By Shawn McFarland
Co-Editor In-Chief/Sports Editor
Sep. 11 2015 – The day John Calipari was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The day one of college basketball’s greatest coaches ascended to the sports’ highest peak.
It was also the day that John Hock and his crew began working on “One and Not Done,” an ESPN 30 For 30 production on Calipari and his rise to prominence. Tonight, over a year-and-a-half since it’s origin, Hock’s film will come full circle at the birthplace of basketball.
At 7 p.m. in Fuller Arts Center, “One and Not Done” will be screened, making Springfield College the first public audience nationwide to see the film. The 30 For 30 is unique in a number of ways, most notably that Calipari still patrols the Kentucky sidelines to this day.
“There had never been a 30 For 30 about someone who is still at the height of his powers,” Hock said. “So we thought it would be an interesting idea. Cal was into it, and the network was willing to give us a shot.”
The irony of “One and Not Done” is that it was birthed out of a previous project that crashed and burned. Hock had originally signed on to do an all-access television series about Kentucky basketball. The plan was for a 12-episode weekly show leading up to the SEC Tournament.
The production began following the Wildcats’ championship in 2012, and as Hock explained, it was shaping up nicely – until it wasn’t.
“[Calipari] said to me as it was going well, ‘you know they’re going to shut us down?’” Hock explained. “I said, ‘Who’s going to shut us down?’ He said, ‘The NCAA, they’ll shut us down.’”
Calipari wasn’t wrong. Just three episodes into the show’s run, the NCAA called the SEC, coaches started complaining, citing that it was an unfair advantage to Kentucky. Just like that, the series was canned.
But Hock stayed vigilant, and stayed in touch with Calipari. With both the coach and ESPN on his side, the 30 For 30 came to life.
Hock is no stranger to basketball documentaries. The 10-time Emmy Award winner has directed such 30 For 30’s as “Survive and Advance,” the tale of the late Jimmy Valvano, and “Unguarded,” a documentary which detailed Chris Herren’s battle with addiction.
But “One and Not Done” was a different experience for the director for one reason – Calipari’s unique past.
“Usually you’re working with someone that has a trajectory or a storyline that fits a traditionally story,” Hock said. “Cal has been such a lightning rod for controversy. He has always made friends and enemies in equal amounts. His trajectory of his story is unlike any other.”
Whether it was University of Massachusetts having its 1996 Final Four run vacated, or Derrick Rose using a fraudulent SAT score to get into Memphis during the 2007-08 season, some level of scandal seemed to hit Calipari at each of his coaching stops.
Hock explained that subjects with controversial pasts present two challenges: getting the person involved in the controversy to speak on the matter, and getting outside sources to talk.
In the case of Calipari, his candid nature made Hock’s life easy.
“Cal shared a lot with us,” he said. “Starting even with recruiting allegations that he was cheating when he was an assistant coach at Pitt. The challenge of Cal talking about it turned out not to be a big problem.”
Getting Calipari’s “enemies” to talk, on the other hand, wasn’t as easy.
“Cal is a guy that will engage you if you want to pick a fight,” Hock said. “He thrives on friction. So people don’t like getting in fights with him, because he’s relentless. He doesn’t take the loss. He keeps fighting. It was hard to get people to express that opinion.”
The general production of the film went as expected. The majority of the interviews and research was done over the course of a year. While most documentaries of this style are mainly archival footage, Hock and his crew had the ability to film Calipari in his natural habitat, giving the documentary its all-access feel. This of course required several back-and-forth flights to Lexington, Ky.
But the main challenge that Hock outlined was blending three different films into one, essentially. He had to mesh together the life story of a controversial coach, the all-access locker room/courtside portion, as well as the nature of college sports, and the kind of corruption and values that go along with it.
“We had a three-headed film,” Hock said. “And that is hopefully what makes it even more interesting than an ordinary film that is only one of those three things. Hopefully it’s the best of all of them.”
Hock continued, “That’s why I think this will appeal to college basketball fans from today that weren’t even alive when he was at UMass, to the people who were the season ticket holders at UMass who followed him his whole career and remember it like it was yesterday.”
The full-length film will offer viewers a detailed look into the rise of one of college basketball’s biggest names. But it will also show the rarely documented relationship between Calipari and his players.
“To watch the psychology at work, to watch Cal use his own working class background and values to connect with kids who may look very different from him, but who maybe see the world a lot more similarly to him than maybe some other coaches who have come from a more privileged background,” Hock explained. “Whether that makes Cal a better coach, that’s in the eye of the beholder. But it was really interesting and exciting to watch it in action.”
The screening of the film is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Following the film, Hock and his director of photography Alastair Christopher will hold a question-and-answer session.