The relationship between a coach and a player can run deep. Coaches can share some of the most meaningful experiences of a young player’s life, and oftentimes they witness those athletes grow up.
This is exactly what happened with Michael Daly and Chance Smith, a relationship that shines in the new movie “Chance,” which will play at The Chinook Drive-In at Terry Bison Ranch on July 10 and 11.
The movie screening is being organized by Blue Pig Presents, and a portion of ticket sales will be donated to suicide prevention and postvention nonprofit Grace for 2 Brothers.
The film is based off the true story of Daly and Smith. Daly was Smith’s baseball coach since he was 6 years old, and the film follows their formative relationship – along with other key developments in Smith’s life – until the teen’s suicide in 2012 when he was 16 years old.
Daly was the executive producer and co-writer of the film.
“It’s a different viewing experience because it’s an intimate film,” Daly said. “That was probably designed for indoor cinema, more, but it’s worked fine in the drive-ins, as well. And it’s been special like in Cincinnati, where it was shot, it had a huge opening, where it sold out for the weekend.”
The film is being shown at three indoor cinemas nationwide and is also premiering at drive-ins due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Daly said he’s been through several losses in his life, such as losing his father and his first wife when they were expecting a child. But Smith’s death has really stuck with him through the years, and he’s never quite gotten over the pain of it.
Daly said he coached Smith as part of a travel baseball league, which entailed spending hundreds of days with Chance each year.
“He was a real goofball, like class clown. His emotions would swing from tears to making everybody laugh within minutes,” Daly said. “He was quite the character.”
At the screening, there will be mental health professionals and handouts about resources available to anyone who feels triggered by the film, said Rhianna Brand, director of operations for Grace for 2 Brothers.
Children and adolescents nowadays are on the internet and can pretty much see anything they want, she said. When the teen drama “13 Reasons Why” (which centers around the suicide of one character) was put on Netflix, there weren’t any mental health resources given to viewers.
She didn’t want this to be the case with the “Chance” screening. Everything that’s going on with COVID-19 has got some people in a panic, and some adolescents don’t have the support they need, Brand added.
Hamilton Byrd of Blue Pig Presents said when he was approached by Daly and his team to screen the movie, he thought it was a cool opportunity to get involved with an independent film. As he learned more about the film, he thought it would be a sensitive topic for the community, but a good conversation starter.
In that regard, Byrd said it’s important for the movie to have the proper support and resources behind it, and not just a “rip-off-the-Band-Aid” experience, which is why Grace for 2 Brothers got involved.
This drive-in experience is a way for the community to begin a conversation surrounding mental health, which is particularly important right now with so many people dealing with isolation, Brand said. She wants to be able to have help right then and there for anyone particularly affected by the film.
Daly said another topic the film brings up is the world of teen texting and how it affects adolescents. One day, when Daly was with some of his high school athletes, he asked them if they’d ever been hurt by texting.
All of them told him they had.
The next question Daly asked them was if they thought those hurtful messages were actually true. Only about 10% of the boys said they thought there was any truth behind the texts.
“It’s been an altruistic mission – it’s not your normal filmmaking mission,” Daly said. “We did it very professionally, we have people in from Los Angeles and hired top actors. But the main motivation has been to find value in his (Smith’s) life and to find value from his death.”