Director of Wiffleball film articulates his Vision

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By Paul M. Banks

As I articulated last Thursday, there’s been so many great sports movie over the years, but no one has directed the great American wiffleball film. As long as you’re cool with the short film format. “Wiffleball ‘79? co-directed by Perry Jenkins and Travis Kurtz.

I had a chance to chat with Kurtz over email about his artistic vision.

The kids grew their hair for 6-9 months to achieve the look.  Most clothes were grabbed at the Goodwill.  The field was my neighbor’s growing up.  They still have Wiffleball tourneys there.  The film stock was so expensive that we could only do 1 take (2 at the most) of each shot.  We didn’t show any “awesome” wiffleball pitches because it was too expensive and ultimately we decided to go with story over cool wiffleball pitches.  We’d yell at the kids, “You’d better not swing and miss!  That will cost us $200!”  Ha!  If you notice in the wide shot, the next kid coming to bat does it quite quickly!  :)”

Baseball memorabilia guys still had from when we were young.  Hawaiian shirts my mom made.  Cars were from friends of my parents.  Last song is original and inspired by Ennio Moricone’s score in the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  Our musician played his guitar in front of the TV as he watched it when we were recording.

We processed the 16mm film and cut on film for authenticity.  Our crew was 4 people and the kids who weren’t in the shots would slate the shot.  It took one full day to shoot.

Even though Speck fails in the end to hit a HR, he gets the consolation of his older bro, which is probably more important to him.  My older bro died when I was 20 so in some ways this reflects our time together, which we spent playing a ton of wiffleball together, including keeping stats.  LOL

There’s a sequel to this, but it’s about what they do AFTER the wiffleball game.  :)

The cussing is in there because that’s the way kids talked when there were no parents around.  Several viewers have said that they swore much more than the kids in the short.  It’s amazing the reaction of people that feel that this truly captures their youth in a way nothing else has.

So many kids played wiffleball wherever they could.  This field was built when I was older and I didn’t play there much.  We played against the house like millions of other kids and we played against a warehouse that was our own “Green Monster.”  The roof angled down and balls that were hit on it could be caught if they rolled back.  And I swear to this: our golden retriever learned the game so well that it would catch fly balls and the ones rolling back on the warehouse roof.  :)  That dog was great.  Had a lot of range!  :)

You can watch “Wiffleball ‘79” by going here

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