|Prof Blood - Basketball's First Great Coach
GENRE: Sports Documentary.
STATUS: Principal photography completed. In post-production. Estimated completion date April 30th, 2023.
LOGLINE: The life and accomplishments of one of basketball’s true pioneers, Ernest A. Blood, who was referred to as “Prof,” whose coaching philosophies during the infancy of the game in the early 1900’s introduced the modern game to the world, and who was the architect of a 159 game consecutive win streak while coaching boys at Passaic High School in New Jersey, a record that still stands today.
COMPANY NOTES: Financing was supplied by Ernest “Ernie” Benjamin Blood Jr. (photo right), the grandson of the great coach, Ernest A. Blood, and the production script was finished on July 16th, 2021. Work on this project had to be completed around disruptions caused by the worldwide pandemic. But progress was made whenever windows of time opened up during the crisis (see The Production). Ultimately principal photography was considered completed by August 31st, 2022, with post-production beginning on September 1st, 2022, with the goal of completely finishing the movie by March 31st, 2023.
A Coach At The Very Root Of The Tree Of Coaches
To this day, reports of the exploits of Ernest A. Blood (photo left), remain the stuff of legend. He was said to be able to toss a 16-pound shot put into the air and catch it on the nap of his neck. He was a statewide wrestling champion at the age of 15. An incredible gymnast, he could do tumbles and somersaults with almost reckless abandon. And even into his old age, various accounts still exist of his basketball shooting prowess that has him making anywhere from 200 to 600 consecutive free throws. In essence, he was an incredible athlete in his own right, who played football, briefly played baseball in the major leagues, and once gave batting tips to the famed Sultan of Swat himself, Babe Ruth. But his greatest sport was basketball and his influence is said to be at the very foundation of basketball’s famed coaching tree. But although he is enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, few outside of certain coaching circles have ever heard of his name. Yet he preceded such basketball coaching icons as Phog Allen, Adolph Rupp, Red Auerbach, John Wooden, Dean Smith, Larry Brown, Bobby Knight, Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, and Mike Krzyzewski. In fact, the innovations he brought to the game, which included emphasizing the pass and popularizing the fast break, established over one hundred years ago, are today considered part of the fundamentals of how basketball is played. Scores of players who were schooled on these basics by coaches who themselves were taught by their coaches, ironically, would likely not be able to tell you who originally came up with these philosophies. In truth, Ernest Blood, who respectfully was referred to by his moniker, “Prof,” was likely the most famous representative of the game in what is now considered the “Golden Age of Sports,” the roaring 20’s. Whereas everyone associates the period to such sports legends as Ruth (baseball), Rockne and Grange (football), Jones (golf), Tilden (tennis), and Dempsey (boxing), “Prof Blood” was likely the man who most epitomized the growing game of basketball at the time, and had the game developed sooner, would have undoubtedly been part of this pantheon of icons. In truth, he never got the accolades that these other men achieved simply because while their exploits were either on the professional (Ruth, Dempsey), college (Rockne, Grange), or international (Tilden, Jones) levels, which garnered more national attention, Prof’s accomplishments were confined to the high school level and in only one section (Passaic, New Jersey) of the country, which thus limited his national exposure. However, his impact on the game that he excelled in was no less dramatic that these other heroes were to their respective sports. For, arguably, it might very well be that the greatest basketball in the world at the time was being played on the hard court of a high school gym located in northern New Jersey. Prof led the Passaic High School boys team to an otherworldly 159 consecutive wins from 1919 to 1925, a record that still stands today, and then went on to add over 400 more victories at St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark, New Jersey, from 1925 to 1950. All told he is credited with winning an astonishing 1268 games while losing just 165 (which translates to an astonishing 88% win percentage), over a 55-year career of coaching at the YMCA, high school and college levels. The teams he coached during the great streak at Passaic, known collectively as “The Wonder Teams,” would also etch themselves in legend. It wasn’t only that Prof’s teams would always win, it was also because in a time when it was not uncommon for high school basketball games to result in 30 to 40 points scored “in total,” Passaic would win in some cases by scores like 100 to 5. The accomplishments of Passaic’s teams were considered so amazing that their results would be chronicled in the “Guinness Book of World Records,” for the longest boys high school basketball win streak, and one of its players, Bobby Thompson, would find himself immortalized in “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not,” as the first high school player to ever score 1,000 points in a single season. But for all of his amazing accomplishments, it is quite likely that the most amazing fact of Ernest Blood’s coaching career, is that he remains by and large unknown to the sporting public. Hence, it is important, then, to chronicle his story in a well deserved documentary that is very appropriately titled – for he is “Prof Blood, Basketball’s First Great Coach.”
One could say that producing this documentary was in the “blood” of executive director Ernest Benjamin “Ernie” Blood Jr. Being the grandson of one of the greatest basketball coaches in the history of the sport, and the fact that he is a great follower of the game himself – the photo at left shows young Ernie (airborne) when he was a stand out high school player – one could surmise that it was inevitable that Ernie would find a way to pursue the telling of his grandfather’s legendary accomplishments. In fact, the project has its roots in the book, “Prof Blood And The Wonder Teams,” written by Dr. Charles “Chic” Hess, which became the basis of a movie project of the same name, Prof Blood And The Wonder Teams. This project, which is a feature length period piece epic of a movie, if produced as literally written, would possibly require an extensive production budget, which in terms of YBS/LegacyVision projects, would quite likely be an “open budget,” well above $2.5 million (see the YBS/LegacyVision Proposed Return Schedule if more information is desired). In a desire to still tell the amazing story of his grandfather, Ernie Blood suggested to author Chic Hess that perhaps a documentary could be produced by YBS/LegacyVision. An agreement was then struck between Ernie, Chic, and YBS producer Eric Nemoto, and a script was written by Eric, with input from both Ernie and Chic, on July 16, 2021 (the title off the script appears below). This script can be accessed here.
What Will Be In The Documentary
The documentary for Prof Blood – Basketball’s First Great Coach is anticipated to feature a variety of visual and audio impressions that, when filmed and produced, will give a complete and captivating account of the life and accomplishments of Ernest “Prof” Blood. It will include 1) testimonial interviews by a number of individuals who either lend historical information and/or commentary about Prof, or, are associated with institutions that have been impacted by Prof’s association; 2) photographs of Prof, the people he interacted with, as well as places that were influential in his life; 3) photos of newspaper clippings highlighting pivotal moments; 4) supporting videos of topics that will be covered; 5) audio from a central narrator as well as other voiceover only characters; 6) re-enactment scenes; 7) images, sketches, artwork, and animation; and 8) location shots and B-roll.
Prof Blood – Basketball’s First Great Coach will feature the testimonial interviews of eight individuals. These are (pictured below from left to right): 1) Ernest Benjamin Blood Jr., executive producer of the documentary and the grandson of Ernest A. Blood, aka “Prof Blood”; 2) Charles “Chic” Hess, producer of the documentary and author of the book, Prof Blood And The Wonder Teams; 3) Sandra Montanez-Diodonet, superintendent of Passaic Public Schools; 4) Bob Hurley, Hall of Fame basketball coach at (the now closed) St. Anthony High School in Jersey City, where his teams won 28 New Jersey state championships; 5) Hector C. Lora, mayor of the City of Passaic; 6) Jeannette Torres-Gomez, principal of Passaic High School; 7) Garret “Garry” Roosma, son of Hall of Fame basketball player and member of the Wonder Teams, Johnny Roosma; 8) Kimberly Kenny, Director of Athletics for Passaic Public Schools; and 9) Eric Nemoto, writer, producer and director of the documentary.
Below is the raw footage of a single take of Chic Hess’ interviews which began filming on January 26th, 2022. The location is the living room of Chic’s house in Kailua, Hawaii. Two cameras were set up by Mark Ganialongo, who serves as the director of photography, and the direction provided is from Eric Nemoto. In this take, Chic talks about Prof’s winning ways, and as he does, his admiration for his hero exudes forth.
In An Unedited Take, Chic Hess Discusses Who Is Basketball’s First Great Coach
Prof Blood – Basketball’s First Great Coach will benefit from a number of original vintage photos of Prof which come from the family archives courtesy of Executive Producer Ernie Blood. Below is a collection of just three of the many that will be featured in the documentary 1) Prof at age 17 (top left of the collection); 2) Prof in a team photo when he played football (top right of the collection, he appears in the middle row at the general center of the photo); and 3) Prof with his Potsdam Normal Five team (bottom of the collection, seated far left).
The story of Prof Blood and particularly the amazing consecutive win streak that would become legendary was often the biggest news in Passaic during his time there. Prof Blood – Basketball’s First Great Coach will revisit many of these headlines (provided by Ernie Blood and Chic Hess), which not only topped the sports sections of Passaic’s dual dailies – the Passaic Daily News and the Passaic Daily Herald – but was often front page news and the talk of all of Passaic. Below are clippings from each of these publications.
Prof Blood – Basketball’s First Great Coach will feature cuts from a number of supporting videos. Three of them (either provided in part or in its entirety) are provided below. 1) a video provided by Garry Roosma, about “Old Passaic,” in which footage of Passaic during the time of Prof will be utilized; 2) another video supplied by Gary Roosma, which shows an actual game played by one of the Wonder Teams, the 150th consecutive victory in the great streak which occurred in 1925; and 3) the acclaimed SHOWTIME video, Legacy: Bob Hurley, legendary St. Anthony High School basketball coach, which chronicles the potential final season of its basketball program as the inner-city private school faces a financial crisis. SHOWTIME gets exclusive access to renowned coach Bob Hurley, who led the school to 28 championships, and changed countless lives.
The City Of Passaic As It Appeared As Much As A Hundred Years Ago
Actual Game Footage From The Wonder Team’s 150th Consecutive Victory
The Beginning Of “Legacy: Bob Hurley” – A Portrait Of Coach Bob Hurley
Brother Gary Morris, former associate professor in the performing arts at Chaminade University of Honolulu, as well as the director of its Vi and Paul Loo Theatre, serves as the narrator. Morris retired in 2020, after a 51-year career of directing plays, for which the last 17 were spent at Chaminade where he directed 33 shows. Though Morris’ schedule is less hectic, he is hardly idle. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Hawaii community theater, TAG – The Actors’ Group, where he continues to act and direct, and where he has received Po’okelas (Hawaii’s excellence in theater awards). While there are other audio sounds, Morris’ lyrical voice dominates the central storyline. All of his portions have already been recorded, and a section of his narration follows, which can be heard by clicking here.
They were some of the greatest amateur teams in basketball during the very infancy of the game. “The Passaic Wonder Teams,” a succession of transformational squads of players who were taught the game by possibly the sport’s foremost innovator – a stout, finely muscled man who himself had always been an athletic specimen. Ernest Artel Blood was born on October 4, 1872, in Manchester, New Hampshire, the only child of George Blood and Ella Upham Blood. The family moved to Fitchburg, New Hampshire several years later where George worked for the Fitchburg Railroad, while Ella raised young Ernest at home. George would eventually abandon the family when Ernie was around five years old. Ella would move her and Ernest to Charlestown, Massachusetts, a small, friendly neighborhood within the city of Boston and it is here where Ernest would attend and graduate from Harvard Kent Grammar School. Being a single mother is never easy, but Ella did her best. But inevitably, young Ernest, growing up precocious and in need of guidance would find himself at the doorstep of the institution that would redirect his life.
Six re-enactment scenes are scheduled to be filmed which will appear in the documentary: 1) Prof reads the letter sent to him by Carl Ludwig Schraeder, a colleague of his at Dudley Allen Sargent’s Summer School, advising him of the job opening at Passaic High School; 2) Passaic Superintendent of Education Fred Shepherd tells Passaic Principal Arthur Arnold that he’s found a P.E. teacher for him, Prof; 3) Arnold tells Prof to handle the complaints that are coming his way after the Passaic basketball team is no longer winning after he has fired Prof; 4) Team player Bobby Thompson is told to shoot the ball by Prof so he can score his famous 1,000th point in a season in the final seconds of the final game; 5) Fritz Knothe, sidelined with a dislocated shoulder, comes down from the bleachers and enters the locker room during halftime as Passaic is losing and puts on a jersey to play the second half, in which Passaic is on record as coming back to win (see video below); and 6) Passaic Board of Education President Robert Benson tells Prof to “Shut up and sit down,” and causes the great war between Prof and the Passaic powers that be which will ultimately lead to his resignation and the eventual end of the great Passaic winning streak at 159.
Actors who will portray the Passaic characters in the re-enactment scenes include Mark J. Bush as Ernest “Prof” Blood, Larry Bartley as Arthur Arnold, and Steven Dillard as Robert Benson, as pictured above. Other actors cast include Rick Crump as Fred Shepherd, Rick Bernico as Frank Andres, and Laurie Tanoura as Mrs. I. Waters Sylvester. Amasa Marks, Knothe, Thompson, and the rest of the basketball players will be cast.
The Fritz Knothe “I’m Playing” Scene
Images, Sketches, Artwork, & Animation
To additionally complement the narrator and interviewees as they speak, a variety of images, sketches, and other types of artwork and animation will be utilized to help tell the story of Prof. Pictured clockwise at left are: 1) an image symbolizing the physical education field of study; 2) a sample of a sketch of a basket being scored; and 3) artwork of the YMCA at Nashua, NH (circa early 1900’s). Following below are examples of animation techniques that may be utilized as well. The first, is interpolated rotoscope, used in a prior YBS movie, followed by an outlining function common with the animation program, Explaindio.
The Animation Effect Known As “Interpolated Rotoscope”
Simple Outlining Effect Using The Animation Software “Explaindio”
Location Shots & B-Roll
Filming in New Jersey and Massachusetts is expected not only to interview some of the individuals previously noted in their home state, but also to capture location shots of some of these individuals visiting certain locations that are particularly important to the telling of Prof’s story. In particular: 1) Chic taking our viewers on a tour of the Lincoln Middle School, site of the original Passaic gymnasium; 2) Chic visiting the Passaic train station where the Wonder Team were greeted by the town after their first state title; and 3) Ernie, Garry, and Chic, visiting the Basketball Hall of Fame (see photo left) and the plaques of Prof, Johnny Roosma, and the Wonder Teams. B-Roll are shots that assist the telling of the main story by showing related scenery or action. While filming on location, the production anticipates filming b-roll footage of Passaic High School, the house that Prof lived in during the Wonder Team years in Passaic, as well as the city of Passaic in general.
Short B-Roll Footage Of Chic Hess Conducting His “Little Dribblers” Basketball Clinic
The Far Reaching Influences Of “Prof”
The great irony to the story of Prof Blood is that while he is, indeed, in the Basketball Hall of Fame for his great coaching efforts, few really know the true extent of his impact on the game as well as to sports in general. In addition to the many accomplishments attributable to Prof, the following influences – through documented fact as well as deductive references – on basketball, sports, and various people will be covered.
Little Did Anyone Know
Prof may have been the very first coach to emphasize the “pass before dribble” approach to the game. And while Frank Keaney (Rhode Island State College) is given the historical credit for it, as Prof was the first to employ the strategy of passing the ball down the court as fast as possible to score, it can be argued that Prof is really the father of the “fast break.” As the man who taught many the game during Dudley Allen Sargent’s Harvard Summer School of Physical Education, it is likely that Prof was the first to conduct what is popularly known today as the “basketball clinic.” Prof once noted that the number of players on a team was reduced from seven to five because YMCA administrators deliberately wanted to reduce his playing time so his teams wouldn’t always win. Hence, Prof could be the very reason why basketball is played with five players on a team.
The Original Farm System
Branch Rickey, most famous for being the sports executive who broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson, is also notable for creating the sports farm system. He arranged for the St. Louis Cardinals to purchase a series of minor league teams to provide experience and training for young players in the team system. This enabled the Cardinals to always have good players, which made them a dynasty throughout the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. In similar fashion, Prof would not only coach his current team, but also scout and work with younger up-and-coming players as early as their elementary and middle school years. In effect, he developed his own system of “feeder schools” which helped him to win wherever he coached. Given Prof did this well before Rickey did, Prof could be given credit for putting into practice what Rickey would later create.
Prof’s Greatest Player
Prof coached many great players. Like quick, strong and tough DeWitt Keasler, “Dead Shot” Mike Hamas, Fritz Knothe, who literally kept the great streak going by playing with one hand despite a dislocated shoulder, and Bobby Thompson, who would go on to score 1,000 points in a single season and was featured in “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.” But his greatest player was Johnny Roosma, who was then recruited by General Douglas MacArthur to play at West Point, where he would lead the Black Knights to a 73–13 record and become the first college player to score more than 1,000 points in his career. West Point’s MVP award is still named after him. Roosma was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1961. To listen to a recording in which Roosma talks about how he was recruited by MacArthur and how he was eventually accepted to West Point, click here.*
The Father Of Black Basketball
Edwin Bancroft Henderson was an American educator and NAACP pioneer. Considered “The Father of Black Basketball”, he was the first male African American physical education teacher possibly in the country. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Howard University, a master’s degree from Columbia University, and a PhD in athletic training from Central Chiropractic College. Upon graduating from Howard in 1904, Henderson would then teach physical education in the Washington, D.C. public schools for five decades. During his first three summer breaks, he attended Harvard University to study health and physical education. There, Henderson also became the first African American to learn the then new game of basketball, which he would go on to introduce to other young black men in the D.C. area. The man who taught those summer classes at Harvard? Prof Blood.
A Great Testimonial
Nat Holman was among the most influential figures in basketball, first as a player, and later as a coach. Known as “Mr. Basketball,” he was a talented guard with the Original Celtics. A gifted passer and dribbler, Holman turned pro in 1916, was the biggest star in the game by 1920, and played until 1930. While still playing he began coaching at the City College of New York, where he would spend 37 seasons, compiling a record of 421–190. In 1949, he became the only coach to lead his team to the NCAA and NIT championships in the same season. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1964. In 1969, he spoke at a well publicized banquet to honor the 50th anniversary of the start of Passaic’s record 159 consecutive win streak and called Ernest “Prof” Blood the greatest coach of his time. To hear his eloquent speech from that very special evening, click here.**
Aside from being a nonpareil coach, Prof Blood was an incredible athlete in his own right. Young Ernest was a YMCA prodigy, and excelled in gymnastics, fencing, and wrestling, where at the age of 15, he won the New England wrestling championship for his weight class. His constant physical activity, along with weightlifting, would come to develop in him strength that would be beyond most men. He could toss up a 16-pound shot put into the air and then proceed to catch it on the back of his neck. While he took to the game of basketball like a duck takes to water, Prof also played football and baseball and was good at both. His athletic prowess enabled him to coach many other sports including baseball, where he once even gave batting tips to Babe Ruth, when he was a Red Sox. When Babe was traded to the Yankees, Prof used to visit him at Yankee Stadium.
*Recording provided courtesy of Garry Roosma and Paul Fenneli. Inteview conducted by Dr. Robert Carlisle.
**Recording provided courtesy of Garry Roosma and Paul Fenneli. Event was held at the Pennington Club in Passaic, NJ, on October 10th, 1969.
The Great Family “Bloodline”
Margaret Thomas lived with her family in Nashua, New Hampshire, at 36 Prescott Street, not far from the Blood House located at 16 Prescott Street, wherein sometime in 1896, she happened to catch the eye of a handsome, strapping young Ernest. Margaret taught at the Palm Street School in Nashua, and Ernest was infatuated by her sweet personality. Margaret, in turn, was equally fascinated with the young, eligible, athletic YMCA physical director. After a winsome courtship, they were married in Nashua, on June 19, 1901. He was 28 and she 26. They started out in Somerville, a neighborhood in Manchester, New Hampshire. Within two years of their marriage, their first child, daughter Ernestine, arrived, and a little over a year later, a son, Paul, followed. Their youngest, son Ben, would come later in 1912.
While the documentary focuses primarily on Prof’s great accomplishments and frustrations while at Passaic, it will also inform the audience that he went on to coach at St. Benedict’s Prep School where over a period of 24 seasons he amassed a coaching record of 446 wins. Over a 55-year coaching career – including his years at the YMCA, and Potsdam, Clarkson, and West Point – he is credited with winning 1,268 games while losing only 165. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1960 among an induction class that included John Wooden, the “Wizard of Westwood,” of UCLA, who was inducted first as a player, and who would later be enshrined as a coach.
In addition, the documentary will also focus on a remarkable woman, Margaret Blood. Margaret’s life is an amazing tale in her own right. Her life reads like a quintessential Horatio Alger story, overcoming great personal challenges to become: a successful school teacher in East Berkshire, Vermont, Nashua, New Hampshire, and Passaic, New Jersey; president of the State Executive Board for Women’s Auxiliaries of the YMCA; president of the New Jersey State Board of the YMCA; president of the New Jersey State Board of the YMCA; seven term president of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Passaic YMCA; treasurer of the State Women’s Executive Board of the YMCA; an officer of the Passaic Women’s Club; active with her churches in Vermont and New Jersey; and an active suffragette for women’s rights.
Prof and Margaret were married for 47 years. They would vacation often together in Bermuda. Margaret died in 1948. Prof followed in 1955. They are buried in the East Ridgelawn Cemetery in Clifton, New Jersey, and are survived by the families of their children, Paul, Ernestine, and Ben, who was the father of Ernest Benjamin Blood Jr., the executive producer of Prof Blood – Basketball’s First Great Coach.
Ernest Blood Married Margaret Thomas, And The Bloods Raised Three Children, Ernestine, Paul, And Ben
About “Zep” The Bear
A side human interest story in the documentary will be about Prof’s love of animals. In the family basement, at one time or another, he would house snakes, raccoons, turtles, and even an alligator named “Billy.” But his most famous pet was Zep, a black bear (see left top photo). After hunters had shot its mother, its baby cub was given to Prof as a gift in 1921 from officials of the Potsdam Normal High School, who wanted to express their appreciation for Prof bringing the state champion Passaic Indians (The “Wonder Team”) over to New York to play their varsity. Zep would grow to become Passaic’s mascot, with Prof’s son Paul holding the bear on a chain as it led the team onto the court at the start of each game. Fans would also be treated to a fun halftime entertainment show when both Paul and Prof would take turns wrestling with Zep. As Zep grew into an adult bear, however, his behavior would become unpredictable and too serious to ignore. After he clawed a Passaic player and then bit Paul during a wrestling match, it was clear his time as Passaic’s mascot was over. He would spend his days chained in the back of the Blood house. After he escaped a number of times, he was given to an animal farm in Pompton Lakes, 10 miles outside of Passaic. There, he grew increasingly depressed, got sick and after six months, died. According to Johnny Roosma, he died due to a lack of seeing Prof. Zep was buried behind the Blood house on 31 Spring Street in Passaic. His fur coat was made into a rug and remains in the possession of Ernie Blood (see left bottom photo taken when Chic visited Ernie’s father, Ben Blood).
Plaque On The Old Passaic High School Gym
“I train my boys for the game of life and not to win basketball games. If I succeed in that I have accomplished something worthwhile.”
Ernest A. “Prof” Blood
After the final production script was achieved, the immediate thought was to pursue the bulk of interviews in New Jersey and Massachusetts. But this would have to wait until later (see below) simply because a resurgence of COVID variants was developing. The world was just too uncertain to attempt what would ultimately be the most integral shoot of the entire production. Instead, so as to get the project going, Eric Nemoto advised Chic Hess that they would spend the available time organizing most of what they felt they could use in terms of photos and images for the documentary. Eric created a very detailed Excel spreadsheet (see the inset photo) that would serve as their internal log for attempting to assure that every bulleted point in the script that called for some type of visual image (photo, clipping, sketch, etc.) would be found. Accordingly, Eric and Chic held weekly Zoom meetings beginning on August 26th, 2021 until they completed the log on December 17th, 2021.
Principal photography actually began with two days that did not involve any visual shot-making at all. This was the recording of Gary Morris (see Audio above) as the central narrator of the documentary. This occurred on September 29th and October 1st of 2021 at the post production firm Post Hub (a screen shot of the company’s home page appears at right), located at 770 Kapiolani Boulevard, #606, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Post Hub president and senior engineer, Ross Okamura, ran the audio recording board as Gary recorded all of the narrator’s lines in a sound booth. Eric Nemoto and Chic Hess sat in the studio and monitored Gary’s reading along with Ross. Post Hub is a full service post-production company that provides audio mixing, editing, color grading, special effects, and graphics. As with the completion of the internal log of photos and images (see above), these sessions were viewed as a way of getting in the can what could be done under extraordinary circumstances, since the presence of the pandemic both before and after the audio recording sessions kept the project delayed. But finally, after the turn of the year, the first interview with Chic Hess, took place on January 26th, 2022 (see Interviews above and one of Chic’s takes) at his home in Kailua, Hawaii. Another interview session was conducted and filmed on February 16th, 2022, again, at Chic’s residence. Mark Ganialongo filmed and handled sound for both days, Eric Nemoto directed, and Julie Hess, handled Chic’s makeup.
The Prof Blood crew traveled to New Jersey and Massachusetts from May 3rd to May 12th, 2022, to conduct interviews and to film necessary b-roll. The team included Chic Hess, Eric Nemoto, Mark Ganialongo, Mark Bush, and Steven Dillard. Mary Ann Nemoto, Eric’s wife, served as the group’s cook. Our makeup artists were Nina Bellord and Frances Bromley in NJ, and Daniela Pignatelli in MA. The film schedule ensued as follows. Legendary coach Bob Hurley was interviewed in his residence in Jersey City (NJ) on the morning of May 5th. In the afternoon, b-roll footage was captured at the original home of Prof in Passaic (NJ), and then at the approximate site of the old train station where the town famously celebrated Prof’s first state championship. On May 6th, the team went to Passaic High School and interviewed Sandra Montanez-Diodonet, Superintendent of Passaic Public Schools, and Jeannette Torres-Gomez, Principal of Passaic High School. On May 7th, the team filmed Chic visiting Lincoln Middle School in Passaic, and the site where Passaic played its games during the great win streak, which is now a cafeteria. There, Chic talked with Passaic Public Schools Director of Athletics Kimberly Kenny. May 8th was dedicated to travel as the team relocated north to Lenox (MA), where on the next day, May 9th, Garret “Garry” Roosma, son of Johnny Roosma, and Executive Producer Ernie Blood, were interviewed in the senior citizen residences where Garry resides. On May 10th, the team met Ernie Blood at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield (MA), where b-roll was again captured of Chic and Ernie visiting the digital information screens of Prof. The team returned to Passaic (see the left photo courtesy of Steven Dillard) and on the following day, May 11th, they visited Passaic’s City Hall and interviewed Mayor Hector Lora. In all, an exceptional shoot that came in on time and on budget.
Three other film shoots were held which all involved re-enactment scenes that were shot in different locations within the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin (pictured at right), located at 1727 Pali Highway in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin is the main temple of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii (Hawaii Kyodan). The Betsuin and Hawaii Kyodan belong to the Jodo Shinshu (Shin Buddhism) school and maintain close ties with the Nishi Hongwanji head temple in Kyoto, Japan. The location was secured by frequent YBS collaborator Dann Seki. The first shoot date, held on March 25th, 2022, featured the scene about the pivotal Board of Education committee meeting in which Prof was questioned about whether he was having his Passaic teams participate in testimonial games for personal gain. This included the famous moment when Board of Education president Robert Benson proceeds to tell Prof, “Shut up and sit down!” – the incident that would ignite the “war in Passaic” that featured Prof against the community’s influential leaders, which eventually would result in his resignation as coach and ultimately lead to the end of the great Wonder Teams winning streak. As indicated above under “Re-Enactment Scenes,” Mark J. Bush portrayed Prof Blood, Larry Bartley was Principal Arthur Arnold, Steven Dillard was Robert Benson, Rick Crump was Fred Shepherd, Rick Bernico was Frank Andres, and Laurie Tanoura played Mrs. I. Waters Sylvester. The second re-enactment shoot occurred on April 23rd, 2022, and involved Mark J. Bush, Larry Bartley, and Rick Crump, once again portraying their respective characters of Prof, Arnold, and Shepherd. The exact scenes shot involved: 1) B-roll of Prof reading the letter from colleague Carl Ludwig Schraeder which first advised him of a possible teaching position at Passaic High School; 2) Arnold finishing his speech at the Rotary Club and then talking with Shepherd about why is he getting a physical education teacher and not one who can teach math or science; and 3) Arnold telling Prof to handle the complaints that are coming forth from the community given Passaic is no longer winning (after Arnold relieved Prof of his coaching duties). The third re-enactment shoot happened on August 6th, 2022, and involved two scenes that featured Prof and his basketball players, both of which are famous in Passaic basketball lore. One involved the night that Bobby Thompson had to be coaxed by his teammates and Prof in the final minutes of the last game of the season to shoot, in order to become the first high school player to score 1,000 points in a single season. The second was the night when Fritz Knothe, injured and sitting out the game with a dislocated shoulder, bursts into the Passaic locker room at halftime with the team losing, and declares that he’s going to play the second half, which ultimately leads to Knothe playing one-handed and leading Passaic to victory and keeping the great Wonder Teams winning streak alive. For these scenes, Mark J. Bush continued his role as Prof, Jason Ellinwood played Amasa Marks, Michael Carter portrayed the referee, and Scott Francis Russell played Hal Saunders (a fictional character based on a number of actual student managers in Passaic’s basketball history). The players were portrayed by Blake Kirkpatrick as Bobby Thompson, Chance Aguiar as Fritz Knothe, Chase Aguiar as Ira Vonk, Raymond Sevier as Edward “Eddie” Lucasko, Josh Squire as Paul Blood, Ben Walsh as DeWitt Keasler, and Chandler Aguiar as Chester Jermalowitz, In all of these shoots, Eric Nemoto directed, Mark Ganialongo served as the director of photography, Denny Hironaga ran second camera, Christine Tsuzaki handled sound (with Mark J. Bush overseeing) and assisted with handling the slate, Mia Yoshimoto did everyone’s makeup, and Dann Seki served as the location manager, handled many tasks as a production assistant, and also assisted with handling the slate. Each of these scenes required a rehearsal. So on one night during the week leading up to the shoot (every shoot was scheduled on a Saturday), the cast were gathered at the residence of Larry Bartley in Kailua, Hawaii, who graciously opened up his home for the much needed rehearsals.
There were also a number of additional voiceover roles that needed to be recorded. In the script there were three different moments: 1) Throughout the documentary there are moments when the voice of a newspaper boy is heard shouting out both the developments in Passaic basketball, as well as developments in the world; 2) Voices of past students and players of Prof are heard providing their admiration for the man; and 3) At the onset of Prof’s tenure as Passaic’s coach and immediately having made its basketball team a winner, we hear the enthusiastic compliments of men and women in the stands. For these moments recruited actors recorded their lines using their cell phones and forwarded their audio files to Director Eric Nemoto, as well as eventual post production sound supervisor, Mark J. Bush. These included Malia Aiello as the newspaper boy, Josh Squire, Ben Walsh, and Raymond Sevier as the admiring former students, and Timothy Jeffryes, Dennis Proulx, Brad Powell, Marty Wong, and Frankie Enos, as the men and women in the bleachers who marvel at the great new winning ways of the Passaic Indians. These recordings were made and delivered primarily during the months of June through August, 2022.
In the log that Eric Nemoto and Chic Hess created (see above) and completed in order to collect all of the necessary photos and images, inevitably there were, and will continue to be, certain visual shots depicted in the script which could not readily be found on the Internet. It was decided to leave those blank until a rough cut of the movie was achieved. At that point the documentary could be reviewed to see if those particular shots, envisioned primarily through the writing of Eric, were still needed, and if so, could then be pursued. Some shots, particularly certain sketches that Eric felt was imperative to have, was obtained by contracting a sketch artist, Shuvo Roy, through Fiverr, the global online marketplace which connects freelancers to people or businesses looking for specific services. An example of one of the sketches done by Roy is at the right. It shows the moment when Prof intimidated Walter Short by threatening to throw him over the second story balcony of a gymnasium.
Though there might be added pick-up shots that may become necessary after a rough cut is achieved (most notably the shooting of B-roll footage of Chic coaching his “Little Dribblers” basketball camp, which in the script, both begins and ends with these shots), effectively the final shoot of the principal photography phase of Prof Blood — Basketball’s First Great Coach was the interview of writer, director, producer Eric Nemoto (see inset photo). Eric’s intention, having directed and seen all of the previous interviews, was to make sure that a few important things were said that had not been clearly mentioned which he felt was very important to cover. Accordingly, he made sure to point out the following: 1) That among the great pantheon of iconic sports figures of the 1920’s, “The Golden Age Of Sports,” Prof really could be considered the equivalent icon in basketball, alongside that of Ruth (baseball), Dempsey (boxing), Grange and Rockne (football), Jones (golf) and Tilden (tennis); 2) Like how Dick Fosbury changed the high jump with his “Fosbury Flop,” and Pete Gogolak changed field goal kicking with his “soccer-style” approach, Prof revolutionized the game, since prior to him developing his fast paced style, basketball scores emulated football scores, whereas Prof’s teams immediately started scoring at incredibly high totals (e.g. 100 points a game); 3) The story of Fritz Knothe leading Passaic to victory is as great a comeback sports story for its day as any in the history of sports, up there with the likes of Willis Reed, playing with an injured leg, inspiring the Knicks in the 7th game of the NBA Finals against the Lakers to win the championship, Kirk Gibson’s walk-off World Series home run that inspired the underdog Los Angeles Dodgers to victory against the Oakland A’s, and Joe Montana’s famous “Chicken Soup” game while he was at Notre Dame; and 4) the anecdotal story of him being a little boy interested in books and basketball, finding the story of Passaic’s 159 game winning streak in a book of basketball records in a local bookstore. The interview took place on August 29th, 2022, in Honolulu, Hawaii, at a location owned by the New Hope Christian Fellowship, a chartered church of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. Mark Ganialongo handled both the filming and sound for the shoot and Mia Yoshimoto did Eric’s makeup. With this final interview in the can, principal photography was considered complete on August 31st, 2022, and the project officially began post-production on September 1st, 2022. The project now transfers into the capable hands of Mark Ganialongo, who will be editing the documentary.
As YBS LegacyVision Films progresses in the post-production process, certain clips of scenes will be posted. Appearing below is the re-enactment scene involving Principal Arthur Arnold admonishing Prof Blood that he needs to do something to reduce the number of complaints he is getting from the community. This is ironic, for the complaints are basically the result of Arnold removing Prof as coach of the basketball team.