…just a roadblock.
Monday afternoon I was sitting at my desk knee deep in footage from the Findlay College Prep team. I had 5 bins filled with game footage, each labeled for every basketball game I had covered plus another two bins dedicated to interviews I had done with the players and coaches. The previous Friday I had finally gathered this mess and made some sense of how the second episode was going to look and feel. I had already picked a pre game speech Coach Peck had delivered before the Rice game for the beginning of the episode. Then I lucked out attending the game against Canyon Springs because Coach Peck again delivered a tough post game speech dealing with school and keeping your grades up. I knew that would work well with this episode dealing with the guys being student athletes. I felt good that I had found a strong beginning and ending. Now to fill out the middle with the meat of the episode.
I had already picked out the best quotes from the ACT/SAT Prep teacher Christine Lee from The Princeton Review. She gave me some great stuff about her experience with the team, and I was excited to mix her quotes with the teams thoughts on her. Photographer Jesse Reisdorf sits next to me and I remember him asking me how close I was to finishing.
“I’m about 65% done. But I know I can be done with it in the next few days.”
When you’re editing, it’s a great feeling to see all the pieces come together. There were a couple times I had to leave the office to take a break, but every time I was out I wanted to get back to editing. I had the entire episode finished in my head, it was just a matter of getting it on the time line. You have to imagine all of these ideas are flooding around in your head looking for a way to get out, but there’s this small spout that’s just dripping. I could only move as fast as my editing would allow. Since I was making progress, I just stayed plugging away. I was prepared to stay late if I had to, cause this episode was going to get done (or at least a huge chunk of it).
I was sitting at my desk with my face about an inch away from the screen editing when the director of Sunbelt Digital Media walked in to our office asking us to come to the conference room. Jesse looked at me like, “Did we have a meeting scheduled for today?” I was just as confused as he was. We followed him down the halls of Channel 3 to hear him ask more of the Sunbelt Digital team to meet him in the conference room.
Ten minutes later, the entire Sunbelt Digital team was laid off.
It literally happened that fast. I walked back to my office and saw the time line I had just created and thought, “Wow, it’s all over.”
So there it is. While the Findlay College Prep team will continue, the documentary following them won’t. Due to budget cuts with Sunbelt Communications/KVBC-TV, Sunbelt Digital Media is no more. From what I heard the company tried their best to keep us around because they believed in what we were doing, but I guess it wasn’t enough.
It hurts to lose the job, but it pains me more to know this project won’t get the exposure it should. It’s a shame this project ended just as it was starting to come together. Like I told both Coach Peck and Coach Simon in an email yesterday, while I probably wouldn’t have lasted 15 minutes in one of their practices, I really felt like I was part of the team. My work on THE SEASON was probably the best of my career both as a photographer and an editor.
So what happens now?
While I wasn’t able to save the 500 GB of footage on my hard drive, I was able to copy over the finished uncompressed first episode and part of the unedited second episode. With some help from my brother Eric, I’m going to convert the video so we can showcase everything we have. I’m also going to look for outlets, companies, anyone that would be interested in helping me keep this story going. I’m hoping someone will see the hard work I’ve done so far and….I don’t know, help. Ha ha. Like I said before, I’m upset to be out of a job but I’m devastated that this story will be cut short just as it was about to flourish.
Let me take this time to thank a few people that made this documentary possible. Props starts with the entire Sunbelt Digital Media team, specifically Gene Hogsett for green lighting the project from the beginning, Alyssa Anderson for finding and introducing me to the Findlay College Prep team and Jesse Reisdorf for all the extra camera work, lighting and just general advice about this project. I could not have done it without those people. Much thanks to both Coach Michael Peck and Coach Todd Simon for giving me access to their basketball team. Much thanks and props to the entire Findlay College Prep team for welcoming me in their season and lives. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to follow. Much props to my father Donnie Sr. and my brother Eric for offering help with editing and After Effects. Thanks also goes to fellow documentary filmmaker Tim Adkins for all the advice and help. Thanks to Dominick Brady for interviewing me and showcasing THE SEASON on his podcast. Props to the webmasters at Illinoishsbasketball.com and hoopmixtape.com for the exposure. Much thanks to everyone that joined THE SEASON Facebook group and thank you to all the college sports message forums for sharing the trailer with the masses. And last but not least much thanks to my beautiful fiancee’ Mickey. There were many nights where she took a backseat to the documentary, and I appreciate her love and patience.
Be sure to come back next week to see the first episode of THE SEASON.
It’s not over, it’s just a roadblock.