A documentary short about the lives of Arena Football players through the eyes of veterans
Christian Wise and Alvin Ray Jackson, who have played in the league for the better part of a decade.
My friend Jeff and I stood outside the Albany Firebirds locker room, two press-credentialed 16 year olds with a microphone and video camera. We could hardly fathom our position; high schoolers the team sanctioned to create an official weekly video show. I fell in love with Arena Football at age 9, randomly flipping to a game on NBC and getting sucked in by this otherworldly variation of football. As Photoshop novices, me and Jeff designed football cards of the players every week and had them signed after games, developing longstanding bonds with the players and their families. They took us to the locker room, kept in touch during away weeks, and treated us like one of their own. That sort of access, being able to touch the game, made me an AFL fan for life.
With my connections forming, I launched a weekly video show about the New York Dragons and the organization took a shining to my efforts, bringing me on in an official capacity. In 2009 the Dragons fell victim to league restructuring, so I took the show to Albany. This is where I connected with then-Firebirds players Christian Wise and Alvin Ray Jackson, the two subjects of 50 Yard Dash. At the beginning of their careers, they understood my passion and love for the game, and I understood theirs. In early 2016 the concept for this film struck me. I realized Wise and Jackson were slated to play against each other in the first home game of the season, seven years after their Firebirds season. Within an hour of this epiphany, they were both in.
The truth is, without Arena Football, I might never have pursued a career in filmmaking. It's where I learned editing, filming, writing, and crafting a narrative. I hope the film serves as a fitting tribute to the league, while focusing on the reality of the guys who play this great game.