We had a chance to speak to writer/director David Evans and he told us a little more about the “The Sandlot,” the iconic coming-of-age film, which will be screened for it’s 20th anniversary on Tuesday, June 25 on the Round Rock Dell Diamond’s HD LED video board.Ham Porter: Watch it, jerk! Phillips: Shut up, idiot! Ham Porter: Moron! Phillips: Scab eater! Ham Porter: Butt sniffer! Phillips: Pus licker!
Ham Porter: Fart smeller![/pullquote]“The Sandlot” may be one of the most quoted movies of the Millenial Generation, with “You’re killin’ me Smalls.” and the exchange between the team and their arch-rivals:
Gates open at 6:30 p.m. for the special event with a “first-pitch” time of 7:05. Tickets are $8 and all kids two and under are free.
Fans can purchase a special four-pack of tickets for just $25.
Before the movie begins, Evans will introduce the screening, host a question and answer session with fun giveaways and be available for autographs and pictures. Fans are invited to bring blankets to enjoy the film from the outfield at Dell Diamond.
THE SANDLOT IS SOMETHING THAT IS REVERED BY AN ENTIRE GENERATION OF KIDS AS THE MOST ICONIC BASEBALL MOVIE OF THEIR TIME. DID YOU EXPECT IT TO BECOME THIS HUGE DEAL AS YOU WERE MAKING IT?
No, you never expect it, you hope for it. It’s always the hope that whatever piece of art , movie or otherwise, you create will stand the test of time forever. You always want that little piece of immortality. Other than my children, this is mine.
There are moments when you’re filming on the set when you’re absolutely sure that the moment you meant to portray or the joke you meant to tell is coming across. The further along we got into the picture, these 9 young guys jelled together not only as a great group of actors but as friends. That’s why it had a unique and honest, authentic sense of friendship. It was real, and that may be why it has stood the test of time thus far.
THEY SAY THAT CHILD ACTORS ARE AMONG THE MOST DIFFICULT TO WORK WITH, HOW DID YOU CREATE THAT ATMOSPHERE ON THE SET?
It goes back to the casting process. We weren’t just casting a single kid, we were putting them into an ensemble that had to fit. There were a number of young people that were terrific young actors but they just didn’t fit into the photograph or the feeling just wasn’t right. It’s an indefinable thing, a gut feeling.
Once we got the right group of young guys together, they hung out. We flew them over to Salt Lake City where we made the movie and hung out for a whole month playing baseball, practicing, going to the pool…it was like a gigantic summer camp when we were not working. They also happened to be good young men.
I’ve heard that thing a million times, never work with children or animals, but I think that’s aimed more at adult actors, because kids will steal your thunder. Is it difficult to direct young guys? Only insofar as their attention span. These guys were great. When they were working, they were working. When they were playing, they were playing. Many times though, the two intermixed. Each guy knew what he was supposed to be doing, and where he fit, both in the fictional and literal sense.
It’s only difficult to work with young actors if they’re precocious brats. We had none of that. We didn’t have a lot of money to make a movie. We had an adequate amount of time, they knew what they had to do to get it done and we did it. FULL CAST AND CREW
MOST OF THE STUFF YOU DO REVOLVES AROUND CHILDREN – IS THAT YOUR SPECIALTY?
Yes and no. The first big studio sale for a screenplay I had was for a movie called “Radio Flyer.” That was a movie that was supposed to be from a child’s point of view. Hollywood being what it is, you get pigeon-holed. It’s a blessing and a curse. For me more of a blessing, but every family oriented screenplay comes across my desk. I’m thankful. But I mostly do my own stuff. I have file cabinets full of stuff I’ll never get to in my lifetime.
As a director, you have to be a number of things, a cajoler, a convincer, a big brother, a dad, a psychologist. all of those things. Danny Boyle said it best in an interview a few year’s ago – he has the 15 golden rules for filmmaking. Number one is 95% of my job is ego management. It is, it’s true.
I am more an actor’s director than a technocrat. Emotion is the big deal with me. That’s what movies are, a single thing – emotion. If you get the emotions right and it strikes people honestly, you don’t lie to your audience. You employ all those things I just said to get the best performances out of your actors.
CAN YOU TELL US WHY YOU CHOSE BASEBALL AS A VEHICLE FOR THIS COMING OF AGE STORY?
I’m a huge baseball fan. I grew up in Southern California and I was very poor, and the two times I ever got to Dodger Stadium I was astounded. To this day I can remember it like it was an hour ago, the sun going down – the stadium…“But why baseball? Football is a war. Basketball is a war. Hockey is definitely a war. Baseball is an elegant game and I think it most closely resembles life.”
Life is long stretches of doing what you’re supposed to do, getting done what you have to get done, and then something happens and you have to react. Big moments. These things happen in baseball, that’s the way the game is played, clearly one team is the winner. However that team is made of people who strive to do their individual best. Other sports are not necessarily like that.
Ron Shelton, who directed one of the greatest baseball movies, “Bull Durham,” summed it up best. He said, “Life and baseball can both be defined by a single word: hope.” I believe that.
I had about 10 days between cities on my tour, and I locked myself in a hotel room in Kansas City and finished a screenplay based on one of the Matt Christopher books “The Kid Who Only Hit Homers.” A producer friend of mine got the rights to all 125 books. I think it’s the next great baseball movie for kids.
BULLYING IS A BIG SUBJECT NOW. IT’S HUGE AND EVERYONE IS TRYING TO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. IT’S PART OF GROWING UP. IN ‘THE SANDLOT’ YOU SHOW KIDS JUST AS THEY ARE, AND DIDN’T SUGARCOAT ANY OF IT.
I was in St. Louis, for an event at Busch Stadium. Part of the deal that Fox is doing in conjunction with each ballclub and P.F. Flyers because it’s their 75th anniversary as well, is we are donating a substantial portion of ticket sales to the local organizations who participate in the rejuvenation of the or new construction of sandlots or baseballfields or greenspace to kids who don’t have access.
In St. Louis, we gave $50.000 to T.A.S.K. – Team Activities For Special Kids, and the Cardinal Care (The Cardinal’s Charitable Club). We built them a very special baseball diamond that is specifically designed for kids with disabilities so they could play team sports in a safe environment.
I was asked to say a few words. I told them that people have called “The Sandlot” the greatest baseball movie ever made, the best summer movie of all time, and all these accolades. I’m very grateful for that, but to me it’s not a baseball movie. It’s a movie about friendship. It’s a movie that reflects what is most important, and I mean this seriously.
The emblem for Little League has three words on it – character, courage, and loyalty. That’s what the movie is about. It’s about Benny, and not disincluding someone because they happen to not be able to play baseball, or that he’s a dork, or he’s different from the other kids.
Look, my childhood was filled with me getting the crap beat out of me all the time by bullies, it really was. So when I said that the movie is about friendship, The lady who runs T.A.S.K. then said that’s what the movie meant to her as well, and then she said something that made me cry. She said “Every kid needs a friend, and especially special needs kids, who may not have a single friend.”
Now with this baseball field, they get to do two things. They get to play a team sport (we played a couple of innings with them, it was awesome by the way) and they get to have friends. That was a very big deal.
BASEBALL IS AN ELEGANT SPORT INDEED. WHAT WOULD BE YOUR DREAM PROJECT?
I have a couple of those. I have something that I wrote that took me 22 years to finish. It’s called “The Oddysey of Edward Morrell.” an epic western about the first man in the United States that was ever sentenced to life in solitary confinement with no chance of being let out of the cell. Jack London wrote about him.prison. He spent five years in the pit at San Quentin, and they forgot about him. Yet he got out, and the story of what he had to go through internally is one of the most astounding things I’ve ever heard of. That’s a passion project. Very little known figure but had a huge impact on the study of kinology.
Also, I have a project called “Hemmingway’s Hero” which my partner and I wrote for Peter Fonda to star in.
Then there’s the “Haole Substitute,” based on a true story by Walt Novak. Walt in the ‘80s was one of the best surf writers in the world, and he’s also the father of Flynn Novak, one of the best surfers in the world.
TRIVIA: DAVID M. EVANS IS RELEASING A NEW BOOK ‘THE KING OF PACOIMA’ WHICH IS THE ‘NOVELIZATION’ OF “RADIO FLYER, ” – the movie which Evans wrote that starred Elijah Wood in 1992.