A “Long Shot” Interview: Hoops, Dubya & Serendipity

Franklin Martin Production Still

Director/Producer Franklin Martin
Courtesy, Dutchmen Films

FRANKLIN MARTIN – Director/Producer, Dutchmen Films

A former basketball coach, Franklin Martin grew up in the South and his family had a strong connection to New Orleans which led him to film his first documentary Hurricane Season: Walking on Dead Fish (narrated and executive-produced by Terry Bradshaw).  Having completed “Long Shot: The Kevin Laue Story,” Martin will produce “Angels in Exile” alongside Charlize Theron, who also narrates the feature documentary for director-producer Billy Raftery.   Other projects that Martin is attached to write and direct are: “Silent Artist: The Martin Ramirez Story”, “Predator’s Ball”, “Back Nine” and “Ashes to Dust.”  Franklin has appeared in many feature films and television shows as an actor and is a graduate of Hofstra University and holds a Master’s Degree from Tennessee State University.

Kevin Williams:  How did you come upon this story for this film?

Franklin Martin:  By fate, God, serendipity.  It was meant to be. I was cutting my first film, “Walking on Dead Fish,” when the Editor asked me to coach his son’s AAU Basketball team which was going to [a tournament in] Las Vegas. I went reluctantly from Los Angeles and it was the only time I ever coached AAU. Kevin Laue went to that tournament, also reluctantly from San Francisco. Out of three hundred or so teams there, we drew each other’s team and so I actually coached against him. From there, I knew something was very special about him and his family. Seven months later, I started shooting the film.

Kevin Williams:  Your film covers a lot of ground over a long period of time.  Were there any story threads that took you by surprise?

Franklin Martin: Kevin breaking his leg of course was a shock and after coming off the heels of meeting the President of the United States on the same day… it was mind blowing. I always told Kevin I didn’t want this to be a “basketball” film, I wanted it to be about his life. Real life. So when he finally opened up to me about his father during that conversation in his bedroom, I knew I had something special. Then, when his mother gave me the video of his father’s last testament [before he died]… well, I was blown away and I knew that we had something that we would be very proud of.

Long Shot Movie PosterKevin Williams:  “Long Shot” has a real intimacy to it and definitely brings the audience into the life of a teenager trying to achieve an almost impossible dream.  How did you go about building a relationship with Kevin Laue and his family, team, etc.? 

Franklin Martin: The Laue’s are a great family. Before we began we had long talks about what I needed and how I worked. I shoot “in the moment” – [cinema] verite. I needed full access and asked that they trust me. And they did. Remember, I knew them for seven months before I started shooting and I had been a source of advice for his basketball career. I wasn’t going to make the film initially, so we didn’t rush into anything and gained each other’s trust.

Kevin Williams:  Can you tell our readers about how you planned out the film before shooting and how the plan may have changed when you shot and then edited?

Franklin Martin:  Actually, I don’t plan out much. I like to go with real-life events. I knew I had to follow his Junior & Senior years and whatever came would come and that it would be real.   Truthful. That is what I strive for as a filmmaker, to be bare and truthful. In knew I had gold before I ever started editing, it was just a matter of how to weave the events of the story in a compelling way that would keep the audience engaged. Kevin breaking his leg threw what little planning I had out of the window.

Kevin Williams:  Were you caught off guard by how difficult the college recruiting process turned out to be for Kevin? 

Franklin Martin:  Yes. He faced flat out discrimination. I understand it, but it was hard to swallow.  I was [really] surprised that after how great he played that only one Division I School would give him a shot. Manhattan College and Barry Rhorssen deserve a lot of credit for giving Kevin a shot.

Kevin Williams:  How did making this film change you?

Franklin Martin:  It made me tougher. Looking at him, what we both endured, and how he lives his life without regret or feeling sorry for himself made me do the same. We all can have days when we get down, but I have them less after having watched Kevin and then having pushed through the six years that it took to shoot, edit and distribute the film.

Kevin Williams:  The scene with President George W. Bush and Air Force One was a refreshing, light moment.  Was it difficult to get permission from Secret Service to shoot that scene?

George W. Bush, Kevin Laue

6′ 9″ Kevin Laue with
6′ 3″ President George W. Bush
Courtesy, Dutchmen Films

Franklin Martin:  His mother, Jodi, made it happen. I have no idea how. She’s an amazing woman. She had three children to raise after her husband passed away and one of them with a disability.  That is no easy task. She did a very good job of pulling it off and is the true hero in the background. His grandmother is great too. He is blessed to have good, strong women behind him.

Kevin Williams:  What are you hoping to achieve with this film? 

Franklin Martin:  To show, not tell, that anything is possible if you want it bad enough and believe. To show the power that fathers and mothers have in their children’s lives and how mentors, coaches and parents are the most important thing in a young person’s life.

Kevin Williams:  What was Kevin’s reaction after seeing it for the first time?

Franklin Martin:  Very emotional. We watched it alone on my couch in Marina Del Rey. We cried together. Laughed.  It was cathartic for him and me.

Kevin Williams:  How did you come to be a documentary filmmaker?

Franklin Martin:  I went down a few days after Hurricane Katrina and began shooting, “Walking on Dead Fish”.  I’d been writing for four years and did a little acting and felt that I was ready to tell a story through film. It was a big leap of faith [for me]. I was in a little town outside of New Orleans on and off for over a year and that changed my life. I got a big feature film deal with Universal Studio’s we had a feature lined up with Harrison Ford.  It’s been a great ride and I have never looked back.

Kevin Williams:  How long did it take for Pre-production, production and post-production?  Was it hard to find a distributor?

Franklin Martin:  Three and one-half years to shoot.  One and one-half years to edit. One year to distribute. So, six years in total. It’s always hard for a documentary to find a distributor and Todd Slater of Slater Brothers and Cinipix deserve a lot of credit for stepping up to the plate and getting this out to the AMC Theaters. We greatly appreciate AMC for taking the lead on giving documentaries [like ours] a fair shot. They are a leader in this area and we are grateful.

Kevin Williams:  What other projects are on the horizon?

Long Shot kevinjump_300 at Fork Union

Kevin Laue blocking a shot during a game.
Courtesy, Dutchmen Films

Franklin Martin:  I am a producer on another documentary with Charlize Theron, who also narrates it. It’s called “Children Rise” and Billy Raftery is the Director. He’s from New Jersey and the film will be out in the spring. I’m also writing two scripts and will be making a narrative feature in the next year.

© 2013 The Willams View



About the Author:

Jennifer Williams is an accomplished writer, interviewer and critical reviewer having written about or covered many subjects of interests. Having graduated from Tulane University, La Salle University and New York University, Kevin's career background in Politics and Civic Affairs, Public Relations, Marketing, Non-Profit Management and Filmmaking have helped inspire much of her past artistic and creative efforts. Jennifer directed and co-produced the documentary feature film, Fear Of A Black Republican. Her latest film, Rebel Song, looks at a middle-aged American Celtic Rock band and the music inspired by the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Rebel Song is expected to be released in 2014. In addition to The Williams View, Jennifer is also the Entertainment and Politics Editor for Politisite, a Contributing Writer for Townhall, Breitbart's Big Hollywood, Liberatchik and Hip Hop Republican. Jennifer has been interviewed or profiled across many Media outlets such as the Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Philadelphia Inquirer, Kansas City Star, L.A. Weekly; Current TV, Christian Broadcasting Network, Huffington Post Live, Al Jazeera and BET News; radio programs ranging from National Public Radio, Voice of Russia - American Edition, the Mark Davis Radio Show, the Chris Stigall Show, the Steve Deace Show, the Bob Grant Show, Victoria Taft Show, to the Michael Eric Dyson Show and many others.

1 Comment on "A “Long Shot” Interview: Hoops, Dubya & Serendipity"

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  1. Jack Gregory says:

    Mr. Williams,

    Thank you for getting the word out about this film. As you already know, getting decent films into the mainstream is not easy nor is it rewarded. Please continue to reach out to the independent film producers and highlight their efforts as well as give us the inside dope.


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