Prime video release – These Are The Ones That Count
When Simon Ackroyd isn’t cutting hair, he’s in the gym showing true dedication to his passion – bodybuilding. In August 2014 he won a major bodybuilding championship to become Mr Great Britain, this gave him the opportunity to enter his biggest ever competition, the pinnacle of Amateur bodybuilding, Mr Universe. With only eight weeks to prepare alongside his training partner Neil Whike, These Are The Ones That Count is a brutally honest film that follows them through one of the most demanding training schedules they have ever faced.
A Mancunian by upbringing, but Yorkshireman by birth, Simon has been accomplished in different sports since his childhood, excelling in athletics, gymnastics, football and rugby. In his teenage years, Simon started a career in hairdressing – he’s the original gentle giant of the North and he never fails to get a reaction from his customers with his bodybuilders’ physique powering a tiny pair of scissors.
Weight training didn’t begin for Simon until his twenties. He found the results came quickly and soon bodybuilding developed into a massive part of his life. Whilst training alongside his career and family life, Simon soon reached the point where he could compete and he soon established himself as a serious contender within the UK amateur scene. But it wasn’t until Simon met Neil that he realised two were more powerful than one. By fully immersing himself into Neil’s intensive training methods Simon went on to win Mr Great Britain 2014.
Neil from a young age was always interested in sports, he became a young boxer in his teens and then progressed his training by bodybuilding. During this time he worked as a bouncer on the streets of Macclesfield, which his physique and fighting skills were perfect for. Neil met his wife Nicola in his twenties and they started a family. Deciding on a safer career path Neil became a taxi driver, however, this was detrimental to his lifestyle and without his previous training disciplines Neil became morbidly obese, weighing thirty stone.
At age 38 Neil underwent a necessary gastric bypass, which put his health into the spotlight. After this Neil became determined to regain his fitness and fight back to his former physique. Through honourable determination and sheer hard work, Neil is an inspiration to the bodybuilding community and has become once again, a fit man. This mentality makes for an incredible training partner for Simon.
”I’d decided to retire and pull back on the competing but then I met Neil. I got re-inspired by Neil,
the way he trains and his attitude towards it, he said do another one and I thought, right let’s do it.” – Simon
Taking on the challenge of documenting their regime would be Simon’s brother Shane Ackroyd and his filmmaker friend Ian Harding of Crispy Dog Productions. Friends since they were teenagers skateboarding around the streets of Manchester together, they’ve stayed close over the years, and even though their career paths took them in different directions they have both maintained a strong love of film.
“When Shane told me about Simon’s achievement, filming it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.
Before we started filming, bodybuilding was a completely alien world to us – although the film is about Simon & Neil, I feel it also
reflects our learning experience and hopefully the viewer is taken on this journey too.” – Ian
Initially the project was only meant to be small. When Ian heard about Simon’s training for Mr Universe he suggested making a 15 minute short film to document their journey. But with Shane’s access and brotherly insight into Simon’s and Neil’s world, this small project evolved into something much bigger than either of them imagined.
“I would have to say it was the most enjoyable project I’ve ever been involved with. I hope people watch the film
and see it for what it is and not taint their enjoyment with pre-conceived ideas about what bodybuilders truly are – yes, they cheat,
yes, they take drugs, but it’s still about hard work, dedication and a lot of knowledge.” – Shane
Filmed over three months and produced over twelve, These Are The Ones That Count is an intimate and honest portrait of Simon and Neil as they embark on the their most demanding training schedule where every repetition, calorie and carb matters.
“It was really nice to be filmed doing what I do, it was a welcomed distraction from the grind. It was a weird situation as we’d
never been filmed before and we probably played up to the cameras. I hope people watch the film and see it for what training is, hard work, knowledge
and a desire to get bigger. Filming with the boys was enjoyable and I just hope people see through the preconceptions.” – Simon