Backstage Interview | 84th Academy Awards

Documentary (Feature)


BACKSTAGE INTERVIEW
CATEGORY: Documentary (Feature)
INTERVIEW WITH: TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas
FILM: "Undefeated"

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Q. Hey, guys. Congratulations.
A. (DAN LINDSAY) We're short [inaudible].
Q. Hi, congratulations. You guys dropped the F bomb on stage. What do you have to say to that?
A. (DAN LINDSAY) Why did that have to be the first question?
A. (TJ MARTIN) First and foremost, I'd actually like to apologize. That wasn't the classiest thing in the world. However, with that said it did come from the heart, and it was absolutely spontaneous, and there was no way in the world we thought this would ever happen.
A. (DAN LINDSAY) This is the most insane thing that's ever happened. It doesn't make any sense.

Q. Hey, congratulations. Even though my questions aren't even asked, it was sort of like old home week because last year Melissa Leo became the first Oscar winner to ever drop the F bomb. Are you trying to one up her or is this more about social media this year?
A. (DAN LINDSAY) I think we just found a news story.
A. (TJ MARTIN) We're known for the F bomb. This is the F bomb clan. When I say it came from the heart, I am genuinely serious. It was out of spontaneity and it was completely accidental. Our core focus, if this possibly were to happen, we really wanted to dedicate the award to the community of North Memphis and the individuals who we profiled in the film. With that said, there was 45 seconds, and 45 seconds goes really quickly and they cut us off, unfortunately.
A. (DAN LINDSAY) The most important message for us to deliver was the people of North Memphis that literally this award is a testament to them. If they didn't trust us the way we did, we wouldn't be standing here. And Money and Chavis and Bill and O.C., our main characters, inspired us to make this film and, literally, we would not be sitting here without them. And it was, well, I'm sorry, standing there thank you, Rich it was heartbreaking that we got cut off and weren't allowed to say that, because that was the most important message we had.

Q. How are you guys? I feel like I won. I'm very excited because
A. (TJ MARTIN) Surrogate father over here.

Q. We met in an interview. How do you feel right now after, you know, with the Oscar on your hand is like?
A. (TJ MARTIN) Surreal? I need someone to come up and pinch me. Thank you, Rich, this is really happening. Oh, my God.
A. (DAN LINDSAY) It was funny. I said to we went out into the lobby area right before the awards and had some champagne and just gave each other a hug and said, look, win or lose, this is incredible, I don't know what happened, but and we just said, you know
A. (TJ MARTIN) Win or lose, just getting nominated is, like, a phenomenal achievement for us, and again, like, so much of this, we can't we could not thank the community of North Memphis enough for, like, we should not be the ones standing up here. They are the ones who actually their trust in us in telling their story is what enabled our success.
A. (DAN LINDSAY) Someone else is being way funnier than TJ.

Q. I don't think there's anything wrong with using the F word.
A. (TJ MARTIN) I agree, thank you. Like I said it, it comes from the heart.

Q. How are you, congratulations to you. And we talked about the fact if you win, that changes the whole thing for you, everything changes in going forth. What does change in the way you guys are going to conduct business?
A. (TJ MARTIN) There's a possibility we might get a job from here.
A. (DAN LINDSAY) We might be able to pay our rent. That would be nice. I'm going to go make sure I have another drink with Mr. Combs over here tonight. That wasn't happening three weeks ago.

Q. In terms of the folks that did help you, like that person right there and everyone around you, what do you do in terms of the business now? You've got the machinery around you more. Does that stifle you a little?
A. (DAN LINDSAY) No. Well, I shouldn't say no but we want to tell good stories and whatever format that comes in, whether it be a documentary or a scripted feature, for us there's a feeling and a sentiment that we fell in love with the movies where you would go into a theater and get moved and it would transport you somewhere else, and we tried to do that with our documentary but we want to do that with all our entertainment. For us, entertainment is not a bad word, and we just want to tell the good stories that hopefully can that are smart and that will inspire people.
A. (TJ MARTIN) And emote, more importantly, that they're moving at the end of the day.

Q. Congratulations. Hi guys. There's screaming about the movie, congratulations. I'm so happy for you.
A. (TJ MARTIN) You look lovely this evening, by the way.

Q. Thank you. One of the things I've been saying is, this is one of the few categories that people get behind, get excited about. Can you talk about why documentary is such an invigorating category this year?
A. (DAN LINDSAY) First of all, I think there's an unbelievable grouping in films. I mean, PARADISE LOST, they freed three people out of jail, and that's incredible. HELL AND BACK AGAIN is one of the most cinematic documentaries I've ever seen in my entire life. PINA is pushing boundaries. Pushing boundaries is beautiful. IF A TREE FALLS is intelligent and inspiring. Documentaries, I think it's partly because of the technology, there's a
A. (TJ MARTIN) It democratizes it.
A. (DAN LINDSAY) Yes. There is a way to make films that you couldn't make before and you can tell stories that you couldn't tell before, and I think people just, you know, look, I don't know if, like, people are clamoring for something genuine. And I don't know, I think we're sick of manufactured stuff, but I'm not going to make a statement.

Q. Congratulations, guys. I watched the film the other day and I loved it, but I wanted to ask you, there's been a lot of questions about the whole issue of race with this, and the fact that once again we have the white coach and the black players, and I was just wondering for you, when you set out to make it, was it at all an issue, and I noticed since Mr. Combs is in back of the room, if he wanted to come up and address that issue as well with you?
A. (TJ MARTIN) I'll address it happily. When we first discovered the community of North Memphis, that's what really, when we felt the absolute need to tell the story because I think between the three of us we've done a fair amount of traveling within the U.S., and I don't think we've ever seen poverty on that level. So, once we got there and recognized that race and class was not an issue for both the volunteer coaches and the players, they didn't see each other, the players didn't see Coach Bill as their white coach and Coach Bill did not see his players as his, you know, African American players. So, for us, it was not our duty to bring in that element of it, if it wasn't a reality for their, you know, for their day to day.

With that said, there was no way we were going to shy away from the socio economic, kind of, dynamics of the stage of the film and of the community, and at the end of the day I actually really appreciate that question because the whole point of it is what really inspires the conversation about race and class. It's just the beginning of the conversation. We'd never say that we're an authority figure on that, but we'd say it's time to actually talk about it.

Q. Your film was situated in North Memphis, and West Memphis Three, which is PARADISE LOST 3, was in West Memphis. Was there any coincidence that you guys might have crossed each other's paths as documentarians and also both films look at issues of race and poverty from a completely different perspective, but was there any kind of bond or something when you were in North Memphis at the same time?
A. (DAN LINDSAY) I think the fact that you asked that question kind of relates to the question before, the fact that those aren't just issues, class, poverty, it doesn't have to do with anything with race, they're two stories that deal with two different races, but it's class and what that means to our society. But no, we never we met Joe for the first time in the nominees lunch and he's been a hero of ours forever. I think I've seen BROTHER'S KEEPER 40 times. But we didn't even know they were doing that film while we were there, which is kind of crazy. But no, I guess Memphis breeds good stories, I don't know.
A. (TJ MARTIN) We should add that we never set out to make a social issues based film. Our whole intention was to tell a wonderful human interest story, really a coming of age film, and that hopefully, once again, inspired a greater conversation and a greater dialog.

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