The Highlight

Hot off the heels of winning the title of BMF, UFC star Justin "The Highlight" Gaethje takes a break to visit his hometown before returning to prepare for his next fight.


Carpe and Zen Productions LLC, a feature-film production company based in Safford, Arizona, would like permission to make a feature-length documentary about Safford native, Justin Gaethje.


The story would focus on two sides of Justin’s life: his life as a fighter at the top of the UFC and his life as a small-town kid who still gives back to his community.

We would spend time with Justin in Colorado and in Arizona.

We would interview coaches, friends, and associates in the UFC community as well as coaches, family, and community members in Arizona.


The production team would be led by experienced feature-length documentary filmmakers from Safford, Arizona (Jacob Lauritzen and Joseph Carpenter) and who have connections within the UFC (David Kano).


Production would take place in early 2024 in Colorado and Arizona.


We are not seeking any financial support. The production will be completely financed through Carpe and Zen Productions.


We anticipate to complete the film in late 2024 in time to submit to film festivals with distribution in early 2025.

The Team

Our experienced production team includes Jacob Lauritzen (Director and Producer), Joseph Carpenter (Director of Photography and Producer), and David Kano (Producer).

Director / Producer

Dr. Jacob Lauritzen is an Associate Professor of English at Eastern Arizona College, but when he isn’t teaching he loves telling stories through film. In 2021, he released his first feature film, Ace of Hearts, which was completely produced in the Gila Valley and is now available to purchase (Amazon, Walmart, or Best Buy) or stream (Amazon, Tubi, Roku, Crackle, and Plex).

Selected Filmography

An American Weightlifting Story (2024). Post-Production. Director of Photography, Producer, and Editor.

Lazy B (2024). In Production. Writer, Director, Producer, and Editor.

31 Murals (2024). In Production. Writer, Director, Producer, and Editor.

Ace of Hearts (2021). Released. Writer, Director, Producer, and Editor.

Director of Photography / Producer

Joseph Carpenter is a technician for Open Loop LLC by trade, but also our director of photography and drone operator. His directorial debut, An American Weightlifting Story is expected to be released in 2024. In addition to our productions, he has also worked as the Director of Photography on the feature-film, Faded Memories (2021).

Selected Filmography

An American Weightlifting Story (2024). Post-Production. Director and Producer.

Lazy B (2024). In Production. Director of Photography and Producer.

31 Murals (2024). In Production. Director of Photography and Producer.

Ace of Hearts (2021). Released. Director of Photography and Producer.

Faded Memories (2021). Released. Director of Photography.


David Kano is an Associate Professor of Communications at Eastern Arizona College and a professional filmmaker. He holds a Master’s degree in Mass Communications and a Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism. He made his directorial debut in Concussed: The American Dream (2023) which features Brett Favre and Jim McMahon. His follow up film, Combat: The American Dream (2024) features Roy Jones Jr., Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, and Floyd Mayweather Sr. He recently co-wrote Hendo: The American Athlete with UFC great Dan Henderson.

Selected Filmography

Combat: The American Dream (2024). Post-Production. Writer, Director, and Executive Producer.

Concussed: The American Dream (2023). Post-Production. Director and Executive Producer.

Our Documentaries

We specialize in feature-length documentaries that tell intimate stories about athletes (Concussed: The American Dream; An American Weightlifting Story) and life in small towns (31 Murals; Lazy B).

We would love to tell two stories about Justin: his life as a fighter and his life giving back to his small town–Safford, Arizona.

Here is a little about our feature-length documentaries that are coming out over the next few years.

Tyler Sash was drafted by the New York Giants and became a part of the 2012 Super Bowl winning team, but concussions would cut Sash’s career short.

Featuring Brett Favre, Jim McMahon, and Roy Jones, Jr.

Directed by David Kano

Brett Farve and David Kano in CONCUSSED: THE AMERICAN DREAM (2023)

In 2019, former Olympian Chad Vaughn decided to risk his induction into the United States of America Weightlifting Hall of Fame to compete for one last national title.

Featuring Chad Vaughn, Jodi Vaugh, and Aaron Horschig

Directed by Joseph Carpenter

During COVID-19, a small town artist decides to paint 31 murals on his Main Street to revitalize his career and his community.

Featuring Brandt Woods, Tiffany DeWitt, Adrienne Wakefield, and Harley Overton.

Directed by Jacob Lauritzen

A rancher from Arizona commissions a machinist from Indiana to restore two 100-year old windmills.

Featuring Kristen Sorensen and Todd Skinner

Directed by Jacob Lauritzen