Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Great Christmas Present: The Front Page

We can't let Alan have all the fun on this blog. It is a group blog for the crew of Six Man, Texas, after all. To introduce myself, I'm the assistant editor for the film as well as the website designer; I have also served as a still photographer, videographer, production assistant, and whatever else was needed behind the scenes. And now I can add blog writer to my Six Man, Texas creds.

So, our little documentary that could got a nice Christmas present this morning. We knew that an article about the film would be in the Austin American-Statesman today. What we didn't know was that it would make the front page! Check out the article here.

This morning it was on the front page of the website as well, including a big photo of Alan in front of a Six Man, Texas promotional sign; unfortunately, it's already been supplanted by more important breaking news about Mack Brown's winning record in bowl games. I was hoping to get a screen shot, but it was time to open presents and I didn't get back to this in time. Hopefully I can at least get my hands on a copy of the paper itself.

Anyway, go read the article and let the Statesman know that people are interested in this subject. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

From Time to Time.....

WHEN our website (sixmantexas.com) first appeared earlier this year I would receive emails from the Six Man football community with a heartfelt story about how Six Man football has touched their lives. I have saved those and, after asking permission from the authors, will reproduce them here from time to time.........

I decided to post this one first:

Dear Alan

My name is Marcelino Chavez, I was introduced to six-man football in 2003 at Westbrook High School just West of Colorado City on Interstate 20. If you blink, one will miss this small town. My career started with six-man football and the honor to coach my freshman son, moving from Coahoma Texas, my alma mater and graduate of 1974. We left for Westbrook at the encouragement of Coach Andrew Hannon, head football coach. My son was exposed to six-man football and this engagement was the perfect sport for my four-sport 5'8", 140 pound athlete. Trey had the some speed but his quickness made him a very dangerous runningback. His freshman year brought no known mentioning, except that he managed to start at safety for the last five games because of injuries we incurred during the season.

His sophomore year he started as the Wildcat runningback and part-time quarterback, scoring 14 touchdowns 11 on offense and 3 on defense. During his junior year, he thrived on making opponents miss with his quickness and mediocre speed. Everything looked good for the Wildcats, five returning lettermen eight of them seniors, including my son.

Trey was not an ordinary football player, his freshmen year, he qualified to the Regional Cross Country Meet as an individual, started his freshman as point guard for Westbrook that made the first round of the playoffs, scoring 11 ppg, and qualified for the State Tennis Tournament as one of the top eight singles' player in Class 1-A. As a sophomore he continued moving the Wildcats in the right direction in basketball as the all-district youngster scoring 15.2 ppg and also qualified as a team to the Regional Cross Country Meet, and placing third at the State Tennis Tournament in Austin.

As a junior, again he looked very impressive scoring 16.0 ppg in round ball and taking the state runner-up in tennis. Everything was looking great in cross country, football, basketball, and tennis and nothing would stop him from making his mark during the final year. His first five games he was on his way to breaking many Westbrook records including 24 touchdowns. During the first game of the young district season on October 7, 2005, Trey scored the first two touchdowns against Borden County and we had a 22-6 lead going into the third quarter. Our QB got hurt and Trey took the helm and returned the opening second half kick-off to the Coyote 30 yard line.

On the ensuing play, the ball was centered to the up back and tossed to Trey for a left side sweep, instead of stepping out of bounds, he took on the defender head on, as he was taught and another defensive player hit him from behind. Trey got up and went into the huddle and called the next play, they went to the line of scrimmage, but we had a player lined up off sides. After they set the ball in play, he began to sway from left to right holding his helmet. After I saw him he began to tell me that his head was burning at the right side of the forehead. We took him to the EMT's and they monitored his condition, until he began to throw up and I started yelling to take him to the Mitchell County hospital.

The first physician to see him, told us to me to my relief that it looked like a concussion, but he wanted to run a CAT Scan. Upon reviewing the X-ray, he told me that Trey would have to be transported to Lubbock because he had a vein ruptured in his skull. He was airflighted to Lubbock Covenant Hospital where Dr. Richard George performed emergency brain surgery. He removed 1/3 of his skull put the bone that was removed to be frozen and they went in to repair the busted vessel. Dr. George's prognosis was very bleak, he told my wife and I that Trey would never be the same. He told us some disturbing news, that Trey might not be able to talk or walk again and that he would have to learn to talk again, if he survived at all.

To everybody's amazement, Trey went on to become salutatorian of his class, received many academic scholarships and is playing Division III Tennis at Hardin Simmons University and scored a 3.0 in his first semester of his college life. He also placed second at the State Tennis Tournament seven months later.
We are proud of him....

Thank You,
Marcelino, Norma and Linsey Chavez

SOME of the best parts of making the film were moments like this!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

After SEVEN YEARS of work, this is great to hear. COMMENTS from the Cast & Crew Screening

"SIX-MAN, TEXAS is a poignant and powerful homage to a way of life too often overlooked and too fast disappearing. This is a sparkling gem of a documentary, done with small-town Texas warmth and grace..."
-- Carlton Stowers, author of WHERE DREAMS DIE HARD

"Incredible, out of sight perfect. I never had any idea how fast moving a sport (Six Man is). I'm not a big football fan, but that was great."
-- Thom Vaughn, Austin

"...it's got a lot of heart, I loved it. It tells a really important story."
-- Stacey Schoolfield, Producer – "Jumping Off Bridges"

"...very moving, very inspiring. I think it's a great opportunity for those guys to do something for their communities, and it's obviously very important to them"
-- Joe Restau, Austin

"...a good job of depicting what small town life is really like. It's very accurate and sad the way (it is) being lost."
-- Lewis McCarroll, Austin

"...definitely the sense of community (is) what's important about the whole story - we are losing that in America. This is a good example of why it's great and why it's pure and what we need to return to as a society. It made me feel warm inside that people actually care about each other and that a town can rally around one thing, even if it's just football."
-- Greg Cole, Austin

"I love all those little towns and I am a real believer that football is just as important to those guys...a good job of making you care about the team and the school. I really cared about them."
-- Charlotte Hutcheson

" For those whose impression of Texas and Texas football is overly influenced by a certain network television show, Six Man Texas will bring you back to reality."
-- David Barron, Houston Chronicle

"First time out, and you hit a home run..."
-- Teresa Burkett Bourgoise, Los Angeles

Monday, December 10, 2007


LAST summer (2006) my film team and I were fortunate to interview Former Speaker of the Texas House Pete Laney for our documentary about the very small rural schools that play Six Man Football in Texas. I was raised in Lubbock but have been living in Austin since 1974. At that interview I realized that Speaker Laney reminded me a lot of former representative "Jake" Pickle from the Austin area. A public servant, a believer in our State and our country and a Texas liberal before some marketing jerk made it a bad word.

But for me Laney was more than that. My whole family is from the West Texas and South Plains area and I had just met Pete for the interview that day. But being at Pete's little office in Hale Center was like having Sunday dinner after church at my grandmother's house in Lubbock many years ago and on many many Sundays during my childhood. It was a time where you felt important, cared about and part of something better. When you were part of our family and at my grandmother's house, regardless of your politics or religion, you were cared for, loved and respected. Even if they did look at me a little funny sometimes. I believe that is what Pete brought to Texas politics, a belief that we are all part of something better and it was his job to make the better happen.

We have some great comments from Pete in our little film (sixmantexas.com) and it was an honor to have met him and have him take some time for a unknown, novice filmmaker. Our film deals with rural issues and rural schools through the eyes of Six Man football and I believe Pete will continue to contribute positively to those issues as long as he is with us.

One comment of his sticks in my mind because it reminds me so much of the humor I grew up with in the vast cotton farming areas of the South Plains. I asked him what year he made the most money farming, he furrowed his brow for a moment searching for the year, then he smiled and said, "Next year...."

Our interview could not have ended better!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

What made me do it?

It was memories, as Dekard in Blade Runner says, “….memories, you gave them memories.” Those are our guilty parties, the memories that move us or haunt us. If we forget them, are we bound to repeat them? Maybe. But, even if we ignore them, sooner or later, some day when the water is glass and the sun is bright they will surface, like a beacon on the horizon, a speck in the ocean, to be replayed once again.

My memory was of a trip to Texas/OU weekend in the fall of 1962 while attending Monterey High School in Lubbock, Texas. My best friend Jackie Bains and I headed full bore for Dallas in his sweet little 1960 Karmann-Ghia. We had no game tickets because we were after beer and girls and the mythical after-game parties dominating downtown Dallas. The route to Dallas from Lubbock in those days did not follow Interstate Highways so we drove through every little town along the way. On highway 114 in Guthrie we stopped at a restaurant for a quick lunch. It was probably 2 or 3 in the afternoon, way too late for lunch in a small Texas town even on Saturday. The restaurant was empty except for a corner table of ranch hands in Coveralls and Cowboy hats having mid-afternoon coffee. They eyed us when we walked in, two kids from the “big city” of Lubbock. And, it also happened that we were teenagers and naturally paranoid. We immediately thought we had done something wrong, something to offend. Maybe it was our German car, it was the 60’s Texas after all!

We finished our plate lunch specials and were having the dessert of the day when one of the ranchers approached our table. Now we would find out for sure what we had done.

“Where you boys from?”


“Yeah, go to school there?”

“Yeah, we go to Monterey”, we said. By now we were more curious than worried.

“Monterey, it’s a good school. You boys oughta move here.”

Now we really did not know what to make of this one. We were just normal kids, juniors in High School and we lived at home and it was the early 60’s in small town Texas. Not like we had our own condo. We were confused but tried to be polite……..”I’m not sure we could do that. I mean, we live at home with our parents.” It seemed simple enough to us, I guess we thought that would be the end of it.

But he went on to sell the virtues of Guthrie and it’s small friendly high school and friendly townspeople and the great opportunity we would have to make top grades in a smaller school. And, he added, “…you could play football!”.

We commented that we were not jocks and did not play football at Monterey. He looked at us as if we had simply lied to his face.

After a few awkward seconds of silence he set the record straight, “It don’t matter, you boys’re big enough!”

I glanced over at his buddies in the booth and they were all staring at us, as if they were waiting for a signal from their ringleader to crank up the diesel pickups and head for Lubbock to gather up our bedroom furniture while he called the local sheriff.

I felt the need to be a bit more emphatic, “Thanks”, I said, “….but I don’t see how we could do that, what would we say to our parents? But thanks anyway.”

He stared at me for a second, and then, ”Well….you boys think about it, we sure could use a couple more guys to make our Six Man football team this year.” Then he walked back and sat down.

We didn’t feel like hanging around much longer so we quickly finished our dessert, paid the cashier and left the restaurant.

“Jackie,” I said as we got back in the Ghia, “…..what the hell is Six Man football?”

He just stared at me, shook his head and started the car. The resonators had been pulled for our trip and it sounded pretty good for a 40 horse VeeDub motor. Jackie then looked over and smiled, “Lets find some beer”. Then he wound it up through all the gears without taking his foot of the gas but for a split second. “and girls…..”, I added. Highway 114 was pretty much abandoned. Three minutes later we were almost at 55, Dallas would be a while.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My first documentary film, did I do anything right?

After almost seven years, this question remains unanswered. The bigger question of why, after graduating with a BFA in Ceramics way back in 1969 and having started two businesses, would I want to make a film in the first place? I won’t even take a stab at that one, except to say that I ALWAYS wanted to make movies. In the late 90’s my plan was to retire in a few years and fish and build hot rods and maybe finish a series of paintings I started back in the 70’s. But I kept remembering that I always wanted to make movies. Every time I would see another film, every year I would stand in lines at SXSW, I would remember how much I wanted to make movies. And if you are reading this, you probably want to make films as well. So in 1999 I took a comprehensive film class in Austin, Texas, Production One by Steve Mims.

After that class I realized that I was likely to old to start yet another career, that this was a game played by MUCH younger, smarter and more creative people and that the chances of making a “First Film” that anyone but a few friends and family would even want to see were minimal. The odds are stacked as there are literally THOUSANDS of films made in the US each year and only a few hundred secure any kind of distribution deal. But then I remembered that I ALWAYS wanted to make movies. I did not know it at the time, but other events were unfolding that would soon open the door to my first film.

The final assignment in the class was a five minute film and I was pretty discouraged at that point since everything in class had started to feel too fast, too chaotic and very out of control. To top it off, when we screened at Dobie, my film was by far the worst in the class. Seriously, I am neither being modest or self-deprecating, it was a horrible, painful three and a half minutes. It would have been much worse if I actually had the time to stretch it out to five.

During the last few days leading up to the screening I was ready to put my desire to make a film in the same box as my boyhood dream of going to the moon. Ain’t gonna happen!

But then, once again, I remembered that I always wanted to make movies. So I was in conflict about why I even took the class for the last few weeks and after the screening I felt like a complete idiot to still hold onto the desire to do something cinematic. After the screening most of the class went for beer at the Dog and Duck on Guadalupe and I did not want to look the rest of the class in the eye after such a lousy showing. But I went anyway thinking, “They have already seen the worst, how much worse can it be?” I decided I would stay for only one beer and then go home and let go of yet another post mid-life crisis fantasy……………..