Soccer movies aren’t easy to make, and critics judge them on a different kind of curve: How realistic is it?
Director Reginald Dublin knew he had to answer that question when he read the script for “Safety,” a Walt Disney Pictures film released in December. Dublin, who earned an Oscar nomination as a producer for “Django Unchained” in 2012, took up the challenge.
“He beenn’t trying to remake any movies,” Dublin told Sporting News. “My thing is that when you work in a genre you have to say, ‘What are you adding to it?’ If I want to see ‘Any Given Sunday’ or ‘Friday Night Lights’, they’re there. The advantage we had been Ray. ”
MORE: The 10 Most Inspiring Sports Movie Soundtracks Of All Time
Ray McElrathbey, a former Clemson security, is the theme of the movie. McElrathbey been a red-shirted freshman in 2006, juggling school, soccer, and raising his 11-year-old brother Farmers that summer while his mother Tonya battled a drug addiction in Atlanta.
“Safety” puts that story on screen and it brought back emotional memories for McElrathbey and his family.
“When you’re in it, you never look at it like its something someone would celebrate,” McElrathbey told SN. “You look back, and yeah, we did have some tough times. We went through some things. Knowing that those things are helping others right now, it feels wonderful. It’s better than great.”
However, this is not just a modernized version of “Rudy”. The film does an excellent job of bridging those emotional moments through strong performances from Jay Reeves, who plays Ray, and newcomer Thaddeus J. Mission, who plays Farmers.
“The emphasis has to be on the perspective and the psychology of the player when you’re there,” Dublin said. “It’s the moment that you can’t necessarily see during the game that we can exploit and get the audience emotionally involved in those moments.”
“Security” achieves both goals. The film shows the emotional experiences that McElrathbey felt through this juggling act and its consequences. McElrathbey would then have to apply for a waiver from the NCAA to remain eligible at Clemson.
Of course, there are the football scenes, including a sequence that been filmed at halftime during Clemson’s game against Charlotte on September 21, 2019. Dublin said the team had 10 minutes to film four scenes, and they managed the objective.
The end result is somewhat different from a football perspective. That came through various rehearsals, and McElrathbey been active as a consultant on those scenes.
“We went through a lot of different versions to make sure we get to the best version of the football part,” McElrathbey said. “We tried to do it a lot of times. There were a lot of scenes that were done over and over to correct that. In fact, they allowed me to intervene a lot. That made me feel really good.”
McElrathbey played for Tommy Bowden, who been Clemson’s coach until 2008. Dabo Swinney took over and turned the program into a two-time national champion in the era of the college football playoffs.
McElrathbey said he’s still on the move through Atlanta, Los Angeles and Clemson, and still maintains those close connections to the show. Farmers still lives in Clemson. They formed a bond with Reeves and Mission throughout the production.
“My story is the essence of the Clemson experience,” McElrathbey said. “It is not the story par excellence, but it is very close to it. It is one of those situations where you join a family without knowing that you are still part of one. The moment you decide that you are a Tiger, then you are part of that family. ”
Dublin felt that while directing the movie, and that made the challenge of making a different kind of soccer movie that much easier. It is as real as it enters and leaves the field.
“It been just a great script and a great story,” Dublin said. “Very often I get a script and sometimes they are bad. Sometimes they are not for me or sometimes there is an idea, but you have to work to polish it. It been great. I read it and thought, ‘Look. Shoot this movie. We’re going to release this thing and make it. ‘
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.