August 3, 2011

'Crooked Arrows' Begins Filming

By Chris R. Vaccaro |

Brandon Routh has traded in his cape ("Superman Returns") for a lacrosse stick as the lead actor in the sport's first major film, "Crooked Arrows," which began filming Tuesday. Shooting of the on-field lacrosse scenes continues through Aug. 13 in the Boston area.

©Bryce Vickmark

TOPSFIELD, Mass. — The day that lacrosse fans and sports movie buffs have been waiting for came and went Tuesday, and the filming of "Crooked Arrows," the first feature film about lacrosse, was off and running.

Producer Todd Harris said it was as good as any first day of shooting can go. And a long one, since they began at 6:15 a.m. with a traditional tobacco burn, a customary Native American prayer session, led by Jake Edwards, an Onondaga Chief, and the father of a Native American athlete in the movie.

"It was a really cool way to start the day," Harris said. "It was like a 10-minute prayer. Everyone in the crowd stood and watched."

In total the cast and crew burned through almost three pages of lacrosse action from the script on the first day. Harris said the first two weeks is all about "lacrosse, lacrosse, lacrosse."

"Some stunts, big hits, kids getting decked, hoops and hollers," he said. "We'll get all the action out first, then drama when that's over."

This week they're shooting at the Topsfield Fairgrounds in Topsfield, Mass., until Thursday when they'll move to The Governor's Academy in Byfield, Mass.

After day one there was only one injury to a player who tore some ligaments in his shoulder and is sidelined in a sling.

"He wasn't a hero player," Harris said. "He will be honored and missed, but replaced."

Harris and the crew are drawing from Iroquois lacrosse player Neal Powless, a three-time All-American at Nazareth College, and Jamison Koesterer, a former midfielder at Johns Hopkins, who are helping Mark Ellis and Sports Studio organize the lacrosse action.

They spent 12 hours filming with three cameras on Tuesday and expect long days packed with action and fun for the next month.

The film, modeled after other underdog sports films like "Mighty Ducks" and "Bad News Bears," is the first major lacrosse feature film. It holds onto a story line about a mixed-blood Native American who tries to prove himself to his father, a traditionalist, by rediscovering his spirit through coaching a reservation lacrosse team.

According to Harris, stars Brandon Routh, Chelsea Ricketts and Crystal Allen are on set during the early days of filming.

MLL star Paul Rabil is expected to make a cameo appearance on Thursday.

The biggest spectacle should take place Aug. 13 when they film the championship game for the movie at St. John's Preparatory in Danvers, Mass.

Just as the movie "The Blind Side" included a handful of nationally recognized football coaches like Nick Saban and Lou Holtz, "Crooked Arrows" is aiming to feature top dogs from the lacrosse world. So far Virginia coach Dom Starsia and Brown coach Lars Tiffany confirmed they will attend.

"By and large, it's looking good," Harris said.

The film, endorsed and supported by US Lacrosse, is scheduled to be released during the spring 2012 lacrosse season.

Additional coverage of opening day of filming, courtesy of "Crooked Arrows."

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