'88 is an upcoming feature-length documentary about the 1987-88 Arizona Wildcats basketball team, and that program's unlikely and fantastic rise under former head coach Lute Olson.
Great things have great beginnings. The '88 team boasted talent the likes of which has rarely been equaled in the annals of college basketball. With stars like Sean Elliott and Steve Kerr leading the way, and a bunch of the rowdiest "Gumbies" sports fans have ever seen, the '88 Cats made Arizona known to the nation, and started an all-out fan revolution in Tucson, Arizona.
'88 isn't just a great Arizona story, it's a great sports story. In 1983, newly hired coach Lute Olson inherited a Wildcat team that had gone 4-24 the previous season. Only one season later, Arizona would make its first of 25 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, and just three seasons after that, Arizona was ranked No. 1 in the country for the first (and certainly not the last) time.
Arizona began the 1987-88 season in relative obscurity, only to soar quickly to the top of the polls following victories over highly ranked opponents Michigan, Syracuse, and Duke. Against the Big-10, Arizona went a stunning 5-0. In the Pac-10, Arizona put rival schools to shame and utterly dominated the conference. The Wildcats' starters were known to pull far away from opponents, and then sit and watch while the beloved "Gumbies" came off the bench to wow crowds and extend embarrassingly large leads. Fans were ecstatically supportive; many camping out at Tucson International Airport just to greet and cheer for the team after road games. That year, the Cats cruised through the NCAA Tournament (crushing Dean Smith's blue-blooded Tar Heels along the way) to reach the first Final Four in program history.
Until that time, Tucson was known mostly as a movie location for a couple of John Wayne Westerns. In 1987-88, the desert city would find a new and lasting identity in basketball. Since the beginning of the Olson era, Arizona has won 14 Pac-10/12 championships, and played in 29 NCAA tournaments, 16 Sweet Sixteens, 10 Elite Eights, and 4 Final Fours. In 1997, the Cats defeated three No. 1 seeds on their way to win the NCAA National Championship.
While Olson began the program's tradition of excellence, it didn't fade with his retirement. Under head coach Sean Miller, Arizona's prominence nationally, and dominance in the West have been further cemented. Arizona has now permanently set its place in the college basketball pantheon of premier programs.
And it all started with one team.
The '88 movie tells the origin story of a dynasty, a program, and a culture. Our expectation is that sports fans everywhere will enjoy this "rags-to-riches" tale, and relate to what the '88 squad accomplished for The University of Arizona, Tucson, the state of Arizona, and the resurgence of West Coast basketball.
'88 is directed and produced by Brad Malone and Sean P. Malone, two 80's kids from Tucson who caught basketball fever during that season. We're still not ready for that magical season to end. And it doesn't have to!
Brad first had the idea for '88 in 2008 after seeing a documentary called The Ostrich Testamonies about an ostrich farm located between Phoenix and Tucson. He was inspired by filmmaker Jonathan VanBallenberghe's ability to engage the audience and make them care about a subject that (on the surface) seemed commonplace. After the film, VanBallenberghe addressed the audience with some words of wisdom that Brad took to heart: No one will ever see your film unless you make it.
Brad knew immediately what film he wanted to make. As a lifelong and die-hard Arizona fan, the 1987-1988 Arizona team had literally shaped the course of his life. It was a story he knew he had to tell. Since then Brad has spent hundreds of hours researching, planning and writing the project.
Around that same time Brad started talking about the project to his brother Sean, who was finishing film school at The University of Miami. Sean had his own special memories of the '88 team, and soon became dogged in his determination to help his brother.
Brad's encyclopedic knowledge of the team and journalism experience paired perfectly with Sean's vigorous skills behind the camera. In 2012, Brad's dream became Sean's dream as well, and the two brothers formed a directing and producing partnership.
We (Sean and Brad) started going after interviews. We got former head coach Lute Olson to agree first (with help from Brad's friends Martin and Dan). Then the original "Gumby" Bruce Fraser, fan-favorite Steve Kerr, and former assistant coach Kevin O'Neill. Most recently, we were able to interview ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas, and soon after that, the greatest player in Arizona history: Sean Elliott.
Back in April we released a trailer for the film that received enormously positive response. Wildcat fans from across the country reached out to us to tell us how much that team continues to mean to them. Now we are reaching out to you and asking for your help!
We've scored some big interviews, but we have a lot more to accomplish. Our vision is a final film with a moving, universal story, and production values equal to or surpassing anything on ESPN, NBC Sports or HBO. In fact, we hope the film will one day have a home on just such a network. To accomplish that, we are asking for your support.
We're here on Kickstarter to raise $23,500. All told, our budget will be much more (see chart below), and if we surpass the $23,500 goal, all the better! But the $23,500 will help us to travel for and film the remaining interviews needed for the film, and in addition cover the Kickstarter fees and reward costs. We estimate the need for at least 30 more interviews, including: (ideally) every member of the '87-'88 team, former and current Arizona coaches, players, and staff, opposing coaches, prominent sports writers and analysts, and former opponents of the '87-'88 team. All of these voices will combine to tell the story of Arizona rising.
If you support this project you'll be helping us aim for more big interviews such as (given their participation) Harvey Mason, Kenny Lofton, Craig McMillan, Dick Vitale, Bill Walton, Coach K, Roy Williams, Jim Boeheim, Reggie Miller, Sean Miller, and more.
Every reward level is fun and, well, rewarding! Give at any level, because really, any donation helps us toward our goal of $23,500!
Anything beyond our goal will greatly help us in post production with expenses like legal and licensing fees (NCAA tournament footage can be very expensive to license, up to $7,000 per minute used) editing services, music, sound mixing, color correction, marketing and distribution.
Ultimately our movie is just like the Arizona basketball team: we can't do it without the fans!
Thank you. If you are still reading, you probably bleed Red and Blue. Please help us spread the word to every Wildcat under the sun, and if you see Sparky, give him a swift kick in the rear for us. Bear Down and let's make a movie!
YOU CAN HELP!
Talk about the film or share your memories of that magical season using #wildabout88
Brad Malone's love of sports started at an early age, and was fostered by his Dad. You may know Brad from one of his several sports-themed shows throughout the years. In the 1990's he helped produce and host the hilarious late night sports show Sportsbeat on Tucson Community Cable. Years later, Brad was co-host and producer of the light-hearted Ryan and Brad Whenever podcast, and currently he writes for the Sports Illustrated "Fansided" website, Zona Zealots. He also produces and runs Bear Down Bias, a blog and podcast that focus on the rich history of Arizona Wildcats Athletics. Brad graduated from the University of Arizona in 2000 with a B.A. in Journalism. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.
Sean P. Malone is a cinematographer and independent producer living in Orange County, California. He is co-founder of the independent film company Waterfoot Films, and the commercial production company Regality Media. He recently won Outstanding Cinematography at the 2015 LA Webfest for his work on The Invisible Man, and his body of work covers fiction, documentary, experimental and commercial. Sean also produces and hosts the cinematography podcast The Camera Report with Sean P. Malone. Sean has an MFA in Film Production from the University of Miami, and is an experienced teacher, journalist, director, and writer. He graduated from The University of Arizona in 2003 with a BA in Communication.
These friends and colleagues are on-board to crew on shoots and lend support throughout the production process. They are all outstanding professionals in their own rights.
Timothy Compton is a writer, director and producer. He received his MFA in Motion Picture Production from the University of Miami and has written in a variety of mediums, including comic books and film. He has also directed several award winning shorts.
Mustan Dawood has worked as an assistant on award shows like The Oscars and The Grammys, and as an assistant cameraman and script supervisor on numerous independent films. He is currently producing the feature film Follow, which is scheduled to begin shooting in July, 2015. He has an MFA in Film Production from The University of Miami.
Teresa Gardner has an MFA in Film Production from the University of Miami, and an MS in Organizational Leadership from Mercyhurst University. She is an experienced editor with feature-film, short, and web credits to her name.
Myranda Josephson is a photographer and social media consultant living in Orange County, California. Her photography has been featured on CNN, Buzzfeed, Cosmo, and on news sites all over the world. She is lucky she is so talented, because she definitely didn’t go to college.
Isaiah Leslie is an entrepreneur with eight years experience leading and managing companies from start-up to established brand. He is co-founder of the commercial production company Regality Media, and the current Chair of the Board of the Irvine Chamber of Commerce. He has a BA in Political Science from the University of Southern California.
Jeff Meurer is an award-winning writer who has worked for The Second City Chicago, and Hulu. He has an MFA in Film Production from The University of Miami, and currently writes for memes.com.
Risks and challenges
One reason we are launching the '88 crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter (as opposed to another site) is that Waterfoot Films is established in the Kickstarter community. In 2011 and 2012, we launched - and you successfully funded - two campaigns for 'The Invisible Man' web series. And although it took us longer than we originally anticipated, we are proud to say that we followed though by completing the project, and delivering all promised rewards. Through the years, we have also backed a few projects, here and there.
Our plan is to complete all interviews for '88 by the end of Summer 2016 (as mentioned before, we have at least 30 more interviews to go). Basketball is off in the Summer, which means many people we want to interview are more free during those months. We think this gives us a realistic amount of time to complete principle photography, continue conducting research, and find the archival footage and images we want to use for the film.
While some post-production work will begin before all shooting is completed, that means by Fall of 2016, we plan to have all the footage necessary to edit the film. We anticipate the post-production phase will take about 4 months. So, we plan to have a "final cut" of the film done by January of 2017.
After that, we are blocking off about 3 months to work out any outstanding distribution details, legal and licensing matters, and issues related to promotion and marketing.
Given all goes to plan, this means we will release the film during "March Madness" of 2017.
Still, we recognize that these "best laid plans" can pivot on the fact that we are independent filmmakers undertaking a very large project! And while there may be speed bumps and detours along the way, we want to communicate to you (our backers) the following:
● We're experienced:
Brad joined forces with Sean in large part due to the fact that Sean is an experienced and proven filmmaker, who knows what it takes to develop, produce, and finish a film. Sean in turn enlisted the help of crew members like Timothy Compton for the exact same reason. We encourage you to visit www.waterfootfilms.com for examples of our previous work.
● We'll communicate:
We will let you know if we encounter major issues or delays, and ask you to celebrate with us when we score major victories! We will keep you in the loop of what's happening with the project here, and on social media.
● We're committed:
We are passionate about this subject, committed to our vision, and dogged in our pursuit of it. We have already spent hundreds of hours on it, and whatever obstacles we may yet encounter, we will spend hundreds more to bring it to completion.
Some of our rewards are contingent on us finishing the movie (like the HD Digital Copy and DVD/Blu-Ray of the film). Some however, are not and can be delivered earlier (like the social media shout-outs, and the mini-posters). In general, we will deliver on rewards when we are able to, some sooner, some later!
THANK YOU for your support and faith in us, and in '88. Bear Down!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)