The focus of this week’s media column posted here:
In the span of an 18-minute documentary, R. Patrick Lile and Kevin Druley are linked for a lifetime. Where things end up, both are anxious to discover.
Lile, a filmmaker who just turned 34 last week, created the thought-provoking piece entitled “Sportswriter,” one of the 50-plus entries in this weekend’s All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival. The sixth annual event begins Friday and ends Sunday at the Regal Cinemas LA Live Stadium 14 near Staples Center.
Druley is the focus of “Sportswriter” as he narrates his own story — a 28-year-old covering minor-league baseball and high school events for the Kane County Chronicle, just west of Chicago.
Will he still be doing this, for the love of the games, in five years? Will the newspaper industry as we know it still be what he wants to be in? Will he connect for a career with his hometown St. Louis Post-Dispatch?
Both Lile and Druley are living their dream, and chasing it as well, in the sports media.
The film airs as part of the first session for the festival (Friday, noon to 1:45 p.m.), included in a block with six other shorts. Lile has also made it available for the time being to watch at this link.
What else is worth noting:
== What Druley wrote in the Kane County Chronicle last November about the experience of seeing himself in a documentary about his life.
== From an email exchange with Lile, now working as a program assistant at Northwestern University’s School of Communications in its Radio/TV/Film department, we asked what he thought about Druley’s chances of making it in the newspaper world and satisfying his career goal: “Having read a lot Kevin’s articles and also being an avid reader of other sports columnists, I’m not sure what separates him from the guys writing for Sports Illustrated, ESPN or one of our Chicago sports pages. Kevin wrote an article about Cubs prospect Albert Almora that’s so good the Chicago Tribune should have been knocking on his door begging him to write for them. And even beyond the minor league baseball beat, Kevin gets to do some really interesting articles on everything from amateur wrestling to high school sports. Ultimately I’m not sure what separates the Rick Reillys, Mike Wilbons and the other big names from guys like Kevin. Sometimes it is just an opportunity and someone getting a chance.
“As for reaching that satisfying career goal, Kevin mentions during the film that he has found more fulfillment with his personal life. When your dreams go from being only about your professional life and suddenly you dream about having a family, that ultimate career goal might change a little. You find more appreciation in your personal life. That’s certainly true for myself as I have started a family and have 8 month old twins since making the film.”
We also asked Lile if it’s difficult to separate his own emotions from the subject as he’s making his documentary, especially this one: “As I was making ‘Sportswriter’, I was also working with Kartemquin Films, the social issue documentary company that produced ‘Hoop Dreams,’ ‘The Interrupters’ and ‘Life Itself.’ Working with those very accomplished filmmakers on those very accomplished films, there is a constant reminder that you’re making films about people, not about subjects. On other films I have had to put down the camera to allow a person to grieve, give them their space. If you’re doing your job as a filmmaker, you should be connecting with the people you’re making a film about because it is a very collaborative process. It’s hard to separate your emotions as your making a film, because in the end you really do care about these people. Unless you’re doing some sort of burn piece or an exposé, you have to care in order to be an effective filmmaker.”
== More highlights of the All Sports Los Angeles Film Festival: “The Hank Gathers Story,” included in Sunday’s 2-to-3:30 p.m. block, is part of a “Memorable Moments” series from Yahoo.com Sports documentary executive producer Alan Springer, with this 10-minute doc directed and produced by Jackie Pepper. The series has been around for five seasons and 42 episodes. Last month, it won an Edward R. Murrow award for “Best Sports Journalism” for a Loyola-Mississippi State piece about how that basketball game in 1963 helped change sports history.
== The festival ends with a screening of “The 25,000 Mile Love Story,” which has been winning festival accolates going back to its release a year ago. It was the “Feature Audience Favorite” of the 2013 Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles. An L.A. Times review here of the film and the book after it came out.
The film airs Sunday at 6 p.m., with the awards ceremony starting at 8 p.m.
Friday’s opening night is highlighted by the L.A. premiere of “Out of Nothing,” about four men who try to break the motorcycle land speed record on their homemade machines. Actor/comedian Ryan Stiles produced the film that will be shown at 8:15 p.m., with friend Drew Carey expected to attend.
== Next in line for ESPN’s “30 For 30″ documentary series: “Rand University,” about the early life and times of former NFL receiver and current Fox Sports 1 analyst Randy Moss (Tuesday, 5 p.m., ESPN).