This week sees the UK cinema release of Rise and Shine aka The Jay DeMerit story.
Co-directed by Ranko Tutulugdzija, a former teammate of DeMerit at the University of Illinois, and his partner in Truth2Life Productions, Nick Lewis, a San Diego attorney, the sports documentary follows current Vancouver Whitecaps skipper DeMerit’s transition from high school to lauded professional and internationally respected footballer.
The film traces the Green Bay native’s journey from failed trials with MLS clubs and early frustrations in English football’s lower leagues before DeMerit ultimately triumphs becoming captain at Watford and gaining international recognition with the USA at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Through interviews with DeMerit’s coaches, fellow players, family and friends, Rise and Shine features game footage from competitions around the world and includes cameos by Wayne Rooney, Didier Drogba and Landon Donovan.
As unique as the story, is the way the film was financed. Tutulugdzija and Lewis built a huge groundswell and raised funds through the grassroots crowd-sourcing organization Kickstarter. Kickstarter is an online fundraiser for musicians, artists, filmmakers and others to fund projects via donations and participation from the public.
“To have people reach out and volunteer their time and creativity has been something we didn’t expect,” Lewis says. “It really is a testament to Jay’s story. This film is not just for those who love soccer but for anyone who has a dream.”
Rise and Shine premiers at UK cinemas on January 17. You can get more info on the film here.