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On April 2nd, in conjunction with the Northwest African American Museum and the City of Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, we hosted a tribute event to Fir State Golf Club called Living Legends. A crowd of over 100 community members came out to learn about the history of Fir State Golf Club and honor some of the members who will be featured in this film.
How did the journey of this film project begin?
The idea to make this film started with a Facebook post of mine from last summer. I posted the photograph below of two of my favorite golfing buddies, Luscious Dean and Bill Lynch, who are respectively 90 years old and 88 years old.
In the post I wrote "these guys have a rich history, someone should make a documentary about them". Almost immediately the post got a lot of attention, with messages coming back from all over the country saying, "Why not you Rudy?". It wasn't until this post that I realized, much to my surprise, for many years I had been preparing myself to make this film.
Why was I surprised?
I have never considered making a film before. I just love golf and have a lot of love and respect for these two men. They are sharp, witty and clever and I have learned so much spending time with them and listening to their stories. During the process of starting this project and figuring out how to capture their voices on film, I began to uncover not just their personal stories, but the dynamic history of the club they belonged to, Fir State Golf Club. As the idea took form, I received a lot of encouragement to find a way to do it. To my surprise this encouragement started coming from friends in the arts community - photographers, visual artists, performers and film makers. They totally believed in this project. Some were golfers and some knew nothing about the sport but all were convinced that my passion to make this film and my long term relationships with the Fir State Club members could carry this project.
How did I meet these Fir State golfers?
Since my late teens, I've held a variety of part time jobs at the municipal golf course in my Seattle neighborhood. If you visited this course you would see it is a unique golf course. It is a course where on any given summer day you might a group of Laotian golfers teeing off after a group of Chinese golfers. You might see a group of Japanese women golfers chatting it up with Black golfers. You might see Jewish men putting on the practice green alongside Samoan golfers.
Golf is a great vehicle for bringing people together and this golf course is a destination for all cultures. You will see golfers of all ages and abilities and, in particular, you will notice a regular presence of a group of elderly Black men who I later learned were members of Fir State Golf Club. Jefferson Park Golf Course, practically in the heart of downtown Seattle, is located on the edge of a neighborhood that is one of the most demographically diverse zip codes in the country - southeast Seattle. It has been a go to place for golfers of color in the area who want to spend their time on a course where they won't have to feel like an an outsider to the game.
Black golfers are acutely aware of the racist undertones that linger in country clubs across the U.S. In an interview in 1990, Tiger Woods stated "I can always feel it, I can always sense it. People staring at you and thinking you shouldn't be here".
What is guiding this documentary?
Relationships, friendships, and experiences on and off the course and a shared commitment to maintaining a greater sense of community through golf guide the making of this documentary.
Fir State Golf Club, a primarily Black golf club, chose to call themselves Fir State after Washington's state tree. To them, the evergreen fir tree was a symbol of strength and the ability to weather many storms. The club was established in 1947 to provide nonwhites an opportunity to learn and participate fully in the sport of golf. Up until that time, and in most places around the United States, including Seattle, clubs and tournaments were not open to golfers of color. Regardless of their abilities, they were left out of opportunities to compete, gain recognition and acquire the economic rewards afforded to other quality golfers. This was true and condoned legally throughout the 40's, 50's and 60's. At a time when Rosa Parks had not yet been arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus and the 14th amendment to the US constitution, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, was still 17 years away, these determined golfers became some of the earliest heroes in the fight for equality and racial justice in Seattle.
Why is this film important to make now?
The goal and mission in making this film is to spark and ignite conversation about how far we have come in breaking down golf's racial barriers and how much farther we need to go. Less than 2 percent of teaching professionals around the country are non-white and there are now fewer Black golfers on the PGA tour than there were in 1976. In golf these days, we do not witness the same kinds of efforts we see in other major sports to welcome and include all communities.
The story of racism in golf in Seattle is an important part our Northwest history. It needs to be told because it is important that we honestly look at our past. The golfers of Fir State Golf Club worked hard for many decades to break down the barriers and stereotypes that portray golf as a white-elitist sport. These elderly members self proclaim they won't be around much longer and they hope that their stories can influence the future.
Why will this project succeed?
With your support, it is quite feasible that we will be able to create a quality and finished film. We have a talented and dedicated crew that will be giving much of their time and equipment usage as in-kind donations. Because of their personal enthusiasm for the project, the funds that will go towards paying the crew will be less than 40% of their standard industry rate, so we will really be getting a bang for our buck!
Lets meet the crew:
In order from left to right:
- Jama Abdirahman, Director of Photography(1): University of Washington student and Film Maker who makes up one half of Farscape Production Company.
- Abdul Kassamali, Director of Photography(2): Seattle University student and Film Maker, who makes up the other half of Farscape Production Company.
- Sean Donavan, Editor: Professional Film Editor and a golfer with over 16 years film editing experience.
- Marion Smith, Sound and Audio: A golfer and Emmy award winning Field Audio Technician with over twenty five years in film and video production.
- Rudy Horn, Director: A golfer and Seattle Central College Student studying Social and Human Services.
We are asking for the support of $18,000 in order to produce and bring you this film. We have put together some great incentives as our way of saying thank you! Funds will be used for the following costs:
- Production crew: $6,000
- Editing: $3,000
- Equipment rental: $3,150
- Musical score: $1,000
- Meals/coffee and water: $750
- Licensing/Insurance: $600
- Contingency (10%): $1,500
- Kickstarter/credit card fees (8%): $1,320
- Kickstarter incentives: $680
- Total: $18,000
Risks and challenges
When doing any project with elderly subjects, there is always the concern they may not be well enough to continue their participation or be able to view the finished project. So our biggest challenge, out of necessity, is our short production timeline. Our goal is to have all the Fir State participants experience the film project being shared in our community and hopefully around the country. I don't see many other obstacles because we have a committed and talented crew.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (60 days)