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The Independent Critic

 Tim Chambers Interview (Continued) 
THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

This brings up a question for me. You're a first-time filmmaker with a fairly modest budget, but you've attracted a really great cast. I mean you've got an Oscar winner in the film, Ellen Burstyn. You've got Carla Gugino.

TIM CHAMBERS

I think I've got to go back to the material. I think when you put yourself in their seat. They're looking for roles that are challenging or different or make a difference. For that reason, I think that we really attracted solid talent. Carla Gugino's got a phenomenal body of work. She's done so many great things. Like you said, Ellen Burstyn's an Academy Award winner. David Boreanaz is from Philadelphia, so he knew the story. He was actually friends with Ed Rush when he was a young boy. I think a lot of those things put us in the right place to attract that talent. Of course, I was working on an independent budget, but I just really surrounded myself with people who knew more than I did. My D.P., Chuck Cohen, worked on Any Given Sunday and Almost Famous. You bring them in and say "This is our budget. This is what we need to do. How do we get it done?" I just really relied on them. My editor, Bud Smith (M. Scott Smith), did The Exorcist and got the lifetime achievement award from the Editors Guild. I think you just say to people "I'm an independent filmmaker. I want to surround myself with talented people. I've got some money I can pay you. It's not what you're used to, but in between your studio films are you willing to help me?" We were pretty lucky to attract such great talent. You just put your business out there, ask for referrals and knock on doors.

Getting back to your original point, we really had no deadline. In fact, Bill Ross said to me "Tim, you've got to slow down. This movie will outlive you." We weren't going to do an original score, but decided to do an original score. We've had so many compliments on it. It's just beautiful, especially for a little indie. We made the movie for $7.5 million. I think the average movie is being made for $45 million now?

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

Some of the people in there, too...well, like Carla Gugino. I remember seeing her in the cast and wondering if she could really pull it off. I mean, she's got an incredible body of work but this was really a different kind of role for her. She did. She's amazing in the film.

TIM CHAMBERS

She is amazing. I went and saw her in a play in New York. I remembered her as Karen Sisco in that TV series that she had. I'd seen her in a lot of things. So, I went up to New York to see her in this Tennessee Williams play. For me, it's just that every role that she plays she's committed to her character. I think it really shows her versatility. I really needed that "fire in the belly." I could see that she could be tender and that she could also be the kind of coach who gets upset after a loss and goes "Okay, everyone into the tunnel." You can't fake that. You can't have someone without acting chops in that role because people will immediately go "I don't believe her. I don't believe that she's a good coach."

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC


It's really hard to play a coach. It's really easy to play the stereotype of a coach, but it's really hard to play a coach. Carla really nails the whole thing. She nails the relationship with the players. She nails the coaching. She nails the home life.

TIM CHAMBERS


It really starts with her saying "Take everything that you know and get rid of it." It culminates with her pre-game speech where she says to them "It's okay to want the prize." That's when she empowered those young women. I think that's why they went on to be so great in their own lives... all of them. That's really how her arc was formed. She started that way. She transformed their lives. One of my favorite parts of the movie is at the end where we say "This is what these girls went on to do." Clearly, they were affected. Clearly, that's the immortality of influence. That's why she's a legend and I believe that's why we make movies about people like her.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I wanted to ask you about something I read involving one of your players in the film. I believe it was Katie Hayek. The film is coming out during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a fact that is significant because Rush herself has survived breast cancer. However, I also read that one of your cast members, I believe Katie, was diagnosed with breast cancer right as you were getting ready to start filming. You talk about "empowerment." I think that speaks volumes in your decision to keep her in the cast.

TIM CHAMBERS


That's exactly right. It  was Katie Hayek, the beautiful brunette in the film who plays Trish Sharkey. That was one of the last roles cast and one of the hardest decisions I made was casting that role. It was really a challenge to find the right person, but when I found her I knew she was it. The day I called her, I left her a voice mail saying "The job's yours." She called back a couple hours later and said "Look, I've got to let you know that I just found out that I have cancer. I've got to start chemo in two weeks." It was a very difficult decision, not only as a director but as a producer. How are we going to start a movie with a girl who's obviously not going to have the same energy level in week eight as she will in week one? I talked to her dad. I talked to her. She was like "I've always had this dream of being an actress." She studied Theatre at University of Miami. She said "You have to stay with me. Give it a shot. I promise I won't let you down." We thought about it overnight. We came back the next day and said "Okay, let's move all the basketball scenes up a couple weeks." We started her out with a wig in case she would lose her hair. We made the decision. It was a great decision. She's phenomenal in the movie. You should see her now. Her cancer's in remission. She's as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. She reminds me of a young Jennifer Garner. She's sincere, genuine, pretty, athletic... really the total package. Her story in itself is inspiring.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC


I was amazed by her story, but I was also amazed by you guys as producers for deciding to stick with her. That just speaks volumes to me. This was obviously already an ultra-challenging time in her life and to have that level of support and empowerment is just truly amazing, especially on a lower budget film where every little expense matters. That says an awful lot about the team to commit to her personally and professionally. I think a lot of directors would have said they weren't going into that. That's pretty heavy, especially for your first film.

TIM CHAMBERS

I think sometimes you just go with your gut. In hindsight, it was irrational. It probably wasn't the right thing to do. We got push back from our production company and our insurance. Those are tough decisions to make. At some point, I just said "I can make changes to accommodate her." I felt like she really was going to be that good. I believed in her. I just knew what her work ethic was about...the fact that I talked to her parents. Sometimes you just make those decisions and you go "You know what, this is the right thing to do."

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

When I heard about the story, I thought to myself "Man, that just fits with the entire theme of the film."

TIM CHAMBERS

No doubt. No doubt. It really is remarkable.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I've got one more question for you. Tell me about your production company, Quaker Media. I believe this was also your first film as Quaker Media.

TIM CHAMBERS

It's a company that was founded by myself and my business partner, Vince Curran. Vince is the Executive Producer on the movie. We went to the University of Pennsylvania . So the "Quaker" was kind of a double entendre. So, it started with our friendship as the foundation and helping to serve as an example of the kind of projects that we want to work on. The movie is one. There's a 24/7 traffic channel that we launched called "Tango Traffic." We started "Real Estate on Demand" for Comcast. We're Executive Producers on "Farmers Almanac TV." We've got a cross-section of projects that we work on to pay the bills so that we can go out and make inspirational films and make a difference in people's lives.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

So, you'll probably be back at Heartland Film Festival one of these days?

TIM CHAMBERS

I hope so. When people ask me what my goal is, I say "I want to get all my investors their money back so we can do it all again." That's really a simple goal, but I have the utmost respect for the people who've invested in me and my work. I want to make sure that we can sustain it.

THE INDEPENDENT CRITIC

I wish you the best with your film's release and I really thank you for your time.

TIM CHAMBERS

Thank you!


"The Mighty Macs" opens in approximately 1,000 theatres nationwide on October 21st, 2011. Look for it at a theatre near you. For my Indianapolis (my hometown!) readers, "The Mighty Macs" will be showing at AMC Washington Square on Indy's Eastside. For more information on "The Mighty Macs," visit The Mighty Macs website.


© 2011, Interview by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic




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