Loading Doc: Bears, Commies, and Other Americana
March 22, 2016 by Todd Lillethun
Director Scott Prestin is in post-production on his Chicago Bears documentary, 85: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE GREATEST TEAM IN PRO FOOTBALL HISTORY, which chronicles the story behind their incredible season and Super Bowl victory in 1985. This year marks the 30th anniversary of that famous game, and Prestin hopes to release the film in August before the start of the next NFL season. Production started in 2015 with local DP Marc Menet, and Chicago-based producers Rich Lenkov, Joe Klest, ’85 Bear Otis Wilson, and Fox Sports broadcaster Chris Myers. The NFL came onboard early, and supplied footage that captured the many milestones of that season as well as the history of the league itself. Also included are interviews with former team members, coach Mike Ditka, and famous Chicagoans, among them: Reverend Jesse Jackson, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, actor Jeremy Piven, and President Barack Obama. Actors from the recurring Saturday Night Live Superfans sketch (Robert Smigel, George Wendt, and Joe Mantegna) also make an appearance. Editor Sean Medard is working with Periscope Post to carry the film into the end zone.
(Pictured left: Director Prestin, Jeremy Piven, Producer Lenkov)
Commie High: The Film
Michigan-based director Donald Harrison has begun a Kickstarter campaign for the documentary COMMIE HIGH: THE FILM, about a public high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan whose unorthodox educational strategies has been creating a stir since its founding in 1972. With no sports teams, no prom, no cafeteria, and no rules, the school set out to redefine an educational experience where time spent in the community was just as important as time spent in the classroom. At first, the school attracted what were considered to be the misfits and outsiders of society who did not fit in at traditional schools, but by the early nineties, the successes and notoriety of the program generated weeks-long campouts and desperate tactics in order for students to gain admission. Interviews with former pupils and teachers describe how the school helped shape their lives, and what kind of example it serves for schools across the country. Harrison is the former executive director of the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and is looking to raise $45,000 by April 13.
10 That Changed America
Producer Dan Protess and his team at WTTW are finishing a three-part series 10 THAT CHANGED AMERICA, which will air on PBS nationally on Tuesdays April 5, 12 and 19. Inspired by the success of the program 10 BUILDINGS THAT CHANGED AMERICA, WTTW asked Dan to expand that show’s smart and sensual approach to architecture, and apply it to homes, parks, and towns. Narrowing the field down to ten each proved to be a difficult and sometimes controversial challenge: a panel of academic advisors made 40 – 50 recommendations around each topic, and the producers chose their final 10 based on a variety of looks, locations, and stories. Other cities which didn’t make the cut will be featured on their website. “We are not saying these are the ten best from each field,” says Protess. “Rather, the show is meant to be a conversation starter about what makes these locations special.” After three years of production, WTTW is hoping for another hit; as Protess describes it, “It’s a national show with local appeal.” Geoffrey Baer returns as host.
Todd Lillethun is a freelance producer and editor at Flicker Effects and student advisor at Northwestern University's MFA program for Documentary Media.