Friday, November 13, 2009

Living the American Dream

RT Staff Note: There's a new baseball movie that looks pretty good called Calvin Marshall out this holiday season. We love good baseball movies. Here's an interview with the director.
Gary Lundgren talks the making of ‘Calvin Marshall’

By: Shea Carver - November 10th, 2009

Baseball provided me with my first heroes,” Gary Lundgrun told me last week about his feature, Calvin Marshall—a film that takes the American Dream and highlights it amongst America’s favorite sport, baseball. “For some reason [my heroes] weren’t Superman or Batman,” Lundgrun continued. “It was Rod Carew, Tony Gwynn, George Brett, Don Mattingly.” His obsession with the “great hitters” began early in life, fostering a love of baseball forever more.

It’s no wonder Lundgrun turned the spotlight on the sport when the idea for Calvin Marshall came to be. Last week, he spoke with encore about the movie, one that will have its East-Coast premiere on Saturday and Sunday. After the screeners, a Q&A session with Gary Lundgrun, actor Alex Frost and the producer Anne Lundgren will follow.

Q.Where did the inspiration start for Calvin Marshall?
Gary Lundgrun: Once upon a time I played college baseball and saw first hand how big the gulf was between high school and college. I watched a lot of players fall by the wayside. So many young players had their entire identities wrapped up in baseball, and it was tragic to see them clean out their lockers and walk away. I still wonder what happened to some of those guys. No doubt some are like the Steve Zahn character: out there somewhere, carrying around bitterness and regret.

Q.What about the storyline do you think is important? How will it connect with audiences?
GL: It is special to me because the story is really a metaphor for anyone trying to do something ambitious with their life. I find it inspiring when people go for it. And when things don’t pan out exactly the way they want, the most resilient people find a way to keep dreaming and reinvent themselves. It’s been satisfying to see audiences connect with Calvin’s story. They’re finding it both funny and inspiring, even though it’s ultimately a film about disappointment.

Q.What elements of your main characters draw you in most as a viewer and as a director? Are they one in the same?
GL: It’s difficult to separate the two perspectives. Watching the movie, now, I really do love the trifecta of Tori, Calvin and Little. Tori is beautiful, sweet and authentic, a good match for someone as earnest as Calvin. And Calvin’s a hero—one of these magnetic guys who wears his heart on his sleeve and isn’t afraid to look like a fool. I find Coach Little hilarious and so true to life in a Bobby Knight sort of way. I do feel sorry for Little, and hope he comes to grips with who he is and where he’s at in life. There are no bad people in this story, really. They are characters I wouldn’t mind knowing in real life; it would be pretty cool to work with Ernie and Fred at the construction site, and playing softball with them once a week. You could do worse.

It was humbling to work with such a talented cast from top to bottom. They brought these characters to life and made my job easier than I expected. The biggest thrill on set was having the opportunity to collaborate with all of them.

Q.Why do you think America loves baseball movies so much?
GL: I suppose it’s the American Dream . . . Whether it’s Bull Durham, Eight Men Out, The Natural or even Major League, they’re all stories that are anchored by dreams. The game has a rich history of stories and characters, so filmmakers have a lot of material to draw from—from beautiful human stories to big scandals. There actually isn’t a ton of baseball in Calvin Marshall as it serves as more of a backdrop—just wanted to point that out. Baseball fans are responding to the film, but so are non-baseball fans because they’re drawn to the characters and relationships.


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