Skip to main content
#
The Independent Critic

 An Interview With Mighty Tim Chambers 

Tim Chambers has been mighty successful in the film industry. Mighty indeed. An experienced entertainment executive, Chambers has spent the past 20 years in the film, television and technology industries. He has served as the Director of the Pennsylvania Film Office for Governor Tom Ridge, is a former partner in Solaris Entertainment and he's the former VP of Development for Stuart Benjamin Productions. Chambers is the Executive Producer of "Farmers Almanac TV" and created, produced and launched "Real Estate on Demand" for Comcast. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, Chambers is a founding co-partner of Quaker Media.

All of these accomplishments are amazing, but it's Chambers' latest project that brings him to The Independent Critic. Chambers is the writer, director and producer of "The Mighty Macs," an inspirational film about the Immaculata College women's basketball team that captured the first ever women's collegiate basketball championship and, in so doing, became the true definition of a Cinderella team. "The Mighty Macs" had its world premiere at Indy's own Heartland Film Festival in 2009 and now, after a lengthy and successful festival run, is opening in right around 1,000 theatres nationwide on October 21st.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

So, it has to be a little bit crazy for you right now. Your film is about to open.

TIM CHAMBERS

It's a little bit crazy ... a good crazy, though.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I saw your film back at the Heartland Film Festival here in Indianapolis in 2009. If I'm correct, that was its world premiere?

TIM CHAMBERS

That was the first time. That was the first time that it screened for an audience.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Your film has really been on quite the journey.

TIM CHAMBERS

Yeah, we did the film festival circuit for about 15 months. We won a bunch of awards and ending up screening the film for Sony. We got them to embrace the movie and help us out with distribution. It's grown little by little. We had a very modest theatrical release plan. We were going to go out in maybe 250-300 theatres. We started to screen it for the exhibitors and they thought it would do really well in middle America. Consequently, they gave us more screens. We're up to about 1,000.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Really? That's amazing.

TIM CHAMBERS

It's the little engine that could. It's really a great parallel to the story of The Mighty Macs.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I remember seeing the film and thinking "Okay, this is surely going to end up in theatres." It was so theatre friendly. I really thought to myself that people would want to see this film. Then, I waited through the next year and I kept watching for it.

TIM CHAMBERS

We were really very close to releasing the film in 2010 and then realized that it was the 39th anniversary of the championship. We figured we'd waited a year, so why not wait until the 40th anniversary of the first championship team? There's a huge promotion around that so it certainly made sense for us to do it. October 15th is what they call "Midnight Madness" in basketball, which is the beginning of the season. That will mark the 40th anniversary of that first championship season.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

It also seems like you've done a really great job, at least from looking through your website and following the film to a certain degree, of tapping into certain markets that have really seemed to embrace the film. You've had some of the colleges get very interested and host screenings of the film. You've had the faith community really embrace the film. The faith community has suddenly exploded as a very viable theatrical market.

TIM CHAMBERS

Yeah. You know, it's interesting. We certainly always felt that way about the movie. For me, it has always been an inspiring sports movie for girls, first and foremost. I never felt like there was a movie out there where women could say it was their Rudy, their Hoosiers or their Rocky. So, the fact that we found the subject matter that lent itself to being an inspiring sports story for young girls was great. Then, part two of that is that it happens to be set on a Catholic campus. So, now you introduce all of these faith elements to it which are obviously relevant to the story. Therefore, I do think it lends itself to sort of straddling both worlds in a way that is true the story and satisfying, most importantly, to those who were involved in the real story... the real Mighty Macs, the coach, Ed Rush. I know when those people watched the movie and they cried watching the movie and said "We have now relived that moment." It makes me feel better knowing that we captured not only the sport aspect of it, but the faith aspect of it.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I agree. I do think it's one of those films that successfully appeals to both faith-based and more secular audiences. I'm sometimes, in all honesty, hesitant to describe a film as "faith-based" because for some folks that immediately rules out their seeing the film. This film is different. It's a film that will truly work for both audiences, maybe along the lines of something like The Blind Side.

TIM CHAMBERS

I think there's almost this sort of faith-based entertainment continuum where you have on one end films like Courageous or Fireproof, which are definitely faith-based films. It's a "call to action." There's homework after the film. It's great. I love their movies. I love Fireproof. We took our church group to go see Courageous. It's a great film. I think all of us need to recalibrate where we are. It's hard to come out of that movie and not be affected. I love that film, but I also love Miracle and Rocky and Rudy. I think we're more faith friendly.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I like that. I like that a lot.

TIM CHAMBERS

There's not a call to action, per se. There's faith elements that are core in the telling of that story. There's no workbook. There's no homework assignment at the end of the film, but there are definitely faith elements throughout the film.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

It was also a bit weird for me to think about the film from the issues of social justice and women's empowerment. The film is set in 1971, which is in my lifetime, and it's amazing to think just how difficult it was for Cathy Rush and these young women at this time. I also notice that you've gotten the involvement and support of a lot of women's athletic organizations, the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame and such.

TIM CHAMBERS

Rightfully so. They've really taken ownership of the film. I think they enjoy the movie and they feel like this is one of their own. It's interesting for us when we have screenings and we have young boys in the audience who go "I liked it, too. I laughed. I cried." So, while it's ideal for the young female athlete, I think the young boys seeing it will enjoy it as well. I think it's a broader market. I think families will enjoy it. It's rated G.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

It is. That amazed me. Who makes a G-rated film anymore? I remember seeing that and thinking back over the film. I couldn't remember anything even remotely offensive in the film, but I was still thinking to myself "Wow, it's rated G." That's pretty cool for a live action film. 
THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

We've been talking about The Mighty Macs, but I really want to spell it out for folks. Tell me about the film and why people really want to see it.

TIM CHAMBERS

It to me is the epitome of the original Cinderella team and not just for women's sports, but for all sports. I feel like if you look at the story of what they accomplished ... the fact that their gym burned down, the fact that they didn't have a gym to practice in, the fact that like any gym rat they had to travel throughout the county looking for an open gym so they could play. My exposure to The Mighty Macs was as a 10-year-old boy when they came to my gym to practice and I saw Cathy Rush walk into the gym for the first time with her style and her swagger with these amazing athletes that played basketball at the highest level. They were UConn of the 70's. That was etched in my mind. I think it's a timeless film. All of the messages in the film are timeless. I think it's an inspirational film that's easy to root for. It's based on a true story and I think that's what makes it so remarkable and that it's as good as any of the other great sports films that have been made. That's obviously my opinion.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

This was your first feature film. How did you decide "Okay, this is the film I'm going to make?"

TIM CHAMBERS

The more I dove into it, really. It took me a good 12 months. I sat down and really talked to Cathy Rush and kind of peeled the onion. I kept saying to her "It needs to be about more than just basketball." So, let's talk about that. I needed to really uncover what was happening at that time, the historical landscape of the 70's. What was happening with female empowerment? It wasn't feminism. It was empowerment. Women wanted their own opportunities. In a lot of ways, first and foremost, it became about equality of a woman's dream. I felt like that was something I could really hang my hat on. All dreams are created equal whether its gender or race or economics. Everybody has a dream, so the fact that they would all be equal I felt was a timeless message that is as relevant now as it was in 1971-72. That was important for me. The more I interviewed the players and saw what they went on to accomplish... talk about the immortality of Cathy Rush's influence and what these girls went on to do. In many ways, I think that's why she is a legend. She really changed the face of women's sports forever. If you look at modern day women's basketball and you want to find out about its roots, it goes right back to this tiny little college in suburban Philadelphia.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I must confess that I felt really guilty. I mean, I'm from Indiana. I love basketball. I love women's basketball. I go to Indiana Fever games, I've even been a season ticket holder. I knew very little about this story prior to seeing this film. I'd heard of Cathy Rush, but I just really didn't "know" this story.

TIM CHAMBERS

My youngest brother is the head basketball coach at Penn State (Pat Chambers). He just got named head basketball coach a couple months ago. I'm one of 12 kids. I have eight brothers and 3 sisters. If you hear me saying "I have a brother who did this" or "I have a brother who did that" don't be surprised. Tom Crean...I think that was a great pick up by Indiana.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I'm excited by that. It may take a bit, but I think he's going to take the team someplace special. But Cathy Rush, who is in the Basketball Hall of Fame, really did create the first women's basketball dynasty. One of the things I also appreciated about the film is that you really avoided caricatures and stereotypes. They can be really common in G-rated films, but they're also really common sports films with coaches, etc.

TIM CHAMBERS

Thank you for that. That was obviously really important to me. The casting was really important to me. Carla Gugino, of course, you have to cast her first (Gugino plays Cathy Rush in the film). I was looking for someone who was a really good actress. You're a basketball guy. I want people to feel what it's like to really play for somebody, to play for a coach. When you watch this movie, you can see that you could really buy into playing for her. She has that coaching swagger and confidence. The other piece that I thought was really humanizing was the Sisters... the Catholic Sisters. I had agreed with them, because I went to Catholic school for 12 years and am a product of the IHM (Immaculate Heart of Mary), that I would give them final approval of the script. I knew the pressure I was under...we talked about straddling both sides. We had the secular head coach and the religious order. How do you mix those two?

Then, there was the casting of the young girls. It was important to me that these girls looked like they could play basketball. I didn't let any of the girls read a line in the script until I watched them play. I auditioned over 500 girls for 7 players. Of course, you know that once I had them go to their left through the lay-up line a lot of them were eliminated. Anyone can do a right-handed lay-up.

Katie Hayek, she plays Trish Sharkey, played at the University of Miami. So, anyway, that was kind of the special sauce of putting it all together. You want to have a great coach, a relatable assistant coach and a team that was really impacted by this coach in a way that not only allowed them to win a championship but also changed a generation of young women.


    The Official Rating Guideline
    • A+ to A: 4 Stars                
    • A- to B+: 3.5 Stars            
    • B: 3 Stars                         
    • B- to C+: 2.5 Stars           
    • C: 2 Stars
    • C- to D+: 1.5 Stars
    • D: 1 Star
    • D-: .5 Star
    • F: Zero Stars

    our twitterour facebook page pintrestgoogle pluslinkdin

    The Independent Critic © 2008 - 2019