I still remember the night I first had the idea to do a film about ultra senior tennis. Within moments I knew I was onto something. The topic was a deep dive into a little known subculture, it promised travel to beautiful locations, opportunities to meet compelling characters, plenty of action, and held the potential for a built-in competition structure. A month later, I hopped on a flight for Sarasota, Florida on a speculative trip to scout for GOLD BALLS.
I believe we all have a need for honest, sensitive and hopeful stories about characters to whom we can relate but can also learn from. The cast of characters in GOLD BALLS reflects a range of masculine archetypes that will be familiar to just about everyone — the All-American coach, the gritty underdog, the cocksure comedian, and the insecure first-timer. What unites these characters is their common need for wins, or at the very least, a competitive fix. And the fact that despite (or perhaps because of) advancing age, they remain stubbornly motivated to keep competing.
GOLD BALLS has a sweet and humorous tone, but the ever-present sense of fleeting time gives the film a deeper thematic mooring and broader message. On a basic level, the story of these aging athletes offers perspective on themes that always intrigue me: what distinguishes champions, and the psychological legacy left by our parents. To me, there is nothing more enviable than the certainty and conviction professed by people like Ron and John and Bob. Whether or not they are even aware of it, they challenge the rest of us to align our objectives and get busy doing what we want to do, while we still can.
From first inception to print, GOLD BALLS took about three years. It was uncertain and often exhausting work, but I believe my team curated a sensitive and worthy portrait of these champions. As a director and producer, the challenge throughout every step of this process has been to reconcile my ambitious vision with reality. But documentary is not perfect — it is real. And it is the reality of the characters, their goals, drive, ambition, challenges and life that has inspired me. I hope that our audience finds that same inspiration in GOLD BALLS.