Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sorry for the delayed updates.

We've been working on completing the first completed draft which currently weighs in at 110 pages.

As with all scripts, they are living documents which will continue to get tweaked through production, sometimes even during shooting.

Basketball season is now underway. Can you imagine a school in Oregon with 27 students winning the boys 6A State Basketball Championship? That's the equivalent of what Bellfountain did when they made into the State Tournament in 1937 to play league giants like Franklin and Lincoln.

Can you imagine jumping at center court after every basket? If you had a tall player it would be like 'winners out'... make a basket, tap it to your own team, make a basket, repeat process.

That's what they did in the 30's. To make it more challenging, Bellfountain's tallest player was only 6' and many opponents had players 6'4".

Watch for more updates in the coming weeks.

Monday, July 5, 2010

President Roosevelt to Oregon

The lodge was constructed during the Bellfountain days between 1936 and 1938 as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project during the Great Depression. Workers used large timbers and local stone, and placed intricately carved decorative elements throughout the building.

President Roosevelt came to Oregon to dedicate it which must have been a major deal during the depression.

Words of Franklin D. Roosevelt

Address at Timberline Lodge
September 28, 1937
Publishing Information

Governor Martin, Ladies and Gentlemen:

HERE I am on the slopes of Mount Hood where I have always wanted to come.

I am here to dedicate the Timberline Lodge and I do so in the words of the bronze tablet directly in front of me on the coping of this wonderful building:

"Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood National Forest dedicated September 28, 1937, by the President of the United States as a monument to the skill and faithful performance of workers on the rolls of the Works Progress Administration."

In the past few days I have inspected many great governmental activities - parks and soil protection sponsored by the Works Progress Administration; buildings erected with the assistance of the Public Works Administration; our oldest and best-known National Park, the Yellowstone, under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service; great irrigation areas fathered by the Reclamation Service; and a few hours ago a huge navigation and power dam built by the Army engineers.

Now I find myself in one of our many national forests, here on the slopes of Mount Hood.

The people of the United States are singularly fortunate in having such great areas of the outdoors in the permanent possession of the people themselves - permanently available for many different forms of use.

In the total of this acreage the national forests already play an important part in our economy, and as the years go by, their usefulness is bound to expand.

A good many of us probably think of our forests as having the primary function of saving our timber resources, but they do far more than that; much of the timber in them is cut and sold under scientific methods, and replaced on the system of rotation by new stands of many types of useful trees. The National Forests, in addition, provide forage for livestock and game, they husband our water at the source; they mitigate our floods and prevent the erosion of our soil. Last but not least, our National Forests will provide constantly increasing opportunity for recreational use. This Timberline Lodge marks a venture that was made possible by W.P.A., emergency relief work, in order that we may test the workability of recreational facilities installed by the Government itself and operated under its complete control.

Here, to Mount Hood, will come thousands and thousands of visitors in the coming years. Looking east toward eastern Oregon with its great livestock raising areas, these visitors are going to visualize the relationship between the cattle ranches and the summer ranges in the forests. Looking westward and northward toward Portland and the Columbia River, with their great lumber and other wood using industries, they will understand the part which National Forest timber will play in the support of this important element of northwestern prosperity.

Those who will follow us to Timberline Lodge on their holidays and vacations will represent the enjoyment of new opportunities for play in every season of the year. I mention specially every season of the year because we, as a nation, I think, are coming to realize that the summer is not the only time for play. I look forward to the day when many, many people from this region of the Nation are going to come here for skiing and tobogganing and various other forms of winter sports. Among them, all of those visitors, in winter and summer, spring and autumn, there will be many from the outermost parts of our Nation, travelers from the Middle West, the South and the East, Americans who are fulfilling a very desirable objective of citizenship - getting to know their country better.

I am very keen about travel, not only personally - you know that - but also about travel for as many Americans as can possibly afford it, because those Americans will be getting to know their own country better; and the more they see of it, the more they will realize the privileges which God and nature have given to the American people.

So, I take very great pleasure in dedicating this Lodge, not only as a new adjunct of our National Forests, but also as a place to play for generations of Americans in the days to come.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blind Boy Fuller


I think Fuller was one of my favorite music artists of the 30's. He wrote several songs that were indicative of the times.

Hopefully we will be able to get permission to use some of his music.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bellfountain gym

The gym as it stands today. It hasn't changed since the high school days of 1937.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Harry Wallace Interview

Today Doug Graham and I loaded our production gear and headed south on I-5 (or 'The 5' if you live in So.Cal) to Corvallis, Oregon.

Waiting for us was a gentle spirit and wonderful man of 92 years. We picked a location in the garden area of the Timberhill Place Retirement Center. (thank you for your accommodations and hospitality)

Harry Wallace shared stories of an era long lost to modern technology. He shared a home with parents and siblings during the Great Depression with no bathroom, no phone and a large tub for a bath.

During our 90 minute interview, his eyes danced as he shared stories of a small town with a coach and 8 boys with a dream.

He shared of his misadventure into amateur wrestling at a local fair. The wrestling ring that once looked so large from the audience became substantially smaller as he attempted to escape the burly arms of the much slower but heavier opponent. "What was I thinking" he would say. "I was thinking I could keep away from him for the required time with my speed and agility".

That concept worked well for several minutes until the opponent grabbed one of his appendages and tossed him in the air. His descent to the ground would result in a trip to the hospital to attempt repair on a misaligned left arm. It would never heal correctly and would be one of many challenges facing him and the young team from 'Bellfountain'

An hour and a half later after starting the interview, we were joining him and 'Woody' (a friend) for lunch.

More to follow...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Team Member Harry Wallace

Harry Wallace is the last surviving member of the 1937 State Championship team. He is 92 and we're interviewing him in two days. When talking to Harry on the phone, he sounded vibrant and ready to share play by play commentary on his early years.

I'm anxious to discuss his brief venture into amateur wrestling his freshman year. Details to follow...

Our goal is to be filming in early 2011 with a 2012 release. As we are in development on this project, many elements will continue to come together.

"Giant Killers" is more than scenes of basketball games won and lost. It is about individuals working through their greatest challenges during the toughest time in our country's history, The Great Depression.

Follow along with us on our adventure.

The Center Jump

Until 1937, the game of basketball had an unusual rule. After each team scored, the ball was brought back to center court and re-jumped.

In today's fast paced game of basketball, this element of the game would seem rather boring... not back in the era of the Great Depression. Maybe it was the opportunity to relieve some of the frustrations of having to do farm chores or maybe it was the ref's just wanting to spice up the game but it became a favorite part of the game for the crowd.

It was the one time the ref's looked the other way after the ball was tossed in the air. Elbows flew, hand's checked, bodies bumped and more than one player would end up on their bottom. I envision a standing rugby scrum with the ball flying out of a group of bodies and heading down the court.

Bellfountain's tallest player was Richard Kessler at 6 foot nothing. Competing in the B League was one thing but many of the larger A League schools had athletes over 6 feet, a few at 6 foot 4 inches. Richard would have to learn a strategy to help him overcome this deficit.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The beginning

In November of 2008, I was traveling with a friend to a retreat in the mountains.

We had been discussing my past film projects and were discussing various stories that might lend themselves to a screen play.

Doug asked me if I had ever heard the story of the small school from Oregon that won the Boy's State basketball tournament during the Great Depression. I mentioned I hadn't and he provided me with the name of the town and the approximate year they won.

I love the internet.... did I say I love the internet? I was able to quickly pull information on Bellfountain Oregon and their small high school of 28 students and 8 boys on the basketball team. The years were 1933 - 1937 and this ragtag team of small town wonders battled their way into the hearts of all Oregonians who were struggling through the Great Depression.

I discovered two books written on the topic and a few newspaper articles that provided the majority of research material.

The first was Ralph Friedman's book, "The Other Side of Oregon" where he wrote 20 full pages on the 'Boys of Winter'.

The other was Joe R. Blakely's book, "The Bellfountain Giant Killers" where he wrote a compelling 65 pages on the historic final two years of their school years.

Rachel Bachman from the The Oregonian wrote a two page article entitled "Giant Killers' feat still echoes after 70 years" on Sunday, December 16, 2007

This research prompted a trip down to Bellfountain which is 18.22 miles south or Corvallis off of Hwy 99. It isn't much more than a stop sign now but at one time, it was bustling little farm and timber community.

Much to my delight, the school where the 'Bells' played was still there as was the gymnasium and the church across the street. We met with Greg who is pastor of the church who now owned the school and gym. He took us to the school and gym and it was like stepping back in time. The gym interior had not changed except for a few minor modern updates such as lighting. I could see in my minds' eye the 8 member team blitzing up and down the court with the lightening fast passing Coach Litchfield had taught them.

Flash forward to today where we are currently in development on this wonderful story, "Giant Killers". This blog will highlight our journey and hopefully end with the World Premiere being shown in Portland in 2012. (Before December 21st, just in case) :)

We are developing a team of creative and technical advisers to be a part of this project. We have a few on board now.

We are looking for historians, sports enthusiasts and people interested in Oregon film to be a part. I believe some runners might be interested as well for as team member Harry Wallace provided in the Rachel Bachman interview, "We'd play basketball and then run home," said Wallace, who lived four miles from school. "Kept us in shape."

More to come...