The filmmaking career of graduate Joe Carlini continues this weekend when his documentary, Second Chance U, debuts at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, July 15, at the St. Anthony Main Theatre near the University of Minnesota
Here’s Carlini, in his own words, on the film, the movie-making process and the story behind the documentary.
Killing a Successful Program
Second Chance U, which cost close to $4,000 to produce, tells the story of the Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) basketball team. The Mavericks were consistently one of the best teams in the country at the Junior College level.
The MCTC Mavericks religiously gave street kids a second chance at life while giving them the discipline to change their lives for the better with helping them go into right direction.
In 2009 they went to the national championship game… in 2010 the program was terminated. Watch the injustice that occurs.
The MCTC Mavericks were more than a basketball team—it was a community. Many fans of the team, like one that is featured in my film, used the Mavericks to escape from their daily problems. In 2009, the MCTC Mavericks were the No. 1 team in the nation for majority of the year. In 2010, they were not in existence.
Jay Pivec (Piv) and Ron Gates gave street kids the discipline, confidence and intangibles to make a difference in their lives.
A former player said it best. Brian McLaurin, who is now a minister in Minneapolis, said:
"You make think your not making a difference by only helping out 15 to 30 kids. But you got to realize by equipping these players to help themselves then they are able to make a difference in other peoples lives. For this basketball program helping this one student, I've helped over a thousand. That's how you make a difference."
The film starts out like most basketball documentaries or narrative features: the cliché of under-privileged kids and the coach that changes their lives, and they go all the way to the big game and win! And after the movie everyone’s happy.
How about a more realistic approach to a story that has many of the same conventions of a sports movie? Well, how about the kids coming together to go to the national championship game and lose by one point and then seeing the program terminated? You just don't hear of stories like that.
The student president declined to be interviewed. However, a member of the MCTC Student Senate, David Kraft, talked about his regret over the decision to cancel the program.
“I lost a lot of sleep over it,” he said. “Forty-five years done in 12 hours just doesn’t seem right to me anymore.”
From One of the Players
Below are comments from Eric Thomson, a member of the team from 1991-93.
For most of us that were a part of this program, it is our family. Every player that has come through the MCC/MCTC basketball program is a brother to me. I don't know most of them, I played during Piv's second and third season at MCC and because of my location wasn't able to be around to watch the teams that came after me very much, but that doesn't matter, they are brothers.
When I was back in the cities you better believe I tried to make it down to a game or open gym just to be there and see the new faces and absorb the energy and memories that gym has provided since the first day I stepped on to that floor.
I can still see Piv and Gates walking out toward me after I threw a sweet bounce pass for the game-winning lay up during my first open gym, I thought they were about to toss me out of the gym the way they were hurrying towards me. They asked how I knew to add some spin to avoid having the ball skid on the then slick Tartan floor; I shrugged my shoulders not really knowing why I did.
Then Piv said if I were to go to school there he would never tell me not to shoot; that is all it took. Next thing I know I was filling out admission papers and two years later we were playing for a national championship.
I was the typical Piv player, I played my high school ball at Minneapolis Roosevelt, I was looking for a chance to play, I knew I had the game but I was very skinny, but that didn't matter to me or Piv—I could play.
I was never a great defender, which he reminded me of often, but I could put the ball in the basket. He gave me a chance and it led to a Division I scholarship.
I wasn't the first player that he helped and I certainly wasn't the last, but I know we all appreciate the opportunity, even those that didn't make it.
The president of the college made a grave error in letting a great ambassador for the school and a great man who truly cares about kids walk out his door… it is a real shame.
I can no longer call MCTC home, my new home is where my heart is, DCTC with Piv and Gates.
I’m currently working on . Since producing a movie is very expensive, all the proceeds from Second Chance U go to my current film.
My film My Senior Year is a high school genre narrative film that is about love, friendship and triumph. The film touches on the issue of prevention of suicide. Here are production stills. And check out this site.
I will also show a few of my short films that have won student Upper Midwest Emmys, to lead up to Second Chance U.