The Truth Cabin: A gonzo journalism meditation on a NFL Star
The Truth Cabin: A gonzo journalism meditation on a NFL Star
This isn't reality TV, it's a real-life look into life with NFL star Ricky Williams & the struggle of a filmmaker capturing the drama.
This isn't reality TV, it's a real-life look into life with NFL star Ricky Williams & the struggle of a filmmaker capturing the drama. Read more
Yeah, that’s me in the picture there wearing the Cocky T-shirt…..and yes, me attempting to do Cobra….looks pretty painful, huh. Well it was. The thing about it is I’m not sure if the pain on my face is expressing my mental anguish or physical torment. I was experiencing both as I lived and worked in a California ashram for 3 months with Ricky Williams, who in 2004 retired from his Hall of Fame track NFL career to pursue other interests. Ricky’s story blew up in such a huge controversy amongst fans, players, and especially the media. I was there, at his request, to capture the scene as it unraveled and to tell Ricky’s story. To tell the Truth.
Cue music….(definitely strings)
And thus this film…….The Truth Cabin.
In a way this seems like a lifetime ago but it is still very real to me and I am still sorting out what happened during those 6 years I followed the star running back.
Ricky Williams quit the NFL in 2004 and seduced me with the possibility of greatness.
When the “disgraced” NFL superstar called me at 2am, shortly after retiring, I was in shock, but in a way it was a call I'd been expecting. Traveling the world in bare feet, in an effort to feel more connected to the earth, one night in late August, 2004, Errick Lynne Williams looked up at the stars and proclaimed,
"I think we met for a reason, Sean."
I had been working in sports television for 10 years. My star was rising in the media and I was hungry for a drop, okay, as the t-shirt reveals, maybe a bit more then a drop, of greatness.
I had followed Ricky’s career as an essayist and as a fan. He was like no other player I’d met, he seemed more real to me, and we instantly connected despite our 8-year age difference. I did a couple stories on him in college and we built the beginnings of a relationship based on mutual respect for our work.
To this day, I consider my bond with Ricky, tenuous and complicated, but our roots were spectacularly similar. We connected, perhaps unconsciously, because neither Ricky nor I, were grounded or mature enough--coming out of college--to handle the invasions and obligations that come along with high profile success, or in his case, iconic fame. At the same time, we both had the tangible skills and internal desire to be the best, in our respective fields.
We worked harder then anyone else because we figured success would make us whole.
Over the next few years while I systematically sabotaged my career in the media, Ricky floundered in the NFL. He had a difficult time with injury in New Orleans and then failed the first of 4 drug tests. As I quit my job and went on the road documenting Ricky’s story we were both trying to fill holes. Ricky assuaged his with a life seeking knowledge and inspiration while I…. well, I was exposed to this knowledge but couldn’t get out of my own way enough to allow the inspiration on board. Cut to the painful, painful cobra.
But Ricky pursued. He tough-loved me into self-doubt and re-examination.
For a time, whenever I tried to do my job, he would just shut down. My job, as we conceived it, was to get him back on task, put his journey in context and call him on his inconsistencies. I challenged him to face some of his own demons, but he ALWAYS had an answer.
And he had an answer. "It's your Karma..."
And he had an answer. "I'll respect you, when you respect yourself."
And he had an answer. "You need to learn to dance with life, Sean..."
What did I want?
I just wanted an untouchable blank canvas
and an artists fighting chance to be the best that ever was.
We did eventually make a film, Run Ricky Run, for ESPN. It even won some awards. I am very proud of the work that was done on that film. However, it is not the real story, it is not the whole story and I can’t wait to show you what actually happened. How Ricky Williams changed my life.
Watch the video and you will see a glimpse into what I’m talking about. I have over 250 hours of this stuff…..it’s incredible!
You might be thinking…..
That’s a lot of money….what will you be using it for?
This film is 90% shot and after a few final follow-up interviews my team & I will begin the post-production process, which will be completed by the upcoming Super Bowl, in Indianapolis. The money raised through Kickstarter will be used for the following...
• Follow-up interviews with Ricky & other important key players
• Creative (offline) Editorial of the film & bonus material
• Licensing fees for music & still photos
• HiDef' Online Finishing, Color-correction, Audio Mixing & Mastering
Where did the title The Truth Cabin come from?
When I entered the ashram I was assigned a cabin and it was called, Truth. Random and yet completely relevant I conducted some of my most controversial interviews with Ricky to date. These were life-changing interactions in which Ricky turned the tables on me throwing my own journalistic methods in my face and effectively out the door. It was on.
What will you see in this film that you did not see in Run Ricky Run?
This film will reveal a side of Ricky that has never before been seen. All of the footage is exclusive and has never been viewed by a larger audience. This is not over-produced reality TV. No Ochocinco’s or TO’s or game day “follow arounds.” This is access to the life and struggles of a sports star that is unprecedented.
This film also begs the question, “What of the media?” What is their part in all of this? I was in an interesting position having been a part of the media machine and yet I had spent my career trying to distance myself from the uglier workings of that machine.
Where will this film be shown?
We will be seeking independent distribution for this film.
What are you going to do with the profits form the film?
- (41 days)