Dale Brown could easily fill a day telling stories about the people he has met, the political battles he has waged and the obstacles he himself has endured.
EyeLine Films, a Birmingham, Ala.-based production company, has taken on the arduous task of telling those stories in 83 minutes.
The premiere of “Man in the Glass: The Dale Brown Story” is set for Sunday during the 13th annual Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival, which brings filmmakers from around the world to downtown Birmingham in a celebration of independent cinema.
The documentary about Brown, the former LSU basketball coach, began principal filming nearly four years ago. It is the brainchild of director Patrick Sheehan and producer Gannon Weaver, whose EyeLine Films specializes in stories about “modern-day heroes and everyday people who seek to serve the underserved and to bring justice where it is most needed,” according to their website.
The feature on Brown is titled after the Dale Wimbrow poem by the same name.
“The only way I can describe it is, you almost don’t feel worthy of something like that,” Brown said of the film. “I never did any of those things to look for appraise or a trophy or anything else. I know everybody uses the word ‘humbling,’ but they’ve done such a wonderful job and it’s so well done. You just don’t feel worthy of the praise to be honest with you.”
As a coach, Brown won 448 games in 25 seasons at LSU and led the Tigers to a pair of Final Fours. But as much as his success on the court, the Minot, N.D., native was known for zany motivational tactics and protracted battles with the NCAA.
Brown, 75, has remained active since his 1997 retirement serving as a motivational speaker and continuing to take a stand against any number of perceived injustices.
To capture Brown’s high-energy, take-on-all-comers ethos, Sheenan and Weaver followed the film’s subject far and wide.
One such voyage took them to Washington, D.C., where Brown spoke to Congress about releasing funds for Native American schools.
“He has continued to live his life the way he did when he was a coach,” Sheehan said. “He’s still doing the same kinds of things he was doing when he was off the court back then, so really I think it connects the dots for a lot of people.”
The film’s cast includes former LSU stars Shaquille O’Neal and Rudy Macklin; the late John Wooden, UCLA’s legendary coach; as well as actor Matthew McConaughey.
Brown has been friends with McConaughey since the actor enlisted him as a consultant while working on the film “We Are Marshall,” in which McConaughey plays coach Jack Lengyel. During their work together, Brown said he was touched by the actor’s humility.
But Brown never imaged he’d be starring in a film of his own.
The wheels started turning in the fall of 2007, when Weaver, whom Brown had met through a mutual friend, made the initial pitch.
“When I decided to do it, I said I’d do it under two conditions,” Brown said. “One, I don’t want any money to do this — I don’t want the (Dale Brown) Foundation to have any money, I don’t want any money. That makes it seem like you’re promoting yourself or something. And two, I want you to do it in its raw stages. No scripts. Just turn the cameras on. Whatever comes out, comes out.”
At the Los Angeles Movie Awards this year, “Man in the Glass: The Dale Brown Story” received an Award of Excellence in the “Documentary Feature” division, and Sheehan received the Best Director award in the division for his work on the film.
Sheehan said DVD copies will go on sale to the public “within the next several months.” Copies are available for preorder on the film’s website, www.dalebrownmovie.com.
In addition to the Birmingham premiere, the documentary has been selected for screening at the New Orleans Film Festival in October.
Sheehan said fans of LSU who followed Brown throughout his career, and have heard all the stories, will enjoy the film as much as people who know little about him.
“His story is kind of like an album,” Sheehan said. “You can listen to it more than once and still get something out of it.”