Let’s be Frank….
Award winning documentary filmmaker, Director Thomas Morgan, and Executive Producer Jeffrey Thompson (a 20-year Santa Clarita Valley resident) gifted Santa Clarita with a worldwide film premiere at the new Laemmle Theatres on Oct. 10 of the critically acclaimed documentary, “SCRUM.” I was inspired by not only the lightning in a bottle the director captured in the cinematography and narrative, but also the questions the film posed that led to the opportunity to have frank conversations ever since.
“SCRUM,” filmed at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2019 – at the height of political discontent and protests against the George Floyd killing — is a timely reminder that sharing inspiring stories can sometimes bridge divides and help move the country forward. What started out as a friend (Thomas Morgan) wanting to tell the powerful story of his longtime friend’s (Frank McKinney) journey quickly evolved into a life-changing film that leaves the audience inspired, and as the director says, “looking for the Frank McKinneys in every community.”
The lessons shared and learned in “SCRUM” are that of the power of inclusion, diversity and the perseverance and preparation it takes to win at a collegiate national level and in life. As the audience watches, Frank McKinney shapes his athletes into good student athletes while also helping them become good citizens, all while trying to understand his own place in history, with his personal life challenges and in his own father’s heart. The audience can’t help but see themselves in some of the situations and there is much empathy for Frank, his team and the challenges they overcome.
“SCRUM” is also an inspiring sports movie eloquently blended with the story of the power of one. That one (meaning Frank) does not ask for awards or accolades, but only for a fair opportunity for his players and their families.
While “SCRUM” premiered right here in Santa Clarita with a glitzy, Hollywood-style debut, I had the opportunity to travel to North Carolina to see the movie at the North Carolina film festival with coach Frank and his players – their first time seeing the film.
Even though some had recently graduated and already gone into the world shaped and armored with Frank’s lessons and love, they were astonished and humbled at the national attention their story has begun to receive.
Another interesting note that shouldn’t be missed is the parallel seen in suburbs like Charlotte, North Carolina, and 2,500 miles away, in Santa Clarita, California. The same emerging cultural, socioeconomic and educational diversity trends can be seen in these growing communities – not unlike thousands of suburbs across America, even as they recover from the social and economic impacts of the pandemic.
It is clear there are many Franks in this country, serving in plain sight, but many times unseen to many, a lesson highlighted by the director, Thomas Morgan.
This films leaves the audience imagining how many Franks there are in communities like ours. “SCRUM” will either help us see them or inspire us to be more like Frank.
You still have an opportunity to see this inspirational film at: 99goodfilms.com/pages/scrum.
Selina Thomas is a Santa Clarita resident and business owner. Her Signal podcast, “SCV’s HR Guru,” can be found at signalscv.com/video/podcasts/selina-thomas-scvs-hr-guru/.