Sunday, August 4, 2013

Trading the Gator - Behind the Scenes and On the Cutting Room Floor

You have seen some segments of Trading The Gator, and there are more to come.  That was an extremely exciting year for the CFCL, rather heady stuff to be the featured league in a film about Fantasy Baseball.

While the producers were gathering footage I neglected to remember that the film was about Fantasy Baseball and not about the CFCL.  I also failed to understand the filmmaking process and assumed that everything shot would find its way into the movie.  I mean, c’mon, we’re a bunch of photogenic guys and . . . ok, not so much photogenic (actually terribly unphotogenic) but we were REAL!  How could the general public not want to watch a documentary on nothing but us?

Fortunately the producers understood the big picture, taking tons of footage just in case their film went in a direction they hadn’t intended.  But for a novice like me, I thought all of it was gold – and it cost me.

The process was pretty cool.  The producers had David and me go back to our high school (Oak Park River Forest) and through prior arrangements we were allowed to walk around the student center and up to the room where we offered Mr. Swierk charter involvement in the CFCL all the while a camera crew followed us around.  This was all pre “Jersey Shore” and “Real Housewives” so it felt new and odd and vainly cool.  We even received a little write up in the school newsletter.

We went to the apartment that David and I shared in the early CFCL years and reminisced.  After the draft the producers met me at my Naperville office and we drove to a local ballfield and talked about the season, the standings and expectations.

The funniest part for me was during the actual draft.  The producers had David and me (and maybe another owner or two) miked up.  We went through the usual festivities of electing an Executive Committee and league business and then it was the draft.
Traditionally I always sit next to my cousin Matt (owner of the DoorMatts).  During lulls in the bidding or when we notice a trend or something interesting we usually lean in toward each other and make a comment.  This year was nothing different except that there were people (camera crew) listening in on the conversation.  Matt and I are hilarious in our comments to each other – just ask us, we’ll tell you we’re hilarious – and on a couple of occasions when Matt or I would make a witty observation I would hear a muffled laugh from the periphery of the room.  Soon thereafter the producers moved body mikes from one owner to Matt so they could capture our amazing back and forth.  Some of the comments may have been just a touch blue, but I figured that would make for some awesome extra material on the bonus DVD.
When all the footage was compiled and the producers had the film ready to go, they hosted a big party in a suite at the Holiday Inn in Naperville, IL.  Catered and everything.  Matt and I drove there together and I couldn’t wait to see the hilarity and awesomeness unfold on screen.  I wondered if they used our conversations from the draft.  Couldn’t wait to see the footage from OPRF.
Before they started the movie, Nick and Brad graciously thanked us for attending and for being a part of this project.  Brad then said that while they had a lot of great footage, they couldn’t get everything in and even though some owners had given a lot of their time, they (the producers) went in a direction with the film that they felt told the best and most complete story of fantasy baseball.  It was then that I sensed I may not see what I was hoping to see.
The film ran and it was done amazingly well.  Very professional.  Exactly what you would see if you went to a movie theater.  Bruce and I were on screen making a trade, but that was about it.  No draft day banter.  No OPRF.  And then, in my head, I went into Hollywood Diva Mode.  How could they not spend more time on the CFCL?  Who cares about fantasy baseball players in New York?  Oh the arrogance a movie camera can bring out.
The film was amazingly done.  Better, in quality and story, than I could ever have imagined.  But that night I wasn’t thinking about the big picture.  I was thinking selfish things and didn’t truly enjoy the whole process.
After that showing, the producers had a couple of showings of the film at the Cultural Arts Center in Chicago.  All owners were invited to attend.  All did attend – except me.  An honest reason was that my wife and I had, at the time, three girls (ages 5, 3 and 1) at home.  Our work schedules had us each watching the three of them while other went off to work and vice versa.  So family time was at a bit of a premium.  But also in my mind was the petulant fact that the movie didn’t focus enough on the CFCL (and my footage) and so I wasn’t real excited about making special arrangements to attend.  I was an ass.  (Still am today, I’m sure in other realms).  We could have made it work, for at least one of the showings.  My attendance wouldn’t have made the preview and my lack of attendance didn’t break the preview.  But it would have been a mature show of support to the filmmakers that they did an awesome job and should be celebrated for their accomplishment.
Instead I stayed home.  Yes with my family, yes to spend time with my girls and wife, but a couple of hours of support for the producers would have been important as well.
My asinine attitude cost me some camaraderie with my fellow owners that night, cost me the potential to meet a future owner who attended the showing (Kenn Ruby) and cost me the peace of mind that I helped and supported a young group of filmmakers who had a vision and asked us to be a part of it.
Mr. Demille, I’ve just had my close-up.

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