THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS' Exec Producer Antonio Saillant Moves Forward with Filming
Antonio Saillant, executive producer on "The Golden Knights" and chairman/founder of Planet Greenfest, is a powerful speaker for the Green Festival Expo which his main focus is to help develop sustainability in the entertainment business. Saillant's effort to do his part in the global race to prevent climate catastrophe-for being a leading voice for energy policy to protect the quality of life. He is truly dedicated to tackle our region's energy challenges and harness the economic opportunities presented by clean renewable energy.
One key challenge facing Saillant is focusing on filming 100% sustainable. [Freedom With Green] - When it comes to climate change, there's no time to wait!
We caught up with Saillant who is excited to hear that his home town high school team have won the State Title. Saillant believes that cinema is an art-form and has his heart set to produce an up-close-and-personal film about the 1979 Old Tappan's Golden Knights Football Team. We asked Saillant a few questions about his upcoming film, The Golden Knights.
What inspired you to make this film?
AS: Cinema has always held a very important place in my life. I seek inspiration in film, theatre, music, art - and in watching other filmmakers create a masterpiece from just an idea. I never feel jealous of another filmmaker: I always feel there is so much to learn from them.
I discovered the works of filmmakers like Ted Kotcheff, whose career as a director at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, then on to London to direct live TV and theatre and finally the big screen with films including North Dallas Forty, First
Blood, Uncommon Valor, and Weekend at Bernie's. Winner of the Directors Guild of Canada's Lifetime Achievement Award. Executive producer behind Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Auteur behind the critically acclaimed Wake in Fright and The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz.
I had the privilege to know the late Sydney Pollack, whose films received a total of 48 Academy Award nominations, winning 11 Oscars. Pollack directed more than 21 films and 10 television shows, acted in over 30 films or shows, and produced over 44 films.
Very early on, I was lucky enough to watch movies that have marked the history of cinema. I have met great people that work in the film industry and now, I also i'm heading to the direction to make movies. I guess it is a logical extension of all this.
Learning from Kotcheff and Pollack was definitely a stepping stone in the right direction. Everything you read, learn or experience changes you and your goals for who you want to become. You should strive to constantly develop your relationship as you develop yourself.
But, my biggest inspiration for developing this film is my brother Angel who actually was one of the Captains of the 79' Golden Knights so it's personal with me and those guys.
I grew up in Northvale and now live in New York City, and a filmmaker who wants to bring the underdog story of that team to the big screen and I plan to direct. I have a lot of passion due to the fact that my late brother, Angel, died in a 1987 car accident. The players on that team learned more in that one football game than they did the rest of their lives.
How has it been working with Dr. Sabatini and the NVOT staff?
AS: Let me start by saying, Working on this project is former Old Tappan resident and original team member, Steven "Bubba" Bruman, now a practicing Attorney in Houston, Texas, who stated "As the original right offensive tackle of the depicted team, I'm excited about the important message that The Golden Knights movie brings to the big screen. I am also honored to be asked by Angel Light Pictures to participate in the ongoing legal negotiations with the board of education on the upcoming feature film".
We all met back in 2012 with former Northern Valley Regional High School Principal; Fred Hessler, Assistant Superintendent for Business at Northern Valley Regional High School; Raymond Jacobus. Now that Fred Hessler has since retired Mr. Bruman will be contacting and arranging a meeting with the new principal of NVOT, Bruce R. Sabatini and myself about moving forward with the project.
What goals do you accomplish with this film?
AS: The most important goal is THE ART OF storytelling. To be truly inspired, you must learn to trust your instinct, and your creative empathy. Hard work is important, but that comes before inspiration. This particular film because it was basically part of me growing up and it had significant moments in my life that sharpen my senses, made me listen carefully, look for the detail, and awaken my curiosity. And, "As a filmmaker, I feel it is my responsibility to continue the commitment to reduce the impact on climate change and the environment, and be on the forefront of sustainable business practices."
I'm hoping that this story will spread a positive message to the audience that they understand what many kids go through in high school. We were only kids then but being a grown-up now and thinking back to that one moment in time that one game, we learned more about life in that game that we did in life itself.
What messages do you hope to send?
AS: Bill Medea who was the head coach at the time helped change the attitude of those young boys and the spirit of the entire town. You learned to be successful in games and in life. With this film it's important to try to keep true to the spirit of the initial idea.
What is the importance to you of filming on location in New Jersey?
AS: The film, "The Golden Knights" is based on the incredible 36 year old true story of the leadership and dedication of a young HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL team under the direction of a head coach who is determined to end a twenty-five game losing streak and change the spirit of a small Northern New Jersey hometown.
This film is all about passion and heart because it's based on a true story and to keep it in New Jersey will make it very real.
Just to make a note that the film was first in development back in 2012 and was put on hold because Gov. Christie ended the tax and film credits in the state of New Jersey which actually took many films and television shows back to New York like the top NBC police drama 'Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.'
Last year, the NY Post stated, [While New Jersey is a popular setting for many movies and TV shows - like HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," set in Atlantic City, and the Oscar-winning "Silver Linings Playbook" - most are not actually filmed there.
The HBO show is filmed in Brooklyn and "Silver Linings" was shot across the Delaware River in neighboring Pennsylvania, which has capped its film tax credit at $60 million a year.]
I have high hopes that by the time the film starts production that the NJ Film & Television tax credit will be reinstated. Regardless I will move forward with the film.
[Films that are about NJ, Stays in NJ].
Any other thoughts you have are most welcome.
AS: Everything in history is a product of events and people before it. There are many stories which have never been told, or even known, of how the local area developed. One dream to proclaim the facts has been launched.
I always advise the up-coming students in this industry that the things that you found inspiring when you were starting out usually stay with you. I am sure the members of 1979 The Golden Knights will agree.
On Saturday, December 5, 2015 LOCAL SPORTS COLUMNIST | THE RECORD, Darren Cooper stated in his article, "NV/Old Tappan gets its Hollywood ending," that Saillant's original idea was to detail THE COMEBACK by the 1979 Old Tappan football team, and how after a long losing streak, it finally broke through and began to lay the foundation for a successful program. Six years later, the school won what had been its only state sectional title - until Saturday. Now, maybe, it has a proper ending."
The title says it all and it is very true, We have a true Hollywood ending, says Saillant.
The story I hope to tell is supposed to be about overcoming adversity and I feel that football at the HS level is the hardest sport to be on and gets the most attention. It exemplifies school spirit and embodies the school itself.
If you think about it, what other sport has full varsity and jv cheerleading squads, marching band and the color guard all revolving around it?
With this film I want to bring the audience into my world hoping that they receive inspiration from the story. An inspirational film that will be enjoyed with school age children together with their parents. This film will rank one of the most inspiring film of all time.
Saillant will go ahead with 'The Golden Knights', currently in preproduction and scheduled for production in 2017, in Old Tappan, New Jersey and will be produced 100% sustainable.
Pictured: 2015 Old Tappan defeated Wayne Hills by a score of 17-0 at MetLife Stadium to win the North 1 Group 4 State Title. Photo by David Kline.