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Eric Locke’s big musical contribution to the We Are Family documentary

By Jason Dorsey

The We are Family documentary that tells the story of an inner city basketball team that won the Indiana basketball championship against all odds took a big step forward musically thanks to the generous contribution of my friend, Eric Locke. Here’s that story.

A couple of weeks ago I realized that our feature documentary, which is about 2.5 hours long having been cut down from over five hours, still has a lot of musical holes. Through the funds raised by the Kickstarter campaign, I had been able to pay a lot of gifted musicians for their original compositions.

But I was out of money and we we had musical holes to fill. So I reached out to some of my musician friends, including Eric. Months before, I had connected Eric to David to see if any of his music might be a fit. But I hadn’t heard back from David so I figured I would ask again. Eric sent David a link to his music on YouTube and David wrote back.

“…The thing is, his stuff is GREAT.  He’s got a positive vibe running through, and generally the right kind of high energy levels we would need for game footage, but also in some cases under the talking heads, to give those some energy.”

Here’s an example of one of Eric’s songs.

Eric graciously gave David and I permission to use his music for free, as a gift! This generous gift will allow us to fill musical holes, and it is another great example of how this has been a community project. I could not do it without friends like Eric who have stood with me.

Here’s a short interview I did with Eric.

Jason: Eric when did you first hear about the We are Family project?

Eric: Hmm…I probably first heard you talking about the project here and
there while getting to know you in the past couple of years before
getting a fuller appreciation of it when the Go Fund Me campaign went
live.

Jason: Months ago you agreed to let us use your music for the film (thanks so much!). But then you didn’t hear back from us. What were you thinking in those “silent” months?

Eric: I enjoyed and appreciated the interest but didn’t dwell on it much after doing my part as advice from wiser people (and personal experience) has taught me that it’s best to approach opportunities often but lightly.

Jason: Tell me about yourself as a musician.

Eric: I got my first guitar at 14, was in a few bands here and there while
growing up. In the late 90’s when digital recording for the masses was opening up the Mrs, (Stephanie) let us get some recording gear and I was able to start learning how to record to try and get these melodies and ideas out of my head. While I work primarily in fits and starts I’m grateful to realize at least some of the ideas and concepts that get stuck in my mind. I feel fortunate to live in a time where technology can allow an individual to
do that.

Jason: What were early musical influences in your life? Inspirations?

Eric: The earliest were probably movie soundtracks. My dad would have music from soundtracks and artists of the day playing through the house while he was cooking or some such. My sister and I would go skating at the
local skating rink almost every weekend so we were exposed heavily to
pop music of the day there. Rock, soul, etc. When I got into electric guitar it was an unexpected trip into heavier music due to a friend I had. One moment I’m trying to learn a Michael Jackson song and the next my friend is tossing it across the room and “forcing” me to learn Heavy Metal. I don’t think I’d be into composing music now if it wasn’t for that but I was a little chapped at the time as I had a pretty low appreciation of Metal.

Jason: Did you have training as a musician or are you self-trained?

Eric: Self taught though the thought of taking time out for training is very
inviting nowadays.

Jason: Have you been a part of bands?

Eric: Yes I have and I’ve met some truly wonderful people as well as having
some good formative experiences. I don’t know that I’m a good “band”
member in that I don’t do well improvising and I really lean towards a
singular vision but everybody I’ve ever worked with has been good sports
in letting me participate and maybe one day I’ll hit a tipping point and
“get it”.

Jason: Talk to me about your compositions. What is your style? What are you trying to do with your sound?

Eric: I really enjoy a wall of ethereal sound. The Mrs, (who has a beautiful
voice) has been kind enough to work with me and I’m really content with
what has come from the collaboration so far. I’m enjoying her soft voice
over heavier ethereal music. We worked up a version of The Mighty Power of God, music by Phil Peterson, (Grammy Nominated) who is an old Chief Musician of Grace Church Seattle and I couldn’t be happier with the sound and style achieved there and other compositions since then performed by The Undone Orchestra. We’ve hit a stride that I’m really content with and I look forward to exploring more of that style in the future.

Jason: What was it like after the months of silence to hear back from
David Lichty that your music would be a perfect fit for the documentary?

Eric: It was a true highlight for myself. I felt like I got a small taste of
the glory that these young men, their families, coaches and community
had all worked for.

Jason: Any last thoughts?

Eric: I’m looking forward to seeing the entirety of the We Are Family story,
how my music folds in and a big “Thank You!” to all for letting me
participate. All the Best!

We Did It! 30 Day Kickstarter Report

Sometime after 11:00pm on Friday, November 30th, my mom stopped by Sunnyshore Studio where Jenny and I were prepping for the “Christmas in Miniature” show the next day. She announced that we were so close to reaching our goal of 25K pledged in our Kickstarter campaign – just $200 dollars short. The deadline was at 5:29am PST the next morning and she was worried that by now everyone in Indy (EST) was asleep. She said that my dad was ready to write a $100 check to help, and was there any way that we could come over to their house to make a pledge on their behalf (we don’t have wi-fi at the studio). She said she wanted to be able to go to sleep!

Jenny was just about ready to jump in the car with mom when I checked my phone to see where things were at with the Kickstarter campaign. I saw we had just hit the goal of 25K. I sat down on the bed and it began to sink in that we had reached our goal – something that had seemed almost impossible just a few days before.

We did it! 1

 

Jenny congratulated me and then with a smile said, “you have your work cut out for you.”

As I took stock the next morning, I was blown away by the reality of how many people had stood with me, with us, in this project. I had asked people to “stand with me” in telling this inspiring story. I said that I had the creative team of video producers and musicians that could help me tell the story well, but that I didn’t have the fund to pay them for their work. As shared that I needed help, people to stand with me in bringing the project to completion.

And they did. 110 backers, and even a few more who weren’t comfortable using their credit card online and who sent checks. Many of them were old friends from Indy. The IPS community, many who I had collaborated with in working for renewal in IPS, stood with us, as did many Tech alumni. Friends and congregation members from Redeemer Indy stood at my side. The very first pledge, just moments after launching the campaign, was of 1K from a couple who I had walked through a very traumatic season of their life and their gift blew me away and gave me hope, from the very outset, that we might reach our goal. The deacon team at Redeemer Indy also contributed. There were many names of people I did not recognize. And there were anonymous gifts to, including a gift of 5K! My kids stood with me in making pledges to this project, and I was totally blown away by their generosity and support. And then towards the end, it was my new community here in Redmond, friends at Redeemer the church I pastor, and colleagues in the art community on Camano Island that stepped up in big ways even though they were more removed from the place and context of the story.

Many friends shared Kickstarter campaign on social media, and advocated for the project. Their support was so encouraging, and helped us reach the goal even though just a few days before we were hovering around 18K and I didn’t think it was possible!

We did it! 2

When I checked the Kickstarter report on Saturday, December 1st, I saw that it was a young couple from the church in Indy who had given to help us reach the goal. They had first given 40$ then bumped it up to $75 then to $275. Maybe they wanted to go to sleep too! I remember doing pre-marital counseling for them, and watching them begin to their life together. I knew that as a younger couple getting their feet under them, this was a very big, a very significant gift. I was humbled and moved deeply by their gift.

In short: feel very loved and supported, and a strong sense of responsibility to tell this inspiring story well. I’m also thrilled that I am going to be able to pay the creative team who will make this story come alive with their music and video production talents.

We are Family Soundtrack

Finally, as I said on a Facebook post on November 11th, this movie is…

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 coaches whose stories are never told
For Indianapolis Public Schools
For Arsenal Tech High School

We are Family!

We Are Family Poster

 

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.

November Trip 3

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.

IMG_2496[1]

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

David.jpeg

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

CROPPED-Sagamore Headshot 3 (1)

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 story of the making of the “We are Family” documentary (Part 1)

By Jason Dorsey

Arsenal Technical High School, established in 1912 and located on a 76 acre campus just east of downtown Indianapolis, has a rich history. Once a United States Arsenal during the Civil War, It’s the third oldest high school in Indianapolis. Tech’s beautiful, historic buildings give it the feel of a college campus.

 

In the 1930’s-1950’s Tech had been one of the largest high schools in the United States, but desegregation and “white flight” from the Indianapolis Public Schools in the 1960’s and 1970’s had taken a toll. When our oldest son, Jacob, enrolled as a freshman there in the fall of 2009, Tech had a reputation as a rough place where if you “had a choice” you wouldn’t send your kid. We did choose to send Jacob to Tech and he thrived in the Math and Science Magnet located in Stuart hall, graduating in 2013 as Valedictorian of his class.

In the summer of 2013 our son Julian, who played for the basketball team, was heading into his junior year at Tech. Tech’s basketball team was expected to do very well, with a plethora of talented seniors led by Trey Lyles. The previous two seasons, Tech had lost heartbreaking playoff games, so the team had a real hunger to go all the way and Coach Jason Delaney was speaking of this season as the “Final Act”. For the team it was all or nothing.

Julian Graduating

However, with all of its rich sports history Tech had never won the Indiana State Basketball Championship, though it had come close four times. In 1929, Tech lost to Frankfurt and then to Logansport in 1934. Joe Sexson, who would later star at Purdue and Coach at Butler, led Tech to the state finals against Logansport at Hinkle Fieldhouse in 1952, but the team lost. Mike and Jim Price led the Tech Titans to the state finals in 1966, when the team lost to Michigan City.  And no IPS team had won the State Basketball Championship since Broad Ripple did in 1980.  Though many people were wondering if this would be the year that Tech would finally win it all, the odds were stacked against them.

Julian and I talked about how cool it would be to get behind-the-scenes and game footage of the season. We went to Coach Delaney to see if he and the coaching staff would be willing to let us do this. He said Yes. He shared that when the Waldron team he coached in 2003-2004 won the 1A Indiana State Basketball Championship he regretted that he didn’t have more photos of and videos for that season. I went out and bought a video camera.

I did not anticipate what a magical season it would be.

Stay tuned for Part 2

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