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The Success of the Film Up and Down

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This post was co-written by Heather Robinson

Basketball has long been a powerful metaphor for teamwork, skill, diversity, and opportunity. Invented in 1891 by James Naismith, it has long captivated and inspired billions around the world. Familiar names like Red Auerbach, Julius Erving, Rebecca Lobo, Jeremy Lin and others have given style and substance to a sport that has become an extraordinary institution.

Like many, filmmaker Jeff Camarra's life has been informed, and transformed, by this legacy. His award-winning documentary film, Up and Down, has become a darling in the art-house film community. It follows the dreams of Trey Johnson, a Development League (or D-League) player during the 2010-2011 season, and his one shot to make it to the big stage of the National Basketball Association.

Having recently won awards from both the Manhattan and Metropolitan Film Festivals, Up and Down is picking up momentum and is poised for a critically acclaimed 2012. We sat down with the young, buzz-worthy filmmaker to get his thoughts on the success of the film.

Movie Poster Courtesy of Jeff Camarra


How did you come up with the idea for a film?

I was home from college on winter break and I read an article, naming players the New York Knicks were interested in calling up a player from the development league and came across Trey. I did some research and found this diamond in the rough talent who never really got a legitimate shot in the NBA, but he was believed to be the first player called up to the NBA after the D-League showcase. D-League president Dan Reed compared the Showcase to American Idol and I think that's a very fitting comparison.

What has the response been like so far?

The response has been great. Amazing. We premiered at the Manhattan Film Festival and we are played at the Metropolitan Film Festival. We are playing in Georgia at the Peach Tree International Film Festival in August and a few other festivals across the country this year.

We know you were thilled to have your film screened recently a film festival. A surreal experience to say the least.

Premiering in New York City was a dream come true for myself and the other guys. My brother Chris (Executive Producer), Dan Zinn (Cinematographer) went to High School together and Bryan Kobel (Executive Producer), Nayim Saati (Sounds, Editor) and Jonah Quickmire Pettigre (Cinematographer, producer) all live here as well. It was great to have our family and friends in attendance.

Director Jeff Camarra, pictured on the left. Photo Courtesy
of Jeff Camarra

Why do you think sports is such a winning formula for documentaries and big budget movies?

I think anytime an audience can really connect with a character, and relate to them, that is the recipe for a great film. We by no means had a big budget, but we had a great subject. We all have obstacles in our lives whether, internally or externally. To see the highs and lows of a Development League player, it's hard not to pull for Trey.

What's next for you?

I am trying to put together a docu-series for next spring, but I am still very involved with 'Up and Down.' We are also talking about getting it on Netflix, Hulu and On Demand. It's hard work, but truly exciting when you see everything coming together.

To find out more about Jeff Camarra and his film, connect with him through his Twitter feed.

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