FOOTBALL AND THE ART OF DYING
by Dorothy Klaus-Wiggen
I first met A.D. Pearson, the director of the new documentary "Running Through" at a private screening of his new film, which was held at CityVox, a specialty audio production studio two block's off New York's Times Square. Pearson is a very passionate young filmmaker, who I had been told some considered a leader in the new generation of up and coming documentary directors.
I must admit that I was partly drawn to the event by my companion's promise of free food (it was good) and drink… and the chance to see inside the new audio production home of documentary legend Ken Burns, who had worked for years with CityVox audio producer Lou Verrico (who was actually at the screening!). Pearson struck me as a very down to earth and sensible guy… maybe even bordering on a bit shy. I also met the film's audio producer, Steven Tolle and Executive Producer Michael David McGuire, who narrated the film.
One of the challenges in reviewing new projects is to give the reader enough of a sense of a film… without giving away the ending. The advance PR materials that I had seen from Princeton University… where much of the film had been shot on location… made the storyline seem what some might consider a bit saccharine, but I know for a fact there were misty eyes by the end of the film.
After the screening the CityVox team invited everyone to hang out… where I had a chance to talk more in depth with Pearson (who everyone actually calls Drew). For me, the fact that this young filmmaker could follow such a personal… and potentially tragic… story for two years seemed like quite an interesting accomplishment, especially considering the film's modest budget. "I was very lucky to have such open access to Jordan Culbreath, his family and his world," Pearson said. "This included going on the inside at the National Institutes of Health, where some of the most intense medical procedures took place."
In this film, there are really two stars… Jordan Culbreath, the Princeton University football player who is the subject of the documentary… and Pearson's ability to pull together disparate elements into such a beautiful and cohesive story. "I really feel blessed that Jordan's family and teammates opened their homes and hearts to me and this project during such a sensitive and traumatic time. From the start, this has been a real team effort… Jordan's family, the Princeton athletic department, the doctors at NIH and our production team here in New York."
Did Pearson have a favorite moment in the process? "It has all been an amazing adventure," he said. "But I guess being here in the studio tonight… with everybody showing up… I really get a kick out of knowing we pulled this together. I am proud of the effort." And proud he should be. This is a really great little project.
"Running Through" will have additional private screenings across North America this month… with a limited theatrical release in New York and Los Angeles in August. Dorothy Klaus-Wiggen is a freelance entertainment writer based in New York.