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Kickstarter Campaign: 20 Day Report and Wrapping up Interviews

Kickstarter

We are twenty days into the thirty day Kickstarter campaign.  We are blown away that over 16K has been pledged by 58 backers. We are 64% of the way towards reaching our 25K goal. But we still have a long way to go and an uphill climb.

It has been so encouraging and so humbling to see who has stood with us in this project by making a pledge. My family has rallied. Many of my friends in Indy – both my old church and IPS families –  have stepped up to help too, which makes my heart sing. And then there are the people I don’t know who have eagerly supported the project. Their trust and support is humbling.

We have had one MAJOR gift of 5K. There have been five PRODUCER level gifts of $1,000 (or more). And then lots of smaller gifts ranging from $1 – $400. Popular pledge sizes are $40 and $100. The reward for a $100 pledge is the digital “uncut” version of the movie, where we will be able to share much more of the footage than we will for the final version of the movie.

The way Kickstarter works is “all or nothing.” If we hit our goal of raising 25K, we will receive the money that has been pledged. If we do not hit our goal, we won’t receive any money at all. The last day of our Kickstarter campaign in December 1st. We still have $9,000 to raise. So we are in the last push.

If you would like to support the project go to this link:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jasondorsey/we-are-family-0?ref=user_menu

Wrapping up interviews in Indianapolis

Last week we wrapped up interviews in Indianapolis.  Director Jason Dorsey spent 2.5 days in Indy working with his video production crew, David Lichty and Tremayne Reed, to film the interviews.

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They also got some good B-roll footage.

The interviews were absolutely amazing!

Here is the interview lineup:

Tuesday, November 13 

  • Shaun Richardson, Player on the Tech championship team
  • Victor Bush, Tech/IPS Athletic Director (during the State Championship season)
  • Dr. Michael Brown, IPS Board Member (during the State Championship season)
  • Michael Woodson, Tech alumni, grandfather of Tech players Jerome Campbell and Jeremie Tyler
  • Mikey Jones, Tech basketball Player
  • Leo Williams, Tech basketball player
  • Terry Loux, Tech Alumni. He scouted 16 games for the State Champion Tech Titan team.

 

Wednesday, November 14

  • In the morning we filmed around the Tech neighborhood and at Arsenal Tech HS.
  • Then we drove up to Lebanon and interviewed John Sexson, brother of Joe Sexson who played for the 1952 Tech team who made it to the state championship game and lost to Muncie Central.
  • Donte Gladney Jr, Tech basketball player; and we got Mike Jones for a second round of interviews.

 

Thursday, November 15

  • Jamie Wolf, who was the athletic trainer during the Championship season.
  • Jeremie Tyler, Tech basketball player.
  • Devon Mickens, Tech basketball player.

 

All of the interviews were amazing and it is impossible to single any of them out. But Thursday’s interviews were special, and pretty much nailed out story down. The biggest challenge the video production team now faces is what to cut!

During a break on Thursday Jason asked David to give a plug for the movie and the Kickstarter campaign. Check it out.

One last thing. Early on Wednesday morning Jason was able to enjoy breakfast and catching up with three old friends from Indianapolis: Kipp N., Paul B. and Matt A. at Peppy’s.

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It was a whirlwind couple of days, but worth it in terms of the amazing footage we got.

We are family

            For all the urban schools that struggle with bad press

            For all the urban youth that are told you can’t do this

            For all the urban teachers and administrators whose stories are never told

            For Tech High School

            For Indianapolis Public Schools

 

 

Video Production Team for “We are Family” Movie gearing up for last push

I’ve worked on a documentary project sincet 2014 that tells the story of how the Arsenal Tech high school basketball team – against all odds – won the Indiana Basketball Championship and inspired as city as they did.

Now four years later, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, a date to release the movie in Indianapolis has been set for Saturday, March 23rd!

I want to introduce you to the Video Production team members who are working on this project. I could not do this without an amazing team to work with. I will start with my first collaborator, my son, Julian.

Julian Dorsey, Production Assistant

Julian

Julian has been with me from day one. In fact, it was his idea to film that season. He was a junior at Arsenal Tech then, and played on the basketball team. In August of 2014, Julian and I went to the head basketball coach, Jason Delaney and asked him for permission to shoot video throughout the season. He said “Yes”. So we went out an bought a video camera.

After Tech won the State Championship, Julian went through and organized all the video. I’m so thankful for his video help and technical support through thick and thin. Here’s his bio:

Julian Dorsey was a junior on the state championship team. Now a senior at George Mason in Washington D.C. studying Government and International Relations, he is excited to finish telling the story of the championship season!

David Lichty, Video and Audio Technician

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My friend, David Lichty,  has been my right hand man in the documentary project. From the beginning – after Tech had won the IN State Basketball Championship and I shared with David my dream of telling the story in a documentary – David believed in the project.

David has already spent over 300 hours already – all freely and cheerfully given – in organizing the footage we have, in shooting interviews, and getting lots of B-Roll footage.

We’re now in the fun part of telling the story: bringing it all together into a story. David has at least another 300 hours + of work to complete the documentary.  Being able to compensate him just a little bit for his upcoming work is one of the reasons I’m launching a Kickstarter “social funding” campaign November 1st.

A side benefit of working on this project together is that I get to stay in touch with one of my Indy friends. Here’s a little bit more about David:

David has had movies in his blood since childhood, and film making as the solid dream, and a passion, since 7th grade. He has a degree he invented at Indiana University, a BA in Film Making, has put together short film series of his own and has worked closely with larger film festivals. Presently, he primarily edits both narrative and documentary style work. It’s not what he does for money, but when asked what he does, this is what he does.

Tremayne Rayner, Film Trailer Producer

Tremayne Rayner

I learned of Tremayne through Julian. They were classmates at Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet, which was both a middle and high school. Julian told me that Tremayne was an up-and-coming video producer and that I should talk with him.

I’ve asked Tremayne to create the Trailer for the movie. When I asked him to be on the team, he said that he was working hard at his professional career in video, had bought lots of expensive equipment, was taking his work very seriously, and couldn’t do this work for free. I affirmed him in that, and we worked out a contract. I’m thrilled to be able to be part of his professional work as an up-and-coming producer!

Meet Tremayne in his own words:

“Coming from the Far Eastside of Indianapolis I always had a dream. My name is Tremayne Reed A.K.A as a Young King. Although, I wasn’t sure of what I wanted out of life, coming of age I always knew I never wanted to become a product of my environment. God allowed me to form a passion for filming and with hard work and dedication I was able to self invested in the equipment/gear that I needed to provide fulfilling video services to my clients. I am happy with what I do and everyday my goal is to become greater that yesterday. God Bless. -T.REEDVISUAL.”

Jeffrey L. Sparks, Consultant

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I’m so very thankful to have my friend, Jeffrey L. Sparks, has graciously agreed to be a consultant on the We are Family documentary.  As a rookie Director/Producer, it means a ton for me to have the wisdom and counsel of someone with his experience. I’ve already greatly benefited from his wisdom based in decades of experience, and you can see from his resume:

Jeff got his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre from the University of Evansville, and a Master of Fine Arts in Directing from Florida State University. He worked as Professor of Theatre at St. Leo College, St. Leo, Florida 1978 – 80. He then served as the Executive Director of the Indiana Children’s Christian Home, a residential treatment center for emotionally disturbed youth, from 1980 – 1990. He is a Founding Board member and was the Executive Director of The New Harmony Project, a writer’s laboratory developing new scripts for theatre and film, from 1987-1999.

Jeff was the President/CEO and Founding Board Member of Heartland Truly Moving Pictures from 1991 to 2013. With Heartland Jeff developed the concept of a film festival and presented that idea to sponsors and funders which resulted in getting the festival started in 1992, oversaw all aspects of the festival including artistic, business, and fund raising for the first ten years, and spearheaded the development of a management team to help take the festival from a regional event to a national movement. Jeff continues as Founder and President Emeritus, Heartland Truly Moving Pictures from 2013 to present.

Currently Jeff serves as Senior Fellow of Sagamore Institute where he is working on community development in the Twin Aire Neighborhood of Indianapolis. Recently Jeff completed his book, Changing Culture Through Stories: The New Harmony Project, Heartland Film Festival, and Beyond…

Jason Dorsey, Producer and Director

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Just a bit about myself. I’m definitely a rookie when it comes to producing/directing a film. Over the last few years I’ve done some film editing, so I have a general grasp of what that involves. But I suppose my main qualification is that I’m passionate about this project. I believe this story should be told and I want it to be told well!

Telling this story is the culmination of my calling in Indianapolis. From 2002 – 2015 I served as the lead pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in downtown Indianapolis, IN. During that time my wife, Jenny, and I were very involved in the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) where we sent all four of our kids. We wanted to be a part of renewing IPS. But when we left Indy to head back to the Pacific Northwest to care for my mom who was battling breast cancer, we realized that IPS had given far more to us than we had done for it. And more importantly, the kids, their parents, the teachers and administrators had become a family to us!

Telling this story of Arsenal Tech’s basketball team’s magical year, of the great young men that were on the team, and how they inspired a city as they achieved an almost impossible dream is my way of saying “thanks” to the IPS kids, parents and community.

“We are Family.”

 

The “We are Family” Sound Track Team

The music in a movie matters.

On August 1st I sent out a facebook post sharing that I needed musicians/composers to provide songs for the sound track for the documentary movie We are Family that tells the story of how a basketball team from an urban school in the heart of Hoosier basketball country came together around a common dream of winning the state basketball tournament, how they fought through personal and team challenges, how they forged a bond as family, and how they rallied a whole community around them. It is an inspiring story, and the movie needed a killer sound track.

It will have one.

Meet the team of talented musicians/composer who will bring the movie to life.

Mezzy

Osoking Mezzy

The first contract for the documentary “We are Family” rolled in August 27th. It was Osoking Mezzy, cousin of my good friend Donteau Gladney Sr.

Four years ago, when I was working on pulling this documentary together for the first time, I asked Donteau if he had any connections with musicians who would be interested in contributing to the sound track. He shared the project with Mezzy who sent in three tracks. We liked his work, but the project stalled out.

So after I put out the word for musicians in August I contacted Donteau to see if I could track Mezzy down. I shared with him that the project was back in the works, and that I really appreciated his early support. I asked him to send in a few more of his newer songs, which both I and David Lichty love.

Here’s his blurb:

Osoking Mezzy is an aspiring artist and producer in Indianapolis, IN. Mezzy brings a burst of energy and a new sound to the hip hop scene. This artist has used music as a way to express himself in way others can relate. Armed with dedication and consistency this artist is most definitely one to be on the look out for.

Eron Harris 1

Eron Harris

Another early contributor was Eron Harris. In fact, he was the first to contribute music over four years ago.

Here’s that story.

After Tech won the Indiana State basketball championship and Julian Dorsey, David Lichty and I  were well on our way in organizing he footage, I shared with some people at Tech our dream of making a documentary of that magical season.

Eron’s mom, Marveda, who was a police officer at Tech heard about the project and shared it with her son, who was playing basketball at West Virginia (he transferred to Michigan State).Eron submitted a song for the documentary, which David and I love and which has become something of a theme song for the movie.

I’m super grateful for his early support. Here’s his short bio:

My name is Eron Harris. I was born and raised in Indianapolis. My mother and father and both of their parents all went to Arsenal Tech High School so I have a big connection to that school. My mother has always been a singer so I’ve always been around music and I also played the trumpet and percussion growing up. Now I really love to record vocal music and make my own beats. But right now I am pursuing my professional basketball career. I am heading to Finland for my first year of professional basketball. I plan to get into the NBA. 

Nabil

Nabil Ince

I heard about Nabil in May when I was in Indy doing interviews for the movie. I was at Mike and Julie Berend’s home hanging out one night and asked them if they knew any local musicians who might fit. They had a house guest staying at their home named Big Mike, I think that was his name. Anyway, Big Mike shared with me about this intern at the Harrison Center for the Arts named Nabil Ince.

It turns out that I knew Nabil’s dad, Irwin, who the moderator of the presbyterian denomination I serve in and respected as a terrific leader. My wife Jenny worked closely with Irwin at the Church Planter’s Assessment. So that was a cool connection. When David and I heard the wide range of Nabil’s music, we were really excited to have him on the team. 

Anyway, here’s his bio:

Nabil Ince, stage name Seaux Chill, is an artist originally from Columbia, MD who has been in the Chattanooga area for the past few years. Piano is his first love, playing since he was 6 years old. However, Seaux Chill also loves writing, composing, and producing music largely influenced by pillars of black music. In 2018, he graduated from Covenant College with a bachelors of arts in jazz piano. He currently functions as the Program Director for a children’s music ed non-profit called East Lake Expression Engine and continues to build towards his own music career. His music can be found on all streaming platforms and more about Seaux Chill’s work can be found at www.seauxchill.com

 

Caleb Buse

Caleb Buse

I was connected to Caleb through Derek Fekkes. I knew Derek’s parents from years ago when I did an internship at Camano Chapel. Derek is now all grown up and is planting a church in Stanwood. We’ve had coffee together and hob nobbed about ministry and church planting. When I put out the Facebook post, he reached out to his friend Caleb Buse, who is a really talented, up-and-coming composer.

Here’s a bio on Caleb.

Caleb Buse grew up with a passion for music and pursued it in high school as a drummer in rock bands. After choosing to major in music in college, he expanded his skillset by learning to lead bands, as well as sing in the University’s Concert Choir. He played in rock venues all around Seattle, and did small tours of the west coast. After a show one night in the Seattle rock venue Chop Suey, Caleb met a film maker who eventually collaborated with Caleb on his first film score, which won an award at a film festival in Wroclaw, Poland.

Since then Caleb has won the following awards for his film music: Wroclaw Film Festival, Poland (Award winner for Chevy), Best Original Score (100 Hour Film Race), Canne Lions Film Festival in Canne, France (Award Winner for Chevy), an Addy for Microsoft Surface, and a Vimeo Staff Pick. He has gone on to compose music for narrative, animation, and documentary short films as well as commercials for Microsoft, Gatorade, Amazon, Pepsi, Chevy, American Express, Purina, Puma, Carenet, The Greater Foundation and many more. In 2018, he is continuing to work in short films and commercials and is beginning work on feature film scores later this year.

 

Malcolm Jordon

Malcolm Jordon

I am very excited to have Malcolm Jordon working with us on the “We are Family” sound track. David and I love his high energy, driven music. Best of all, he’s an IPS kid and friend of my son Julian Dorsey. Julian attended Crispus Attucks in middle school and played basketball with Malcolm there. I remember watching Malcolm play. Their 8th grade team was really good. They had a young man named Jalen Coleman on their team who went on to play Division 1 basketball. They came in second place to Harshman Middle School that year.

I knew Malcolm was a good basketball player, but I didn’t know that he was such a talented musician.

I’ll let Malcolm introduce himself:

My name is Malcolm Jordan, I’m 22 years old and I’ve been recording music since I was 17. I started writing raps at 8 years old and progressed with my skills later on with time. I grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana. I’m proud to be from here and wouldn’t be from anywhere else. I live my life off of determination and working smart. I’ve been working since I’ve left college to do music and every time I look up I’m in a new spot with new opportunities. I’m thankful to be apart of this project and hope to help you guys get something out of it.

 

Daniel Dorsett

Daniel Dorsett

Daniel is another IPS kid. He is an alumni of Arsenal Tech High School which makes his participating in creating the sound track extra great. He’s a great example of the many really terrific kids who go to IPS Schools and go on to do great things. I remember being impressed with Daniel when I first met him, and I still am.

Daniel is going to be working on creating a full band edition of the Tech fight song.

Here’s his bio:

Daniel first encountered his passion for teaching music as a student at Tech when helping teach at Harshman Middle School. While studying music education at the University of Indianapolis, he was awarded the Outstanding Future Music Educator Award from the Indiana Music Education Association. Now in his fourth year of teaching, Daniel is the middle school band director for the MSD of Martinsville, 30 minutes south of Indianapolis.

 

Boyhood Bravery 3

Boyhood Bravery

Not only do we have individual musicians, but an entire band, Boyhood Bravery, contributing to the sound track.

One of the bands members, Luke Livingston, attended Redeemer, the church I pastored in Indy. Another, Tyler Kniess, is like a spiritual son to me. I have lots of stories about Tyler. One of my favorites is when Tyler joined our family on one of our epic month-long road trips out west.

Like Daniel, Tyler is an Arsenal Tech alumni, so he gets how much it meant to Tech to win the Indiana HS basketball championship and what it means to say “we are family.”

Here’s an intro to the band:

Active in the Indianapolis and Bloomington independent music scenes, Boyhood Bravery is a folk-rock band known for their powerful performances, creative songwriting, and poetic approach to lyrics.

 

Steve Wick

I’ve mentioned how encouraging to me to see the way the team for the “We are Family” sound track has come together. Some of the musicians/composers have been people I know, like Tyler, Daniel and Malcolm.

Other’s have been referred to me by my son Julian and other friends: like Eron, Mezzy and Caleb. Steve Wick falls into that later category. When I put out that call for musicians/composers on facebook my friend and colleague on the board of Mission Eurasia, Wayne Shepherd, contacted me and told me about Steve.

We’re thrilled to have Steve with his gifts of mixing and mastering music, as well as composing, working with us on the sound track for the “We are Family” documentary.

Here’s his bio:

Steve Wick is an audio producer/guitarist/musician who has lived his entire life in the Chicago, IL area. A graduate of Moody Bible Institute, he worked for Moody Radio throughout the 90’s as a live local and national engineer/program producer, then transitioned to a private recording studio as music composer in 2000. In 2002, he ventured out on his own starting Resonance Audio Media, Inc., and since then has produced numerous audio dramas, music releases, podcasts, radio programs/features, audio books and soundtrack foley/SFX. Steve also has recorded and released 5 albums of original guitar-based music and arrangements. In his spare time, he enjoys loitering in record stores, collecting vinyl, iPhone photography and creatively collaborating with others. Steve has been married to Kelli for 23 years and together they have 3 kids, Chloe-18, Mallory-16 and Carter-14.

Conclusion

Music matters in movies!

We have a great team of musicians who will bring the story to life. Their music covers  the movie’s wide-range of emotions and actions, and brings a wise range of styles, tones, and emotions.

I will be launching a Kickstarter “social funding” campaign November 1st to raise money to pay these artists for their contribution. Please consider helping bring this story to life by contributing to the Kickstarter campaign. Their work will be worth every penny they are paid!

 

 

The Story Behind the Making of We are Family, Part 4

I knew that Arsenal Tech’s basketball team’s coming together as family and winning the Indiana High School Basketball Championship as the inner-city school that no one thought could win it all would make a great story.

So I starting taking some baby steps towards making a documentary film about that season.

First Steps

The first step after the season was my son Julian filing all the footage. Julian was a real trooper, putting hours and hours into putting the footage into files where it could be found. It had been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Julian to be a part of that team, and he was motivated to see the project through.

I recruited my friend David Lichty, a film-lover and film-maker, to help me with the project.

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When David heard that the cumulative grade point average of the Championship team was over 3.0 he was intrigued. It blew away the stereotypes of an “ghetto school.” He directed me to go through all the footage and note what parts were good, what parts we should highlight, etc. It took me hours and hours to do this. Finally it was catalogued. I passed my notes on to David who started to compile it into a rough story-line of the season.

First musicians/composers recruited and first showing

I started to ask around for musicians/composers who could help with the sound track. Mrs. Marveda Saunders was a Police Officer who served at Tech. Her son, Eron Harris, was playing Division one basketball, first, I think at West Virginia. Then he transferred to Michigan State. Marveda told Eron about our project and he sent a great song that we are going to use on the sound track.

My friend Donteau Gladney Sr, whose son Donteau Jr. had played on the Championship team, recruited one of his nephews to lay down a few beats which were passed on to us too. We had the beginning of a sound track. But just the beginning.

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In October of 2014 we had a rough, and long, 2 hour movie of the season. We showed it to the Tech basketball team. Both David and I knew that we were far from done with the finished product, but we had a good start.

Then the project sat untouched. For almost four years.

My move to Washington State

In January of 2015 my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. That rocked my world. We had buried our roots deep in Indy, but now I felt a real desire to be closer to home to help my dad and mom out in mom’s battle with breast cancer.

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A pastor job opened up at a Presbyterian Church in Redmond, WA. I applied and got the job. In August of 2015 I drove a big Uhaul truck across the country with my friend Donteau. We had all kinds of adventures in our cross country trip. But that’s another story.

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An hour before we got to Redmond I started crying because I knew I was going to have to say goodbye to my friend Donteau, and because we had left our home and a big part of our heart in Indy, with the church and friends there, and with IPS.

I didn’t know that I would ever have a chance to complete the “We are Family Project.” It just wasn’t on my mind. And I couldn’t figure out a natural way to go back to Indy and work on project.

On the Shelf

I put the “We are Family” project on the shelf. I didn’t have the time and energy to work on it. Besides my regular work as a pastor in Redmond, WA I was also starting up my long dreamed of Sunnyshore Studio on Camano Island. David, however, did put some work into the project. Donna Griffin, who taught media at Tech at that time, was very encouraging to us to continue the project. She connected us to a bunch of old footage of players being interviewed, of Tech in the past, and other great material. We owe her a real debt for all of her help!

But besides David spending time with Donna, the project sat on the shelf, until May 2018.

Judah in Indy and Jacob graduating from Purdue

In January of 2018 my third son, Judah, had gone back to be Indy as part of a “gap year” after he graduated from High School. He wanted to have some time to be with his friends, and to have some closure. He lived with my brother Jed and sister-in-law Renae, in their home just a block from Tech high school. Judah had had a great time in Indy. By May he was ready to come home to Redmond.

In May, my oldest son, Jacob, graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree from Purdue. This was a huge accomplishment and my wife, Jenny, and I determined we would fly back to Indy to celebrate it with him.

Finally I had a reason to be in Indy. I took a week vacation and started scheduling interviews.

Our friends, Nathan and Sarah Partain, were on a sabbatical trip. They live one block east of Arsenal Tech, just a few houses away from my brother Jed. This gave us a “base camp” to operate from.

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Jacob’s graduation was on Sunday, May 13th. How awesome was that for Jenny! It was great for me too, but especially gratifying for Jenny.

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We attended Brian Parks graduation party too. Brian played football at Tech. He received a scholarship to play football at Wabash where he graduated with top honors. At the party I was able to interview Brian, and Ms. Garing, who had been a very popular English teacher at Tech about that Championship season.

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The next three days were busy!

Monday, May 14th

On Monday, May 14th, David and I went to work.

For me that morning started out at Peppy’s Grill in Fountain Square where I met two of my friends, Matt Aalsma And Paul Baumgarten.

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David had arranged for us to use the studio of his friend, artist Casey Roberts, which is in an old warehouse on Mass Ave, near Tech, to film in.

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Casey’s studio was big and artsy and quiet, with space for interviewees to hang out and relax. It was perfect! I am so thankful for his gracious hospitality to let us use it.

David met me at the door. And we got to work right away.

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We had some technical difficulties, no pun intended, and my friend Paul Baumgarten graciously stopped by and helped us get one of our cameras in order.

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Our first interview was with Dr. Eugene White, President of Martin University. He had been a past Superintendent of IPS and gave us great perspective on IPS and what the Tech victory had met.

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On Monday I also interviewed Bob King, who was a parent of a Tech student during the championship season, and who also was a reporter for the INDY Star, covering IPS. I also friend, fellow IPS dad and huge IPS sport fan, Josh interviewed Josh Bowling.

For lunch my friend, local icon, historian and artist, Kipp Normand, joined David and I at La Prada on New York Street. I was able to twist Kipp’s arm hard enough to get him to promise to come back on Tuesday for an interview.

On Monday evening I interviewed Donald Mosley who was a Tech Student in 2013-2014 and part of the student sport reporting team that covered the basketball team. He has a great voice and had a striking perspective on it all.

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Tuesday, 15th

Early on Tuesday morning my son Judah and I walked to Tech and took some great footage of the school in the morning and as students began to arrive on campus. What a beautiful campus Tech is!

On Tuesday morning I interviewed Kipp, who provided lots of insight about Indianapolis and IPS history. At 11:00 I interviewed Kyle Neddenriep who is an Indy Star Sports reporter and who had followed Tech closely their championship season. It was very interesting to hear his perspective.

At 1:00 David and I went to the impressive history center at the Tech to meet with Linda Hill, who was a sophomore at Tech when they went to the went to the final at Muncie Central and lost; she was at the Championship game in 2014, watching the clock, as the game got close and closer. When Tech won she cried. We had also scheduled and interview there with Ken Kenipe.

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Ken had met his wife Joan in the 3rd grade. He graduated from Tech in 1949 (after just three years); Joan went four years to Tech and graduated in 1950. They started going to games when they were freshmen in 1946. They haven’t missed any games apart from a few years when they lived away from Indy. Ken and his wife had been recently written up in an article in the Indy Star as Tech basketball fans. Finally, we had scheduled to interview Sarah Bogard, who was the principal at Tech for a number of years before they won the championship. She created the Arsenal Tech museum and is a wealth of information about Tech and IPS.

Unfortunately, we had our wires crossed. They had planned to meet with us on Wednesday. So David and I spent a couple of hours researching, and getting footage of the impressive array of historical artifacts in the Tech history rooms.

We also stopped and took video of the Championship Logo on the Tech gym floor.

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That evening I interviewed Coach Keith Dabney and Coach Jason Delaney. It was great to get their perspective on that historic season. Late that evening my son Julian Dorsey arrived from George Mason University in the Washington DC area on the beginning of summer break. He had just come off finals week, and hosting a major UNICEF event, and hadn’t slept much the last couple of days. But he was a good sport and would help us out on Wednesday.

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Wednesday, 16th

We interviewed Julian first thing in the morning. Then we went back to Tech and interviewed Linda, Ken and Sarah. Those were great interviews.

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In the afternoon I interviewed Coach K. Then my dear friend Donteau Sr. stopped by, bringing his son, Onnie Harlin, whose big brother, Donteau Jr. was a part of the team and who had basically been a “gym rat” who hung out with the championship team that whole season. Onnie was just a kid in 2013, and now he was a grown up man, heading off to college in the fall.

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I also interview Justin Parker, “JP”, who had been one of the star players on the team that season. It was great to here his perspective now four years after.

 

Over those three days, Monday through Wednesday, we were able to capture an wealth of incredible, diverse, thoughtful interviews. One theme was heard through each interview: Tech’s victory had mattered in significant ways.

We got most, not all however, of the interviews we wanted. A few days later, David interviewed Kevin and David Van Horn, twin brothers and Tech alumni, and their dad. They were huge fans that championships season. David said that the interview was absolutely delightful. At the end of their interview, the twins asked David if they could help us out financially and gave him some money. That was super encouraging.

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We are continuing to get interviews of coaches and players, family members and fans as we are able. As it stands we have an incredible amount of footage, and, what’s more important, an inspiring story.

Conclusion

There is an important story in Tech’s championship season. A story about players and coaches in an inner city school coming together as family. It is a story for all those urban kids who are told “you can’t do this.” It is a story about people coming together – black and white, rich and poor – around a team and as a team.

We have the video footage. Before us now is the hard work of recruiting a team of musicians and composers to write songs to make the film come to life. Before us is the hard technical work of video editing, hours and hours and hours of that. And before us is the great challenge of raising funds to pay our musicians and video editors. We are committed to see this story through, and to tell it to the best of our ability. We have come this far. We have confidence that we will carry on to tell this story.  We do this because:

WE ARE FAMILY

 

The Story of the Making of the “We are Family” Documentary, Part 3

Hoosiers, arguably the greatest sports movie ever made, tells the story of a small-town Indiana high school basketball team that wins the state championship against a stacked urban school and against all odds. It is based in history. In 1954 the Milan basketball team from a tiny Indiana town won the Indiana  basketball championship.

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Like Hoosiers, Arsenal Tech High School’s Indiana basketball championship in 2014 was a victory-against-all-odds, though in reverse. It featured a basketball team from a gritty, downtrodden urban school beating the big township, suburban and rural schools and inspiring urban kids and eventually a whole city in doing so.

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But when my son Julian and started filming Tech’s 2013-2014 season none of this was a reality. It was just a dream. We had no idea how our filming project would sweep us up in Hoosier hysteria.

Don’t get me wrong. Tech’s team, led by Coach Jason Delaney and star player Trey Lyles surrounded by a cast of very gifted seniors, was good and they were motivated. The last two seasons they had suffered heartbreaking losses: two years before they lost to Lawrence Central at regionals by a last second buzzer beater shot by Jeremy Holloway. The previous year they had lost a hard-fought sectional game to Cathedral with Trey Lyles, who had hurt his knee in the game before, watching from the bench. Going into the 2013 season, Coach Delaney had said that this was an all-or-nothing season; anything short of a state championship was a failure.

Even with their strong team, Tech was an underdog to win it all. After all, Tech had never won an Indiana Basketball Championship since it had been established as a high school in 1912, though its teams had played in the championship game four times, losing in 1929, 1934, 1956 and 1966. And no Indianapolis Public School (IPS) team had won the state basketball championship since Broad Ripple did in 1980. The reputation of IPS basketball teams was that they had great athletes but they had low basketball IQ’s, little discipline, and didn’t play well as a team. IPS teams were routinely dismissed from the playoffs by the powerful township, suburban and parochial schools. Certainly, Tech’s program had been limping along for the last couple of decades. Up to a few years before this, no player at Tech really expected to have a chance to win the Indiana Basketball Championship. It was a distant, hazy dream held forth by Coach Delaney and bought into by his team.  The odds were stacked against them.

Nevertheless, after an impressive, in fact, a dominant season with only two losses, anticipation was building about Tech’s chance to go all the way. The school was abuzz. Something special was happening. It was.

The sectional games were held at Lawrence North. In the first sectional game Tech beat Lawrence North soundly. Then they clobbered Lawrence Central, wiping out some of the pain from two years before.

The sectional championship was against Roncalli, a team built on a program and disciplined to play as a team. Roncalli kept the game close by playing a zone, a box in one defense on Trey and hitting their shots from outside. But at the end of the day they were no match. The Tech team held high the sectional trophy, but their sight was set on higher goals.

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By this time, not only was there a buzz about the team on Tech’s campus, Tech alumni were coming out to the games in droves, filling the seats and cheering on their alma mater.

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The Regional finals were held at Southport: two games in one day. The first game was against Richmond. The stands were packed with Tech fans. It was a fun game, with Tech clearly superior. Between the games my wife, Jenny, and I hosted Tech players and coaches at our home for some “down time.” It was great to be able to support the team in that way.

IMG_0842The second game was against Pike. This is now known as the “pink jersey” game. It was quite a fiasco. Here is what happened. In support of the battle against breast cancer, and a couple of players on the team who had family members fighting that battle, Tech had gotten pink jerseys and worn them as their uniform at previous games throughout the season. Having the platform of the regional finals game, they chose to wear the pink jerseys. But one of the Pike coaches complained, the officials conferred, and Tech was ordered to wear their regular green jerseys. However, those were back at the school. And so the game was delayed while one of Tech’s coaches sped home to retrieve the green jerseys. I think Tech was charged a double technical. A Pike player made the free throws, and so Tech started the game down four to zero, or something like that. It didn’t matter. Despite the strong play of Tech player John Robert’s brother, a sophomore at Pike, Tech beat Pike soundly. After winning the game, Tech put back on the pink jerseys for the photos and for cutting down the net. Afterwards Coach Delaney had to write a letter to the Indiana High School Basketball Association apologizing, but I don’t think he minded doing that very much. They had made their statement in support of the battle against breast cancer quite well after all.

Semi-state was held in Richmond against Bloomington. Before the Bloomington North game I interviewed a bunch of Tech alumni and other fans who had gathered at the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Richmond. They were confident in their team winning. But that victory was not as easy or straightforward as it should have been.

I’ll never forget walking into the Richmond gym. It was absolutely packed. Hearing the roaring crowd I felt goose bumps up and down my arms and back. It was “Hoosier Hysteria” at its best.

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Tech played a tough Bloomington North team and just dominated in the first three quarters. Tech was up by well over twenty points going into the last minutes of the game, so Coach Delaney sat his starters and brought in the bench. That was almost disastrous. Bloomington North kept fighting. They got shots and stops and breaks and calls. And before you knew it the game was well within their reach. Delaney put his starting five back in, and they barely held off the charging Bloomington team. The Regional Championship trophy was Techs, and their fans were ecstatic, if not a little shaken, after the dramatic ending. Tech was going to the State championship for the fifth time. Would they finally win it all?

Now not only was Tech’s students and alumni rallying around the Tech team, but hosts of Indianapolis Public Schools players, coaches, fans, alumni and supporters were cheering them on. Tech’s team represented them. “We are Family” had come to symbolize not only the team as family, but a whole school district as family.

The Indiana High School State Championship game was at Bankers fieldhouse vs. Lake Central, a team Tech had already beaten in the regular season. I was personally not feeling well at the time. In fact, about that time I had to have surgery to check my lymph nodes to check and make sure that I did not have cancer. Thankfully I didn’t; I just was under a great deal of stress due to a hard situation at work. So I wasn’t able to join in all of the festivities before the game, although I was in attendance. However, my son Julian was brought up with the team and so he was on the inside and able to shoot video. He got great video of the team’s first practice at Banker’s fieldhouse before the game, their walking out onto that court for the first time. It feels a lot like the scene from Hoosiers when the Milan team walks out onto the Butler Fieldhouse before their championship game.

In the locker room before the game quotes from Lake Central players were posted, just in case the Tech team needed added motivation.

What an awesome moment that was to walk into the Fieldhouse packed by fans, to have the players introduced under the lights, and to watch them finally play on that big stage.

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Julian, and other players, shot video from the bench before, during and after the game, capturing the magic of it all.

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Bankers Fieldhouse was packed with Tech fans who cheered their team on. Tech was in control of the game from the beginning, but Lake Central never gave up and kept it close all the way to the end. When the last seconds of the game came to a close and Trey threw the basketball into the air I think I was not alone among the fans in shedding a tear.

I know that Trey also cried in the joy of the victory. There is a great picture of him hugging his dad crying with I’m sure the joy of accomplishing the dream.

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What a thrilling culmination of hard work and family faithfulness for that team.

I doubt if Trey and that Tech team could know what their victory against-the-odds would come to mean for other kids in urban Indianapolis playing for IPS schools: a door had opened to the impossible dream that a team from IPS could win it all too.

Two snapshots gave premonitions of how much that victory meant to Tech and IPS. The first was a student assembly to celebrate the Tech team that finally brought the trophy home. That was a fun, relaxed, joyful, playful time for the teammates and their friends.

The second was a celebration in Tech’s gym on April 8th. The gym was filled with students and alumni and fans and news reporters. It was a party atmosphere. current and past cheerleaders danced and led cheers. One highlight for me was a cheering line for past Tech players. I caught every player coming through the line with big smiles and lots of back slapping and high-fives and handshakes.

At the end of the day, how much did Tech’s victory matter? How much of an impact would it make? It would only be years later that the full impact of their victory could be assessed.

And then could their story be captured and told?

A story about family.

A story about a team of young men and coaches who had a dream

A story of friends and family who came around them to support them in their dream

A story of an urban basketball program that wasn’t supposed to have a chance

A story “for all the inner city kids who are told” you can’t do this

A story about a team inspiring first an inner-city school, then its alumni, then a school district, then a city around their quest to win it all.

In the last article in this series I’ll share the steps that have gone into the making of the documentary We are Family that is due to come out in March of 2019, five years after that inspiring game at Bankers Fieldhouse.

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