Brothers’ sports docu-series a true passion project
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Brothers Henry and Jon Wiener had separate childhood dreams.
Henry wanted to produce documentary films. He played with the family video recorder, producing movies for his friends and family.
Jon, who co-starred in Henry’s backyard action films as child, preferred sports broadcasting. He sharpened his play-by-play chops by going to games and recording himself from the stands.
It was only later in life the Jackson natives opted to team up for a project Mississippians will surely appreciate. The first two installments of the brothers’ docu-series “Between the Pines: Mississippi’s Greatest Sports Stories” debuts Oct. 13 and Oct. 14 on six local cable channels across the state and online through all of C-Spire’s outlets.
The first show, “The University of South Panola,” recounts the decade-long rise of one of Mississippi’s most storied prep football programs that became a national story. The second show is “The Vet,” the tale of the storied past and the questionable future of Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.
For Jon and Henry, born four years apart, their homegrown film has been a long time coming.
The brothers first started talking about working on a documentary or a series of documentaries about Mississippi’s rich sports history after Jon finished his graduate program at Syracuse University.
Henry was living in Oakland, California, producing local documentaries after graduating from Stanford. Some 2,100 miles away, Jon had gotten into the Jackson radio scene, hosting an afternoon drive-time show.
They didn’t communicate as much as either would have liked, but shared that unspoken bond brothers enjoy. They could not talk to each other for a month, then pick up the conversation where it left off on their last call.
About three years ago, the brothers took a big chance. Henry moved home to Jackson, and Jon quit his radio show.
They had one goal. Put their collective talent to use telling Mississippi’s greatest sports stories.
“I think it always was a possibility for this to materialize, it all just made so much sense,” Jon said. “We were both in a point in our careers where we were young enough and if we wanted to do something original and on our own, it’s now or never.
“The idea for us to start a company was a no-brainer, and the idea for this series had been waiting to be done. We were ready to dive in.”
So they took that leap of faith and formed Bash Bros. Media, the company that would serve as the vehicle for their passion project.
Henry is the executive director, handling filming, editing and most everything else that goes into shooting the film. Jon conducts the on-camera interviews, then spearheads marketing and production.
Both of them have a heavy hand in the writing. Because of their backgrounds and education, their duties are interchangeable.
“It’s been hectic,” Henry said. “The production of the series has been a good mix of fun and anxiety-inducing. I know several people have tried to do something similar, but getting the content together and shooting is only half the battle. The licensing and getting the rights to use materials has been tough, even with the help we’ve received from so many different people.”
The brothers had to gain access to both the Clarion Ledger and the state archives, then agree to terms on usage. Then there were travel and production costs, royalties to the Southeastern Conference, the in-state schools and seemingly everyone else.
At one point, the brothers had to shut down production and work other jobs to raise money to keep it going. When they finally produced enough footage to present to sponsors, their dream became reality.
C-Spire has played a huge role. The Mississippi-based company was the first to sign on as a sponsor, which single-handedly kept the production alive at one point.
Bash Bros. has since added the Face and Body Center, Harrah’s Gulf Coast and the Horseshoe Casino in Tunica as additional partners, which has helped ease some of the financial burden. But there’s always room for more.
“We are going to see how this goes,” Henry said. “We’d like to add another zero to that production budget and do more parts of the series next year. Mississippi is just an endless well of rich sports history, and there’s a lot more of them we’d like to dig into if we get that opportunity.”
Information from: The Clarion Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com