Our Lady Of Victory (Commercial Release: The Mighty Macs )
This was the official website for the movie, Our Lady Of Victory, whose name was eventually changed to The Mighty Macs.
Content is from the site's 2007 archived pages as well as other sources.
Set in 1972, "Our Lady of Victory" is a feature film about the true story of the "Mighty Macs" of Immaculata University winning the first national championship in women's basketball.
Plot Synopsis: Set in 1972, "Our Lady of Victory" tells the story of a sassy 23 year old tomboy whose life has been filled with a series of setbacks. On the brink of giving up and moving to the next phase of her life, she takes one final shot at being the head basketball coach at Immaculata College - an all girls catholic school. With help from the nuns, she finds the courage and faith to lead her team along the improbable journey of winning the first national championship in women's basketball.
The seedling of sweeping change is often traced back to a simple occurrence in a single person's life.
So let us trace back to an image of a typical American girl with floppy pigtails dribbling a basketball on a quiet sea-swept boardwalk in Atlantic City. She is consumed by the movement of the ball and the control she has over it. Around her back, through her legs, the balls bounds on command, an appendage following dutifully along to her destination of a school gymnasium.
It is here that the girl learns of life's obstacles, disguised as disappointment. The flyer taped to the door reports that the girl's basketball season has been cancelled, and adds, almost mockingly, cheerleading tryouts are being held.
We flash to the women the girl has become. She's striking, boldly blond and lithe, an athlete in a pinup's package. It's the time of change. The Movement is in full throttle in 1972, bubbling on state campuses and in front of government buildings. Lovely Cathy Rush, barely in her twenties, sees the women on the evening news. They carry their signs and burn their bras and chant in unison and preach the message: Equality.
Meanwhile, Cathy is newly married to a sporting man and walking the path to American housewife normalcy, about to place her dreams neatly on the bottom shelf of the pantry. For like most men, Ed Rush, a budding star as an NBA referee, wants children immediately and a wife at home to raise them, a full-time family to create a most Lordly picture of life.
Cathy feels restless. Man and woman can unite, she feels, without woman disappearing into man. She has dreams. A standout basketball player in college, she wants to coach the game now. She craves achievement and her own journey, one that will take her to a tiny Catholic college nestled into the rolling farmland, far away from the chaos of the times. It is here, a place where noise and IHM nuns come to rest, that she will take a group of ragtag girls in training to be wives and mothers to the first-ever women's National Collegiate Basketball Championship.
Cathy and her girls will battle religious and gender obstacles to become a team and find liberation in the most unlikely of places - a basketball court. And they will breathe life into a movement they knew little about, with Cathy Rush unwittingly becoming the godmother of women's sport.
Our Lady of Victory is a story about faith and commitment, part Hoosiers, part Sister Act. It's a film for anyone who has ever had a dream.
The project was the brainchild of producer, director and writer Tim Chambers, who knows something about dreams himself. Growing up in a large Irish Catholic family, twelve kids in all, nine boys, three girls, two crackerjack parents, regular people with strong values, backbone kind of people, Chambers did not have a fast track to Los Angeles and the film business.
Upon graduation from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a standout football player, following a short stint in the NFL, Chambers took his finance degree, put on his one good suit with the power tie he just bought and went to work as a stockbroker for an investment company in Philadelphia. The job paid extremely well, and he thought such is life: You work in an office, put some money away, meet a nice girl, get married, move to the suburbs, have kids and retire at fifty-five to somewhere warm. All and all, the perfect American existence, the reason his parents pushed him to Penn in the first place, another of their children they could check off from the worry list.
Tim Chambers' life was laid out like an interstate. All he had to do was drive.
But it wasn't him. He enjoyed the weekends too much, when he worked as a color analyst for Penn football games.
"You're going where?" his sweet mother asked him incredulously, the day he told the family he was quitting his job and moving to Los Angeles to pursue a television/film career.
Chambers did it without knowing a soul out west, armed with only the Penn directory and the hope that an alum or two could lead him in the right direction.
So Chambers got an apartment in West Hollywood and started taking classes to be TV commentator. When a casting director visited the school looking for a "sportscaster" to play in the soap opera Santa Barbara, Chambers got the part. He parlayed that into a few national beer commercials, one for Miller Lite, with Hacksaw Reynolds and Bob Uecker, another for Old Milwaukee. Easy work and it paid the bills while he pursued the development side of the film biz. With help from a Penn classmate, he worked as an unpaid intern for Hollywood parapets Stuart Benjamin and Taylor Hackford, who had reached acclaim with An Officer and a Gentleman, LaBamba, and Everybody's All-American. He read scripts and answered phones and soon drew a paycheck, and when the partners split, he followed Benjamin.
He was part of the development team that worked on the movie Ray, the Ray Charles biopic. It took Benjamin and Hackford fifteen years to make that film. Chambers later became the Pennsylvania Film Commissioner. Then partnered with an old Penn teammate in 2001 and wrote and produced a TV show for the WB, "Murphy's Dozen" - a family dramedy that paralleled his upbringing. His partner then went on to direct Miracle for Disney. Meanwhile, Chambers patiently sat on the sidelines observing every move.
Tim fell in love with the story of Our Lady of Victory, a natural for him to develop because of his love for sports and the strong role of Catholicism in his life. A father of three boys, he longed for the return of the family film, and the story of Cathy Rush and the Immaculata soon became a passion.
Meanwhile, Cathy Rush had received interest from film producers in the past, only to see it never get past the developmental state. Was Hollywood ready for an inspirational surrounding women's athletics? That was always the hurdle. Even during this project, some Hollywood execs thought the story should be more of a slapstick comedy, exaggerating the nuns, depicting them more as caricatures.
Chambers wanted to be true to the message of the story: The equality of dreams.
So why couldn't women provide inspiration in sport?
Tim and I developed the story with that in mind. It was always there in the forefront, taking form in the physical in Coach Rush. While writing the screenplay, we would tease one another about summoning the feminine side of us. I remember Carla Gugino, our wonderful lead, remarking to Tim on the set how astounding it was that a former football player could create a story about women that actually resonated truth. We also must credit our angels, especially a company called Clean It Supply, who provided some of the seed money to make this project possible. They are a large wholesale distributor of cleaning supplies for home and office. We hope that their association with us has brought them good fortune and karma!
Keeping the spirit of a story intact is the most difficult part of filmmaking, particularly when it goes through the big Hollywood machine. Agents were telling him to sell the script because "no one will ever let you direct". Chambers boldly declined six figure offers. Enter another man of inspiration, Pat Croce, self-made millionaire, former owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, entrepreneur who relishes his current role as Dream Broker.
Croce saw our vision. Most importantly, he believed in Tim's ability to tell the story with justice, and signed on as executive producer, leading the charge to raise the film's budget of close to $7 million.
Part of keeping true to the essence of the story was shooting the film where it transpired in suburban Philadelphia. Los Angeles or Canada or even Pittsburgh would have made for a much more cost-effective setting, but Chambers and Croce were emphatic in keeping the film in their native town.
Both wanted to feed the community its due and feed off of its natural resources. The top brass at Immaculata has been invaluable in their help with the project, providing office space and dorm rooms, as well as archival information on the story. To recreate the team atmosphere, Tim had the girls who portray the players on the team living in the dorm rooms on campus.
Both Carla and co-star Marley Shelton have spent time with the real Cathy Rush. Cathy consulted on both basketball plays and wardrobe and also provided Carla with some of her jewelry from those days.
Prior to filming, Chambers wanted Carla and Marley to immerse themselves into the local Catholic culture. The two joined Chambers and his family for mass at St. Agnes Church in West Chester, where young children were receiving their first Holy Communion. Marley spent several days visiting Camilla Hall (Immaculata's retirement center), which houses many of the nuns who attended the games in 1972.
Tim's brother, Patrick, is an assistant basketball Coach to Jay Wright at Villanova University. Patrick consulted us on the banter and chemistry between head coach and assistant coach. St. Joseph's University head basketball coach, Phil Martelli visited the set. He is married to Judy (Nee: Marra). Judy played for Cathy during the championship years.
To read more about Anthony's unique view of how this movie is being made, see his DAILY BLOG..a sort of daily insider's peek of the shooting of Our Lady of Victory.
The Mighty Macs Trailer Official 2011 [HD] Starring Carla Gugino & David Boreanaz
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Female Athletes Achieve Victory in New Philadelphia Movie
Quaker Media, LLC and the Greater Philadelphia Film Office Bring New Production and All Star cast of Our Lady of Victory to Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA (June 7, 2007) - Quaker Media, LLC, a local media venture company founded by Pat Croce and Tim Chambers, is pleased to partner with the Greater Philadelphia Film Office to bring the making of the new movie Our Lady of Victory to Philadelphia. The script, developed by Tim Chambers and Anthony Gargano, is based on the true Cinderella story of the Immaculata University women's college basketball team and their inspiring journey to claim the 1972 national championship. Chambers wrote the screenplay and directs the film.
"We could have filmed this movie anywhere," said Quaker Media partner, Tim Chambers. "But this is a Philadelphia story and we wanted to keep the heart of the film where it belongs. Filming in Philadelphia and on Immaculata's campus helped intensify the emotions of the story during filming and helped bring the struggle and triumph of it all back to life."
The movie, which began filming in Philadelphia at the end of May, features an all-star cast. Carla Gugino, (Entourage, Night at the Museum, Spy Kids) will play former Immaculata women's basketball coach Cathy Rush. Marley Shelton (Sugar and Spice, Grindhouse) and David Boreanaz, (Angel and Bones) have also signed on to be part of the film. Tony Winner and Academy Award Winner Ellen Burstyn will play the Mother Superior of Immaculata College. Other members of the cast include Phyllis Somerville (Little Children) and Malachy McCourt (Oz, The Devil's Own).
"Just because a movie is set in Philadelphia does not always translate into a "slam-dunk" for us as a location. This film is a true testament to the many advantages of working with the Greater Philadelphia Film Office. We are proud to say that through our efforts, Our Lady of Victory was able to capitalize on our state-funded Film Production Grant Program. Additionally our staff helped with location negotiation, permit administration and production assistance as needed. We are so very pleased to have a part in bringing this film to our region and in helping the filmmakers realize their vision." said Sharon Pinkenson, Executive Director of the Greater Philadelphia Film Office.
The movie follows the struggles of the Immaculata University women's college basketball team and how Head Coach Cathy Rush, while overcoming numerous obstacles, led the team to victory. This heroic story highlights the accomplishments of a young woman who took a group of girls and taught them to believe.
"Good women's roles are hard to come by and Cathy Rush is one of a few," said Carla Gugino. "Girls need to know it is ok to apply yourself, to believe in yourself, and to play to win. This story has a lot to say about something that I think is very important - the equality of dreams."
"It's a great story - it's inspirational, it's human, and most important - it's real. It's Rocky for real!" said Executive Producer and Quaker Media partner Pat Croce.
Filming is set to run through July 2 in and around the Philadelphia area.. For more information on Our Lady of Victory please visit www.ourladyofvictorymovie.com.
Producers are opening the set on Thursday, June 14, Friday, June 15 and Saturday June 16 from 12 Noon - 8 p.m. for anyone interested in being an Extra in the movie. Filming will take place at Hollinger Fieldhouse at West Chester University. Extras are able to come for as little as one day or for all three. For preferred seating as an extra RSVP to email@example.com beforehand.
About Quaker Media
Quaker Media is based in West Chester, PA and was started in July 2006. Its mission is to create, identify, produce, and/or finance certain media and entertainment related ventures. In addition to Our Lady of Victory, the company has invested in a number of other media and entertainment companies and projects including, RedLasso, a phonetic search engine that gives users the ability to capture, search and archive television, radio and internet content.
For more information visit www.quakermedia.com.
About the Greater Philadelphia Film Office
The Greater Philadelphia Film Office is a "film commission" that creates jobs and grows the film and video industry in the Greater Philadelphia region. The Film Office officially serves southeastern Pennsylvania, including Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. Economic impact to the region from film and video production since 1992 is more than $1.75 billion.
To learn more about the Greater Philadelphia Film Office services and programs for filmmakers, please visit www.film.org. sing
Welcome to Anthony Gargano's Blog
|For the first day of shooting, we are in wistful West Chester, Pa., a quaint slice of Americana not far from the Immaculata campus. Such a perfect setting this town, one on an upswing now with its influx of bars and restaurants and shops, however, still cradling the charming feel of the past.
Yes, it feels like 1972 along Gay Street and High Street, along the heart of the town, where there is a bank that didn’t know of ATMs and electronic transfers and internet bill-paying. We are here to film a scene of independence, as Cathy cashes her first paycheck. It is for the grand total of $19.50, but the significance is priceless. It is her money, earned by her, to do with what she pleases, during the early waves of the female workforce.
To depict the times, we had a scene that we later cut that took place in Puerto Rico, where Cathy asks husband Ed for change to go to the hotel gift shop. Ed hems and haws, saying he had given her a dollar earlier in the day. I remember Cathy telling a story of her summer visits to Puerto Rico with Ed as he refereed a basketball tournament and how she felt out of place with some of the other wives, that she was more interested in discussing hoops instead of hairnets and casseroles.
So it was only fitting that the real-life Cathy Rush portray the bank teller, handing Cathy the money. The real-life Cathy Rush never thought of the women’s movement as her tale unfolded.
Such a surreal moment to see the Carla, dressed nattily in her 70s garb, and the real-life Cathy in a scene together. It was as though Carla was born to play her, a not uncommon for the accomplished actor who becomes a portal for which the character to come to life. Nonetheless, it is startling to Cathy of thirty years ago reappear in Carla, who imparts Cathy’s strength and beauty in such a believable way.
POSTED: 05/25/2007 at 12:43 am Anthony Gargano
|We are in the bedroom of a modest apartment filming a tense scene between husband and wife. David Boreanaz was a great fit to play Cathy’s husband, Ed Rush, the NBA referee.
You see, Boreanaz, whose claim to fame was a long-running role as Angel on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and currently stars on Fox’s hit drama Bones, grew up in suburban Philadelphia and is an avid sports fan. Yes, he loves his Flyers and Eagles, and much of the downtime chatter surrounded his teams and what they were going to do. Interestingly, Boreanaz’ father, Dave Roberts, remains a beloved weathercaster in the area.
Just because he was named in 1999 among People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People didn’t mean he had an easy time fulfilling his dream. After attending Ithaca College, he moved to Hollywood and became the usual struggling actor, paying the bills by parking cars and handing out towels as a sports club.
Tim Chambers wanted a strong male lead opposite Carla, and he loved the way Boreanaz pushed her when he read for the part. Chemistry is vital in casting married couples, and the actor who played Ed Rush needed to have the same presence as the real Ed Rush, if simply to counteract Cathy and make her struggle to prove to him that she needed to embark on her own journey believable. The real-life Ed Rush, by the way, also makes a cameo in the film
POSTED: 05/25/2007 at 11:32 pm Anthony Gargano
|On this day, we film two very interesting scenes. The first one centers on the star player, Trish, who is loosely modeled after Theresa Shank, perhaps the best player to come from Immaculata. To this day, the real Cathy credits her string of championships on the wondrous play of Shank, a three-time All-American who went to be the head women’s basketball coach at the University of Illinois.
In the film, Trish is a gifted basketball player from a poor household with several siblings who struggles with her womanhood amid extreme poverty. In this scene, Trish’s mother sews her beat-up basketball Chuck Taylor sneaks, and she must borrow her brother’s wet workboots to wear. To keep her feet dry, she places her feet in plastic bags – old Wonder Bread bags with the distinct coloring.
Some of the fun of a period movie is researching what was popular in the era. In this case, Wonder Bread was everyone’s household whitebread.
Katie Hayek, a 5-foot-9 stunner, plays the role of Trish. Tim discovered her during an open call to cast the players. A former basketball player for the University of Miami, she stood on the floor among the hundreds of women who attended the tryout and scored even higher during her reading for the part.
The other interesting scene took place in the apartment, where Ed watched NBA game films, only to be constantly interrupted by an eager to learn Cathy. Ed resents Cathy horning in on his world, another display of Ed’s struggle with Cathy’s new vocation as basketball coach. With help from Pat Croce, producer John Rizzo procured actual NBA footage from the times, which helps bring the audience back to the time of short shorts and blossoming afros.
POSTED: 05/29/2007 at 10:05 pm Anthony Gargano
|Today, we film what every successful film boasts: A movie moment.
In fact, there are two.
The first occurs during Cathy’s drive in her VW Bug along a tree-lined, country road nearing the Immaculata campus for the first time. She is singing the perfect song of the times: the 8 minute, 32-second rock tune by singer/songwriter Don McLean about “the day the music died…”
American Pie: So deliciously fitting for the film, and Cathy’s personality. During our construction of the project, Tim spent hours listening to the songs of the year, and we had both envisioned the song as a staple.
Music is such a powerful tool in storytelling. I recall an interview of famed director Martin Scorcese on the use of popular music to enhance a scene and move the story along, and you can’t help but to think of his genius in Mean Streets. Here is Johnny Boy entering Tony’s bar in slow motion, Heather Weintraub on one arm and Sarah Klein on the other, the Rolling Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash” thumping, transfixing the viewer into a dizzying state.
Music has always been the great opiate, and when the perfect song is applied to a scene, we are drunk with emotion. I think of Cameron Crow’s Almost Famous, and that scene in the bus, right after Russell Hammond’s night of drug-addled debauchery, and a pall is broken when the inhabitants of the bus begin to sing Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.”
Here, we come meet Cathy’s spirit. We are inside her soul, as she sings a little off-key, unabashed by the way she sounds. It is also where you will fall in love with Carla Gugino, if you haven’t already, a difficult proposition after that part as Vinny Chase’s new agent in this past season of HBO’s Entourage.
POSTED: 05/31/2007 at 12:23 am Anthony Gargano
|I am moved once more as a look back at Tim’s second use of music, this time during a team ride breaking an uncomfortable silence.
As the players peer aimlessly out of the window, Sister Sunday says, “Anyone feel like a song?”
Cathy shrugs, and obliges. The deal is that Sister Sunday picks it and Cathy must begin to sing.
“Joy To The World” is the song, and Cathy, resigned, begins singing the religious song, only to be interrupted by Sister Sunday.
“I was thinking Three Dog Night,” she says. “You know, ‘Jeremiah was a bullfrog.’”
The old van erupts in song, with the players joining in, bopping to the music. There is a wonderful close-up of Sister Sunday singing the line, “…he always had some mighty fine wine.”
Here, we see the wonderful connection between actresses, Carla Gugino and Marley Shelton. The two are very close friends off-screen, all of which cements the journey of Cathy and Sister Sunday as partners in crime.
POSTED: 05/31/2007 at 11:39 am Anthony Gargano
|Let us tell you of Marley Shelton, born father director and mother teacher in Eagle Rock, California. A former cheerleader and Prom Queen, she never really fit that part, however was she was meant for it. She is absolutely stunning in “The Customer is Always Right” story of Sin City and most recently as Dr. Dakota Block in Grindhouse, and yet she seems so seamless, cloistered in a nun’s habit, as the demure woman searching for meaning in the IHM order. Sister Sunday is out of sorts, beleaguered by her Mother Superior and questioning her calling, the only sounding board prayer. She finds her way through meeting Cathy and assisting her with the basketball team and the girls. We have shot two touching scenes that illustrates the connection between Cathy and Sister Sunday. The first one takes place in a small town, when the two are searching for food for the girls, and Sister Sunday is hit on by a patron. The other occurs in the airport as they await stand-by for a flight to Chicago and the National Tournament in Normal, Il. Cathy is dressed as a nun to save on the airfare, and here she confesses to Sister Sunday that she is not Catholic. In real life, Cathy Rush was raised Baptist in Atlantic City. Tim writes a wonderful exchange.
Sister Sunday: But you believe?
Cathy: Above all else.
Sister Sunday: Then we are Sisters.
Carla and Marley pull of this scene magically.
POSTED: 06/01/2007 at 9:11 pm Anthony Gargano
|Tim wanted to show the girls coming together, and there is something about a road trip that unites teams. It is the ultimate bonding experience, whether it’s amateur or professional athletes.
Here, Tim illustrates the team becoming close knit, the middle part of the journey for a team that will make history.
So we are at the Bellafonte Motor Inn, the girls crowded together in the room, lounging as college girls will do. Jen Galentino – the city girl with all attitude – stands out among her peers. Jen is a fascinating character. Born to an Old World father who thinks she is volunteering at Immaculata on her way to becoming a nun, Jen must find the courage to tell her father she is actually attending class and playing on the basketball team.
Her father is played by local Philadelphia sandwich king/actor Tony Luke, and the two share a wonderful storyarc, beginning with a scene when he tells Jen to pour her brother some orange juice. I had wanted that scene because it was so illustrative of Old World views. I remember growing up, my grandmother ordering my sister – much to her dismay – to get my male cousin and I glasses of water. “What? The boys’ legs are broken?” my mother would say to my grandmother.
POSTED: 06/04/2007 at 10:03 pm Anthony Gargano
|We are all in for a treat today because Oscar-winning actress Ellen Burstyn is here at old Saint Colman’s Church in Ardmore, Pa. The legendary actress plays Mother Superior, a cold and stern woman and Cathy’s antagonist. Mother St. John resents all of the fuss over the basketball team and particularly that snarkey Cathy.
I must say, Ms. Burstyn in a nun’s habit looks quite imposing. In fact, she looks like many a nun who would run Catholic elementary school, petrifying youngsters like myself and Timmy back in the day.
There is something regal about Ellen Burstyn, as though you are in the presence of greatness, an aura that travels beyond her vast resume.
POSTED: 06/06/2007 at 01:13 am Anthony Gargano
|Saint Colman’s Church, brimming with stately elegance inside the chapel, proved to be the perfect setting for the week. It’s an old parish, with few children left, its parishioners reaching up in age now, which strikes me as somewhat sad. It’s a connection to another time, certainly a simpler one, which is part of this story.
However, we found gold in the basement basketball with the low cropping ceilings. Yes, they played basketball here long ago, and you had to keep your jump shot low on a line to miss scraping the ceiling. There are old trophies and religious statues and huge boxes, and the only thing the crew must do to recreate the scene for the gymless Mighty Macs is paint the IHM insignia on a few of the pillars.
The story has truly come to life here, with Cathy practicing her rag-tag girls in the dust, explaining how to play the game and win. She uses a variety of tactics in her practices, whether it’s passing the ball with the players wearing oven mitts or attaching paper towels to the players’ back to force them to get low on defense, that will surely be swiped by youth coaches all across America.
POSTED: 06/06/2007 at 11:58 pm Anthony Gargano
|We are quite fortunate with the basketball scene because sports coordinator Mark Ellis is doing his thing – making sure the sports scenes have resonate with authenticity. Is there anything worse than a film about sports where the actors have no idea how to play? Where they look awkward and confused, and you just can’t buy into the fact that this is a ballplayer? Remember Leonardo DiCaprio slap-dribbling the ball in Basketball Diaries?
Well, Mark Ellis and his assistant coach make sure that doesn’t occur. Ellis, a former college football player at Applachian State brimming with energy, is a president of a company called ReelSports that works in consortium with the director choreographing sports scenes for movies. He has been Second Unit Director or Sports Coordinator for more than two dozen films, including We Are Marshall, Invicible, The Rookie, Coach Carter, The Longest Yard and Any Given Sunday.
Tim first met Ellis on the set of Miracle and just he had to have him for this project. You see his slave to detail working with Marley in a scene where she must pass the ball back to one of the girls and show she was a ballplayer. Ellis orders Marley to step into her pass and deliver a textbook chest pass with arms thrusting outward in the perfect follow-through.
POSTED: 06/07/2007 at 8:48 pm Anthony Gargano
|Tim Chambers runs the set like he would a huddle, careful not to wear on the scores of people during a long, tedious day. He will inspire with claps and kind words or ease moments with cutting humor.
The success of a film is all on the execution of the team, with the director playing quarterback/coach. And so it is here that you need your right-hand man, and perhaps the most important player on the field – the DP, Director of Photography. Here, Tim is fortunate, because he has one of the elite when it comes to sports movies in cinematographer Chuck Cohen.
Cohen is part artist, part football freak (he’s from Milwaukee so it’s of course the Packers). Imagine Brett Favre meets Larry David.
Cohen began his shooting career as a freelance sports cameraman, filming 16mm game action and player profiles for NFL Films and other sports production companies around the world. He operated on Little Giants, Everybody’s All- American, The Last Boyscout and then shot second unit for Jerry Maguire, The Program, and The Waterboy was the perfect extension for me. It gave him a great opportunity to further his understanding of the strategy of shooting multi- camera sports action for the movies. It also enabled him to incorporate many visual ideas he had, but couldn’t utilize filming real sports-action events.
“For example, in one scene of The Waterboy, there is a dramatic moment where the hero runs and then drop-kicks a player into the end zone,” Cohen said in a published interview. “It was here that I tried a shot that has never been used in filming football before. I brought in the Century Precision periscope, put on a 17.5mm lens, and attached it to a hi-hat on a skateboard dolly. This allowed the lens to skim the grass.”
POSTED: 06/09/2007 at 12:34 am Anthony Gargano
|Pat Croce is here, and so the set is extra alive. Pat has that sort of affect on his surroundings. It would be an understatement to say the project would not be possible without Pat. Each time a hurdle was thrust in place, he was there to guide Our Lady over it, including to the tune of investing over $2 million of his own money.
There is something about Pat that makes things happen, however, in lieu of simple capital. Whether it was the Philadelphia 76ers making the NBA Finals when he was co-owner or his empire of Physical Therapy Centers that revolutionized the business and built his fortune, Pat is the embodiment of Do. It’s not a coincidence that he is on the panel of American Inventor. When you’re around him, you simply want to succeed and all of your dreams seem plausible. Croce is the great tonic for a Friday after a long week of shooting, the cast and crew tired.
POSTED: 06/22/2007 at 08:58 am Anthony Gargano
|When you shoot a period film, it is essential that all aspects of the story ring true, down to the smallest of details. The smallest mistake can totally kill the story and its message. No, they did not have cell phones in ancient Rome, nor did they play a rock anthem in between jousts. Those are quite obvious but moviegoers have a keen eye and are always looking to douse credibility. Without authenticity, you cannot buy into the stoay, which crushes the message and diminishes the entertainment value. Tim spent countless hours researching life in 1972. It starts with the obvious -- the automobiles of the time, the clothes and fashion, the decor of the interiors. But the real trick was getting the details right. One of the toughest things was getting the basketball right. For instance, try to find a college gym without a three-point arc. They don't exist. So Tim begged Cheyney State and West Chester to strip away the line. There is also a scene in the movie where Ed watches game films, and Cathy is fascinated by them (which was true) because the pro game provided a wealth of knowledge. So for this, with the help of Pat Croce, the NBA allowed Tim to use actual game footage from that season. It really makes the scene, as Cathy and Ed, huddled on the couch, amid the hum of the projector, watch players in short shorts and sprouting afros run the break.
POSTED: 06/22/2007 at 09:00 am Anthony Gargano
|The legion of nuns stroll through downtown West Chester, across from the armory, and the heads turn as they gather in formation. "March of the Penguins?" a passerby says. A priest from a nearby has to circle the block because he spots one nun smoking. Sure enough, there she is again, her habit askew, puffing away. "So is this what Immaculate Heart nuns have become?" he thought. Only after a phone call, did he realize she was merely an extra and not the real thing. The nuns play an intrical part in the film, because they did so in the real story. They were captivated by the girls and basketball. Immaculata played home to the retired nuns, the elderly and sick, and the girls' run provided a great inspiration. It was a story they could rally around, a source of joy. Hollywood usually portrays nuns as comedic figures, exaggerating their behavior, almost to the point of mockery. In fact, members of Hollywood that saw Tim's script wanted the nuns to provide more of an open comedic role. Tim felt it necessary to treat the nuns with dignity, depicting an organic sweetness that came with the real story. For here, they were, these women who gave their lives to their faith, embolden and uplifted by a basketball team, doing cheers and chants, being boisterous in such an earthly manner.
POSTED: 06/22/2007 at 09:01 am Anthony Gargano
|Here in a classroom at Cheyney State, a press conference is taking place. It's supposed to be prior to the championship game in Normal, Ill., where the tournament took place. The press room is set up with typewriters and bulky recorders, lots of notebooks, the tools of the trade prior to laptops. It's a fun scene because Michael Smirkonish, a lawyer turned brilliant radio and TV talk show host, plays one of the reporters, asking Cathy and Sister Sunday questions about the big game. Michael came dressed for the part with faded blue jeans and a rock band shirt of the times. In the scene, the reporters are enthralled with the story of Immaculata, and love the glibness from Cathy and Sister Sunday. A sample exchange: Reporter: Coach, no one in Normal thinks you can win? Cathy: I guess that would make us abnormal. Reporter: What are you going to do to stop their outside shooting? Cathy: I thought the game was being played indoors. Reporter: What are you going to wear for the game? Sister Sunday (pulling the microphone toward her): Is that a question for me?
POSTED: 06/22/2007 at 09:18 am Anthony Gargano
|Perhaps the most important three days of the shoot begin on this day: the filming of the NCAA Womens Tournament, culminating with the Championship game that will be shot on Saturday.
In 1972, the womens championship began when a bunch of coaches started up the tournament. They were a clique, and so Cathy and the Mighty Macs were viewed as party crashers. They played Cal St Fullerton, Mississippi University and crosstown rival West Chester, a rematch from 70-38 loss in the play-in tournament in Towson, Maryland.
The Macs were still ragtag at the time. In fact, when they arrived in Normal, Indiana offered to let them borrow their uniforms. Against mighty West Chester, the Macs were serious underdogs -- Cathy Rush thought her chances were "1 in 100." Cathy was also a bit of a rebel -- wearing her navy blue jump suit, zipper arching downward, big, gold choker around the neck, stiletto boots. This is only added to the other teams' disdain for the Macs.
In fact, one of the coaches -- for Queens College, whom Cathy played for at West Chester -- was asked about her prior to the Championship Game and she replied, "What do I remember about Cathy Rush? She had a really good head and really big hands. Or was it the opposite? Really big head and really good hands?"
POSTED: 06/24/2007 at 12:19 pm Anthony Gargano
|Let us continue with the history of the story, as Tim shoots the tournament games leading up to the final.
Perhaps the most impressive win for the Macs came against Mississippi University Women, now Mississippi State. Mississippi was ranked first in the nation and looked poised to blow out the Macs early in the game. The Macs didn't score until 5:50 had elapsed in the first half and dug a quick 12-2 hole. They trailed 24-9 at halftime, forcing the retirement nuns back at Immaculata to scurry their tired bones to the chapel for prayer. It worked since the Macs played furiously in the second half and rallied for a 46-43 victory.
After that win, there seemed to be no stopping the Macs. Entering the final against West Chester, they believed, consumed by faith.
The importance of this female basketball tale can be summed up by the real Cathy Rush describing the feel of the times regarding women and sport. "You know," she said, "it was not fashionable to be an athlete. I was seen as a tomboy. That's a word you don't really hear today. There were no soccer teams, no athletic teams to join. The first team I was ever on was my junior high school. I did the "girly" things. I was a cheerleader, even though I was always picked when we played sports and I was able to keep up with the boys.
"I had been in a church league that play on Saturday nights. The girls played at 6:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. there was a church meeting so all the girls would play with rollers in their hair. Then we all went into a rook and took showers and we had these bonnet hair dryers that we would use. Then we went to church and after the church meeting the boys would play and we would watch."
POSTED: 06/24/2007 at 12:26 pm Anthony Gargano
|On this sun-splashed afternoon, West Chester has been transformed to the early-70s. Hollinger Fieldhouse is painted with plaid and blossoming in bell-bottoms. Close to a thousand extras fill the stands as the long, tedius day of filming the most important scenes of the movie begins: the ending.
The real Cathy and Ed Rush are here, as well family for most of the cast, including the parents of David Boreanaz, the hometown hero now a star in Hollywood. David's father, Dave Roberts, is a local celebrity himself, having spent his television career as a long-time weatherman for the ABC-affiliate in town. Even Ellen Burtsyn has a representative here: her dog, which at times lays curled in a director chair in front of a monitor to see her owner.
The legion of nuns are in one section, and there is Pat Croce -- expert cheermaster -- instructing them on how to show their exuberance.
After many basketball scenes, choreographed brilliantly by Mark Ellis, there is a break around 7 p.m. Because of the heat in the stands and the tedious nature of the process, the crowd is noticeably thinned upon return to work. The idea of being an extra in a film usually sounds like a great idea to the layman until they find out how arduous the process.
Like they did in the hit movie, Invinceable, we used many cardboard cutouts of fans in the upper part of the stands and Tim had to shift the crowd from section to give it that packed-house feel. Carla also shows her brilliance, as she enters the gym looking back in awe at a empty corner of the fieldhouse, giving the illusion of roaring fans.
One of my favorite lines that Tim wrote came from radio announcer sitting at court-side before the game. Played by local radio personality, Joe Conklin, he says in a midwest patois to set up the matchup, "This is one of the most improbable match-ups spports history. The pint-sized papal institution traveled halfway across the country just to face their arch-enemy and cross-town rival. The stakes tonight, however, are for more than neighborhood bragging rights. It was just one week ago that these two teams met in the regional finals and these little sisters of the floor were pummeled 70-28. What will head coach Cathy Rush have up her stylish sleeves tonight? The answer lies somewhere between heaven and the hardwood."
The day ends just after 2 in the morning. However, the players stole the day's shoot. Simply playing basketball for all of those hours is one thing. But performing specific plays -- both good and bad, which goes against the nature of an athlete -- is grueling. Plus, you NEED to make the shot. There was one point where Katie Hayek, who plays the star Trish, has to make a corner jumper. A fabulous player at the University of Miami, she misses six in a row. She leaves her shot short, a sign of fatigue. But it's a must that Tim get her to make the shot. After a short break and a few practice shots without the film rolling, Katie finally drills her shot and the gym erupts in real cheer.
POSTED: 06/24/2007 at 12:43 pm Anthony Gargano
|Out at the Hill School in Pottstown, Pa., the basketball continues. But let us a take moment to laud the hard work of our Costume Designer, Teresa Binder-Westby, whose tireless work helps gives the film its authentic feel. Teresa spent weeks before the shoot amassing clothes and accessories of the early 70s. First, she researched the styles by interviewing, including her sister, who played basketball during that era, and the real-life Cathy Rush, very stylish during her day. Her biggest challenge was picking out the clothes that Carla would wear. A whole day was spent with Carla modeling the different outfits for look and fit. She then sent Tim countless snapshots and, along with Carla, they decided what outfits would go with different scenes.
Teresa spent most of her days in thrift stores and second-hand stores in Philadelphia, buying up thousands of dollars worth of clothing and accessories. It is this sort of thing that gets overlooked when a film is being made, and how the economy of the city-site receives a major punch.
Enter inside one of the huge trailers, and you will see racks and racks of clothing, split up in men's and women's and the different sizes. It's another example of something that seems so insignificant to the audience is such a production.
POSTED: 06/24/2007 at 1:01 pm Anthony Gargano
|The last day of shooting basketball is here at Malvern Prep High School. You can sense the crew is excited to get back to Immaculata for the final days of shooting regular scenes.
There is scene today of a regular season game against the University of Pennsylvania. Here, something so small illustrates the wonderful performance by Carla, despite the fact entering the project she knew nothing of basketball. The Macs are in the huddle during a timeout and Cathy is searching for one of her players. She looks around calling out the name of her player for instruction, frantically pointing the way a real coach does it.
In every way during this process, Carla resonates as a coach. She is a strong woman, the way she speaks and carries herself, and this is the primary carry-over that makes her work as Cathy. Interesting, during one of the shoots, she had to ask Tim what "D-up" meant. But her use of "coachspeak" is impeccable, which makes you believe Carla has been a baller herself, instead of simply a casual runner.
POSTED: 06/24/2007 at 1:13 pm Anthony Gargano
|We are back on the picturesque campus of Immaculata for good now. There are some terrific scenes involving the nuns. One of them takes place in the basement of the Mother House. Here, Big Sister, a rotund nun, uses a vibrating exercise belt and Sister Sunday rides a stationary bike, while Sister Sister folds clothes and Sister Sarge irons altar vestments. Tim's use of nicknames in the script allows for the character to truly come to life, and is something that often occurs in real life.
In the scene, Sister Sister gives us some incite into Mother St. John's character. She says, "Reverend Mother wasn't always this stressed. Wehn she first got here we'd stay up all night playing poker. Of course, that's when they used to give us walking-around money. She'd look at her cards, lay them down, straighten out her cash and say, 'Be not afraid.' Then she bet everything. Boy, was she good.
Later in the scene, Sister Sarge talks about the current state of the nuns: "Now look at us. A few years from now, we'll have an exhibit at the Smithsonian."
This is when Sister Sunday recruits the nuns to help cheer on the basketball team.
POSTED: 06/24/2007 at 1:24 pm Anthony Gargano
|Perhaps one of the great scenes of the early part of the film takes place today, the job interview between Cathy and Mother St. John. I say this because Carla and Ellen go toe to toe, creating the type of vibe that only happens when two great actors oppose one another. Tim makes this happen with impeccable dialogue.
Here's a sampling:
MOTHER ST. JOHN: Were you named after St. Catherine of Sienna or St. Catherine of Alexandria?
CATHY Is there a ... St. Catherine of Atlantic City?
MOTHER ST. JOHN If there is, let's hope she didn't suffer the same fate as St. Catherine of Alexandria -- she was beheaded.
Later in the scene comes this exchange:
MOTHER ST. JOHN Well, seeing that no one else applied, I can pay you four hundred and fifty dollars for the season.
Cathy is surprised it was this easy.
CATHY That'll be just fine.
MOTHER ST. JOHN There is one condition.
MOTHER ST. JOHN All of our Sisters have taken vows of Poverty, Chasity and Obedience. From you, I'll accept two of three.
POSTED: 06/24/2007 at 1:25 pm Anthony Gargano
|The shooting has gained momentum. Tim has shot 12 pages of the script over the past two days, which means there are only 25 pages remaining. Today, we get another display of Ellen Burstyn's greatness as an actress.
The scene takes place in Mother Superior's office: Here, Cathy and Sister Sunday tell Mother they fell short in their attempt to raise enough money to send the team to the championship tournament. After resisting the importance of the basketball team for the entire season, providing a major obstacle to Cathy, Mother finally display a change of heart. The girls lay the money on her desk. She looks at it, and slowly turns around in her chair toward a stature of the Blessed Mother. She gets up, cradles the stature, unfastens the bottom of it, and pulls out a wad of cash balled together by a rubberband. She undoes the rubberband and shuffles the bills evenly with an emphatic whap on her desk.
Mother then lays the stack next to the money that was raised, looks at the girls and says, "Be not afraid."
The look on Ellen's face in this scene is priceless, one that makes you appreciate the craft of acting, one only provided by an Academy Award winner.
POSTED: 07/01/2007 at 11:07 pm Anthony Gargano
|Today we film a scene where Mother Superior takes Cathy on the Walk of Humility. Cathy asks Mother Superior for more money for the basketball scene, and Mother Superior shows her what life is like for the retired nuns, most of them elderly and sick, living in meagher conditions. This is harkens back to how it was on the campus of Immaculata, and to some extent, the way it still is for these women, who have given their life to serve God and others.
It shrinks one, particularly while working on a movie set, where complaints are often heard loudly regarding creature comforts, some to ridiculous proportions. The shrieks for daily Starbucks seem endless. God forbid if the trays of four-dollar lattes and iced coffees don't arrive on a timely manner.
This is also special day for Tim because his mother films her scene in the movie. She plays a sickly nun laying in bed listening to the Championship Game. As the camera pans her, she raises her hand and offers a thumbs up. This aptly completes the overwhelming support by the Chambers Family, such a wondrous, loving, tight-knit clan. Tim is one of twelve siblings, most of who live in the area and stop by regularly to the set for moral and emotional support.
The set is alive when they appear. John Chambers, the eldest, is an executive producer on the film, and his son, Paul, plays the duel role of Tim's assistant and one of the male players who practices against the girls. Brothers Chris, Joseph, Paul and Patrick, as well as lovely sisters, Lisa and Maureen, and all of their children, will take turns with daily visits. Their closeness -- and welcome arms to everyone who works on the set -- is an inspiration, and without being hokey, the epitome of how American Family should exist.
POSTED: 07/05/2007 at 5:11 pm Anthony Gargano
|There is a mystery on set. One of the members of the crew is pushed to the ground. She's fine, sans a skinned knee and sore back, but it's the culprit that has her a tad freaked: a ghost. Upon falling, startled, she raises to her feet, and sees nary a soul in her vicinity. She swears it is a spirit. "I didn't slip," she says. "I felt two hands push me in the square of my back and I fell to the ground. I KNOW there was no one around me. I was at the doorway -- totally alone -- and I felt the shove. It was a ghost.
"I heard the school has ghosts."
She is right, at least about the legend. Like much of historic Philadelphia and its western suburbs stories of "hauntings" is quite common. At Immaculata, there have been tales of an old-fashioned nun roaming the hallways and a strange little boy who plays marbles on the steps of campus buildings.
If anything, however, the cosmic forces have been kind to the production. Ever since the move back to Immaculata for the rest of the shoot, production has been marble-top smooth. It feels like "someone" is in our corner. Just like Sister Sunday says, "He is with us."
POSTED: 07/05/2007 at 5:11 pm Anthony Gargano
|Preparation is arduous for the big scene tonight: The Pep Rally that precedes the girls heading to the national championship.
Banners are being strung throughout the rotunda -- "We Will Be No. 1" -- and all of the players' numbers posted on the pillars.
It certainly feels real, as the unwitting players display their shock at the reception (the scene takes place after an embarassing loss to neighboring West Chester in the finals of the regionals in Townson, Maryland, only to find out they are awarded the 15th seed in the 16-team field AIAW national tournament).
Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter Mel Greenberg is in attendance for this scene -- and it's only fitting, seeing how he covered the real-life Mighty Macs. Greenberg has been a huge proponent of womens' college basketball, and played a part in its rise to national prominence. He was also a huge of fan of Cathy Rush, writing often of her exploits during Immaculata's reign as champions.
Also here is former star player, Theresa Grentz, whom Cathy once called "her Jerry West." Grentz, who inspired the character, Trish, was a trememdously skilled player who went on to coach at Rutgers, St. Joe's and the University of Illinois, winning a whopping 671 games. It is homecoming of sorts for Grentz, who recently resigned from Illinois to relocate back to Pennsylvania and become consultant to the Immaculata program.
POSTED: 07/05/2007 at 7:52 pm Anthony Gargano
|A raging summer thunderstorm pounds the campus, while inside the lobby of a dorm the girls tell Sister Sarge why they missed curfew. Their growth at the craft is extraordinary. They have become their character.
Here's how the scene goes, the seven girls lined up before a furious Sister Sarge:
ROSEMARY And on our way back we found this big dowg with the saddest little face and he was limping.
LIZANNE He was definitely hurt, adorable though.
TRISH Dragging his leg like this.
Trish (Katie) limps and the other girls suppress their laughter.
TRISH It was a sin.
SISTER SARGE What kind of dog?
COLLEEN AND ROSEMARY answer in unison.
COLLEEN A standard poodle.
ROSEMARY Golden retriever
JEN It was a mixed breed -- it had like, red curly hair.
GAYLE Like Lucile Ball.
JEN And, uh, we took turns carrying him.
TRISH He was so big, some us fell.
LIZANNE So we did what Saint Francis of Assisi would have done, and reunited him with his owner.
Tim is thrilled by the scene. He jokes: "Remind me never to believe anything you girls ever say. You're terrific liars!"
This is a fun and also important scene. It shows how the girls have come together as a team. Part of becoming a team is to do something perhaps a little mischievous as a team. It's a bonding moment.
This manifests itself in the girls practicing by themselves in a scene that shortly follows. Cathy laments to Sister Sunday before practice that perhaps she has pushed them a little too hard. They are standing outside the basement gym waiting for the girls. To their surprise, they are already going through drills on their own.
Back inside the dorm building, on clockwork, the pizzas come into the snack room inside one of the dorms. Usually when the shoot runs late, dozens of pizzas are delivered for a snack. That is a bonding moment for the crew.
POSTED: 07/05/2007 at 8:11 pm Anthony Gargano
|There's Tim eating his coffee cup of trail mix again. He's lost a lot of weight, mostly due to the stress of the clock.Time really is money during the shoot. Going into overtime will cost a production thousands of dollars. Because this film is being financed independently with a strict budget, Tim can't afford extra cost.
Line producer Pat Peach -- a thirty-year veteran of the film industry -- and producer Whitney Springer are the clock watchers. It's the unenviable job of playing pest, making sure the production follows the strict union guidelines and Tim knows the budget constraints.
Often it's a battle between cost and art. For example, the scene we will end the shooting with on Monday was quite expensive, involving building out a tunnel during under a bridge about a mile from the campus. To shoot this scene, production had to first get permission from the property owner, a kindly older woman whose main wish was to make sure that none of the natural habitat would be damaged. So we hired a botanist to prove that nothing of "natural" importance would be harmed. We also had to make sure that site of the scene, off of a dark, lonely country road, could be accessed by the crane to get the right camera shots and be cornered off by local police to control traffic.
During pre-production, Pat and Whitney wanted to cut the scene due to cost. Tim stood tall in his vision, one that began over a year ago when he passed the bridge, exited his car and "saw" the coach, upset at her team's play on the defensive end, forcing her players slide through the tunnel teaching them to get low.
Perhaps it's his background as a football player or maybe his coaching of his kids in basketball and football, but he "thinks" like a coach. It's the way you teach, showing examples, forcing the player to learn -- and understand.
This would be a scene to remember in the film, a movie moment not unlike Gene Hackman measuring the height from the floor to the rim to his Hickory High team in Hoosiers. So Tim fought to keep it.
Upon seeing the construction of the tunnel, now able to visualize the scene, both Pat and Whitney apologized to Tim.
It brought to mind what one veteran crew member had said weeks before -- Tim was shooting a studio-quality film on a tight indie budget.
POSTED: 07/05/2007 at 9:15 pm Anthony Gargano
The final day of shooting begins on the afternoon of a gorgeous sunsplashed day, cool for late June, with low humidity. We are outside at the quad filming a scene where Rosemary tracks down Sister Sunday. She is thinking of joining the Order.