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Kickstarter-Funded Soccer Doc Lands Home

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire September 20, 2011 at 4:55AM

Ranko Tutulugdzija and Nick Lewis's sports documentary, "Rise and Shine: The Jay Demerit Story," has been acquired for worldwide distribution by D&E Entertainment.
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Ranko Tutulugdzija and Nick Lewis's sports documentary, "Rise and Shine: The Jay Demerit Story," has been acquired for worldwide distribution by D&E Entertainment.

The Kickstarter-funded soccer documentary follows DeMerit's journey from undrafted high school and collegiate athlete to international soccer star.

The film's crowd-funding campaign reportedly exceeded its $215,000 goal by almost $10,000. Contributions came mostly from soccer fans and the general public, but also from U.S. National Team member Stuart Holden, Rivers Cuomo of the band Weezer and Seth Meyers of “Saturday Night Live.”

D&E plans to open the film in U.S. markets nationwide beginning November 3, 2011.

Full release below:

‘Rise and Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story’ scores theatrical distribution

Kickstarter-funded doc follows soccer hero’s amateur-to-World Cup arc

Hollywood, September 20, 2011 – A moving and inspirational success tale that just happens to be about sports, “RISE AND SHINE: THE JAY DEMERIT STORY” has been picked up for distribution in the U.S. and abroad by worldwide theatrical distribution and marketing company D&E Entertainment.

“RISE AND SHINE” was co-directed by filmmakers Ranko Tutulugdzija and Nick Lewis of Truth2Life Productions. The sports documentary follows DeMerit’s heart-tugging transition from undrafted high school and collegiate athlete to lauded professional and internationally respected soccer star.

The 92-minute film traces the Green Bay, Wisc.-native’s journey from failed tryouts with Major League Soccer through early frustrations in English football’s lowest divisions. In an inspiring sports tale, DeMerit ultimately triumphs in soccer glory becoming a captain for England’s Watford FC and joining Team USA as a hard-charging center halfback at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

A captivating tale told through interviews with DeMerit’s coaches, fellow players, family and friends, “RISE AND SHINE” features game footage from competitions around the world including cameos by soccer greats such as Wayne Rooney, Didier Drogba and Landon Donovan. DeMerit – whose exploits in England included scoring the so-called “£40 million goal” that helped promote Watford into the lucrative Premier League – hopes to encourage aspiring athletes and others.

As unique as the story is the way the film was financed. Tutulugdzija and Lewis built a huge groundswell and raised funds through the grassroots crowd-sourcing organization Kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com). Kickstarter is an online fundraiser for musicians, artists, filmmakers and others to fund projects via donations and participation from the public. “RISE AND SHINE” exceeded a $215,000 goal by almost $10,000 as the top Kickstarter campaign ever for an indie film.

“The response has been amazing,” says DeMerit, who today captains MLS’ Vancouver Whitecaps. “The all-ins are mind-blowing. We have a kid down in Texas named Evan who’s battling cancer for the third time, he’s had open-heart surgery, and all he wants to do is be a soccer player. He’s raised $1,500 going door-to-door, running screenings. It keeps his mind off his sickness.”

Contributions came mostly from soccer fans and the public at large but also athletes and celebrities such as U.S. National Team member Stuart Holden, Rivers Cuomo of the band Weezer and Seth Meyers of “Saturday Night Live.”

“To have people reach out and volunteer their time and creativity has been something we didn’t expect,” Lewis says. “It really is a testament to Jay's story. This film is not just for those who love soccer but for anyone who has a dream.”

D&E Entertainment principals Evan Saxon and Doug Kluthe are enthused about working with the filmmakers and DeMerit. “Their vision and drive is invaluable in collaborating with D&E on the film's worldwide distribution," Saxon says.

"Their grassroots success should help pave a road for other documentary and independent filmmakers,” Kluthe adds.

The film was discovered and brought into D&E Entertainment by Jonathan Chaupin, D&E’s director of film marketing and distribution. “RISE AND SHINE” will be released in U.S. markets nationwide beginning November 3, 2011, with subsequent distribution planned in the U.K. and other international markets.

This article is related to: Acquisitions





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