They may be younger, bigger and sweatier than typical movie critics, but the high school athletes at Football University’s Top Gun camp fit the target audience of the film, “23 Blast“. When a particularly hard tackle is shown, the audience roars in the auditorium at Jerome High in Dublin, Ohio, briefly drowning out the soundtrack.
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Because he is blind, Travis Freeman will never “see” the movie, but having lived it, he was pleased at the audience’s reaction.
“The market is saturated with films and it is hard to find your way through it,” Baker said. “The nice thing about our film is that football is just one aspect of it. The journey of Travis is the real film. That positive message, I think, could break through. There are so many negative things thrown at kids these days that I am proud that this film’s message is go forward, go for your dreams and you can achieve.”
The film was filmed in Corbin and the town’s cineplex opened most of its eight screens up for the movie’s premiere.
“The city of Corbin really threw the doors open to the film, embraced it and wanted to be a part of it,” Freeman said. “They were excited about the filming and the initial sneak peak we did and they’re still excited about it. I get asked about it every day in Corbin. ‘When is the movie coming out?’ When I lost my sight. I couldn’t have accomplished everything I accomplished if I didn’t have the support of my parents, my family and friends and the city of Corbin.”
Several residents of the town landed acting roles in the movie, including Freeman, an adjunct professor of religion at the University of the Cumberlands who plays his adult self as a preacher in a dream sequence.
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After the screening for the Top Gun camp, the players had a lot of questions for Freeman. Was his girlfriend as hot as the one in the movie? Did he really drive? How many referees did he accidentally run over?
The answers: No, yes and one, that he knows of. But most movies based on true stories take some artistic license. For those who want all the actual details, Freeman is coming out with his autobiography, “Lights Out: Living in a Dark World“.
“Obviously, (the movie) is a shorter time frame,” Freeman said. “I didn’t have (actresses) Crystal Hunt and Alexa PenaVega chasing me around in high school. Those things didn’t happen that way. That’s why I am excited about this book that is coming out. This movie captured the spirit of my story. This book is actually going to be the complete story of how I lost my life, playing football, going onto the University of Kentucky and Southern (Baptist Theological Seminary) and doing what I’m doing now, teaching at the University of Cumberlands. I just love what I’m doing there. That’s why I am excited about the book.”