MELISSA: “Inside Track” is an independent film that will be produced by Deaf filmmakers, Jevon and Del Whetter! Tru biz!
The movie is based on a true story of a team of deaf track and field athletes from Oregon School for the Deaf in the 1980s. They were considered underdogs that surprised many other schools in Oregon state by making their way to the top, ultimately winning the state championship. But get this! Inside Track recently partnered with Film Independent, a nonprofit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, as a fiscal sponsorship project. That means their program allows independent filmmakers like “Inside Track” to receive charitable funding from foundations, individual donors and the government.
Are you wondering who will be in it? We will tell you with a surprise announcement, but first, we have an interview with the Whetters! Take a look and stay tuned for who will be in the movie.
JEVON: This film is based on a true story that took place when I was at the Oregon School for the Deaf.
By the way, many people sign Oregon in the same motion as Washington, which is not recommended.
MELISSA: No, no!
JEVON: As it will upset many Oregonians! So this is the way to sign it. So in 1986, at Oregon School for the Deaf -
Eight deaf boys on the high school track team, together with a deaf coach, make it all the way to the state championship and won.
Keep in mind that there were many teams from schools all over the state. We were a small team of only eight boys that qualified for the state championship and we managed to win the team championship by only one point.
That was such a great experience. I happened to share this story with a friend of mine while we were film students at the American Film Institute, AFI, which you may know from their famous “AFI’s 100 Years” best movie lists.
My producer friend listened as I told him the story from my time there, winning the state track championship, and he was fascinated by the story of how a small team of eight deaf athletes beat athletes from hearing schools all over the state.
He was amazed to know that our team was from a small school of just 64 students. And yet we won!
So from there we went on to write the screenplay for the film.
This is a wonderful story because their team trained on a dirt track. It’s a true underdog story. Their equipment was outdated, some up to 40 years old.
Just imagine how, with those limited resources, they still managed to achieve victory at the state championship.
We are fortunate that Delbert works with a company that has already made three Hollywood feature films. Why don’t you share more about that?
I work at a company that produced “Igor”, a CGI-animated feature film with actor John Cusack.
Next, we produced “The Hero of Color City”, an animated story about crayons starring Christina Ricci.
Most recently we produced “Bunyan & Babe”, an animated story about Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, starring John Goodman.
And it has Mark Hamill in it!
Yes, and Mark Hamill, his favorite actor.
From Star Wars!
You need to find the right balance in telling a sports story on film. It’s not easy, balancing a lot of action with compelling drama. Now we are satisfied with the outcome and we are ready to move forward!
There are not many films released out there that are written by a deaf person, or are deaf-driven, with deaf leadership on the production team. This is a really unique opportunity.
If the community shows support for this film, it will get made. I think the movement for deaf films starts with deaf people first, supported by the signing community, and the many ASL students that will be attracted to our stories.
We want Inside Track to be a family-friendly film that is open to audiences with young children and people of faith. We seek to reach a broad and diverse audience, and you’ll find that with our movie.
MELISSA: Are you ready to know who will be in the movie? Deaf actor Troy Kotsur will be playing the coach as previously announced. And for our new surprise announcement, guess who else will be in the cast?
*points to her left*
Yes! NYLE DIMARCO! He will be playing the assistant coach, Rocco, in the film. Congratulations to the “Inside Track” team! We, Tru Biz, are looking forward to seeing the movie!