Q&A with film director Scott Levy

His project has been a long-running process that is now finally completed and ready to show to the world.

“American Football” Film premiere
Tuesday, October 22, 2013, at 7 pm; Cinerama

For the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs and most of the 2012 season, Sounders FC had a guest aboard the long journey through the year. On Tuesday night at Cinerama, fans will have a chance to see the work of that guest as Scott Levy’s “American Football” premiers at the landmark Seattle theater, showing the story of the 2012 season through the tales of the players and coaches involved.

SFC.com: What was your impetus behind making the film?

Levy: It’s a big story. When a city in America really does adopt the game on a broad scale akin to the other major professional sports, that’s a huge happening with consequences that are impossible to overstate. But then on a real intimate level, it’s a good group of guys that come from all over the world. It’s a good intimate story with this huge backdrop and I hadn’t seen that part of the story done justice. It’s called the beautiful game, but you don’t see a lot of beautiful soccer footage. I saw the Zidane film and it was a great piece of work that a lot of people hadn’t seen and that inspired me. There are definite nods to that film in terms of the way the music was used and the selection of music. It follows one guy for one game with 17 cameras … I wasn’t going to redo that. But it inspired me because it was very visually stunning.

SFC.com: You tell a lot of the stories of the personalities. What was the most surprising thing you learned in your journeys with the team?

Levy: That’s really the heart of the film. In terms of my biggest takeaway, I really discovered completely anew what makes this, for me, the beautiful game. It is the best metaphor for life. Sports are a distillation of life’s struggles anyway. That’s one of the things that’s fantastic about it. You never know how it’s going to end up and all sports are that way, but soccer, for me, is the best by far. Life isn’t like a pro basketball game, where you’re six-foot-eight and you run up and down scoring. Soccer and the way it never stops and the flowing and the improvisation and the inifinite nature and the elusiveness of it – you don’t score all the time and stats don’t tell the whole story … that’s just more like life. You labor down the field hoping for the chance to score. That’s how life works and that’s how soccer works.

As far as the personalities, there are a lot of things. Sigi Schmid will go down as one of the great coaches and sometimes that can be overlooked. He needs to win right now and that’s the nature of coaching, but being able to watch him was inspiring. Among the players, they all surprised me in ways. I think the humility of a guy like Michael Gspurning is stunning. That’s true all over the team. Mauro Rosales – he’s just a good person. Fredy Montero is a really good dude. Others like Eddie Johnson – the heart of that guy is really pretty amazing. The way he describes the game in the movie, you wouldn’t necessarily look to Eddie Johnson to be the guy that tells that story, but he is. The pure technical things still amaze me. That is almost impossible to appreciate until you see the game through the lens, like I did.

SFC.com: What have you thought of the fan reaction to the parts that have been made available to the public?

Levy: I think when people like what I’m doing, I’m in awe. I took a risk making the film and you try and do something that people are going to like. I think the thing that was most interesting to me, if I put myself in the fans’ shoes, is that the fans here are so involved and so giving to the team and it’s such a great bond. Even the players say there’s nowhere else in the world like this. To have European players saying that is pretty stunning. That said, these are fans who would want to have a seat in the locker room or on the bus. I think we’ve really delivered that. In some ways, you’re going to know these players better than they know each other at the end of the film. I never put the camera on my shoulder and a lot of the time I was not even looking in the viewfinder. I was focusing by guessing because I didn’t want to intrude with my eyes or the eyes of the camera watching them. I practiced shooting blind for months to be able to do that in the locker room and it makes a difference and I think people will feel that.

SFC.com: Through all of those months and all that footage, how were you able to pair it down to 2 hours and 20 minutes while still feel like you were telling that story?

Levy: With tremendous difficulty. A lot of people told me I couldn’t tell the story of the whole team – that I’d have to pick two or three, max. They were right, really, but I still was stubborn. I basically took the best of the best and it’s a combination of who was an impactful player on the field and who was very giving and interesting in the interviews. I had players connected in different games and tried to link players up with the games. Everything, on a timeline, is really woven together. Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero were the last interviews and they are at the end. It became which games were crucial and that was a tough one. There were many great games over the course of the season that are not in the film. There is four more hours of cool stuff that I’m sure fans would love to see.

SFC.com: What is next? What’s the vision for this after fans see it in the theaters this week? Will fans have other opportunities beyond that?

Levy: It will be submitted to major festivals, so we’ll see if a broader theatrical release can happen. I want to give the theatrical release a chance and see if more showings happen if more people want to see it after these screenings. The way to see it – it was shot anamorphic, so wide screen with actual anamorphic lenses, so to have it on the widescreen, it’s great to see it there. After that, there will be a blue ray too. Timing-wise, we might do an edition that’s just the theatrical release and then do a more elaborate one with all the extras – there are TONS of extras.

Also showing:
Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 7 pm; Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 11 am and 3:30 pm.
For tickets, visit here

For more information, visit www.levyfilms.com.

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