Former Kansas basketball player and ex-NBA star Scot Pollard has been teammates with many people, but now he has teamed up with filmmaker and University film professor Kevin Willmott for a feature film titled "The Profit."
The film will premiere at Liberty Hall at 6 p.m. on Sept. 24. Both Pollard and Willmott will be in attendance to speak with audience members after the screening.
The film, which features Pollard in the lead role, is a drama centered around the trials and tribulations of aging NBA All-Star Joseph "The Profit" Smith. With a year left in the league to leave a final impression on his career, according to the official IMDB page, Smith reconnects with his old college town. In the process, the character revisits his past and has to battle critical moral dilemmas.
"We lift the skirt up on things people don’t really see or hear about," Pollard said. "There now might be a deeper appreciation for what players go through. That you’re constantly a target; that you’re constantly being victimized for this or that."
Smith, a character who Pollard said has several small similarities to himself, is a man "stripped down to his bones" during the duration of the story, and someone who was a challenge to play.
"There are certain parts of this movie that have happened to me in real life and it touches home," Pollard said. "The character is a portion of me."
Other notable characters in "The Profit" include young college player Jamal "Big Chest" Chesterfield (Joseph Anderson), ex-girlfriend Maggie (Michelle Davidson), and Smith's former college coach (Walter Coppage).
First efforts to get the film on its feet began over four years ago, when Pollard had the idea for a scripted television show that would have elements of his life — similar to that of the finished product "The Profit." After hiring a few Los Angeles screenwriters, Pollard began showing the script to people in Hollywood.
After the search for Hollywood interest proved unsuccessful, Pollard came back to Lawrence where he spoke to Willmott after working with him on 2014's "Jayhawkers."
Then, during a lunch at Jefferson's with Willmott and future movie co-writer Scott Richardson, his story caught their attention.
But, this story would no longer be for television. Instead, Willmott said a revamping of the basic ideas into a film could catch more eyes and be more financially reasonable.
"It's low budget with big budget ideas," Willmott said. "Scot's got a really interesting point of view and he's a really interesting character, just as a person and someone with a lot of experiences."
After a year and a half of shooting and a premiere delay due to Pollard's "Survivor" appearance and Willmott's work with the film "Chi-Raq," "The Profit" is ready to be viewed by a wide audience.
"There's a lot of different levels of the film," Willmott said. "And I think people that are interested in sports will think its a really good movie about the world that they probably know very little about and would really like to know."
While it is a film based on an athlete, Pollard said those outside the world of sports can appreciate the message the film sends as well.
"It’s a drama that people can appreciate as a non-sports fan and realizing that things like these happen," Pollard said. "That when bad things happen to [professional athletes], it’s not just their own fault."
— Edited by Christian Hardy