Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"Hell no, he's gonna score!"

I had the opportunity to watch the new documentary on the 1980 championship season over the weekend. Quite simply, 1980 Dawgs is a must have for your collection. I didn't go into it thinking I knew everything about that season, but I thought I was pretty well versed on how the thing played out. But this film provides so much more. You'll need more than one viewing to digest everything it gives you.

It's balanced well with player interviews and footage from the games. Most of all, the words come from players, coaches, trainers and writers who were there every step of the way. And you can feel the tension mount as it leads up to the defining play of that season in Jacksonville. Hearing the commentary build up to that moment will take you back 30 years to where you can relive every step Lindsay took toward that endzone and chuckle in hearing some of the reactions from the sideline as the team went from thinking the undefeated season was about to end...to thinking Belue to Scott was merely a first down...to Erk shouting "Hell no, he's gonna score!"

It's a real treasure. For over three hours you'll be entertained, through the lows and the highs. You'll laugh as well as cheer. To help put it all in perspective, the film's director Lenny Daniel has provided this writeup for how the project began. Many thanks to him and Mike Moss for seeing this thing through.

I’m Lenny Daniel, the Director & Filmmaker of 1980 Dawgs. The early idea to produce the documentary originated about 2 1/2 years ago. I had been a UGA student and writer on the Red & Black sports desk during that magical season, and wrote features on some of the players on the team.
When the 30 year anniversary approached, I read some articles on the 1980 season, started reminiscing and decided to look for a good documentary about it. When I searched the internet, I couldn't find anything. I wrote Claude Felton at Georgia's Sports Information desk to ask him and he told me he wasn't aware of anything feature length on that team - only a few short vignettes. How could this be? This was one of the most historic teams in Georgia sports history!
I began to think about it and came to a realization “I have a production company.....I have the equipment and skills to do this.........I was there at the time and close to many of the stories as they unfolded.....Why don't I take it on?” Then, I got that feeling of ineptitude that some of us have before taking on a project that will stretch us: "It's too big to take on" "I don't have the funding to pull it off" "This is a big project for a big productions company and a large crew." I thought of several reasons to steer away from it, but it kept coming back to me. I decided to at least investigate the possibility of doing the documentary and sent out feelers to a few players and coaches. After all, I thought, their story really needs to be told while they're still young enough to recall the events and share their memories of that amazing year.
Time went by and I didn't hear back from anyone to help motivate me to proceed. One Georgia employee warned me, "It's probably not worth taking on, because you will have to pay so much in various royalty fees for the footage, that it will be hard to make your money back."
The project was starting to look like it just wouldn't happen. Then, out of the blue, Frank Ros, the captain of the 1980 team (who Vince Dooley referred to as perhaps the “best captain” for on and off the field leadership he has ever coached), called me and said he received my letter. He said he thought it would be a great idea for a documentary and he would help me get in contact with several of the players and coaches on the team. A week or so later, Vince Dooley returned my email and said he would be happy to be interviewed for the project! God, indeed, works in mysterious ways! The project took off and continued to gain momentum for the next 2 years. Twenty seven players and coaches agreed to be interviewed. The stories and emotions they shared were fascinating and inspiring. Thirty years later, the memories were clear, and they were more willing to be candid and share their inner thoughts.
During the editing process, I sent unfinished clips to my friend, Mike Moss, who is an Entrepreneur and from the same era of the 1980 UGA days. He told me he was moved by the clips, especially the honesty and emotion of the players and coaches. He got involved last year and partnered with me to help bring the documentary to the public. We felt the project needed to be shared with the Bulldog Nation. We're excited to see Dawg fans finally view the film and relive that special season when Georgia was the best college football team in the country!

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