The fact that John Darling Haynes has a passion for LSU football doesn’t make him unique from generations of others who have grown up in Louisiana.
But while many have built purple and gold shrines to Tiger football in their living rooms, a spare bedroom or on their cars, Haynes committed his passion to film.
“Ole War Skule, The Story of Saturday Night” is a documentary dedicated to the people, traditions and unforgettable moments that weave the colorful tapestry of LSU football. The movie premiered Wednesday at the Shaw Center’s Manship Theatre in downtown Baton Rouge.
Narrated by actor John Goodman — who starred in the football flick “Everybody’s All-American” filmed in Baton Rouge — and coming in at about three hours (about the length of a football game), it’s more than a documentary. It’s a love story decked out in shoulder pads and helmets, bathed in those distinctive colors with the LSU band setting much of the soundtrack.
The son of a former LSU football player, George Haynes, John was indoctrinated into LSU football at a young age.
“I remember seeing my father’s Cotton Bowl blanket at the end of the bed, and I would start asking questions,” the Baton Rouge filmmaker recalled.
In 2007, Haynes worked with LSU on a documentary of the BCS championship season. The project started him thinking in more ambitious terms.
“I wanted to know why purple and gold? Who makes the crystal ball (on the BCS trophy)? Who makes the championship rings?” he said.
Haynes’ crew from Wish Picture Shows then spent much of the next four years collecting interviews from LSU players, coaches and administrators (Les Miles is in it, and yes, so is Nick Saban) along with trips to the Waterford crystal factory in Ireland and the shop in Austin, Texas, where LSU’s championship rings were forged.
The film is a blend of present-day interviews and old game footage and dearly departed LSU football legends like Charlie McClendon and Doc Fenton. But more than a recitation of classic games and great players, the film captures the emotion of what it means to have ever been associated with LSU football.
“It’s almost biblical,” former Tiger turned author John Ed Bradley says. When you see former coach Paul Dietzel become emotional talking about the love he has for his players, “his sons,” you understand it’s about more than first downs and touchdowns.
You also understand very quickly that Haynes has given something back to the program he loves: a great potential recruiting tool. It’s hard to imagine a young man watching “Ole War Skule” and not wanting to be part of that tradition himself.
The film can be ordered on DVD or Blu-ray at www.
olewarskulemovie.com. It is expected to have more showings this month at the Manship Theatre, and Haynes is hoping for a wider release in film festivals and at theaters along the Gulf Coast.