At the Movies: “Miracle Season.” Dr. Ernie Found talks about bringing a powerful story to the big screen.

 

Day 13

Caroline Found was more than just a volleyball star. Her compassionate spirit and love of life inspired those around her and lives on through the team she helped bring together.

Set to release April 6th, “Miracle Season,” starring Oscar winners Helen Hunt and William Hurt, gives audiences a special look into the resilience of the human spirit –as the Iowa City West High School girls volleyball team grapple with profound loss as they strive toward the gift of emotional courage to win a second championship – with the help of their loyal coach and Dr. Ernie Found, Caroline’s loving dad.

 

Here Dr. Ernie Found shares the unlikely journey to the big screen.

 

Link2Us: Before there was a movie, there was a book “Live Like Line, Love Like
Ellyn” and I’ve read that you came up with the theme… Can you share with us
the meaning behind it?

Dr. Ernie Found: That book was written by a good friend of mine, (Bill Hoeft) who was so taken by the story – he wanted to get things down on paper. The book is not quite like the “Miracle Season” book, that Kathy Bresnahan put together. “Live Like Line, Love Like Ellyn,” centers a bit more on our family and the experiences that we shared as a family. The movie title was (originally) going to be “Live Like Line”, but the filmmakers wanted a title that would be more receptive to getting the audiences to theaters, so they switch the title. ‘Live Like Line’ came from a couple of Caroline’s classmates, a few days after her accident – it just kind of came about and caught on. [A few days later], there were tee shirts and bracelets and stickers, and other things – with that being the theme. Throughout the whole volleyball season, many of the West High fans would show up wearing the ‘Live Like Line’ shirts and it just grew from there.

Day 9
Link2Us: You were first asked to tell Caroline’s story some time ago. I’ve
read that it took you 5 years to agree to do a movie. What changed your
mind?

Dr. Found: Sports with Bryant Gumble) and they decided to come on out and do a shot for HBO peace, which was a wonderful opportunity to meet and spend time with Frank DeFord.

After everything had gone on in Iowa City, Katie Bresnahan (West High volleyball coach) wrote a little letter to a guy by the name of Frank Deford, a renowned sports writer; for Sports Illustrated, who’s stuff I used to love to read when I was a young adult. Frank was with HBO – with Bryant Gumble. The real problem was – they just did too darn good a job with that piece! After it went on HBO, the feature movie people caught wind of it and we were accosted by several major producing companies [but] it was just not the right time.

Our hearts were still raw and our feelings were still very sensitive, and we just weren’t ready for Hollywood… Maybe this was naive of us – but we were just not ready for Hollywood to invade our hearts.

A year went by, and they re-contacted us – suggesting that we meet with David Aaron Cohen, who’s the screenwriter. He had done Friday Night Lights and many other things. In meeting with David, he understood our reservations and our concerns about opening up all of this to Hollywood. He told us many times that [he] would do all that [he] could to not allow this to be Hollywoodize– if that is a word at all. It was our trust in him, and our eventual trust in Shawn McNamara, the director (Soul Surfer), who came out to Iowa City; that allowed us to say that if they’re in charge, it’s going to be Okay.

So, what changed our minds? I guess, it was a little bit of the element of time, to soften things perhaps; but, more importantly – the trust and faith that we put in David Aaron Cohen, Shawn McNamara and the people at LD Entertainment, that they would do it properly.

 

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(Dr. Ernie Found & Oscar Winner actor William Hurt)

 

Link2Us: What do you want people to know about Caroline?

Dr. Found: There are many Caroline’s out there, many of them. Caroline is someone who loved to smile and loved to hug. She would look people in the eyes and say: ‘let’s be friends,’ no matter what the situation is there is no reason why we can’t share each other, respect each other and be part of each other’s lives. For her, it was a constant jovial spirit – always one that was sensitive to others and wanted to lend a helping hand – opening her heart to others. It’s doable . . . Through respect and taking the time, making the effort . . . and opening up your own self to being receptive to others.

Link2Us: You and ‘Coach Brez’ helped lifted up Caroline’s teammates, who were grieving her loss. Despite what you were experiencing- why did you feel it was important to be there for the team and be involved in their journey to a second championship?

Dr. Found: We were all struggling. We were all heartbroken. None of us knew what to do [or] where to go. But, you have choices to make . . . you can choose isolation and to run away, hide and deny; or you can come together and share and cry and weep together and look each other in the eye and say let’s hang in there together. I did it as much for me, I have to say, as for them. I relied on them; their young spirit, their enthusiasm and seeing smiles on their faces, made me happy too.

Link2Us: What do you hope audiences take away from The Miracle Season?

Dr. Found: This is really the first female sports inspiration movie (or recent one anyway) and doggone-it, we need that this day and age! Young women do have power, strength, and fortitude and, can move forward by sharing, coming together, and relying on each other; being there for each other. It’s about togetherness, that strength is generated. I guess that’s the main thing that I hope that people can begin to appreciate. Not only young women; but anyone, at any age . . . that with hope, faith, and understanding – good things can happen.

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