Long Shot: The Kevin Laue Story took over six years to create. Shooting the film took four and a half years as Director Franklin Martin followed the life of Kevin from high school, through his journey to prep school and eventually on to Manhattan College. After obtaining all the necessary footage over the course of those four and a half years, it took about a year to edit and create the Director’s Cut of the film.
Franklin financed the film entirely himself for filming and the beginning of the editing process. It was during the editing that Producers Charlie Loventhal, Dain Blair, Bill Raftery, and Julian McMahon saw a great opportunity to help Kevin’s story reach the world. The team of producers provided Franklin with the money and support needed to finish editing and add music. A full year after the editing was complete; Franklin finally found a way to get the film distributed with a national theatrical release, with the help of Producer Todd Slater and Cinipix.
Many challenges were overcome to bring this film to fruition: “It took six years of my life, and it was a constant effort to continue to shoot, especially since the story took me all over the country. Editing, well that’s when the fun and even longer hours began,” Says Director Franklin Martin. He spent four years with Kevin and his family, filming them at all major events.
“It was a roll of the dice for me and the financers because there was no set ending. A big gamble, but I thought his story, if realized, would be worth the risk. The ending of the film is based on Kevin attending prep school, graduating from there and recovering a Division One Scholarship."
With no investors, Franklin began editing the film with the help of a graduate student, Tyler Lindsey, at the Video Symphony School in Burbank. Tyler worked with Franklin to get a solid “Rough Cut” of the film. Five other students at Video Symphony received “credits” on the film because of the their loyatly and hard work in the intial stages. With the rough cut, Franklin was able to attract investors and much needed support, from the likes of Grooveworx and Dain Blair out of Santa Monica.
The film is a strong supporter of the Challenged Athletes Foundation. This charity helps athletes with physical limitations, such as Kevin, realize that they can achieve their dreams. A percentage of proceeds from ticket sales for Long Shot: The Kevin Laue Story will be donated to CAF in Kevin Laue’s name.
Interestingly enough, for the first eight months of Franklin's relationship with Kevin, he did not film anything. In fact, he was acting as a mentor to Kevin's basketball career. Only after Franklin was finished editing his first critically acclaimed film, Hurricane Season: Walking on Dead Fish, did he consider beginning to film his second documentary, Long Shot.
During the eight month period, Franklin was so impressed with Kevin and his family, especially Kevin's mother Jodi Jarnigan, who he calls “the woman behind the scenes” that he was willing to take the leap into a story with an unknown ending and no guarantees. Shortly thereafter, Franklin encouraged Kevin to attend the prestigious Five-Star Basketball Camp, where the filming truly began.
It was at Five-Star that Kevin’s initial break into the national basketball community came when Franklin introduced Kevin to Howard Garfinkel, highly respected scout and Founder of the Camp. It was at this event that Kevin began to garner the attention of the East Coast schools, including Manhattan College, where he eventually landed. Garfinkel, initially reluctant to requests to invite Kevin to attend the prestigious camp, turned full circle when he saw Kevin play and named him to the 40th Annual All-Star Classic. This opportunity to play as an All-Star, gave him exposure that was impossible to have in tiny Pleasanton, CA.
From Five-Star, Kevin went back to high school, but faced a serious injury early in his Senior year. His hopes of achieving a scholarship were destroyed with the season-ending injury, but through a strong connection from the filmmaker, Kevin was able to attend a prep school in the backwoods of Virginia that Franklin and his father both attended, Fork Union Military Academy.
Ironically, both Franklin and Kevin played basketball under the guidance of Head Coach Fletcher Arritt, who has been the coach at Fork Union for over 40 years. Fork Union was the savior to Kevin's career allowing him to play an extra year of high school without losing any college eligibility. This can only be done at a Prep School and there are very few of them in the country. Kevin had to fly cross-country to “try out” for the team. After not playing well in the try out, it took several weeks for Coach Arritt to offer Kevin a place on the team, something neither he or Kevin ever regretted as Kevin eventually became the starting center on the team.
Barry Rohrssen, a 25-year friend of Franklin’s has been a college coach for 15 years and recruited players throughout the country. Barry continued to watch Kevin’s progress after receiving the positive reports from Five-Star Basketball Camp and Howard Garfinkle. He kept an eye on Kevin’s statistics at Fork Union Military Academy but was unable to offer Kevin college scholarship, because like every other Division One Coach, he feared that his superiors would wonder why he was signing a player with such a disability when there were other players available who did not have a disability.
Fletcher Arritt, a 40-year veteran and nationally respected Head Coach at Fork Union, had numerous discussions with Coach Rhorrsen about Kevin’s attributes and why he was willing to stake his reputation on recommending Kevin for a scholarship. Despite all of the respected opinions and Coach Rhorrssen’s own opinion, he was in a tough position because no other coach or school wanted to take the risk in offering a full scholarship to a player with only one arm.
When the President of Manhattan College read an article in the NY Times about Kevin’s amazing accomplishments, both on and off the court at Fork Union, he brought the article to Coach Rhorssen’s attention and asked if he knew who this kid was. Of course he did. Coach explained the situation fully to the President and Athletic Director, Bob Byrnes and they all agreed that if Kevin came up for an “Official Visit” and all went well, they should offer him a full scholarship.
Barry got on the phone immediately to call Coach Arritt and Franklin. Within a few days, Kevin was in New York City for his “Official Visit” and Franklin was with him filming. After the visit, Manhattan College decided to be the first Division One school to overlook Kevin’s disability and offer him a full scholarship. The rest, as they say, is history.
This film was shot on location in Pleasanton, California, Los Angeles, Providence, RI, Fork Union, Virginia, San Francisco, and New York City.