Wholly Cinema Exclusive Interview with “Finding Big Country” filmmaker Kathleen S. Jayme
Blog post by Ross Munro for Wholly Cinema.
As a barebones expansion team, the Vancouver Grizzlies were born into the NBA with the hopes and prayers of making it big in a hockey-mad sports market but ended up shuffling off to Memphis after a mere six years (wonder how big the grizzly population in Tennessee is…?).
One of the players the oft-maligned Vancouver franchise relied on was the always affable raw-boned talent fresh off a Final Four appearance with Oklahoma State- Bryant “Big Country” Reeves.
Forced to retire prematurely due to chronic injuries, Reeves hard-luck story mirrored that of the franchise itself as Vancouver hoop fans could only watch in despair as the team loaded up the moving vans and headed South.
But now Vancouver filmmaker and Grizzlie uber-fan Kathleen S. Jayme has finally told the tale of whatever happened to retired ex-Grizz Reeves and has concocted a documentary film that was the smash hit of this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival.
Luckily, filmmaker Jayme was able to take a few minutes away from practicing her free throws to have a brief buzzer-beater of a chat with us here at Wholly Cinema…
Wholly Cinema: What inspired you to make “Finding Big Country”?
Kathleen Jayme: This is the film and the story that I’ve always wanted to tell. Even in university this was one of the topics that I knew as a filmmaker I needed to tell- and I knew it was only a matter of time until someone did it so I wanted to make sure I was the first one to make a documentary about the Vancouver Grizzlies.
WC: What draws you to making documentaries?
KJ: My grandfather was the youngest director from his time in Manila and comes from a family of filmmakers so I grew up with a camera pointed at me documenting my life. I ended up being that kid in high school that documented everything- whether it be photos, videos, writing- at one point in the film you can see I even kept audio journals. Documenting things has always been part of who I am.
WC: What was your biggest challenge making “Finding Big Country”?
KJ: Definitely at the very beginning when I was pitching the film I was telling people I was going to find him (“Reeves”) and be the first one to sit down and do an interview with him. I mean, you can say you’re going to do that but how do you actually do that? So I’d say getting Bryant was definitely something I was confident I could do but even if I made contact with him he’d still have to say yes to the project.
WC: What surprised you the most about the experience of making the film?
KJ: Everyone told me how much of a nice guy Bryant was and the kind of person he was. But he blew all my expectations away. He was such a humble, giving guy and I still can’t believe how much he was willing to participate and the kind of access we got. I really believe that he participated in the film because he understood I was a childhood fan and knew how much this meant to me and so the fact that I get to play basketball with him in the film- sometimes I still can’t believe that actually happened.
WC: What’s your next project?
KJ: The next film is not a sequel but it’s a feature length documentary about the Vancouver Grizzlies and telling that story about what happened.
WC: What advice would you give to any aspiring filmmakers?
KJ: This is something that I learned from making “Finding Big Country” and that is always lead from your heart. I think that’s why I was able to get Bryant on board with the film because I told everyone I was a childhood fan and how much it would mean to me to tell the story and that my intentions were pure.
V i v a l a C i n e m a !