NBA All-Star Steve Francis had put the previous—what occurred his rookie 12 months after being drafted by the Vancouver Grizzlies—behind him utterly when he was all of a sudden approached by Kat Jayme, a filmmaker and longtime fan, who hoped to inform his story in a documentary that may uncover the reality behind what occurred to the franchise earlier than relocating to Memphis. After publicly expressing his sentiments about taking part in in Vancouver, adopted by a commerce to Houston, Francis admits now over Zoom that he didn’t even pay a lot consideration to the controversy all through his whole NBA profession. That’s, till James boldly traveled all the way in which to a signing occasion in Houston simply to fulfill him and ask if he could possibly be part of the movie. That undertaking would later turn out to be, The Grizzlie Fact, which is now premiering on the Toronto Movie Competition.
Jayme didn’t come empty handed, although. She’d introduced alongside a large poster of an animation of Francis on draft day carrying his Houston Rockets jersey with the Vancouver Grizzlies emblem within the background. The gesture was sufficient to impress the previous No. 1 decide.
“For any individual to come back to Houston, Toyota Middle, the place my face is planted all all through the [arena], figuring out how folks checked out me in Vancouver, at that time, I used to be stunned,” Francis says of assembly Jayme for the primary time. He later provides: “I might have by no means thought of coming [to Vancouver] if I wouldn’t have [met] Kat, however, you understand, folks have totally different results on folks and the way in which that she got here [to me] was very respectful. That’s what opened the door.”
Jayme admits on the identical Zoom name that she was nervous to even method Francis within the first place. She had a script ready, which she wrote down on her palms, and was pacing forwards and backwards outdoors of the world whereas training how she was going to introduce herself, not to mention persuade him to be part of the movie. “Steve is a part of the Vancouver Grizzlies’ historical past. And so, that was form of my pitch to him, like, You’re part of this story. I’m making this movie [and] I’d love so that you can be part of it as a result of we have to discuss what occurred. I might love so that you can have your individual voice in it as a result of persons are gonna be speaking about you.”
The pitch, and Jayme’s sincerity, labored. Not simply Francis, but in addition convincing former gamers, coaches and members of the Vancouver Grizzlies group to be interviewed for the movie. The result’s a candid and fascinating investigation into the lengthy misplaced historical past of the crew, and in the end what led to the franchise leaving Vancouver.
To study extra about what went into filming The Grizzlie Fact, and the affect the movie has on retelling a bit of NBA historical past, SLAM caught up with Jayme and Francis whereas they had been in Vancouver selling the movie. It was the primary time Francis had been again there in over 20 years.
SLAM: When did you, Kat, first begin fascinated by making this movie?
KAT JAYME: Once I was in college, I went to movie college, and I believe, you understand, I used to be so into 30 for 30s and I used to be identical to, I’ve the right story—the story of the Vancouver Grizzlies. I believe each filmmaker has that one story of their profession that they wish to inform and for me it was the story of Vancouver Grizzlies, primarily as a result of I knew my private connection to the crew—I’ve pictures of me at video games, I’ve footage, as you see within the movie of me at video games, I’ve childhood drawings of the crew, I’ve all these, like, all of the toys. Documentaries that I really like are ones which have many layers, and I simply knew with the archival that I had, that it was the fitting story for me to inform.
SLAM: That’s wonderful, and for you, Steve, what was it wish to have somebody inform your story? Have been you nervous in any respect?
STEVE FRANCIS: Uh, as a result of the final picture the Vancouver followers had of me was on the [NBA] Draft [and] the hostility each time I performed right here, it form of felt a bit relieving to have the ability to discuss to any individual who wished to listen to my aspect of the story and didn’t simply put me in a field [about] what was stated about me in ‘99 till in all probability this movie. I nonetheless get folks from Vancouver that’ll say, “What are you doing right here? We don’t such as you.” However, I’ve been by means of a lot in order that doesn’t imply something to me.
KJ: I really feel like that’s gonna change after folks watch the movie.
SLAM: Steve, how did you start to course of all the things and the adversity you needed to take care of and nonetheless go on the market on the courtroom each night time?
SF: In case you take a look at my NBA profession and the way in which I performed, it didn’t make a distinction what was stated about me. So, till I retired and Kat introduced it again up, I by no means actually thought of retouching on it. I [took] some pictures right here and there, I couldn’t take pictures on the entire metropolis, however they repeatedly do it each time my title is talked about, however, you understand, it’s full circle like I used to be explaining earlier.
SLAM: On that word, Kat, as a filmmaker did you’re feeling a way of duty in telling not solely Steve’s story, however your entire historical past of the franchise? How do you suppose Vancouver Grizzlies followers will react to this movie?
KJ: For the previous 4 years, [I] have simply been engaged on this movie nonstop. And so, clearly, there’s the nervousness that comes with sharing your work, particularly when it’s such a deeply private story. We shared the movie with just a few die arduous Grizzlie followers I do know and the response, particularly after they’d [watched] Steve’s story on display screen, it’s been overwhelmingly optimistic, and everybody has simply been like, Yeah, [I] can’t hate on Steve anymore, Kat. So, that’s been actually nice and I wished to make it possible for we did some take a look at screenings with just a few Grizzlies followers.
I believe it gained’t take loads for [people’s] tune to vary. I believe as quickly as you watch the movie, you see Steve in a unique mild and that mild is simply as a human being. And I believe earlier than within the ‘90s, we had been simply seeing him as an athlete. However after all, these athletes and these individuals who labored on these groups are folks. They’re human, too, and I believe that’s one of many issues that I’d love for folks to come back away with after watching this movie.
SLAM: We gained’t spoil what occurs within the movie, however there’s undoubtedly a reasonably unbelievable second of neighborhood and connection all through. Kat, as a longtime Vancouver Grizzlies fan, are you rocking with this 12 months’s Memphis squad in any respect? Or are you strictly loyal to Vancouver?
KJ: I’m grateful for the friendships that this movie has led to with Steve and with the followers that I met after I was in Memphis. The concept of cheering for Memphis earlier than this movie was identical to a straight-up arduous cross. Like, heck no. However now, you understand, I’ve come to understand that the Grizzlies, they’re as a lot Memphis’ crew as Vancouver’s crew. They’ve been in Memphis for 20 years. That’s over double the time that we had them right here in Vancouver.
I believe one of many messages that I hope that followers get after watching this movie is that it’s not like an us versus them mentality. Antonio Braxton Jr. stated it completely within the interview, Why can’t we share the crew? Why does this must be Memphis versus Vancouver? So, I believe Vancouver followers ought to be proud that the Grizzlies are nonetheless alive right now and so they’re doing effectively in Memphis and we had a hand in that. We’re part of that historical past as effectively.