Dylan Baker is probably ideal remembered because that playing few of the most horrific villains imaginable (“The an excellent Wife,” “Happiness”). Yet his extensive career has consisted of wild comedies (“Planes, Trains, and also Automobiles,” “Anchorman 2”), historical drama (he to be Robert McNamara in “13 Days”), and also even a music (“Across the Universe”). He has just tackled a new role together a movie director because that the very first time with “23 Blast,” based upon the true story that a Kentucky high school football player who shed his vision and, many thanks to a donate coach and team, maintained playing. He told me the story of exactly how this film come together, almost worthy that a movie itself.

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How walk you involved not just appear in this film but likewise direct it?

Yes, this is my directing debut. I have actually directed around a dozen plays yet I type of thought that directing a movie was not going to occur for me. I kind of said, “Well, directing a movie is going come take all this time and also so ns think i will just let the be and I to let go on the bucket list.” yet then all of a sudden Toni Hoover who is actually a high institution friend of mine wife, they to be cheerleaders together, she concerned us and asked us to action in the movie about five or six years back and climate she sent us a script and asked me for a small help top top it and so I started working ~ above it and also I aided her a tiny bit with casting, little bit more and then 3 years back she request me to direct it and I said, “Well, i don’t understand when that’s walking to happen again.” So i jumped top top board and all this happened.

Was this her an initial script?

Yes. Toni has actually never written anything before really. And also she had actually three youngsters with her husband Vin and also they were living in Tampa Florida and they both felt prefer they want the children to reap sort that a childhood in a little town and Vin was from this small town in Corbin Kentucky and so the thought, “Why do we go back there?” and also Toni to be not exactly on board at first. She demanded the he buy she a camera. And also so she started walking the sidelines of the high school games, taking video clip of the games and also people sort of looked in ~ her choose she was kind of strange. She didn’t know what she to be doing/. And also then she found a small local TV station,she started editing and enhancing it together on their equipment, and then at the yearly awards dinner, castle said, “Stay said. We’ve got something new. Mrs. Toni Hoover has actually a film because that everybody come see.” and it to be her to mark reel. And also of course, all the youngsters went nuts! They had never checked out anything like that. So she was there v her boy Bram Hoover that actually theatre Jerry the quarterback in the movie. She basically wrote it since she to be trying to aid Bram get a break. And we were great friends of Toni and also Vin i said, “Well, good, walk for it, go ahead, write it, we will act in it.” we didn’t in reality think it would certainly happen but when ns actually check out the script and also I saw the story the she to be talking about and the fact that it was based on a true story and also once I acquired to check out the real Travis Freeman, i was hooked. I just thought it to be an amazing story and also I wanted to it is in a part of it.

So Toni was the one who did the tie in v Jerry Baker that of course additionally was a real human being in Corbin and saw these two young civilization who as they got into high school, started sort of getting drawn apart from each other – Travis towards his phone call in the ministry and the Jerry v this type of tempt of teenage problems specifically drinking. And so she felt like that contrast could follow them through. And what ns really love was the they to be able to continue their friendship, if just on the football ar where lock both had actually mutual love of football.

What happened to the actual Jerry? We watch at the finish of the film that he has passed away.

Well, it’s not a quite story. He ended up having actually real alcohol and also drug problems. Around a month ~ his son was born, Jerry was functioning as a roofer because that his uncle. This sooner or later as you have the right to tell in the movie, Jerry was prefer I assumption: v a really stubborn guy and also kind of had actually his very own thoughts about things and also he was functioning up ~ above this roof and also his uncle said, “Jerry, friend can’t go up over there today, it’s also slippery i don’t desire you there.” and he dropped off the roof and also he died around four years later on from injuries sustained from the fall. His daughter really only acquired to understand him together a paralyzed man in a wheelchair and also he died when she was about five or six. Kaylee is simply such a spunky young woman and also she shows up in the end of the film. Castle are really supportive of our efforts and also are happy that this is the assumed that Kaylee will have for her father together a male who had actually a great heart and also just had a difficult time difficult to the straight and also narrow.

The Hollywood version of the story would go in a different way and ns really respect the film telling a very honest story that I assumed was really compelling since it didn’t traction its punches in that way.

Thank you really much. Ns think the is a great tribute come Toni and the fact that she felt like it to be a story that necessary to be told and we weren’t going to sugarcoat it in ~ all.

You assembled a very impressive actors of talented actors, including your wife.

I to be able to open up up mine black deal with book and also call up mine friends; Stephen Lang because that the coach and I discovered Becky Ann Baker, I simply rolled over in bed and also there she was, she theatre the mobility coach and I think go a good job. I’m pretty crazy about her. We’ve been married because that 27 years now actually. But Tim Busfield, Fred Thompson, they were all people that ns had functioned with in other capacities and also they every signed on. Ns was shocked once everybody agreed come it.

In casting and then in directing teenagers, exactly how do you occupational with them and what did you talk to them about?

I didn’t know too plenty of actors that age so ns went the end to Los Angeles and also they set up some sessions. Ns met mark Hapka, that plays Travis Freeman and then i met Max Adler who was from “Glee” and also Alexa Vega.

And each one of them just showed me in the room the they can take the parts and also just punch them out of the park to mix metaphors in between football and baseball. But I was thrilled since to tell girlfriend the truth, some of the other actors I just felt like they to be so contemporary and they had actually such a sort of today feel to them with type of, ns don’t know an LA accent or whatnot. I’ve constantly loved the movie “Hoosiers” and I wantedto have actually that particular kind the timeless top quality to it. Girlfriend will an alert there space no cell phones, I want it to sort of have the ability to happen at any time and also each of this actors had that capacity of type of removing themselves from the current day and also what happened yesterday and how kids are talking. They had actually sort the a an ext timeless feel to them as well.

Now I need to say once Toni said me the she want Bram to play the component of Travis in the movie, ns said, “Tony, this could be a deal breaker yet I’ve obtained to satisfy Bram. I don’t know him. I did not obtain to talk to him.”

And so my other producer that I turned to ideal away once Tony request me to straight the film, Jerry Donatelli, we talked Tony into bringing Bram the end to brand-new York wherein we both were based; Bram remained in LA, and he come out for about a week and we walk to various things and also maybe went and also saw a movie and also then i said, “Well, why don’t you come up and read for united state on the camera and we will do a tiny audition.”

And he said, “Great.” At the time the was reserved to review for Travis Freeman. And I said, “Would you also look in ~ this role of Jerry Baker?” since of course, Bram has actually that black curly hair and the blue eyes and he is developed like Adonis. For this reason he go it read for us and he walk a good job with Travis yet boy, when he started reading for Jerry Baker, it to be a natural fit and also he had actually such a wonderful type of evil one may treatment look, a good mischief behind his eyes. As quickly as we were done i turned and I said, “Bram, if ns were walking to actors you in this film, that’s the function I would actors you in.” and he said, “That’s the duty I like.” so I dubbed up Toni and also she said, “Sounds good.” and we had actually our Jerry and also he relocated forward from there.

You have actually a small but important function as the dad of the main character. Just how did you create that performance?

Well, ns met Larry Freeman after i had decided that to be the best component for me and basically once Toni gave us the script six years back she said, “Just pick whatever roles you men want come do.” and as i was functioning on the manuscript with Toni and also we were transforming things here and also there, one thing I really wanted was to try and keep Larry’s participation under to a minimum because I knew I would certainly be directing it and also I figured, “Well, let him simply stand there.” Also, conference the man, Larry is very soft talked but really direct, extremely honest and just a lovely human being being. And also watching him and also Mary and Travis together talk about their faith and talk around their experience with Travis walk blind and his reaction come it which to be nothing quick of heroic, he just said, “Well, ns am fascinated to view what God has actually in save for me. And I look front to finding a method to usage this to bring go come the world.” and that’s what is trying come do. That is make the efforts to happen that article along.

Larry to be this very straightforward guy and also I saw an possibility to take benefit of that in a pair of locations to include a little bit of comedy. Ns said, “Now Larry, this is not a enjoy on you in ~ all yet if I can get a laugh here and also there I would rather execute it.” due to the fact that I feel like with the film the there space some moments that are simply so difficult or the you are asking civilization to go v a tough journey and also so a tiny levity doesn’t hurt. I have constantly felt that way.

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How to be you may be to obtain the resources you required to make the film?

When us started, us didn’t have every one of our money with each other for the budget. I had a meeting with Daniel Snyder who is one of our executive producers and he basically offered us a chunk of change that enabled us to have the ability to do the film. We would have actually pretty much been close up door down. That didn’t take place until march of 2012 and we began shooting on April 2. As soon as we acquired in come post-production, we found our other executive producer, Misook Doolittle, and she acquired us sufficient money to finish. We had actually to obtain all type of great help indigenous people. We literally had civilization in Corbin who readily available of their homes, the manufacturing team, we remained at Vin Hoover’s sister’s house in Corbin and there were a pair of gibbs that continued to be at an additional house. So us did something we might to stretch our dollars as much as we could.Our whole budget plan was under just roughly $1 million. So it was yes, really is a small engine that good.