Kristopher Belman ’04 has watched his junior-year class project take on a life of its own. Belman was studying film and television at Loyola Marymount University when he started a 10-minute documentary about a high school basketball team from Akron, Ohio, his hometown.
Four years later, “More Than a Game” had grown to 105 minutes and was shown to 1,200 people at the Toronto Film Festival in 2008. Belman’s documentary took second place in the audience polling to “Slumdog Millionaire,” which went on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. “More Than a Game” goes into theaters nationwide in October 2009.
While a great deal of attention has been paid to the star of that basketball team, LeBron James, now an NBA superstar, Belman saw the story of the team and their interaction as the main point of the film. “I think it’s a film about dreams and family,” Belman said. “Five boys become men under the guidance of a surrogate father who happens to be their coach. You could walk into the room and watch them for 10 minutes and know that they have spent their lives together. They have a deep-rooted history and that shows.”
Belman is most proud of maintaining the film’s creative integrity in the face of many obstacles and pressures during its making. “Kennedy Wheatley and Greg Ruzzin were very supportive and helped me stay true to the story,” Belman said. Greg Ruzzin, assistant professor at LMU’s School of Film and Television, said, “Kris is a good example of the adage ‘Write what you know.’ He went home to Ohio looking for a good story, and he found a good one.” Kennedy Wheatley, assistant professor at the school, said, “From his initial collection of rough footage, he created a small, poignant story of friendship and basketball, but he knew it had the potential to be a much bigger tale. I admire Kris' determination and talent, and it has paid off in a wonderful film that is truly his own.”
The film about teamwork came about with a fair amount of LMU team spirit. Belman’s college roommate, Brad Hogan ’03, co-wrote the script and came up with the overall structure of the narrative. Stephanie de Natale ’04 became the producer and was instrumental in arranging for the final funding of the project.
Belman got a B-plus on the class project.
Posted Sept. 28, 2009