Screenwriter and former Oswego State faculty member Brad Riddell returned to the college to screen his latest movie, “Crooked Arrows” in the Hewitt Union Ballroom on Tuesday.
Riddell, accompanied by director Steve Rash, co-producer Ernie Stevens and actors Tyler Hill and Alex Cook, presented the film, followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience.
Riddell was a professor in the cinema and screen studies program, before leaving to take on a new position at DePaul University. Riddell had been working on “Crooked Arrows,” the first major lacrosse movie produced, during his time at Oswego State and had been working on a grant to have a screening at the school once the film was finished.
The current cinema and screen studies faculty members felt that, even though Riddell had moved on, it was still important to screen the movie, according to Riddell. With the screening free to the public it served as a great opportunity for inspiring screenwriters and directors to meet the professionals and see their work.
“Crooked Arrows” is a film centered on a Native American lacrosse team and their new coach, Joe Logan (Brandon Routh, “Superman Returns”), who was put in the position by his father in order to prove to him he is capable of properly taking care of their reservation. Although the movie is about lacrosse on the surface, the base tells a family and native story, which was the main intent for the group.
“It is a lacrosse movie, but it is also a native movie, a sports movie, a family movie, it is all of these things,” Stevens said. “I wanted to have a balance of accuracy from a cultural perspective, making sure it is accurate as far as how natives live now. We don’t always see that in movies unfortunately, even today.”
According to Rash, who had worked with Riddell on previous films such as “American Pie Presents Band Camp” and “Road Trip: Beer Pong,” there was already a rough script, but needed the comedic touch of his former colleague Riddell.
“The first draft of the script was written more than 12 years ago by a lacrosse player, who had a great idea for a movie,” Rash said. “He wrote a script, but it wasn’t very good because he wasn’t a writer and it was Brad who finally made the script work as a movie. We are all really fortunate it got this far because lacrosse is not the biggest box office.”
But it took an immense amount of research in order for Riddell to take the rough draft he was given and turn it in to the movie that hit the big screen.
“For me it was a ton of research and a ton of work,” Riddell said. “The first thing I always do is order books, so if you visit my office or see my bookshelf at home it is full of books about things that nobody else has books about, because it is usually researching a special topic for a screenplay. I had a lot of work to do because for me I felt I had a lot to represent.”
The film appeared very believable in the scenes of the native culture and the lacrosse action sequences. This was also brought forward through the actors who were not only native, but also lacrosse players. Actors such as Hill and Cook had already played lacrosse and are now playing professionally in Jacksonville, Fla.
“I am glad that I have played [lacrosse] because it was like me getting ready my whole entire life just for these special moments on film,” Hill, who played Silverfoot, said. “It was an amazing experience.”
“Crooked Arrows” not only hit home for some of the native actors, but will hit home with New York residents as well since the movie takes place in Upstate New York with many references to the area and even an appearance by Syracuse University’s lacrosse head coach, John Desko. It is a movie that Stevens hopes many will embrace and be proud of.
“We are all very proud of [the movie],” Stevens said. “Hopefully it will change lives because it is not an everyday film and not an everyday sports film.”
Riddell expressed the same feelings and felt that it was an honor to work on the film. Although this may be Riddell’s last appearance at Oswego State, his work can be seen in upcoming projects such as producing a horror movie called “Bit” and adapting Katrina Kittle’s novel, “The Kindness of Strangers.”