ReelSports, Staged Baseball

Firm delivers authenticity to sports films

22 September 2008 mlb.com by Doug Miller

Rob Miller remembers the late comedian Bernie Mac for a lot of reasons. One of them was the way he swung a baseball bat.

"He had some ability," says Miller, the president and CEO of ReelSports Solutions, a United States-based company that, among other services, coordinates athletic training for actors in sports scenes in film.

"Bernie could hit a little bit. He was also a great guy and was constantly cracking all of us up, which made it even more fun to watch."

Miller worked with Mac on the 2004 movie "Mr. 3000," and his company also helped out on baseball films "The Rookie" and "The Final Season" and the TV series "Clubhouse."

And while he's also worked on sports hits such as hockey's "Miracle,"football's "Invincible" and basketball's "Coach Carter," Miller says he particularly loves baseball projects.

"Baseball's great because for years and years, it's been such a storytelling sport, more than maybe any other in America," he says. "We all grew up with great baseball movies, so to help continue the tradition is quite a thrill. It's a passion and fun to go out there and help tell these stories."

Miller and ReelSports accomplish that in many ways.

The company doesn't just train actors like Mac to look good playing the games. ReelSports also uses an extensive casting database on its Web site, ReelSports.net, to recruit athletes to play the many needed bit roles in action scenes, such as the much-lauded Olympic hockey recreations in "Miracle."

Open casting calls are regular events, and Miller, a former college football player and strength and conditioning coach, shows up and treats these auditions like legitimate training camps.

"For (2007's)'The Final Season,' we went to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and 1,000 baseball players showed up for the casting call," Miller says. "We whittled it down to 50. We needed each guy to be a great player who looked like he was in high school, had the time availability and the right attitude.

"So it's just like being a coach in that way. We're big believers in team collaboration."

It's paying off, too. Miller's company continues to score big-time projects and reap major benefits, in Hollywood and, yes, even in "Bollywood."

This article was first published in mlb.com (22 September 2008).
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