The Ball That Glittered
(Based on a true story.)

It’s 1974 and Danny Tyler returns from Vietnam to learn
of a new professional football league. Tyler becomes an
overnight sensation in the rebel league, which begins
raiding the NFL of its biggest stars. Soon bogus ticket
sales and financial woes threaten the league’s existence
and Tyler’s meteoric rise to fame.

We recently caught up with Kevin Smith about a
screenplay he co-wrote with his brother Kerry entitled,
"The Ball That Glittered."

WFLV: How do you write a screenplay on the WFL
without it coming off as a documentary?

Smith: That was one of the pitfalls we had to avoid.
It had to be written from a standpoint that anyone,
familiar with the WFL or not, would enjoy the movie. It had
to come across as a movie, not a propaganda newsreel.
I think we did very well in that area.

WFLV: Did you pull that off?

Smith: Well, we wanted to stay as true to the WFL facts
as we could. Early on we knew the epicenter of the story
had to be the Birmingham franchise, yet we didn’t think
there was a huge market for a love story about
journeyman quarterback George Mira. After much debate,
we came up with a fictional QB named Danny Tyler.

WFLV: In essence, Danny Tyler is to this story what
Leonardo Dicaprio’s character was to Titanic?

Smith: Correct. DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s characters
in that movie were fictional but were intertwined with
the characters of people who actually boarded the Titanic.

WFLV: Besides Tyler, everything else is based on actual
WFL events?

Smith: For the most part, yes. All game results, players
and coaches are real. Obviously, when you have a
fictional guy in the mix, some of the off-the-field scenes
become somewhat fictionalized as well.

WFLV: Tell us more about Tyler’s character.

Smith: He’s an easy going kid that flunks out of Ole’ Miss
in 1971. That means he's certain to be drafted and not
by the NFL. He gets the call to Vietnam, serves his time
and comes home in the Spring of 1974.

WFLV: So he isn’t aware of this new league?

Smith: Correct... and I think it’s a real charming part of the
story. The kid walks into a diner a week after he gets
discharged and reads about it in the paper. As a former
QB in the SEC, he somewhat has the credentials to drive
over to Birmingham and tryout.

WFLV: It’s easy to see how a script might have to be
altered to give it Hollywood appeal. That was the
case in the movie “Invincible,” which has some huge
WFL connections.

Smith: “Invincible” is a great example of having to alter
the truth a bit to make a script marketable. The entire
charm of that film is Vince Papale is a 30-year old
rookie who didn’t play college football. They imply he
only played high school football prior to the tryout
in Philadelphia.

WFLV: But that’s not correct.

Smith: Not even close to correct. Papale was a
well-known athlete in Philly. He played two years in the
WFL with the Philadelphia Bell as a starter. They had no
choice but to leave that fact out or it’s far less dramatic
when he makes the Eagles roster.

WFLV: Never let the facts get in the way of a good
story, right?

Smith:Exactly (laughing).

WFLV: But you like that film and the story?

Smith: Absolutely. It’s a wonderful movie and a great
story. It’s well done, and it stays away from the mainstream
pitfalls of most football movies.

WFLV: How’s that?

Smith: I know it’s odd to say but most football movies
get bogged down with too many football scenes. They’re
long, boring and predictable. Seriously, how many more
times do we need to see the last second bomb for a
touchdown? “Invincible” and “We are Marshall” do a
great job of staying away from that. Those movies are
largely about the story surrounding football, not the action
on the field.

WFLV: So it’s safe to assume “The Ball that Glittered”
script is more about Danny Tyler and the WFL story than
a bunch of football scenes?

Smith: Yes. This is a story about Tyler’s journey and the
rollercoaster ride of a first year league. We went into this
wanting about 25 minutes of actual football choreography.
We finished with 22.

WFLV: It sounds fairly original. That’s not always easy
to do these days.

Smith: The league becomes an overnight sensation
before a ticket scandal threatens its existence. The
financial crunch becomes so bad, these guys don’t know
whether there’s a game from week-to-week or if they’ll
get paid. To contend with all the outside drama and still
try to focus on playing is tough. That’s never been done
before in film. There’s a great story to tell here, and I think
we pulled it off.

WFLV: Have you guys signed a deal with any studios yet?

Smith: No. We just put the finishing touches on the script.
We’re in the beginning stages of using our contacts to get
a deal done.

WFLV: We hope to see it on the big screen very soon.

Smith: As do we.

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