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$4,386
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37
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sun, November 25 2018 3:02 PM UTC +00:00

BEYOND TOBACCO ROAD - A Film Production Fundraiser

This film will show former ACC athletes who now coach, teach, & mentor young people and the important role these men play in schools.

BEYOND TOBACCO ROAD - A Film Production Fundraiser

This film will show former ACC athletes who now coach, teach, & mentor young people and the important role these men play in schools.

$4,386
pledged of $59,000pledged of $59,000 goal
37
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sun, November 25 2018 3:02 PM UTC +00:00

About

This documentary is about the honorable service these men provide in public schools, and the film will underscore the significance of that work, which is a sharp contrast from what might be deemed as success by those outside of sport. Because so much of an athlete’s identity is tied to the game he or she plays, the film will demonstrate the struggle athletes face after sport in developing a new, professional identity. 

In addition to the issues related to identity that athletes often confront, there are particular challenges that African American men must face when they pursue careers in America's schools. African American male teachers make up less than 2% of the teaching workforce, yet the presence of African American teachers is one of the most significant factors in improved outcomes for students of color.

By celebrating the work of these men and demonstrating the need for better representation in the teaching ranks, BEYOND TOBACCO ROAD will present audiences with the positive impact of their leadership and coaching and demonstrate that we desperately need more teachers and coaches like these men if we hope to unseat persistent cultural challenges like the achievement gap.

For former athletes, the past is constant shadow that informs the present, so the film will juxtapose past moments with their present work to demonstrate this phenomena. We will use a parallel editing structure that will weave together the narratives of these men as we interact during the course of a school year. The narratives of these men will be punctuated by interviews with their friends, family members, former teammates & mentors, current coworkers, and fans that remember their days on the court. 

The film will also bring in contextual, big ideas about the challenges former athletes face once they retire from an active sporting life. These ideas will come directly from former elite athletes who have written books on that subject. The exploration of the struggle to claim a new identity after sport will be coupled with new scholarship, directly from experts in their field, which explores representation of African American men in the public education workforce and the positive impact improved representation can have on outcomes for students. 

The unified impact of these elements will allow audiences to see the choice to teach and coach that these former athletes have made could be a success greater than any they achieved in sport and that the road beyond Tobacco Road is one of promise and purpose.

From the front page of the News & Observer, October, 21 2018
From the front page of the News & Observer, October, 21 2018

PRODUCTION SCHEDULE, BUDGET, AND TIMELINE DISTRIBUTION

Pre-Production started back in the spring of 2018. Production began in August and will continue throughout the year into the early parts of the summer 2019. This Kickstarter is designed to fund the film's production. Our team plans to have a rough cut of the film ready for a score and legal review by the end of the summer into the fall of 2019 and a final cut ready to submit to film festivals by the by the fall to winter with the hope of securing a spring 2020 premiere. Once a festival run is complete in 2020, marketing the film through on-demand streaming services will begin in earnest, along with the film’s outreach and audience engagement initiatives.

Special Perk Update - Our Team Has Partnered with Nyla Elise and CEO Ricky Moore

When Ricky Moore, CEO and Chief Designer of the Nyla Elise Brand, saw our Kickstarter, he reached out personally soon after the launch to discuss the possibility for a partnership. 

As a former basketball player with ties to both North Carolina and to the film's subjects, Ricky expressed his desire to help lift up our story, and he has offered an exclusive Carolina Culture design for donors at the $150, $250, $500, & $1000 levels. The t-shirt (along with other Nyla Elise items) will also be available for the $2500 and $5000 perk levels.

Rob Phillips, Director & Ricky Moore, CEO Nyla Elise
Rob Phillips, Director & Ricky Moore, CEO Nyla Elise

The text and images above are from the film's website. To learn more about the subjects or the team, visit the website and follow the links at www.beyondtobaccoroad.com

DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT

If you've read this far, perhaps you'll read a bit more. 

More than twenty years have passed since my NCAA Division II career ended. Though I moved on a long time ago, some choices continue to haunt me. My studies and training in high school did not always receive the attention they deserved, and I sometimes wonder how things would've turned out if I'd taken things more seriously. 

The director blocking a shot during his junior year of high school.
The director blocking a shot during his junior year of high school.

Because I was a big kid and was recruited to play on an elite AAU traveling team, I assumed Tobacco Road was my destiny and that a future in basketball was inevitable, but my respectable high school career never blossomed. At best, my college career was mediocre, leaving me feeling like a failure as an athlete. By the end of my sophomore year in college, I mostly resigned my hoop dreams to the reality of my limited prospects and focused more of my energy on my future as an educator, but my identity as a student-athlete and my longing for greatness in sport didn't just disappear. There were always the nagging what-ifs. What if I had transferred schools? What if I had trained harder?

A press photo from the director's college days at Pembroke.
A press photo from the director's college days at Pembroke.

In 1998 while I was in graduate school for education, the year before I began teaching back home, I saw HOOP DREAMS (1994). The memories of playing in high school and college flooded my mind, and I couldn't help but wonder, what happened to those guys? Did they make it? The internet wasn't what it is now, so those questions were more difficult to answer. Yet I was galvanized by a film that was so much more than a sports movie.

The director with Arthur Agee of Hoop Dreams.
The director with Arthur Agee of Hoop Dreams.

After teaching for seven years, I returned to graduate school in 2006 at NC State for English and Film Studies. My advanced studies in film reignited my passion for teaching, especially in the area of filmmaking and media literacy, and those studies led to my award-winning first film, TEACHER OF THE YEAR (2017), which I co-directed with a former teacher and fellow filmmaking friend, Jason Korreck. But this basketball film project was in my head long before I even considered my first film.

Even today, I continue to be haunted by the what-ifs? If these feelings plagued me as a mediocre player from a small college, I wondered what life after sport is like for a former athlete from an elite Tobacco Road school where I once imagined playing? To what extent are these former athletes able to transform their what ifs into a what now? And what does their what now actually look like? Some of the authors I've connected with, like Jabari K. Smith and Kelli Tennant, have explored this difficult question, and though these questions are the genesis for this project, they are far from the final step.

As I began to consider the primary subjects for this film, I hoped to include men who made it to the highest levels yet elected to return to coaching and teaching in their home communities. What sort of impact could they have? The answers are astonishing and the research points to outcomes that address some of the most persistent challenges we face in education, including the achievement gap. The scholarship, authored by scholars like Dr. Lewis and Dr. Lindsay, demonstrates a common factor in improved outcomes of students of color, more teachers of color in America's classrooms. This film will emphasize their scholarship in an effort to underscore the importance of the path beyond the bright lights shining on Tobacco Road.

I sincerely hope that audiences will see former athletes in a new light and that current and former student-athletes might reimagine what what success can look like, but I also hope that we can move towards a more representative educational workforce that better recruits, supports, and retains teachers and coaches like the men featured in this film.

Risks and challenges

The greatest impediments to any project like this one are money and time. To some extent, I have some control over how I use my time, and because I was able to achieve the goals I set for myself with the team we assembled with my first feature film, TEACHER OF THE YEAR (2017), I know that I will do what is necessary to complete this project.

Money is a greater challenge. Paying the people on my team allows this project to move forward, and on a teacher's salary, even as a twenty-year veteran educator, this project is bigger than anything I can complete by myself. In fact, most of the money we raise will go directly to the filmmaking team I've assembled and will certify the pre-production and production phase of this project is managed properly.

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Funding period

- (50 days)