The movie’s about a man who gets lured back to his hometown through softball. Is Harriman, where you live, the real “Summerville”?
Moreso Rockwood. That’s where my father and grandfather grew up, and the movie’s loosely based on my father’s experience—softball was his second love..
“Was,” past tense?
He passed away in 2000, not long before my 21st birthday. Baseball was the sport he absolutely loved, and he was scouted by the majors. He went to the Atlanta Braves and got as far as the physical when they figured out his peripheral vision was gone—he said it was like seeing everything through a toilet paper tube—so they didn’t accept him. That’s when he turned to softball.
Is softball still a big thing in your area?
I’m not sure it’s that big nowadays, but when I was growing up, softball dominated. I remember going into a fast-food place and if a softball team walked in, people were clapping and cheering and asking for autographs.
I notice a Jason Benjamin among the cast members. Any relation?
That’s my older brother.
So was it fun to boss him around for a change?
It was a blast. I made up for years of torture. The best was having him play Roid, this beef-head cop ...because he used to be a beef-head cop.
Did you need a technical advisor for the softball scenes?
Luckily, in the scenes where we’re playing, the actors are playing against real softball teams. Some of them were from Harriman, some of them were teams recommended by the locals and they drove in from further away. We used every person on the real teams as advisors for their positions and they were really, really good.
Were they ever too good?
In the movie, the big rival team to the Summerville Hornets, the Jackals, was played by a team that was absolutely fantastic. I told them, “We’re gonna get some footage, just stay in character and run some plays.” And they absolutely slaughtered the Hornets in real life, but through the magic of editing you won’t see the carnage on screen.
You filmed in June and July of 2007, did the drought hurt production?
No. The color and tone I was going for was warm, almost a reddish feel. The dryness added to that. It enhanced the color palette of the movie.
Reading the synopsis, it looks like a pretty traditional romance arc—isn’t that unusual for an independent film?
It starts off as a very standard romance, where the characters don’t hit it off at first and then as the movie progresses they’re drawn together. But ultimately, it has a non-traditional ending... still happy, but not typical.