By Paul Camarata, Co-Producer
(click the image below to watch “Visions of Broadway” starring Spike Lee)
In July, 2010, I visited 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks in Brooklyn with a crew from NFL Films. The goal was to interview Spike Lee about Joe Namath for The Top 100 Greatest Players, a countdown series in which each man on the list had the case for his greatness presented by a single noteworthy subject.
To have Spike present Broadway Joe seemed like a natural fit, one New York icon discussing another. Spike didn’t disappoint, explaining in ways that only a filmmaker could how the sum of Namath’s greatness went beyond statistical measure, that it came from on-field ability AND off-field impact. Put it all together, he argued, and Namath had brought more to the table of pro football than the sport could have possibly hoped for.
Spike did much the same in his interview, bringing more that we could have hoped for: on Namath, on cultural visionaries, and on the meaning of greatness. We couldn’t use all the material in the original Top 100 segment, but thought it was a natural fit to be Drawn- proving yet again that greatness is the gift that keeps on giving.
EXCERPT OF SPIKE LEE’S INTERVIEW WITH NFL FILMS: JULY 9, 2010
“STATS ALONE, I FEEL, IS A VERY COLD, ANALYTICAL WAY TO VIEW SOMEBODY’S WORTH. I’LL GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE. I WANTED TO GO TO FILM SCHOOL, AND I DID MY RESEARCH AND APPLIED TO THE TOP 3 FILM SCHOOLS IN THE COUNTRY: N.Y.U., U.S.C., & U.C.L.A. TO GET INTO U.S.C. AND U.C.L.A., YOU HAD TO GET AN ASTRONOMICAL SCORE ON THE G.R.E. I TOOK THE G.R.E., AND I DIDN’T GET THE ASTRONOMICAL SCORE. BUT N.Y.U. THEY HAD THE UNDERSTANDING THAT YOU CAN’T JUST BASE SOMEBODY’S TOTAL ABILITY ON WHAT KIND OF SCORE THEY GET ON A G.R.E. SO LUCKILY, I GOT IN AT N.Y.U.! BUT, IF IT WOULD’VE JUST BEEN BASED UPON MY G.R.E. TEST, I WOULD’VE BEEN OUT. SO YOU GOTTA LOOK AT THE TOTAL PICTURE; AND I’M NOT SAYING YOU SHOULD TOTALLY NOT PAY ANY ATTENTION TO STATS. BUT THAT SHOULD NOT BE THE ONLY CRITERIA UPON WHICH YOU BASE GREATNESS.”
“NFL Films Drawn” is Produced by Chris Weaver and Paul Camarata ; Animation by Patrick Smith ; Sound Design by Mike Kennedy ; Project Management by Becky Lambert ; Online Editing by Jonas Landau