more on “2nd Chance” from director Ramin Bahrani, watch the video above.