story appeared on Page C1 of The Standard-Times
on November 9, 2004.
camera, Red Sox
In a year
where the Red Sox finally made that final out to clinch the
World Series, plenty are harkening back to the days of their
youth, when that scene played out in heads and back yards
over and over again.
may have dreamed it too. However, it's not all he had on his
mind growing up.
directed a movie in my head when I was about 10 or 11 years
old. It was pretty stupid ... sort of a horror thriller type
thing," Burke said. "I had the thing shot-by-shot,
located in the house I grew up in, all the way down to camera
angles. I told a few different people, 'I'm going to make
films,' and they told me I was crazy. So I sort of put it
on the back shelf."
and Dartmouth-educated, filmmaking is now out front for Burke.
very Red Sox on center stage.
the film division at Columbia University's School for the
Arts, Burke's graduate thesis is "1918," a script
he wrote several years ago about a pair of South Boston friends
who stumble into a pair of tickets to Game 7 of the World
Series at Fenway Park. Call it a buddy picture or a road movie,
but the comedic story is one Burke, a member of Dartmouth's
class of 1989, chose to make with the hearty encouragement
school, you sort of want to be taken seriously. I'd been in
school for five years and had done mostly serious stuff,"
Burke said. "When it came time to do my thesis, I had
a few other scripts I'd written and I sort of showed them
to a bunch of people. Everybody's like, 'Do that one. Do that
one. Do that one.'"
So he has,
telling the story of friends Petey and Tim, who grew up witnesses
to Bill Buckner in 1986 but remained diehards through the
a gas station when Petey, the Costello to Tim's Abbott, presents
a pair of the hottest tickets in town, the two end up losing
the seats inside a car door, then have them stolen, then run
out of gas on I-93 before they even reach the city limits.
The best part?
It's all based on a true story.
whole tickets getting lost inside a car door? That happened
to me in high school," Burke said. "They were Bruins
playoff tickets, for the first round against Buffalo. I was
driving and I put the tickets on the inside of the window
… we had to bribe a guy at a gas station to take the
I wrote about this event, some people were like 'It's not
believable.' Trust me, it's believable."
seem believable considering the road that's led Burke to today.
Accepted to Notre Dame as a budding architect, stylistic disputes
led him to become an economics and computer applications major.
He spent six
years in consulting, working for what is now Accenture in
Sydney, Australia, and Boston, before deciding finally to
make the jump to film school. After having been turned down
for entry into a film class at Notre Dame -- "Eh. You're
reasons weren't good enough," they said -- Columbia's
program offered him an academic scholarship.
made it hard for me to say no," Burke said.
he didn't, especially after this latest project. It just seems
everything has come together at the right time, Burke said.
gone from complete apprehension to complete excitement and
enthusiasm. I sat for two years before making this film, worried
about the finances. Finally, I just said, 'Look, I've come
this far. I owe it to myself to follow through on this and
to do it justice,'" Burke said. "I probably wouldn't
be as excited about it as I am right now if I didn't have
the cast that I had."
A cast that
shares the local thread tying Burke, and fellow producer and
Dartmouth alum Kyle Sullivan, to nearly everyone involved
with the project.
Petey is played
by Jeremy Brothers, an actor and teacher at the Improv Asylum
in Boston's North End. Michael Cuddire, who plays Tim, came
by way of New York. From the editors on down, each crew member
comes with an impressive resume -- a blessing talent-wise,
but a curse for scheduling.
lucky if I was getting four hours of sleep a night, shooting
all day, packing up, watching the games in a daze, then having
to plan the next day's shooting," Burke said. "I'm
just catching up with sleep again now."
For what will
ultimately be a 20-minute short film, the amount of planning
was immense. Shooting was done not only at Fenway during this
year's playoffs but in apartments and alleys of nearby Allston-Brighton,
a gas station in Taunton, the state police barracks in Weston,
the Dunkin' Donuts on Ashley Boulevard in New Bedford -- "they
shut down the drive-thru for us, they were great," Burke
said -- along with Route 88 in Westport, which served as a
replacement for shooting some scenes on busy I-93.
a short film, it was a huge production," Burke said.
that benefited from some equally huge cosmic coincidences.
be Petey and Tim's beaten-up Ford coming off eBay for $86,
then breaking down at the very moment needed for a critical
shot, or another car paralleling the story by running out
of gas near the famed Keyspan tanks in South Boston, it often
seemed throughout production that things were just aligned
for Burke and his film.
Not to mention
a World Series victory as he finished up most of the shooting.
the Red Sox had won the World Series, I thought 'There's zero
market for this.' Once they won, I tried to think of my alternatives
where there would be a market for it," Burke said. "This
has become a national story. It's become an international
story. A friend of mine down in Sydney said everybody in the
bar down there, when the Red Sox won it, erupted in a big
cheer because they were cheering for the underdog."
is still the original feeling of every filmmaker to create
a product many can enjoy and relate to, the surge of Red Sox
mania since the Series victory has opened a limited window
to a wide market for Burke. He still plans to get the movie
into as many local film festivals as possible -- screening
locations will be posted on 1918film.com as they're determined
-- but now thinks he can sell the film to help pay more of
his actors and recoup some of his expenses.
it was let's really get some notoriety locally, make a name
for myself as a local filmmaker and go from there. When the
Red Sox were able to win the World Series, we decided 'Let's
get this thing out faster,'" Burke said. "If we
could sell it, that'd be great, but it's mostly getting exposure
for myself, for the actors, for some of the crew people ...
just demonstrating that we're capable of producing something
of a really high quality for next to nothing."
to Burke, it's clear that is his driving motivation through
all of this. Not wanting to be seen as trying to capitalize
on the title, he knows this is a moment when he can make a
name allowing him to tell more tales as he's wanted to since
childhood. He's already penned a feature-length screenplay
on New Bedford fishermen, with a period piece about Heddy
and Ned Green also waiting for funding from potential investors.
have all this stuff on paper that you worked so hard to get
right. If you can't get out there and have people see you're
capable, then you're not going to get another chance to do
it," Burke said. "If you're good at telling a story,
then hopefully you'll get another chance to do it."
As every New
Englander knows, there've been few better stories that the
2004 Red Sox. Especially when relayed by those who've lived
the ups and downs along the way.
an innocence to it. It's about Red Sox fans, but there's a
lot of quirkiness about Massachusetts in there," Burke
said. "The fact that it happened this year, and I decided
to do it this year ... it seems a little cosmic.
feels like it's meant to be."