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Recreating The Game
The story of GLORY ROAD culminates in a pivotal scene for which Jerry Bruckheimer and James Gartner marshaled all their artistic resources—the 1966 NCAA championship game that changed history and was the pinnacle of all that Don Haskins hoped to achieve. The game had to be at once authentic and exciting, full of both the palpable tension and poetry in motion that made the David-and-Goliath matchup a nailbiting classic.

The production began by tracking down rare homemade footage that still existed of the game, as well as photographs from Texas Western yearbooks and over 30 priceless rolls of photographic film shot by Sports Illustrated. These helped to give the filmmakers a richer visual perspective of what happened during the game and what it looked like to the world.

Collaborating closely with directors of photography John Toon and Jeffrey L. Kimball, Gartner hoped to capture in the game both an authentic essence of 1966 as well as dynamic basketball moves that would speak to today's love of slick, fast-paced, tightly competitive action.

Attempting to shoot the beloved game with fresh eyes, the camera team used a number of innovative rigs to follow the action firsthand—and sometimes used as many as five cameras at once. Kimball notes, "We rigged a ‘flying camera' above the basketball court sidelines that could slide on a thick wire as fast as gravity. We also built a skateboard dolly to capture action low to the court floor and a rickshaw type of rig so you could literally run up and down the court with the players. These techniques, along with cameras on cranes that looked right down into the basketball hoop, provided us with some very exciting footage.”

Meanwhile, production designer Geoffrey Kirkland was also faced with the task of bringing to life mid-'60s college life in all his designs for GLORY ROAD. He worked closely with the art department in recreating the stadium atmosphere, right down to the signage and banners that were exact replicas of those used during the game. Even the oldfashioned electronic scoreboards were duplicated.

Gartner wanted the overall color palate of the film to feel very primal and earthy, echoing the environs of El Paso with its vibrant Mexican heritage. But he also wanted Kirkland to imbue the film with a fun sense of nostalgia. "When you remember things from the past, those memories are influenced by old photographs and old pictures that are not colorful. We wanted to capture that kind of black-and-white, sepia feeling but without ever being drab,” says Kirkland.

Because of scheduling delays due to the looming Hurricane Ivan, a location for the big game had to be found at the spur of the moment. The filmmakers settled on a livestock show arena at the Louisiana State University campus in Baton Rouge. The floor of the arena was dirt, so Kirkland constructed his own vintage basketball court made of wood. By this point, he had become an expert in converting modern gymnasiums back to a '60s period look—and had even forged a special "traveling” wood floor that could be quickly installed in different arenas for scenes of the Miners on the road.

Kirkland knew that every detail would count. "In other sports, arenas tend to be so huge so you can hide things seen in the background,” he observes, "but a basketball arena is like a small theater in the round. You can see everything. It is very intimate.”

Comments Jerry Bruckheimer: "It was really important to me that the film capture 1966 very authentically. Geoffrey Kirkland did a superb job as production designer and brought a lot of high-quality realism to the film.”

Also adding to the realism was the period clothing designed by costume designer Alix Friedberg. Friedberg focused not only on the vintage basketball uniforms but also on the more formal clothing of those watching<


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