A Long Shot – Day 7 FFF 2011


Eben Signs While Joseph Answers A Question About Hamill

Matt Hamill was a long shot.

Born deaf, he was raised by a mother and grandfather who taught him to believe in himself; to never give up. After learning to wrestle in a small, rural Ohio town where he was the only deaf person, he succeeded in placing 5th and 3rd in the state and earned a free ride to Purdue. After a disastrous Freshman year, he almost gave up before his grandfather convinced him to transfer to Rochester Institute of Technology in New York where he would go on to win three national collegiate championships.

Not surprisingly, this story of determination and never say die attitude was very attractive to Eben Kostbar and Joeseph McKelheer. They decided to make a movie about Matt’s life. In an ironic twist of fate, their story of making this film parallels Matt’s as they struggle to write the script, come up with the funding and produce a wonderful work of art.

SunnyStefani, LanceAround’s newest correspondent, joins Number One Son and I in the theatre to watch this movie–Hamill. She writes this excellent post about the film. In the meantime, I catch up to some audience members.

“I need time to reflect. It was a great movie. It had great meaning. I like how powerful the message was,” says Tyler Simpson as his date, Heather, nods in agreement. “It was really good,” she adds emphatically.

“Excellent,” raves Kay McKelheer, who is Joseph’s stepmother. (In addition to co-writing and co-producing the movie, Joseph plays Matt’s college wrestling coach.) As I write this, Kay continually looks over my shoulder to ensure I spell everyone’s name correctly. She’s a mom! She then introduces me to Joseph.

“We wanted to make a film where deaf people and hearing people could go to the theatre at the same time and experience it.  This was the first time I experienced the deaf community,” relates Joseph. He’s eager to push the website. He’s eager for distribution. This film means a lot to him and he does not want to see it die.

I read those last few sentences to him and he reacts, “I’m on my fifth year of this film. I won’t be surprised if, in five years, I’m still actively involved. I think this film has certain relevance. It’s going to take time, but it’s going to get out there. It’s not going to happen overnight. We’re not going to quit. It would be a shame if it doesn’t get out there. We know there’s an audience.”

I ask Joseph to tell me something that no other journalist has written about him or this movie. I’m looking for an angle–something personal. I use several other interviewing techniques to try to draw him out. They don’t work. He’s focused and he’s nervous. He wants so badly for this film to succeed.

I tell Joseph about the time I won a national wrestling championship when I was in college. I remember it clearly–the grim determination, the laser like focus–I only succeeded because nothing was going to stand in my way.

That’s how Joseph is now. He’s focused on this movie. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he succeeds.

It’s a good film and well worth a look.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: