Out Played

Opened the film at fabulous La Costa Film Festival September 12th. Anyone with a sports film in the can will want to know about this festival. Run by the charming Ruby Callihan and hosted at the lush La Costa Omni resort the festival is small, well run, and treats filmmakers like loyalty. I was surprised the films weren't a little better attended (75% capacity seemed the norm)- especially since they were well curated, showed at great venues, and were well promoted locally. There was an outdoor venue at the La Costa resort (a converted tennis court) and it was fun to watch "The Great Alone", a film about the Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska,  out there on an 80 degree night while drinking a margarita. Great film by the way. Don't miss it when it comes out.

The local media heavily promoted The Play as one of the news anchors made it his critics pick for the fest. Jim Kohn, an LSJUMB  (Stanford Band) member and former drum major, who was on the field during The Play, and is interviewed in the film drove down with his wife and son from LA. Here's what he texted me after:

"Peter -

Your film is phenomenal, and you are one talented man!

We had to hurry off afterwards to a pre-reunion get-together of my Stanford classmates who live in/near L.A. (in anticipation of our 30th reunion, which is next month), and I spent most of the time at the party tonight telling my Stanford friends about your amazing film.

The gist of what I told them was that no one, not those who have seen the replay of The Play, nor even those who were at that Big Game — or even those of us who were part of it — has ANY IDEA of the significance of The Play until they see your film.

Peter, as I told you afterwards, my wife and I love documentaries, and never have we seen one crafted so masterfully!

We loved it, as did Jean Greaves and her daughter.  (And, by the way, she mentioned to me that she would LOVE to get a copy of your movie poster at some point, if possible.)

Congratulations and good luck, Peter!  

- Jim "

Of course Jim was in the band... but I'm glad he digs it.


Next stop- Bay area in November. Keep your cleats on the ground and lock up your trombone!






Play it Again, Sam

I was thinking about sports and "deep memory". Why could I remember more about the electrifying NCAA basketball final of 1983 (will someone hug Jimmy V. for God's sake?) than the birth of my second child (hard to forget the birth of the first!)? What baby boomer born in Buffalo, New York (as I was), could ever EVER forget where they were, who they were with, or how they felt when "wide right" tatted itself indelibly upon our fragile rust belt psyches? My friend, John Hoyt, has a funny story about being in a room full of psychiatrists who realized with glee they had a lifetime's worth of work ahead of them as Scott Norwood's field goal attempt sailed feebly... wide right. In forty years, as he serves out his life sentence for serial and egregious recruiting violations, John Calipari will fail to remember his inmate or PIN numbers- but will endlessly replay Frank the Tank Kaminsky's spin moves in the paint and feel the searing sting of perfection lost like a steer branded hotly on the ass. Why? 

With this question in mind I screen tested three different sports stories to see if they had legs. "Wide right" was a natural. "The Play That Saved Baseball in Seattle" was another (think of Junior Griffey beaming under a pig pile of teammates after scoring the run that ousted the Yankees from the playoffs on Edgar's clutch double). The last was an after thought and an exercise in memory of a different sort. Years ago I was at a cocktail party with a group of parents from the school my kid's attended. I overhead a man named Michael Anderson talking about The Play- how he'd been one of the band members who stormed the field in the famous ending of the rivalry game between Stanford and Cal in 1982. I meant to talk to him about it that night but time and too much vino intervened. Ten years later I thought about The Play as being a likely candidate for a film about deep memory and sports. I called his wife Lisa to ask her if I recalled the facts correctly and she confirmed Michael was in the band-  adding the she attended Stanford at the time and was also at the game.

Over two days I filmed interviews with people who would likely have "deep memories" about the the three iconic sports moments mentioned above. None of the interviewees had any idea what there were being interviewed for until I asked them to open a laptop, push a quicktime icon and watch a replay of the sporting event in question. It was fun! Predictably, the most visceral reactions came from my Buffalonian friends as they watched the replay of "wide right". They recalled the moment vividly, squirming with pain and humor. The Mariners baseball highlight fizzled for the most part. But Michael Anderson's interview about The Play convinced me to make a film. He gave a wonderful, extremely detailed, version of what went down that fateful day in 1982- but it was what he said at the end of the interview that nailed me. "You gotta call this guy... funniest guy in the world!". "Did you hear about the prank?". "Oh and this Guy! He's funnier than the other guy...". There was something urgent about the way he described The Play...

And I was off.

Here's the screen test I did for "Wide Right": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZzuoFWUhjU

And here is the original interview I did with Michael Anderson for The Play: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOhRu-vp6II