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Posts Tagged ‘ESPN’

Make a difference today for someone who is fighting for their tomorrow. You don’t need to be a Russell Wilson, an Aaron Rogers, to make a difference out there. Every single person in this roon can be a difference maker. You can be just a normal person that gets up every morning and goes to work—but you can be a difference maker, putting a smile on those faces. So I urge anybody out there, if you have somebody out there suffering—it doesn’t have to be cancer—it could be somebody not having a good day. It could be your mom, your dad, it can be your grandparent. What you say to them, the smile that you have on your face—that can be the difference in them making it to the next day.”
Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly (who has also gone through years of cancer treatment)
Jimmy V Award for Perseverence acceptance speech
July 18, 2018

Kelly for Kids Foundation

Related Posts:
#GetWellJimKelly

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“Of course Nebraska is a storehouse for literary material. Everywhere is a storehouse of literary material. If a true artist were born in a pigpen and raised in a sty, he would still find plenty of inspiration for work. The only need is the eye to see.”
Willa Cather
My Antonia

The Central Florida Project (CFP) was a success. Not to be confused with the movie The Florida Project, what I’m calling the CFP is in regard to the University of Central Florida football team. Two years ago they finished the season 0-12 and this season they finished 12-0 with an invitation to play Auburn in the Peach Bowl.

It was a remarkable turn around and much of the credit goes to coach Scott Frost. But Saturday in the roller coaster world of sports, shortly after Frost led UCF to an American Conference championship victory it was announced that he was taking the head football coach position at the University of Nebraska. Which is not only his Alma mater, and where he was the QB when Nebraska won a national championship in ’97, but also comes with a $35 million contract.

When someone asked me why Frost would leave sunny Orlando for the often cold midwest, I said I could think of 35 million reasons why. But first he’s going home. And second he has the chance to now work on The Nebraska Project.

A chance to restore the Nebraska football program.  One that’s been playing football since 1890 and was back to back national champions in the 70s and in the 90s. But also one that finished this season unranked at 4-8, and hasn’t had a top 10 finish in over 15 years.

Frost returning to Lincoln is ripped from the pages of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  Frost’s ordinary world started in Wood River, Nebraska (population 1325) where he had a mentors, and he went through various tests and trails,  faced enemies, crossed thresholds, hit a wall, found a new direction, found redemption in taking a team from worst to first, and now he’s taking the elixir back home to Nebraska where his mentors proudly wait for him to restore an area to its former glory.  That’s the Hero’s Journey. It may not be a movie, but’s it dramatic and cinematic.  An ESPN 30 by 30 on it is probably already in the works, and the movie rights being negotiated.

But some wonder if top players these days can be drawn to a school in Lincoln, Nebraska. But I fall on the side that great players follow great coaches. I wouldn’t be surprised if Frost helped the Nebraska team finish in the top 25 next season, and in the top ten within four. Time will tell.

Back in 2008 Scott Frost and Nebraska’s new defensive coordinator Erik Chinander were assistance on the University of Northern Iowa football team in Cedar Falls, Iowa. That’s the same year and town where I started this blog.

Congrats to both Frost and Chinander—it’s good to see people rise up from somewhat smaller pockets of the country and get their moment in the spotlight on a national stage.

Related Posts:

“My Nebraska”
Screenwriting from Nebraska

Scott W. Smith

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“The most powerful and essential documentary on race, class, and gender, in America in years.”
Anne Helen Petersen
BuzzFeed article on O.J.: Made in America

“The Juice is loose” was a phrase used back in O.J. Simpson’s pro football days when the running back would break into the open field on the way to another touchdown. It’s a phrase you’ll undoubtedly hear and read a lot in the coming days since Simpson was freed from prison in the middle of the night.

He’s been incarcerated since 2008 and has expressed a desire to return to the state of Florida. If he does, he could just end up another Florida Man (@_FloridaMan).

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 6.33.59 AM.png

But because this is a screenwriting/filmmaking centered blog—this is a good time to spotlight the ESPN produced documentary O.J.: Made in America, a film by Ezra Edelman. The film won an Academy Award Award for Best Documentary Film earlier this year.

There’s at least a final chapter to be written on the life of O.J. Simpson. Various reports have said Simpson led a Bible study in prison and even has hope of becoming an evangelist.

“If you’re really reformed and rehabilitated, if you’re really remorseful, if you’re really a born-again Christian, then let’s move this discussion forward. Admit your sins.”
Chris Darden, former prosecutor in O.J. Simpson murder trial
Today, June 17, 2017

Way back in 1989 Chuck Swindoll wrote a book called Living Above the Level of Mediocrity in which  he dedicated one of the chapters  to retelling the story of a man who’d overcome poverty, Rickets, and gang life to become a “fine and refined gentleman…[who] lives in the exclusive Brentwood district of Los Angeles, drives a luxurious car, and has his elegant office in an elite bank building. He is now a busy executive with his own production company. ” That man was O.J. Simpson.

In the movie The Natural when asked “what happened?” the baseball player Roy Hobbs says, “Life didn’t turn out like I expected.”  To that I’m sure Simpson–the former football great, Hollywood celebrity— would say “Amen.” We’ll see if Simpson’s last chapter—some how, some way—is a redemptive one.

Related posts:
The People v. O.J. Simpson
An Earthquake of Interests

Scott W. Smith

 

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After LeBron James announced in a letter to Sports Illustrated he was returning to play basketball in Cleveland, comedian Frank Caliendo read the letter on ESPN’s Mike & Mike show in the voice of Morgan Freeman. I decided it would make a nice mash-up to combine all of those elements with a few scenes from The Shawshank Redemption and create the parody The LeBron James Redemption.

I’ve mentioned in the past about personally transitioning from editing on Final Cut Pro to Adobe Premiere—little projects like this are great in forcing you to learn a new platform. And a break (and more fun than) tutorials.

P.S. My ties to Northeast Ohio include my grandfather spending 30 years working for the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company. (Struthers for those in the know. I have a YS&T Zippo lighter given to my grandfather for his 30 years of service.)

Related Posts:

The LeBron James Spotlight on Northeast Ohio
The Real & Creepy Shawshank Prison
Youngstown’s Hollywood Connection
Screenwriting and the Little Fat Girl from Ohio (2.0)
The Superman from Cleveland
The Lucky Slob from Ohio
Toy Story 3’s Ohio Connection 

Scott W. Smith

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No movie related golf link today—but a compelling golf related story via ESPN’s E:60:

Challenged Athletes Foundation: It is the mission of the Challenged Athletes Foundation® (CAF) to provide opportunities and support to people with physical disabilities so they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics. CAF believes that involvement in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence and enhances quality of life.

Related: In four days there will be a St. Andrews Tournament at The American Veterans Golf Course in Lakewood, Washington. According to the website for Friends of American Lake Veterans:

The American Lake Veterans Golf Course is proud to sponsor this event to help send four combat wounded golfers to Scotland for six rounds of golf on some Scottish Links to include the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland.  We solicit your participation and/or support to make this an enjoyable event for some of our own.

 

Related posts:

Screenwriting from a Wheelchair
Screenwriitng from Hell

Scott W. Smith

 

 

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“A co-worker of mine was raving about him, and I had never met him or seen his work, and I said, ‘What’s the big deal about Scott Duncan?'”
Natalie Jowett
Producer—ESPN/Maggie Vision

Here are three more videos to give you a glimpse into Scott Duncan and his creative world. The first video is an overview of a shoot he did on the impact Nelson Mandela had in South Africa, the second is a little closer to home that Scott shot in Parkersburg, Iowa, about the legacy of high school football coach Ed Thomas. ( Ed Thomas Family Foundation.) And the third video is a mini documentary that Scott was the DP on and features Bono and the U2 gang joined by the Soweto Gospel Choir.

P.S. Scott Duncan does have a blog. And I want to give a shout out to the web design and e-commerce group Spinutech who did the website for The Ed Thomas Foundation (and who I work closely with via River Run Productions here in Cedar Falls).

Scott W. Smith

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One of the things that makes Scott Duncan‘s work as a director of photography stand out is his use of contrasts. Shooting wide (sometimes fisheye wide) and shooting extremely tight, sometimes he slows images down (the Phantom camera can shoot 1,000 FPS at 1080) and sometimes he speeds up the images with time-lapse photography, sometimes his images are highly saturated and sometimes they’re in black in white, sometimes the shot is static and sometimes he adds a slight slider move.  And he doesn’t just  limit himself to a contrast in images, but in content as well.

The first two videos below are part of fast-paced glitzy promotional videos Scott shot for The Apprentice, and the third video is a thought-provoking and meditative piece he shot for ESPN about a man who was falsely imprisoned. Two totally different genres.

Related post: Screenwriting & Contrasts (Tip #18)

Scott W. Smith

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“If Indiana Jones were a cameraman his name would be Scott Duncan.”
Moe Shore
Abel Cine blog post by Moe Shore 

“I have several cameraman that I’m close to—that I respect and love, but there’s Scott [Duncan]—and then there’s everyone great, and then there’s everyone else.”
Natalie Jowett
Producer-ESPN/Maggie Vision

There are some talented shooters who have made a bigger name for themselves by being on the forefront of embracing social media. These days some of those creative people probably make more money teaching workshops and getting paid equipment endorsements than actual shooting assignments.

Then there’s Scott Duncan. A true director/cameraman/photographer rock star. And though he’s kind of mix of Lance Armstrong and Bob Marley, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of him or his companies Scott Duncan Films/Other Films. But he’s a good source of inspiration of what one can do with a camera, so I’ll spend two or three days showing some of his work.

His resume is deep. He’s shot for ESPN, Survivor, The Apprentice, BMW, Ford, IZOD, and five different Olympics. His work has taken him around the world working with not only high-profile clients, but with a diverse group of high-profile people.

Once you see his work, you won’t be surprised that he’s also won eight Emmy Awards—but you may be surprised that he’s based in Iowa City, Iowa. (With a presence in L.A.)

And though we only live an hour a part, I’ve actually never met him. I first heard his name in 2004 when I was on a shoot in Colorado Springs and met an ABC producer who when she found I was from Iowa said, “Oh, you must know Scott Duncan.” I had never heard his name before that. I then became aware of his work and have even had two cameraman friends in Orlando (Mike Murray & Mike McAleenan) who’ve worked with Scott on various Survivor gigs around the world.

Enjoy. (The best seven minutes you’ll probably have today.)

Related post: 10 Cinematography TIps (Roger Deakins) 

Scott W. Smith

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Last night in L.A. at the ESPY Awards the University of Northern Iowa basketball team from right here in Cedar Falls, Iowa was awarded the ESPY award for Best Upset of the past year for their upset of the number #1 ranked team at the 2010 NCAA Tournament. For those of you not into sports, the ESPY Awards are kind of the Oscar Awards for athletics. I’ve combined a couple previous posts from this year for this post to once again show that sometimes the spotlight shines in smaller places.

“Let it roll off the tongue: Ali Farokhmanesh. Get used to it: Fuh-ROAK-muh-NESH.”
Brett McMurphy
NCAA Fanhouse

“When you’re a small program like this, you want to get your name out there.”
Ali Farokhmanesh

The name Ali Farokhmanesh is not a common name in Iowa. It’s probably not common anywhere in entire the United States. But it is a popular one here now and across the country. This week’s  Sports Illustrated has a picture of Ali on the cover and I thought I’d explore how Ali made a name for himself and found national fame. (Screenwriters and non-sports fans stick with me a minute.)

When his parents moved to Iowa when Ali was a teenager he took up the game of basketball because of its popularity here. His parents helped train him with techniques such as having Ali shoot over them holding a broom with a yardstick to simulate playing against taller players. At Iowa City West High School he was a two-time all-conference player, conference MVP, and first team All-State.

Are you starting to get the picture? That darn Iowa work ethic at play again.

But all those accolades did not result in a Division I scholarship that he had hoped for because Ali was not tall enough to be considered a major prospect. Nor did he receive a Division II scholarship. He ended up playing basketball in Ottumwa, Iowa at Indian Hills Community College his first year and Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids his second year. He played well enough to earn a scholarship to the University of Northern Iowa where he started his Junior year. This season as a senior he lead the team in three-point shots with 75, including six in one game.

Of course, his biggest three pointers were last week when one beat UNLV at the NCAA basketball tournament and the one that broke the back of the number one ranked Kansas Bluejays. Ali said after the Kansas game, “That’s what you dream for is to make a shot like that.” But along with his dreaming he also normally practices shooting between  600-700 jumps shots a day—and he’s been doing that since his junior high days. (Remember the 10,000 hour rule?)

That’s how he ended up on the cover of Sports Illustrated. That’s how he made a name for himself (albeit a hard one to pronounce).

“I just remember coming out of high school and not knowing if I was even going to play anymore. To go from that to, we’re in the Sweet Sixteen, we just beat the No. 1 team in the country. I mean, if someone would have told me that back then I would have laughed at them probably. But I think it shows that hard work really does pay off.”
Ali Farokhmanesh

I don’t know if Ali is interested in screenwriting (he’s a marketing major) but he’s got a heck of a story, and I think he just became the current poster child for Screenwriting from Iowa. That person who is talented but underrated and overlooked, and ends up in a community college in Ottumwa, Iowa dreaming of hitting a game winning shot in the spotlight. The person who works on his game far from the spotlight, but who with one shot makes a name for himself. And who ends up on the first page of Google search for “Ali,” replacing a slot usually reserved for one of the most well-known names in sports history, Muhammad Ali.

The funny thing is if he would have gotten a scholarship out of high school to his dream school (the University of Iowa) the odds are pretty good that he wouldn’t have hit the game-winning shot against Kansas that will be talked about for years, he wouldn’t be on the cover of Sports Illustrated, nor helping take Northern Iowa tonight to a Sweet Sixteen game for the first time in the school’s history.

(Below are a couple of photos I took back in March as Ali and the team boarded the bus here in Cedar Falls before they headed to the NCAA tournament in St. Louis

Go Panthers!

And just to bring this home to screenwriting;  embrace your limitations, your odd location, hold on to your dreams, and practice the equivalent of 600-700 jump shots everyday.

P.S. And for the record Ali Farokhmanesh’s favorite film is Gladiator. “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”

Related post: David & Goliath (and Screenwriting)

Scott W. Smith

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It’s not everyday that ESPN broadcasts nationally a from a high school in small town in Iowa. In fact, I don’t think it’s ever happened before anywhere in Iowa. But it’s happening tonight in Parkersburg, Iowa just 20 miles from where I live in Cedar Falls, Iowa. 

Parkersburg,of course, would rather not be in this position. It’s not that they mind the $7 million production semi coming to town or the ESPN staff that is spending a little money along the way. It’s the real life story of why ESPN is in town today that the people of Parkersburg would rather not have had to have gone through.

Just over a year ago a F-5 rated tornado hit the town of Parkersburg claiming the lives of several people and a chunk of the town’s homes. But they came together as a community and began the rebuilding process. A big part of helping that  process was Ed Thomas, the long time head coach of the Aplington-Parkersburg football team. Already a legend in the state of Iowa for his more than thirty years as a coach as well as currently having four players in the NFL.

Then the unthinkable happened when a troubled youth shot and killed coach Thomas a few months ago in the school weight room. How much suffering does a town have to live through? So tonight will be the first game in 34 years where Ed Thomas will not be on the sidelines coaching the A-P Falcons. Hopefully this night will mark a turning point for the town as they, along with a national audience, remember a man who dedicated his life to his students and players.

To learn more about Coach Ed Thomas check out the site that my buddies at Spin-U-Tech launched this week for the Ed Thomas Family Foundation.

I wish I could be at the game tonight but I am freelance field producing for the ABC show The Doctors this evening. Sure seems like a good deal of film & TV activity going on these days in Iowa. 

Here’s the post I wrote a couple months ago on Coach Thomas, A Sacred Story from Parkersburg.

 

Scott W. Smith

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