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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Students to produce Thailand basketball documentary

Kurowsh Saatnia and Tyler Rausch will soon be taking their filmmaking talents to South East Asia to film a documentary on basketball. Photo courtesy of Tyler Rausch

Three aspiring Marquette filmmakers have set their sights on Bangkok, Thailand, as the setting for their planned documentary studying the rapidly increasing popularity of basketball on the other side of the globe.

Taylor Rausch, Kurowsh Saatnia and Ryan Brennan began planning what the group envisions as an inside look at Southeast Asian basketball and culture in September this year but have encountered speed bumps along the way.

Rausch, a junior in the College of Communication, said several factors caused him and his two colleagues to question the state of basketball in the U.S., including the perceived politics and greed surrounding high level basketball in the U.S.

Rausch, who asked that the name of the team they will be following not be published yet because of pending negotiations, said the documentary represents an opportunity for both the group as a filmmakers and a chance to take a closer look at basketball outside the NBA.

“Obviously this is a once-in-a-lifetime type experience,” Rausch said. “But we’re trying to break into a highly competitive industry by providing a unique look at a universal part of life (basketball).”

In September, Rausch contacted the up-and-coming ASEAN professional basketball league founded in Malaysia in 2009. After that, things began to “snowball,” he said.

“The response from the league and their willingness to work with us and give us behind-the-scenes access has been phenomenal,” Rausch said.

The project, which Rausch described as a “dream come true,” was originally scheduled to begin production early in January, but was postponed in part because he said he wants to graduate before going overseas.

In early October, the league expressed interest in Rausch’s preliminary proposal: “Documenting basketball in its purest form will enlighten audiences to the true value of the sport and its integrity. … (The Southeast Asian) explosion of basketball deserves exposure and attention because it is a near progressive movement in the sports world.”

At the time, however, the league denied to provide any financial backing for the project, so Rausch, Saatnia and Brennan began pooling their collective assets to attempt to finance the documentary. They said they have already raised $7,000 since the end of November — granted, mostly from their own investment — which is about one-third of what they would like to have for the film.

Rausch also said the team brought on amateur filmmaker Matt Law-Phipps of Temple University who will provide filmmaking experience and equipment.

“Right now, this is going to happen,” said Saatnia, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences. “This went from being just an idea to something that will realistically happen very quickly.”

The group said they have looked into living expenses associated with Thailand and that the currency exchange rate will help them stretch their dollar. Brennan said the initial estimated budget for the documentary ranges between $20,000 and $30,000. The amount of funds was another factor that pushed back the production to late 2012.

Moving forward, the group expects to produce a preliminary video sometime next semester. The final product will begin filming in Thailand in December 2012, Rausch said.

Ryan Brennan, a senior in the College of Business Administration, is on board as a producer for the product and will manage budget issues in the upcoming year as they plan to depart.

“We thought we’d be going in January,” Brennan said. “But while we wait we’re looking to raise funding and awareness however we can.”

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