A talented high school artist who's never played organized sports attempts to win a state championship basketball jacket and prove himself to his runaway father.
|David McNeil (as Joe Orrigo)
|Eliza Rose Fichter
|Coach Dan Stephan
|Sara Louise Petersen
|Skater Kid (as Sean C. Callahan)
|Principal Becker (as Pat Tierney)
|Frank S. Aronson
|Check Out Girl
|Jeannie Marie Clark
|Locker Girl #1
|Lily Kathyrn Noble
|Locker Girl #2
|Kid in Crowd
|Gary M. Bouchard
|Kid on Bike
|Bake Sale Lady
A talented high school artist who's never played organized sports attempts to win a state championship basketball jacket and prove himself to his runaway father. Grueling tryouts, family conflict, and strained friendships are merely the underpainting for David McNeil's greatest challenge as he suddenly finds himself in the role of friend and protector of Dribbles-an older school janitor who is also the basketball team's unofficial mascot. With self-confident new girl at school, Mary, as his guiding spirit and artistic muse, David discovers there are more important measures of a man's worth than trophies.
In the summer of 2004, producers Thomas and Heidi Tosi began pre-production on the feature-length drama, Dribbles. This husband and wife team from New Hampshire has combined rich backgrounds in art, storytelling, and technology to create award-winning interactive web sites for children and short films that have aired nationally in the U.S., on PBS affiliate stations, and won laurels in both domestic and international film festivals. While the couple has a strong history of looking primarily to themselves when producing creative projects, tackling a live-action, feature-length drama would require considerable assistance.
Casting would be the first challenge. From small, informal sessions at local high schools, colleges, and universities, to attending much larger sessions in Boston, the couple viewed the auditions of over five hundred actors from around New England and New York to fill the nine featured roles.
Working with a special agreement from the Screen Actors Guild, designed specifically to encourage small-budget independent production, the Dribbles cast was able to combine both union and non-union talent.
Jody Orrigo (as Joe Orrigo), a recent graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, was cast in the lead role playing the character of David McNeil. “We held the call-back auditions in the gymnasium of a small elementary school,” Thomas said. “What’s funny,” he recalled, “ is that Jody was called back to read for the part of David and David’s pretty much the one guy that’s not supposed to be able to play basketball. So, here we are in this small school gym for a casting session and Jody finds a loose ball while waiting for his turn. He starts to shoot and it’s immediately obvious that he’s probably the best player there. We had a shortage of good actors who could actually play basketball, so we had Jody read for several roles. He blew us away and could have taken one of several parts but, after reviewing the footage from that day, we knew he was our David.”
Playing opposite Jody, in the role of self-confident, new-girl-at-school, Mary, is Eliza Rose Fichter. “What’s great about Eliza for this particular role,” Heidi pointed out, “is that she is an incredibly talented and experienced actress who is still actually a high school student. By the time we saw her, Eliza had already won a number of prestigious awards for her work and had a long list of credits that included performing at the American Repertory Theater and at the Lincoln Center in New York City with Lynn Redgrave.” Thomas remembers Eliza walking through the door at the first cast read-through of the script. “Several other cast members, who had not yet seen Eliza, met her and just knew immediately, without being told, that she would be playing Mary. That’s when I knew we cast well, when actors didn’t have to ask each other what part they were playing.”
The key crew positions on Dribbles were much easier to fill. For the director of photography, Thomas and Heidi turned to David Hjelm, a long-time friend with over twenty years experience lighting and shooting for local, regional, and national television. On sound, they tapped Bruce Simonds, who the couple knew to be an award-winning songwriter familiar with recording music in his home-based studio. “We approached Dave and Bruce,” Thomas explained, “not only because they would deliver the images and sound needed but also because we knew these guys are the kind of people you need on the set – rock solid work ethic with a sense of humor. There’s just no underestimating the value of that stabilizing force in the chaos of production.”
Shooting a feature film entirely on location is always an intimidating prospect and this is especially so when that location is New England during the fall and winter. One of the great success stories of Dribbles, however, is the naturalism imbued in the film from the environment in which it was shot.
Dribbles was shot from October to December in 2005 all around the state of New Hampshire in real high schools, colleges, homes, streets, and playgrounds.
Filming in functioning high schools could not, of course, take place during school hours so the film crew worked many days from 3pm to 11pm to recreate crowded hallways, bake sales, basketball tryouts, games, and cheering crowds.
Universities allowed the crew to shoot car scenes on little-used private campus roads enabling the production to avoid the difficulties associated with closing public roadways for filming.
Private homes opened their doors to the film. In the case of the McNeil house, a home in Portsmouth, NH served as the exterior, downstairs and attic, while a home three hours away in Woodsville, NH, portrayed David’s room in the same “movie” house.
Location shooting for Dribbles could not possibly have happened without generous cooperation from the State of NH Film Office, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, various cities and towns, colleges and universities, high schools, middle schools, elementary schools, and many private individuals in the state.
The music of Dribbles needed to reflect the same naturalism as the rest of the production. Live music played during the shoot by pep bands was written by New Hampshire composer David Heintz. For the rock songs, the Tosi’s again turned to area musicians. New England based groups The Whatnot and The Everyday Visuals provide a total of seven tunes for the soundtrack.
The instrumental score would not be local. For that, Thomas and Heidi contacted an old friend literally halfway around the world. Singapore composer John Sharpley was charged with writing the emotional score for the film. “John and I first collaborated on The October Garden – a short student film made while we were both at Boston University,” Thomas said. “John is an extremely well-educated and experienced composer. What’s even more valuable, though, is his innovation and enthusiasm.” The Houston Symphony Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic (Russia), the Sheffield Winds (Chicago), the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and the China Philharmonic Orchestra are some of the prominent ensembles which have performed Sharpley's compositions. He has also worked with the rock group R.E.M., composing an arrangement for the song Lotus.
Dribbles Motion Picture © 2007 Tosi Productions, LLC | Website and Artwork © Tosi Productions, LLC