A Bronx Tale is a film we didn’t plan to make. Like all good things, it just ended up happening: the timings lined up, an opportunity presented itself and a great story about people and squash emerged. All we had to do was tell it.
A Bronx Tale feels special to us because we did something more than just talking about the sport we all love. The film shows how squash can inspire; not only through the dedication of people like Bryan and Tim but how these kids from The Bronx inspire them and us in return.
It all started when the founder of Elite Squash, Hadrian Stiff, told me about Bryan. He had seen Bryan give a talk at a coaching conference where he talked passionately about urban squash programmes in the US and thought SquashSkills should speak to him.
So I reached out to Bryan and we arranged to do some filming at Lee-on-Solent at the end of a summer of coaching in the UK. And the moment we met him, we could sense that passion Hadrian was talking about.
The interview with Bryan (or BP as he is affectionately known) that features in the film was shot there in Lee-on-Solent. We hadn’t met before but our initial idea was to get to know BP as a person and as a coach. We mic’d him up and his love and devotion to squash came through straight away.
It didn’t take much to get the conversation flowing, but in true BP style, he diverted the conversation away from it being about him. Instead, he wanted to talk about CitySquash and how it was changing the lives of children who came from some of the poorest backgrounds in New York city, in The Bronx.
As BP continued to tell us about the hurdles the kids and their families face every day, he cried, then we cried! It was apparent that there was a bigger story waiting to be told, bigger than what we had first set out to do.
Fast forward a few months and we still haven’t done anything with the footage of Bryan’s interview. Something was telling us not to just post it on its own and that we had to do Bryan’s story justice.
As it happened, we had a trip planned to New York to film some other SquashSkills content in April 2019. When we arrived, a late cancellation by a coach we were meant to film opened up a gap in our schedule. Being in New York, BP in The Bronx was at the forefront in our minds anyway and we sensed an opportunity. So we reached out to Tim Wyant, Bryan’s boss at CitySquash, for an interview.
It turned out Tim was free so we caught up with him at the Grand Hyatt hotel where he was able to tell us more about Bryan and more about his CitySquash programme.
But it started to feel like we were making a ‘film’ when we saw Bryan coaching the kids at the Westchester Club. And when we got the chance to ask some questions to them, we quite literally let them do the talking.
The way they spoke about squash, BP and to see their focus while training on the court was incredible. And after training, we were able to film BP and the kids on the streets of The Bronx, which looks great on the final cut.
It had all come together and we left the shoot excited at the prospect of not only sharing the great work of Bryan and of CitySquash and how they’re democratising squash in the States. We were also excited to play a part in sharing an incredible, human story about how squash is changing the lives of young people.
We’re delighted at how this film turned out and how we followed the story (and our instincts) to bring to squash fans and beyond. And we hope you enjoy it.
Jethro Binns – SquashSkills Founder
Make sure you don't miss the free digital premiere!
Join us on Sunday 7th June at 7pm (BST) on Facebook Live for the free digital premiere of our new documentary, A Bronx Tale.Click here to set a reminder