BSU agrees to deal with three filmmakers

Idaho StatesmanFebruary 28, 2007 

The Boise State Broncos will star in a televised documentary this fall and could hit the big screen at a movie theater near you soon after.

Boise State on Tuesday announced a working agreement with three Boise-based filmmakers to produce a documentary about the Broncos' 2006 football season and market the movie rights.

Director Michael Hoffman, producer Heather Rae and producer/writer Russell Friedenberg will begin work on the documentary Monday. The group was one of five that contacted Boise State about the movie rights, said Frank Zang, the director of communications and marketing at BSU.

Hoffman is a Boise State graduate who has worked on several major movies. Rae and Friedenberg are Boise State professors who teamed up on the documentary "Trudell," which was shown at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.

They'll tell the story of the Broncos' 13-0 season, culminated by a stunning, 43-42 overtime victory over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.

"They emerged at the top of our list in terms of who we may be interested in working with in this project," Zang said, "because they brought together these impeccable filmmaking credentials along with a local connection."

The trio will produce the documentary as a launching point for a potential movie. They have exclusive rights to the Boise State story, meaning the school will not work with anyone else.

Boise State and the filmmakers likely won't make any profit from the documentary, Rae said. The potential windfall is in the movie rights.

The filmmakers will use the documentary to develop story ideas for the movie and try to sell the idea to a studio. That's when Boise State could get a rights fee between $250,000 and $750,000.

The movie could be written by Hoffman and Friedenberg or by a studio-assigned writer.

Hoffman already has met with quarterback Jared Zabransky, who led the Broncos to two undefeated regular seasons in three years as a starter.

Zabransky likely will be a key part of the movie because of his background (he helped run his parents' farm when his dad became ill), his triumphs (33 wins) and his struggles (he was booed at the end of his junior season).

"Obviously I was involved with everything that went down," Zabransky said. "I'm excited about it."

A studio deal could be in place within six months, Rae said, and production could begin as soon as next year.

"There's been considerable interest," Rae said.

The documentary will feature interviews with players, coaches, administrators and fans along with footage provided by Boise State.

The documentary will air on a TV network — perhaps ESPN or HBO — and become available on DVD.

"In approaching the subject we saw right away that there is a great documentary," said Rae, who is currently producing a movie in New York. "A number of these kids, the players, have really interesting stories themselves."

The filmmakers will be granted limited access to coaches and current players. BSU coach Chris Petersen has expressed concern about letting his players dwell on the past.

"It's controlled and appropriate access," Rae said. "It's just as much as we need while being very mindful of the fact that coach Pete's No. 1 priority is the '07 season."

Rae is a football novice who watched the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1 "out of necessity." It was just the second Broncos game the Idaho native had watched.

"Everyone knew they needed to watch that game," Rae said.

She called Hoffman, a Boise State fan, the next day.

"I said, ‘I think there's a movie in all of this,' " said Rae, who has taught many Broncos in the classroom. "He said, ‘I was just going to pick up the phone.' We both had the same thought at the same time."

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