Sports films usually deliver all the feels. They are inspirational and empowering. In them, we get to see individuals and/or teams rise up and beat whatever odds are against them. They include memorable characters that are very easy to root for. All that content that then is seasoned with the roar of a crowd and the intensity of a competitive sport. With so many memorable sports films, are there still stories out there to captivate us?
Today, Disney+ released an all-new feature film based on a true story titled, Safety. This is a drama inspired by the amazing story of former Clemson University football safety Ray McElrathbey. A young man that faced a series of very challenging circumstances. With his mother in jail, then rehab, Ray takes on the responsibility of not only being a student-athlete but also caring for his 11-year-old brother, Fahmarr.
With Ray hiding his brother on campus, Ray risks his college education and his place on the football team. He soon discovers that his new family at Clemson has his back and aid him in his quest to give his brother stability. Safety stars Jay Reeves, Thaddeus J. Mixson II, Corinne Foxx, and Hunter Sansone. It is directed by Reginald Hudlin.
During a recent press conference ahead of the release of Safety, Hudlin talked about what makes Ray’s story so unique and how it could stand along with some of our favorite classic sports films. “There’s so many great sports movies going back to Brian’s Song, Remember the Titans and, Friday Night Lights. So if you do it well, you can really resonate with audiences. The trick is what new do you have to say? It’s not, you know, it’s not about let’s just do what they did. Fortunately, we had a true story. It was really invaluable to have Ray, you know, involved in the entire process and having Ray on set, uh, for my sake, for the sake of the cast.”
“We could all talk to him and be a touchstone and say, what new do we have to say? What new do we have to contribute to this rich genre of motion pictures? That’s what makes me happy, you know? everyone who sees Safety goes, I like this movie. It’s part of a tradition. But I think Ray’s story is unique and has something special to say and that resonates with everyone who sees it. No matter who they are, no matter where they’re from.” Continued Hudlin
But there was one problem with bringing his story to the big screen. It was too long! Producer Mark Ciardi commented that the first cut of the film was over three hours long. So it’s safe to say that there was a lot of content that didn’t make the final cut. “There’s so much in-in Ray’s story even that we couldn’t get to. But in structuring a movie you have to be kind of really judicious about what you want to focus on. I mean, God, our first cut was over three hours. So Reggy can talk about that. We couldn’t even fit what we had in the movie into the movie. We could-we had two movies.”
Hudlin added to that statement, “Yeah that was the amazing part. Mark is exactly right. You have to be focused about what you’re telling. Ray has had a momentous life. He had so many incredible things happen to him before the events of the movie, after the events of the movie. As Ray would tell you, I’m not a movie, I’m a miniseries. But even with what we shot we ended up having to cut wonderful, incredible scenes out. Because you go what are we saying? We have to get to the point of the message of the movie. And one of the things that has been most gratifying is that people see the movie, they laugh, they cry and that’s what I want. If you’re laughing, you’re crying and you’re feeling inspired, then we’ve done our job.”
Without a doubt, Safety is an inspirational film that we can enjoy with whoever we decide to call family. This is one of the biggest lessons of the film, that family can me more than just blood relatives. As well as the fact that family will always be there for you when you are down. No doubt that Safety will go on to be another classic sports film that we can pull out from time to time to enjoy.
Have you checked out Safety yet? Let us know in the comment section below!
Disney’s Safety is not available to stream on Disney+