Word is getting out that Earl's history needs to be preserved! The First to Do It has already gotten some great press. Check out what others have to say about our movie and about Earl Lloyd. Slam MagazineForbes Magazine
Halloween night, 1950. The Korean War has just started and the color TV has yet to be invented. Jim Crow laws are still the harsh reality throughout much of America and nobody has heard the name Rosa Parks. In a stadium outside Syracuse New York, in front of 2,500 people, Earl Lloyd steps onto the basketball court and into the history books. He becomes the first African American to ever play in the NBA. Earl goes on to become the NBA’s first full time African American head coach, the NBA’s first African American to ever receive an equipment sponsorship and the first African American to win an NBA national title.
The First to Do It is the first officially sanctioned documentary about the life and times of Earl Lloyd. Born in 1928, Earl has finally agreed to let someone (us!!!) make a documentary about his life story which spans a remarkable time in American history. He grew up in a deeply segregated Virginia; he played in a mostly white NBA during the Civil Rights movement; he was a coach and basketball scout during the racial integration experiments of the 70's; and in his twilight, he has seen an African American become president.
Earl “Big Cat” Lloyd playing for the Syracuse Nationals
In its own way, Earl’s life story provides us a window in which we can reexamine America’s transformation. Along with Chuck Cooper and Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton, Earl took the first steps towards making what the NBA is today. But The First to Do It is not just about basketball history. It is about black history and it is about American history. There are few voices left who can recall what happened during the back half of 20th Century, a transformative time for America. And even fewer of those voices were on the front lines of that transformation. Earl was not only a witness to American history, he helped shape it.
It is easy to find events that illustrate how far America has come as a country. But every so often, we are reminded of how far we still have to go. Last spring, race and basketball took center stage. And at the time, Commissioner Adam Silver said “We have a responsibility in our communities to fight against discrimination and ignorance…and showcase sports as an example of respect and tolerance.”
The NBA and America have come a long way since the day Earl first stepped on to an NBA court. And yet, the story of Earl Lloyd is not that different from the hoop dreams of Tyson Chandler, or LeBron James or Baron Davis or Paul Pierce or countless kids playing on basketball courts across the country. We hope that comparing the stories of Earl Lloyd with the stories of those who have come after will help illuminate where we have made progress and where we still have work to be done. We also hope it will help to impart on those same kids the values that Earl holds so dear: hard work, respect for those who came before you and the power of choosing love over anger.
As Commissioner Silver said, sports are a great lens through which we can reflect on society. There is no better sport to help us reflect on race than basketball. And there is no better time to reflect on race than right now.
History can’t be taken for granted. It must be recorded, re-recorded, reexamined and retold. Without that, it simply dies with the people who make it. For us, this is about preserving history – basketball history, black history and American history. Earl was the first to do it in basketball, and his actions have affected us all -- which is why we want share the journey with you. Your contributions allow us to tell this story the way we think it needs to be told, and to distribute the story in a way that will benefit everyone.
The money we raise will provide us with the opportunity to build out the story. It will allow us to interview NBA legends that came after Earl like Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robertson and Bill Russell. It will also allow us to interview recent and current NBA players who are the living heirs to legacy. Finally, it will allow us to interview journalists, historians and others who have meaningful perspective into Earl.
If you agree with our vision of why Earl's story is important to preserve, and if you agree that his story needs to find the widest audience it can, join us. Contribute to the campaign. Contribute to the conversation. Help get the word out. Your contributions will make you part of the team, and through the rewards, you can take this journey with us. With your help, we can preserve this history together.
Coodie and Chike are filmmakers based out of New York. Their last feature film, the critically acclaimed Benji, was about high school basketball prodigy Ben Wilson, who was a pointless victim of urban violence on the eve of his escaping his inner city upbringing. It aired on the ESPN's prestigious documentary series 30 for 30. Coodie and Chike cut their teeth making music videos for entertainers like Mos Def, Christina Aguilera and Pitbull. They directed the MTV Buzzworthy videos Through The Wire for Kanye West and Window Seat for Erykah Badu.
Arka has developed, produced or directed programming for a variety of networks and production companies including MTV, Discovery, @Radical Media and Al Roker Entertainment. In addition to The First to Do It, he is currently developing a music travel show and is producing a documentary series about Detroit. He has consulted for a range of media brands including Viacom, Comcast and Virgin and has worked with a range of brands including Sony, Subway and Smirnoff. Prior to becoming a producer, Arka spent over a decade in advertising across traditional and digital marketing.
David T. Friendly is an Academy Award nominated producer for Best Picture nominee, Little Miss Sunshine. He has been a film producer and motion picture executive for over twenty-five years. During his career, he has worked with some of the most prestigious directors including Ron Howard, Ed Zwick and the team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Friendly recently completed principal photography on his first documentary, Sneakerheadz, which he wrote, produced and directed. Friendly is the producer and creative force behind the hugely profitable Big Momma’s House franchise which has generated three films which have grossed over $400 million worldwide. Among the other titles David has produced are Laws of Attraction, Courage Under Fire, Out to See, My Girl, Kindergarten Cop and Backdraft.
Jack has been a producer, executive producer, or executive on some of the most acclaimed independent films of all time. As head of production for Miramax and as second in command at Film Four, he oversaw the development and/or production of films like The Crying Game, Good Will Hunting, The Full Monty, and Chocolat. Jack executive produced the Academy Award winning documentary The Fog of War, the Oscar nominated film Blue Valentine, the Emmy nominated Left of the Dial, and titles like Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, The New Public, and Parking Lot.
As with any documentary film project, there are several risks and challenges involved with the making of The First to Do It. Some of those challenges involve the actual creation of the film itself: ensuring you are properly shooting, recording adequate sound, ensuring you've lined up the right people to do the right job, etc. Thankfully, we have a team involved who are highly seasoned and have done this many times before. See above for more on our backgrounds.
The biggest challenge, however, is in our ability to raise the rest of the money required to finish the film. Once we shoot the interviews we need to tell this story, we will need the funds to create the graphic elements that will be so central to the storytelling and to edit the film. Such funds could come from a variety of sources including media partners, private investors or brand partners. We believe Earl's story is critically important and needs to be told, and we hope others, from advertisers to networks to every day people, agree. However, we may find it difficult to raise funds to finish the film or may find it difficult to establish the distribution required to raise funds from brand partners.
The Earl Lloyd quotes scattered throughout this page, and many of the pictures we used, are taken from Earl Lloyd's autobiography, co-written by Sean Kirst (@seankirst) for Syracuse University Press. If you want to learn more about Earl, you can purchase Moonfixer here.
This Reward is given free to the backers of this campaign that share the campaign through their social networks and convince more people to also become backers of the campaign. Back this campaign to start sharing and unlock this reward!
Come on this journey with us as we preserve history. You’ll receive a thank you email from Coodie and Chike, and email updates throughout production. We'll share behind the scenes anecdotes, photos from the shoots and anything else we can convey via email. It is the next best thing to being there! You’ll also receive details on where and when The First to Do It will be playing near you.
To thank you for coming along for the ride, you will receive everything in the "Fan Felt Thanks" reward. In addition, you will get an “I Helped Make It” postcard, printed exclusively for the fans that made this film possible. We most certainly couldn’t tell this story without you!
In addition to shoes, Tony has contributed several San Antonio Spurs home jersey which he will also sign for you, along with a letter of thanks. Also get the teammates postcard signed by the directors and everything in our “Locker Room Access” package.
Thanks for joining the team! In addition to everything above, you will receive a special edition stylized pin designed exclusively for the teammates that are making this film possible. Your contributions make you an integral part of the team. Wear your involvement with pride!
Our EP Tony has not only donated pairs of 2014 All-Star Tony Parker Spurs Basketball Shoes, he will sign them for you personally. Along with a letter of thanks. You will also get the postcard signed by the Directors and everything in our “Locker Room Access” package.
You’re like the 6th man, coming off the bench, contributing major game time! You'll get the email updates and the early notification of where and when the movie is playing. Additionally, we're creating "The First to Do It" Movie Posters that have the same look and feel you will see in the movie: iconic imagery, vintage color bleeds and careful attention to typography. Each will be SIGNED by Coodie and Chike with a note of thanks.
You're not just on the team. You're a starter. You should wear the team colors! It is customary to provide the production crew with a T-shirt to commemorate their involvement in the project and to identify them as "crew" on set. We're going to give you the same T-shirt! And if Coodie and Chike are going to wear them, you know they'll look vintage and they'll be fly. Of course, you will also get the email updates, the early notification and the postcard.
Or perhaps you are a pro, and want to wear your affiliation on the court. Never fear. We've got you covered with a pair of basketball shorts that will carry the vintage "The First to Do It" branding.
Want to see the history you helped preserve? In addition to all of the email updates and the signed I Helped Make It postcard you will be the first to get a DVD of the film with a note of thanks signed by Coodie and Chike.
Want to see the history you helped preserve in BluRay? In addition to all of the email updates and signed I Helped Make It postcard you will be the first to get a BluRay of the film with a note of thanks signed by Coodie and Chike.
It's like visiting the locker room before the big game! You will get online access to video updates that nobody else will get to see. You’ll see cutting room floor stuff, video updates by Coodie and Chike, exclusive first look at scenes, animation tests, and more. It's like getting the DVD extras in real time! Combined with the email updates (included, of course!), there is no better way to come on this journey with us. You will also get the early notification, the signed film poster and your choice of DVD or BluRay of the film.
Earl Lloyd says his alma mater was one of the happiest places in his life. West Virginia State University has provided us a limited number of the same commemorative, West Virginia State University jersey (with a commemorative patch) worn by the WVSU Yellow Jackets during the inaugural Earl Lloyd Invitational Tourney - plus the jerseys will be personally signed by WVSU's Head Basketball Coach, Bryan Poore. You will also get everything in the Locker Room Access Reward.
Your all star level contribution gets you a special invite to 3 live podcasts with the directors scheduled throughout the making of the movie. They will provide updates, answer questions and give sneak peaks at what’s coming next. It is an intimate look into the process of getting a documentary like this made. You will also get everything in the "Locker Room Access" reward and a signed DVD or Blu-Ray.
Show your history preserving swagger with history making swag. You will get the T-shirt, the signed Poster, the signed postcard and the exclusive fan pin. Plus your choice of DVD or Blu-Ray signed by Coodie and Chike.
You are a legend among greats! To immortalize your monumental contributions to the cause, your name will appear in the final credits under a “Producers would like to Thank” section created exclusively for the legends that made this film happen. Plus, get everything in the "All Star Access" reward.
Get two tickets to the New York premiere of the film and personally meet Coodie, Chike and the production team behind The First to Do It. We'd love to say thank you in person! Your name will appear in the "Producers would like to thank" section of the credits and you will get everything in our "All Star Access" reward. (Travel not included)
Get everything in the “Legends” package plus a personalized basketball signed by Mr. Lloyd himself.
You and a friend will join Coodie and Chike for lunch in NYC. Talk shop, learn about making the film (or filmmaking in general) and hear first hand accounts about what happened behind the scenes. You will also get everything in the "Slam Dunk Swag" reward and the All Star Access reward. Finally, your name will appear in a special "Mr. Lloyd would like to thank" section in the credit roll of the film, on every screening of the film.
You're Hall of Fame level contribution deserves a hall of fame level thank you. Get everything from the “Attend the Premiere” package including your name in the “Mr. Lloyd would like to thank” section of the credit roll. You will also get invited to the Premiere’s after party AND (in case you are partying late into the night) we will provide one night’s accommodation.
You will get credit as an associate producer on the film and on all promotional materials where all producers are listed. You will also get the “Slam Dunk Swag” package and get tickets to the premiere and to the after party where Coodie, Chike and the producers will get to thank you in person.
You will get credit as an associate producer on the film and on all promotional materials where all producers are listed. You will also get the “Slam Dunk Swag” package and get tickets to the premiere. In addition, the directors and/or producer will screen the film at your home for your friends and family before it is released anywhere. We will pay for our own travel and we will stay as long as you like to answer questions and discuss anything and everything you want about the film, about Earl, about film making and about life in general. We will come with swag and production goodies for you and everyone who is in attendance.
You will get credit as a co-executive producer on the film and on all promotional materials where all producers are listed. You will also get the “Slam Dunk Swag” package and get tickets to the premiere and to the after party where we can all thank you in person.
You will get credit as an executive producer on the film and on all promotional materials associated with the film. You will also get the “Slam Dunk Swag” package, tickets to the premiere AND the directors and/or producers will screen the film at your home for you and your friends and family before it is released anywhere.