"Gladiator School" Feature Doc Trailer shot on a PD-100 at DVinfo.net

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Old December 4th, 2003, 01:04 PM   #1
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"Gladiator School" Feature Doc Trailer shot on a PD-100

This is the first documentary that I know of about collegiate style youth wrestling. I shot it with a Sony PD-100 set at a 30 sec shutter with the x0.7 wide conversion lens. The wrestling matches were all recorded with an Audio Technica AT-100 wireless lav. The practices and some interviews were recorded with a Sony ECM 670 shotgun mic. Framed for 16x9 but cropped with Final Cut 3.

This film is currently being edited for a 50-90 minute cut. The film was also one of the selections at this year's IFP Market in NYC this past September in the "Works in Progress" category. I'm still looking for finishing funds. So any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Sorry, but this trailer is best viewed with a high speed connection on windows media player. The trailer is 10 minutes long, so if you could take time out of your schedules to watch it, I'd appreciate it. Thanks again for your comments.

http://161.58.78.36/asx/dvinfo/gladi...SCHOOL500K.asx High Speed

http://161.58.78.36/asx/dvinfo/gladi...RSCHOOL56K.asx Dial Up


Synopsis:

Like the gladiators of ancient Rome, collegiate style wrestling accentuates the strengths and weaknesses of the individual combatant. Yet, when wrestlers engage on the mat, each knows that they have a crowd of people cheering them on along with their coach. A coach who has such an intense passion for the sport, his shouts of encouragement and position strategies are felt as well as heard.

Gladiator School is a film that shows the emotional journey of just such a coach, Don Calabrese, and his team, The Black Sheep. Coming to Atlanta, Georgia from his native New Jersey, Don brings his high-energy, combative style to a group of kids ranging in age from five to fourteen years old.

You follow their journey as they learn the art and science of wrestling. The team learns to deal with pain and pride during the emotional rollercoaster ride of defeat and victory. Donís ďin your faceĒ approach to life brings him into conflict with officials, opposing coaches and, yes, even parents. Yet, the kids of The Black Sheep team fiercely believe in him and fight each match mirroring his intensity for competing.

Youth wrestling clubs are one of the fastest growing competitive sports rivaling youth baseball, football and soccer. Unlike the traditional sports, wrestling is a close, intense and intimate sport creating a cauldron for controversy. Due to the emotional and physical demands, questions arise concerning the participation of the younger aged kids. How much is too much when it comes to high intense competition for a 5 year old? Parental involvement is also a large debate. How far should a parent push their child to win? The implementation of Title 9 allows girls to participate in male dominated sports. Girls can now wrestle, not just against each other but also against boys. During an age when hormones are beginning to run amok, the opinions on whether girls and boys should wrestle each other are diverse and extremely heated. Title 9 has been said to be the major cause of numerous sports programs to be cut from high schools as well as colleges; wrestling being one of them.

Gladiator School investigates and debates these controversial issues while taking the viewer on an intense journey with The Black Sheep, and their first season as a team. This is a film about heart and determination. About not quitting when the cards are stacked against you. Itís about working towards a goal despite very difficult obstacles. Gladiator School is a film about the true American Spirit!
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Old December 6th, 2003, 07:47 AM   #2
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That was pretty damn impressive. It looks like you've got a real star in the coach guy - he's extremely watchable.

If you want some criticisms then I've only got a couple.. One: I think you should ditch the heavy metal music. I don't know if you're using it in the full film, but I think it really spoils what's been shot. The documentary is surprisingly lyrical, considering the violence of the subject matter. The camera's wonderfully detached from the events, but without alienating the viewer. It reminds me of a Spike Jonze documentary about some young boys who want to be Rodeo riders; it's hard to explain why but if you can get hold of the DVD collection of his work that just came out you'll see what I mean. But anyway, the heavy metal music is exactly the opposite of the filming; it's abrasive, loud and clunky - everything you expect wrestling to be about, yes, but not what the documentary is about. Maybe something more lyrical would better..

The only other thing I took exception to was the synopsis in your post. It's the verbal equivalent of the heavy metal music. Maybe it's just because I'm English, but I really dislike the "true American spirit!" bit of synopsis.. I don't think there's anything uniquely American about the qualities shown in the trailer; they're human qualities and trying to attach some patriotic meaning to them seems to be getting away from the core of the subject again - attaching baggage to what is such a beautifully simple film.

Another thing that it reminds me of, is Raging Bull, in that I don't think your film's particularly about wrestling, just as Raging Bull is far less about the fights than Jake LaMotta himself. It's about people - the coach, the boys who win and the boys who lose, the parents - and it's something that so many documentaries miss out on. The fact that you've managed to capture it is something to be truly proud of.

Kieran
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Old December 6th, 2003, 11:01 AM   #3
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I appreciate your critique! Thank you! This was just the thing I wanted to hear. Hopefully more of you will watch this and let me know your thoughts.
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Old December 6th, 2003, 07:57 PM   #4
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Good job Gregg! I completely agree with the points Kieran made, especially with the coach being extremely watchable. The coach's intensity and unique personality definitely come through in this trailer, and I want to see what he will go through in the finished film.
However, one thing that I really didn't like was the titles, and the transitions into them. I can't quite place my finger on what bothered me with the titles, but it just looked amateurish and seemed to "interrupt" the film. And about the transitions, a few of them were blocky dissolves, and I think they should be changed into smooth cross dissolves or something else more professional.
All in all, I really enjoyed this footage and I'll be looking forward to the full feature. Let us know when you're finished with it!
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Old December 7th, 2003, 12:08 AM   #5
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Not to sound redundant, but I agree with the music and title transitions. All else looked good.

The coach may be in-your-face, but he really cares about the athletes. I found the part about him caring about the child's lost tooth more than the parent very interesting. Having coached club soccer for nearly 25 years (now retired), parents never cease to amaze me!

Good job.
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Old December 9th, 2003, 09:37 PM   #6
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I'll sound more redundant :-)

Titles need some work; although classical white on black is good (sometimes), in this particular case, it wasn't really appropriate (given the theme of the documentary). The music is good, and in a way fits nicely with what I've seen, but as Kieran mentioned, it's out of place in a documentary style video. Lastly, for a trailer, I find it too long.

All in all, even though it was long for a trailer, I really enjoyed it. I think it was well cut. The composition was nicely done. And the human element was well handled.

How long did it take you to edit? And how much raw footage do you have?
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Old December 9th, 2003, 10:20 PM   #7
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I would love to watch it, but all I get is an error box coming up saying "network connection has failed". This isn't the first time it's happened with .asx files.
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Old December 10th, 2003, 10:27 AM   #8
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Frederic, it took me about 5 months to shoot and I have approximately 60 hours of raw footage. I agree this is long for a trailer but it was cut to show at the IFP Market which requires longer trailers. As soon as I can, I'll put up a shorter trailer showing some different footage.

Matt, I'm sorry about the trailer not working for you. Hopefully you can see it in the near future.
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Old December 10th, 2003, 11:07 AM   #9
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Gregg,

Great work...really like the editing, it's really paced well and kept my interest. I would echo the previous replies and add that I don't catch a concept that is interweaved throughout the titles, music, and characters. Being a musician, I know that certain types of music fit certain types of personalities. You might ask the coach what kind of music he listens to and you might be pleasently surprised that he may have the answer. Yes, he is intense, yet passionate about what he is doing at the same time...try to find music to match that! The heavy metal shows the intensity, but lacks the compassion. The titling can be thought of in the same terms. I thought the editing showed good contrast between the intense moments and the compassionate ones (either through the coach himself or the interviewees). Good luck, and keep us informed!

Clay
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Old January 28th, 2004, 10:41 AM   #10
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Gladiator School clip

I was lucky enough to have watched the clip with the Coach...

This is one of the best approach to this sport on film that I have seen in a long time-yes there have been a very select few of wrestling films made to date. But never with the approach of going at it with the true nature of what this film clip has shown me. I appreciate and agree what the others with saying the music is a bit hard (but so is wrestling)and the title cross over to another subject-maybe that is just for the clip-I look forward to seeing the finished product and see some of WHAT did not make the film as well.
I do alot for wrestling in general down here in GA with all of the organizations and think this really says alot about this sport and really think this will reach alot of people and maybe get others interested in the sport as well-for it is an individual sport and not a TEAM sport where you have to rely on others to win your match-it is up to you and only you. Team points are acumulated in certain events set up that way-but really you are your source and force for winning your match to get to the top of the podium stand.
Don is a very energetic coach that gets results from these wrestlers. I have found him to be very successful with his team and he is very well known here in GA as a good coach and his kids just love him-so do I-and I wish the best for him with this film and his team.
I can't wait to see the final product... Let us in on some heads up dates please...
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Old January 29th, 2004, 04:11 PM   #11
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file access

Gregg,

My son is on the Blacksheep team. I can't seem to access the movie file. Windows media player says that the address is wrong or something. Can you tell me how I can view this movie. I sure would appreciate it.

Carter
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