Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Awesome photos from Columbus screening

"World champion jumpers Tori Boggs, Nick Woodard and Jeff Maus held a brief Q & A after the Sunday screening of the film JUMP!. After the Q&A, the audience was invited to a dynamic jump roping performance and interactive demonstration. After the performance, everyone had a chance to join the fun!" -- Wexner Center for the Arts

Monday, December 1, 2008

JUMP! premieres on TV

Sunday, December 7th at 5pm on Showtime

Here is the movie trailer Showtime created

and here is the one we made. Which one do you like better? Share your thoughts on YouTube.

JUMP! will be rebroadcast on Showtime Networks many times over the next 1.5 years –– check here for the schedule. Or watch it anytime at Showtime On-Demand.


Huge and belated congratulations to Tori Boggs for winning the Jump Rope World Championship in South Africa this past summer. If you have already seen JUMP!, no doubt you remember her sweet ferocity; if not, you’ve got a treat ahead.

Here’s an excerpt from an email Tori send to me months ago, soon after the competition:

I love how our interest in jump rope connects us to other parts of the world. The South African team welcomed everyone with enthusiastic hospitality. Meeting the jumpers from the hosting nation was an absolute honor! Their smiles are infectious and their generosity, refreshing. It was also very exciting to see friends from many different countries that I haven't seen since the world championship in Toronto two years ago. It is a great feeling to converse with a person who has a very different life than you.

Also, I was very impressed by the skilled jumpers from many different countries. Australia did a wonderful job and has some of the top jumpers in the sport and both South Africa and Korea have come such a long way in the past two years!

As for touring Cape Town, the area was beautiful. One of the first days we arrived I went on a tour with part of Team USA. With a guide, we were taken around the city and other places including a penguin reserve and Cape Point, the southern most point in Africa. I also went to the Spire Reserve and got to pet a cheetah!

I also was fortunate to join another group of jumpers from the states and a German jump rope team to do an Outreach Jump Rope clinic in a township outside of town. There, we performed for about 400 students, taught them how to do some jumping, and we were able to talk to them. It was very interesting to see how the kids there live. I liked being able to see their daily activities and compare it to what we are used to. It was a very rewarding. I always welcome this opportunity to meet with others and share information of our different cultures. No matter where I go in the world people are more the same then they are different.

It was a wonderful trip and almost hard to believe that I was there. The places that jump rope takes me is *Unbelievable!* I only wish my brother could have been there with me.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

By request

Previously, I posted a link to the video below. By request, here it is more easily accessible. This video has received over 100,000 hits on myspace, joost and other portals.

video from AFI Dallas International Film Festival

JUMP! loves PUMA.
Thank you AFI Dallas International Film Festival for hooking us up with them. Thanks to all the amazing jumpers in Texas who participated in our special events. And thanks to Vimby for producing this video!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

JUMP! events inspire kids in So Cal

JUMP! on Los Angeles's #1 rated KTLA morning news

Thanks to Brian Biery, the Flintridge Operating Foundation and Northwest ECHO -- which stands for Empowering Communities, Helping Others -- we just finished two days of awesome JUMP! events for kids in Pasadena & Altadena as part of Youth Month.

In 2007, Pasadena & Altadena experienced a spike in gang-related shootings that was centered in these neighborhoods. This spurred increased community efforts to connect at-risk kids with positive programs and activities that are alternatives to gang violence. With the shared goal of making a difference in kids' lives by providing fun, healthy and affordable activities for youth who might not have the opportunity to go away to summer camp or on family outings, Brian paired us with a local Boys & Girls Club and the neighborhood Police Activities League (PAL) for 2 days of film screenings, live performances and workshops to teach kids to jump.

About 500 kids attended and the photo below sums up the reaction best:

The kids loved the movie and seeing the jumpers live rocked the house. Jeff & Nick of the Texas team RazzMaTazz and Calli & Kelsy from the Summerwind Skippers inspired loads of people. After the movie and workshop, the kids above said that this is what they got out of the doc: hardwork, determination, and collaboration pay off. "When you fall, you gotta get up and try again."

We also received some great news coverage -- my favorite being the story posted at the start of this entry, which aired on KTLA, Los Angeles's #1 rated morning news show. See ABC's tv news story on us here; CBS's coverage of the event here; and The Pasadena Star-News article here.

And we all think that Corporal Glenn Thompson of the PAL program -- seen jumping out of uniform below -- is the bomb.

All photographs above (c) Walt Mancini, Pasadena Star-News.
(Available for purchase from the newspaper here.)

Special thanks to Nikki of the Santa Monica-based Jump Squad and Coach Rich with the Centralia Coyote jumpers for their amazing help.

If any So Cal groups want to start or join a jump rope team, please contact Nikki at the website above or the USA Jump Rope League for more information. Nikki is roaring to get more teams going in our area and it sure seems like the kids at PAL are READY!!

short JUMP! story on CBS news

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

JUMP! on Joost -- next gen TV

We are the featured story on today:

"Not your kid sister's jump rope. These kids take it to a whole new level." Watch HERE.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Update on jumpers in the movie

The 2008 USA National Championship took place last weekend. Congratulations to all the jumpers who qualified!

Here is a partial list of the 1st place trophies won by kids featured in the movie JUMP!:

  • TORI (West Virginia) - Female Single Rope Freestyle, 1-Minute Speed, 3-Minute Speed, Triples
  • NICK, JEFF, KATRINA and their team (Texas) - Large Team Show
    (note: this was the first time these guys competed in this event!)
  • SHANE (Idaho) - Male Single Rope Freestyle
  • LEE, SHANE and Bryan (Idaho) - Double Dutch Singles Freestyle
  • LEE and his new all-male Worlds Team - Double Dutch Pairs Freestyle
  • STYLE, JAZ and Shakinah - Double Dutch Singles Speed Relay

For a full list of competition results, visit

Good luck to Team USA at Worlds in South Africa next month!

Other updates:
  • For more on all the jumpers, scan entries below. And definitely see this entry about Tori.
  • Special congratulations to Kelsy (Idaho), who just got married! Coach Hay recently retired from her job as a PE teacher at Summerwind Elementary School; Kelsy, who earned her degree in Phys Ed, was hired to fill her shoes.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Belgian jumpers & European Tour

Maarten Goedemé -- a former world champion jumper from Belgium -- sent me this clip of his team performing on TV show "Le Plus Grand Cabaret du Monde". Unfortunately, I can't translate what the hosts are saying. You can learn more about this team on their multilingual website.

Recently, Maarten and his team also organized a European double Dutch tour. Jumpers from Belgium, Denmark and 7 different Japanese groups will perform and teach all over France, The Netherlands, and more. And in July, Maarten will return to South Africa -- where he started several clubs a few years ago -- to serve as coach of their national team at the upcoming World Championship in Capetown.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Smiling jumper George Smoot, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics for
helping to prove that the universe originated with the Big Bang, knows the
importance of unpredictable exploration in both work and play.

I was invited to speak and screen clips from JUMP! at the biennial Art Center Design Conference in Pasadena, California -- a 3-day international gathering of entrepreneurs, thought leaders, and innovators. The 2008 Conference, themed Serious Play, explored the important role of play in business, the arts, science, technology, and more. We were such a synergistic match!

There was an absolutely extraordinary group of speakers (more below)-- utterly inspiring and also intimidating, actually. This was one of the coolest events I have ever attended and it was truly an honor to be a part of this amazing program.

Target sponsored me and 4 jumpers featured in the film -- Kelsy & Lee from the Summerwind Skippers in Idaho and Nick & Jeff from the Houston-based team RazzMaTazz. The jumpers were surprise performers on the opening evening and then entertainers and teachers that night and the following day. They stole the show! I mainly spoke about collaboration and obsession...both that of the jumpers and my own.

The Master of Ceremonies, journalist John Hockenberry, asked what it was about me that was drawn to the main subject of my film, competitive jump rope. It was a personal question, situating my sensibilities at the center of it. I answered the question too quickly, spinning my answer to what I could most easily address in that moment: why jumpers are attracted to the sport and what they are learning thru it. As soon as I walked off stage, I wished that I had given a more revealing response that was linked to the "Serious Play" gist of the conference.

In addition to what I did say, I would have liked to have answered something to the effect of: I was initially drawn to competitive jump rope because I was captivated by the exuberant creativity, athleticism and obsession of the kids – and that they all seemed so unbelievably happy. The motto of the sport is “sharing and caring” and I could see that thru jump rope, they were having fun while learning to truly value fearless determination, collaboration and innovation – qualities that we learn as kids and often struggle to maintain as adults. Watching the kids define their successes by these traits intrigued and inspired me. And frankly, I felt a bit jealous; as a person and as a filmmaker, I want to achieve more of all of this exuberance in my own life. The jumpers quickly became both a muse and a mirror. Making this documentary (my first) has caused me to reconsider what it means to be successful and also to embrace that challenge and risk are their own reward.

In the reddish light of the closing night party, this artist showed me
his sketches of several conference speakers (including me,
far right in the photo on the left, from the waist down) and the jumpers.

I loved what so many of the speakers had to say. Some notables were:

+ Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, whose studies found that "normal play behavior was virtually absent throughout the lives of highly violent, anti-social men." He believes that play is important for our survival and said that “The opposite of play is not work, it’s depression.”
+ Aimee Mullins, an intellectual and physical marvel (pictured left) who said "You have to practice your curiosity like it’s a sport."
+ David Macaulay, whose forthcoming illustrated book explains our bodies, from the smallest cell on up, using metaphors like factories and rivers. He clearly communicates massively complex systems.
+ Joshua Klein's talk about the cultural adaption of crows and how they learn from each other. Watch this video!
+ Paula Scher, artist, distinguished serious (good, engaged) from solemn (bad, joyless)
+ Robert Lang, whose profound applications of origami are being applied to pressing contemporary problems of all stripes. Learn more about him here.

Early in the first night's presentations, Hockenberry, said something about the relationship of play to education in Plato's Republic which led me to this quote attributed to the ancient philosopher: "You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation." Humm. We don't learn or practice play enough. I, for one, am going to start.

Educational Screenings in San Francisco & Oakland

middle school students in Oakland, California talk about
what they got out of watching JUMP!

JUMP! was selected to launch the San Francisco International Film Festival's Schools at the Festival. Each year, this landmark educational program, produced with the San Francisco Film Society, brings 4,000 students of all ages and teachers to the movie theater to participate in the Festival experience. In addition, they bring filmmakers into schools to meet and discuss their movies with kids in a more intimate setting. Their overall aim is to develop media literacy, broaden insights into other cultures, enhance foreign language aptitude, develop critical thinking skills and inspire a lifelong appreciation of cinema.

I'm about to get heady here. If your eyes are already glossing over -- and even if you're thoroughly interested in educational outreach -- please watch the video above to see what students in Oakland said that they learned from watching JUMP!.

The SFFS educational programs are designed to meet the Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards for California public schools. They provide key media resources for teaching artistic perception, creative expression, aesthetic valuing, historical and cultural dimensions of the arts, and the means for connecting and applying what is learned through film to other curricula and careers.

With their generous assistance, we will be able to make study guides available to educators who buy the film. Coming from such a prestigious institution, this is a valuable resource for us and it will hopefully reinforce the utility of this film.

JUMP! is certainly a lot of fun and about a sport, but it's also packed with good stuff about the core building blocks of learning; it's appropriate for student screenings (and has been shown for dozens of schools to date) and for use in a classroom setting across all disciplines. Without stooping to the saccharine, JUMP! is about kids developing character. Through competitive jump rope, they learn to think outside the box, set and achieve goals, cope with disappointments, and cooperate with as well as to compete against other people. In the face of tremendous devotion and ambition to win, these athletes have formed an international, collaborative community unimaginable in any other competitive arena. These are meaty, important themes.

How cool is it that they picked JUMP! to kick off this year's program? First, they invited several hundred Bay Area teachers to a free screening of the film in March. Then, at the end of April, just under 300 middle-schoolers got to come to the theater to see the film and a live interactive jump rope performance by Jumping for Joy at the San Francisco International Film Festival. And then, with additional sponsorship by Luna Bar, we visited 3 schools, including an after-school YMCA enrichment program.

Kids were thoroughly engaged with the movie, the post-screening Q&A, and the jump rope demonstration. Several chose to stay about an hour after school to learn more. Teachers were excited to see their kids so curious and empowered. The pictures to the left and right show short essays by 6th graders, written before they got copies of the study guide. Click image to enlarge.

All of this outreach was very successful and gratifying. Thanks to everyone who planned and participated! We hope to be a part of the SFFS year-round program beginning in the fall of 2008. Sign up for our mailing list for updates.

PS: Bay Area educators can contact Coach Cindy Joy if they want to learn how to teach jump rope. She and her team want to help new groups get started. Find out more here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

JUMP! gets props in Boston

We're psyched that JUMP! won the Marketing Award at the Independent Film Festival of Boston! And we were the first runner-up for the Audience Award for Best Documentary.

With the help of jump rope teams all around the country, we've been volunteering to do an extraordinary amount of educational and community outreach at just about every festival we've attended (20+). Thanks to IFFBoston for seeing the value in our approach and for validating our efforts and abilities. As an indie film sans distribution and working a grassroots campaign, this award is especially meaningful to us. Distributors keep telling us that this film is a huge challenge to market, thus they pass. Though there are understandable obstacles, based on the reactions we have received from audiences around the country, we think that there is broad base that would watch JUMP! if given the opportunity. Viewers are wanting fun, energetic, family-friendly movies like ours, which make viewers feel as good. That's my rant.

Moving on. IFFBoston has only been around for a few years, but it already packs a huge wallop, in large measure to their own ingenious marketing efforts and the tireless efforts of program director Adam Roffman (pictured with me at right), who works his tail off on big budget movies most of the year so that he can take 3-4 months off to plan this fest.

There's a lot to love about the main venue for the IFFB, the Somerville Theater. Here's some of what strikes my fancy: they host town meetings, you can buy a beer there and bring it to your seat!, and they have great old signage.

Boston is also filled with smarty pants people, which might explain the Boston Globe's story headlined "Marquee Geek". You can find the full story here. Excerpt:
"Geek culture is the thing that drives popular culture," said Nancy Campbell, an IFFBoston managing director. "Anyone who's ever been a geek knows at some point the mainstream co-opts it." The festival's film-selection committee comes from that culture, she said. "Being a movie lover, you're relegated to the not-norm. You see seven to 10 films a week and you're [not considered normal]."

This not-normalcy gets expressed as geeky folks obsessed with acquiring specialized knowledge or mastering odd pursuits. There's the doc "JUMP!," directed by Helen Hood Scheer, which explores the world of competitive jump roping…. Lives in these movies revolve around infatuations. The trick, say some filmmakers, is not to pass judgment or make fun of their subjects, no matter how seemingly dorky or trivial their pursuits."
I love it. We got another nice press mention in The Boston Metro newspaper -- they called us one of "the fest’s most intriguing prospects." Nice to be selected along with Werner Herzog!

Other highlights of our short but sweet time in Boston:

+ Seeing "At the Death House Door", directed by the great Steve James and Peter Gilbert (of "Hoop Dreams" fame and more). This moving documentary offers an intimate look at the death penalty in the state of Texas through the eyes of Pastor Carroll Pickett, who served 15 years as the death house chaplain in Huntsville -- before being the former director of the jump rope league my doc follows. Stunning coincidence, no? During Pickett's remarkable career, he presided over 95 executions, including the world’s first lethal injection. After each execution, Pickett recorded an audiotape account of his trip to the death chamber. Pickett's wife was a jump rope coach and they describe driving off after their wedding with beaded ropes tied to the bumper. No doubt jump rope brought much needed joy to their lives after witnessing so much hardship. Incredible story.

+ Seeing Art in Bloom at the Museum of Fine Art. About 100 garden clubs all over Massachusetts were invited to make flower arrangements inspired by paintings & sculptures in the Museum and display them by the works of art. Some were abstract and some had very clear depictions. What a fun way to see the collection. The one at the left is inspiring what I want to make for my pal Anya's wedding bouquet.

+ Delicious Seafood

+ Seeing Prince Paul spin at the closing night party. PP's own song "Showdown at the Hoedown" is featured in the film and is on our soundtrack. He's also a major hip hop producer for the likes of De La Soul's "Three Feet High & Rising" album and tons more.

PS: Thanks to teams that came out to do jump rope demos: Forbes Fliers from Torrington, CT and Brewster Bayside Skippers. Rumor has it that some new teams will start up in Boston thanks in large measure to you guys!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cleveland -> "someone to watch" award

This entry should have been posted in March, 2008.

A huge, heartfelt thank you THANK YOU to the Cleveland International Film Festival for giving me a "Someone to Watch" award. What an auspicious beginning! I'm honored, proud and humbled to get this recognition. Although I still cannot imagine finishing JUMP! completely or moving on to my next projects, this award definitely renews my desire to continue. Thank you, CIFF, for believing in me.

Now onto a recap of our experience at the fest... which began with them booking 2 extra screenings of JUMP! because advanced tickets were selling so well. This brought us to 5 screenings -- 3 public + 2 Film Slam (a special program for students). We were psyched that there was great word of mouth building already and strong demand for the film -- at this point, we're considering our festival run to be our theatrical release.

Upon arrival, I was greeted with a fleet of nice festival volunteers. All for me?? Not really. Turns out there was a gi-normous blizzard and tons of other filmmakers' flights couldn't get in. The snow was major! I did not go outside for 4 days. The strange part was that I barely noticed. We were having so much fun and staying in one of those mid-western super-malls that is like a contained village -- the hotel, movie theater, jump demo area, restaurant and bars were all there under one roof.

The weather also made it tough for audiences -- though die-hards still came in droves. Tori, her cousin Brooke (who also jumps and is an all-state soccer player), and Tori's mom Rochelle braved the storm, driving in from West Virginia, to do interactive jump rope demonstrations on Saturday. Sunday, they were joined by the Heartbeats of Ohio (based in the greater Cleveland/Akron area), Tori's cute older brother (who's training to be a professional soccer player and also learning jump rope tricks from sis), and loads of her teammates on Jump Company, who chartered a huge tour bus to come in!

Our weekend screenings and interactive jump rope demonstrations before & after each show were such a hit that we were asked to do a 6th screening the following weekend! Yay! I couldn't stick around in Cleveland, but Tori was able come back to do a post-screening Q&A -- which by all accounts she rocked. And then 450+ people gathered to watch our final interactive jump rope demonstration! They were surrounding the jumpers on the mall's ground floor and also crowding each of three floors overhanging above.

LOCALS: if you want to start a new team, join an existing one, or book a jump rope performance, contact the teams linked above and also USA Jump Rope! They will help you. Also -- a couple of people asked us to do special event screenings in Cleveland in the future. Please sign up for our mailing list for updates.

Another cool thing: for our final school screening, Emily and Coach Mod came to see the film and perform with their new jump rope group. It was great to catch up. They all loved the movie and kept saying how accurate it was. As some of you probably remember from the film, Em and Mod were key peeps on the River Valley Skippers, same team as Tori. Before the world competition showed in the film, they decided to dissolve RVS and focus on performing and teaching jump rope instead of competing. Tori then spearheaded the formation of a new team, Jump Company. (Side note: editor Scott and I lovingly and jokingly describe Tori as the CEO of Jump Rope, so we think this team name is perfect!) Mod & Emily's group is called High 5; they're interested in spreading the sport all over the mid-Ohio Valley region (and the world, of course!).

Other Highlights:
+ Nice, nice, nice staff and volunteers
+ Overhearing people say JUMP! was hot.
+ Reconnecting with a former boss and mentor, Morgan Neville, who's film "Cool School" was also playing at CIFF.
+ Seeing a diverse other docs, especially "Up the Yangzte" and "Spine Tingler"

Crowd gathers for our first demo...and grew to 450+ people
by our last demo •
Tori & Brooke get 'em goin' • JUMP! director/producer
Helen with Emily (former World Champion jumper and film subject) & Coach Mod

Monday, May 19, 2008

Texas homecoming @ AFI DALLAS Int'l Film Fest

This entry is long overdue, especially considering that screening at the AFI Dallas International Film Festival was such an important homecoming for us. USA Jump Rope (the league that the film follows) is based in Huntsville, RazzMaTazz (one of the key teams followed in the film) hails from Houston, and Texas is home to more jump rope teams than any other region in the world. All of this combined to give us a real Texas style premiere...meaning hospitable and BIG!

PUMA made it all the more special by sponsoring us. They outfitted almost 20 jumpers in super slick track suits and hosted a jump rope show at the Puma Store in North Park Center. Here is a link to a cool video VIMBY produced at the event...16,000 people watched it the first week they posted it on myspace.

Our first screening kicked off Family Day. They played JUMP! outside on two gigantic screens simultaneously (awesome!) in a fair-like atmosphere with face-painting, games, clowns, etc. The extravaganza took place at Victory Plaza, where the city's biggest sporting and entertainment events take place. A festival producer said that our screening was the second most well-attended ever in this spot...behind "Raiders of the Lost Ark". Someday, maybe a jump rope competition will fill the stadium??

After the screening, jumpers from five different teams in Texas
-- RazzMatazz, High Velocity, ZZ Skipers, Jumpin' Jammers and Palpitations -- put on a big, high-energy show followed by a workshop to teach locals -- both were projected live on the big screens around the plaza. Thanks to all who participated & helped organize. Turns out that this was the first time that Nick's grandma ever saw him jump in person!

Other festival highlights: seeing MC Frontalot perform, watching the wickedly funny doc Nerdcore Rising (request a screening in your area on their website!), a raucous post-screening Q&A for "Battle in Seattle," and seeing the truly spectacular The Polyphonic Spree. Holy cow. I wish I could hold on to -- and share -- that exuberant radiance.

polyphonic spree @ house of blues,
afi dallas international film festival closing night party

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Update about Tori

At the risk of embarrassing Tori, I want to share with you a little update about her....

Last weekend -- after trekking to some of our screenings at the RiverRun International Film Festival in North Carolina -- Tori returned to her home in West Virgina to compete in the state math competition. As a 9th grader participating in the senior high tournament, Tori placed 15th statewide.

Altho she said she was a little disappointed not to have placed higher, we are utterly impressed! Tori is remarkable all around -- from great grades in school to shooting marbles, from creating practical jokes, spoofs and super-creative Halloween costumes to teaching younger jumpers on her team.

Monday, April 28, 2008

award win @ RiverRun

JUMP! won the Audience Award at the RiverRun International Film Festival!

Click here to see a list of the other winning films.

Nick flips with turners Tyler & Brittany of Impact Tri-Force of Cary, North Carolina.
Photo courtesy of Julie and Lauren Warzecho of the Cary YMCA Super Skippers

Saturday, April 26, 2008

RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

I've now seen JUMP! a gazillion times and much as I love my doc, understandably, it has become harder to sit through it time and time again. That said, today's screening was a fun, profound and entirely new experience for me.

I sat at the back of the room, watching a sign language interpreter sign and spell out the film. Seeing the film be so accessible -- and knowing that all kinds of people are enjoying it -- was so moving to me that I starting crying happy tears (not sure that i have ever done that!). This unassuming screening -- for about 250ish people in something akin to a multipurpose room -- must be one of my favorite and proudist film festival experiences to date. I also loved that there were a dozen or so kids sitting up front on the floor. The whole thing seemed very intimate and interactive.

Speaking of interactive -- our educational and community outreach efforts continued in Winston-Salem thanks to the RiverRun International Film Fest, who invited Nick and Tori to attend, and two jump rope teams from Cary, NC: Impact Tri-Force and the YMCA SuperSkippers. Special shout out to The Jump Company of Parkersburg, WV.

We did 5 little live jump rope shows, 3 public screenings, and 1 student screening for approx 200 kids in elementary, middle and high school. During the Q&A, a very cool, handsome and popular high school boy asked Nick what it felt like to be teased for being a boy jumper -- very empathetic and thoughtful. It was sweet to see all the grade levels together, cheering each other on during our jump demo after the show.

There might be something special in the water in W-S. Everywhere we went, people were really, really nice -- from the standing ovations to the free pie to the Triad Harmony Express barbershop quartet, who sang a ditty about jump rope to introduce our live radio interview on Majic 94.1 fm (see video clip!). Since I mentioned food: Ollie's Bakery is the bomb; they make some mean morning treats with cinnamon.

Fun to connect with Britta Erickson (who brought JUMP! to the Starz Denver International Film Fest) and Matt Dentler, both of whom introduced me to Wii. Holy mackerel. I'm hooked.

To start or join a jump rope team -- or to request a performance -- contact USA Jump Rope. I hear that there might be a new team in Winston-Salem; I will post info ASAP if this is indeed the case!

Triad Harmony Express barbershop quartet sings about jump rope
to introduce a live radio interview about JUMP! on Majic 94.1 fm

student screening; interactive demo; britta rocks the wii; jumper Tyler Perez from Impact Tri-Force, Nick, JUMP! filmmakers Scott & Helen; audience ovation

Monday, April 21, 2008


The Cincinnati Ropin' Rockets have finally seen JUMP! Great to hear so much laughter in the theater! And what a trip to see how much the team has grown. Stewart -- who appears just a little bit in the film but will be seen more in the "extras" -- is now taller than me. The skill level of the young jumpers on the Ropin' Rockets is incredible and a testament to Coach Emerson's dedication. We wish their coed team great success at the upcoming world championship in South Africa.

Two local teams -- the Jumpin' Jaguars from Bowling Green, Kentucky and the Hot Shots from Franklin, Tennessee -- also came out to do live jump rope performances.

Festival highlights: seeing Al Gore, brunch at the Pancake Pantry (yum to their sweet potato pancakes) and a Passover breakfast at Nashville's Noshville Deli with Tom Miller, director of the award-winning doc One Bad Cat: The Reverend Albert Wagner Story.

Top left to bottom right: Stewart, Katherine & Alyssa of the Cincinnati Ropin' Rockets perform at the Regal Cinemas in Nashville; Filmmakers Tom Miller & Scott B. Morgan; Jumpin' Jaguars meet Al Gore; Gigantic sculpture of Athena, Godess of Wisdom, at Nashville's full-scale replica of the ancient Parthenon; great signage continues.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Short Ends Magazine --> In Conversation

In conjunction with our screenings the Atlanta International Film Festival, Short Ends Magazine posted this feature story about the process of making JUMP!

International Premiere in Toronto

Top left to bottom: cool Sprockets projector-head robot banner •
kids lining up to enter JUMP! screening • organized seating charts
remind me of Tori's jump rope graph • volunteer keeps track of how
many kids enter the theater by using the same clicker that jump rope
judges use for speed events! (our count was 238 for our 2nd screening) •
Marquee showing the other films playing at our theater...a
peculiar pairing with our family-friendly & healthy JUMP! (look close).

JUMP! just had its international premiere at the Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children. I'm not joking when I say that it took a village to get me there -- my dad hopping a 10 foot fence to retrieve my passport, cooperation between 4 airlines, and the perseverance of TIFF's travel guru Tony. And it was all sooo worth it.

I'm very impressed with what they've got going on -- their program focuses on issues relevant to today's youth, including loss of a parent; bullying; poverty; homophobia; immigration issues; teen sexuality; plus fun films like mine and much, much more. They've got almost 100 comedies, dramas, documentaries and animation geared toward grades 1 - 12, from 26 countries in 15 different languages. Plus, they attract filmmakers from around the world, giving the kids a truly unique cross-cultural experience and providing us filmmakers with nice new connections as well. I'm honored that JUMP! was selected to be one of the 7 films representing the USA.

Each of our three screenings -- one for the general public and two school kids -- sold out fast! The audiences were among the best we've had anywhere...very engaged and enthusiastic. Q&As were great -- with most of the questions going to jumpers from nearby Ontario teams. I wish we had more time to talk with the students.

After each of our screenings, kids were using imaginary jump ropes in the parking lot and lobby; one group created a virtual double dutch routine before colliding with a wall.

Thanks to Jumpsations, Lincoln Leapers, and Brampton Arco Skippers for coming out to support the film and giving the audiences a live show. The audiences loved the jumpers and it was a special treat to share JUMP! with these teams because their coaches and parents were especially helpful when we filmed the World Rope Skipping Championship in Toronto.

If anyone wants more info on local teams, please check out the Ontario Rope Skipping Organization by clicking here.

Other major highlights include having a special lunch with TIFF families, hanging with Sprockets Co-Director of Learning Mr. Allen Braude, talking with maybe-relative Emily Scheer, meeting other Sprockets filmmakers, learning about the international circuit of childrens' festivals, and visiting Niagra Falls.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Great reviews in Toronto!

Known locally as a tough critic, Norman Wilner reviews JUMP! in Now, the Toronto weekly news/arts magazine. In his story, aptly titled "Worth jumping over: Kid-friendly Sprockets selections put Hollywood flicks to shame", he writes:
An exhilarating documentary about competitive jump rope, [JUMP!] feels like a Hot Docs entry that somehow got shipped to the wrong address. But I’d gamble the Sprockets audience will be more appreciative of the stunning physical feats performed by the American jump-rope teams Scheer follows through gruelling regional and national heats all the way to the 2006 world championships in Toronto. And, yes, I teared up at the end. I dare you not to.
To see the full article, click here.

The Toronto Star names JUMP! as one of the top films to catch. Read here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Soaking it up at the Sarasota Film Fest

Top Left to bottom right: Brentwood Elementary kids are eager to jump after
watching Summerwind Skippers perform • Summerwind on cover of Herald-Trib •
Lee hamming before ABC news interview • Magician Elia tries juggling in the ropes •
Fun in the sun • Sarasota has the best signage ("Let's Go Clubbing" & "Seeking
Someone to Share Gummy Bears") • Musicians at farmer's market •
Helen at awesome bookstore

The Sarasota Film Fest rocks! Not only did they have a nice line-up of films, but the location-- by a gorgeous Gulf Coast beach--and festive parties are tough to beat. Plus, my pal and documentary consultant Sarah Jo Marks of At Risk Films and Kelsy, Calli, Shane & Lee of the Summerwind Skippers were able to come, which made for a completely awesome trip.

SFF matched us with a ACI, a local company that generously sponsored the Summerwind Skippers to attend the festival. With Summerwind on board, the festival's educational outreach department worked with the Sarasota School Board Supervisor of Physical Education to plan a couple fun programs. First, we visited Brentwood Elementary School; 300 kids in kindergarden, 4th and 5th grade attended a 1.5 hour assembly in which they got to see clips from the film, a live jump rope show and participate in a an interactive demo. They begged for a jump rope team to start up at their school.
The following morning we were surprised and stoked to see a great front-page picture in the Herald Tribune of the Summerwind Skippers mid-flip in the Brentwood show. See photo above and check out additional photos in the newspaper's image gallery here.

Next up was an assembly for 200+ 8th graders at Booker Middle school, the city's most diverse campus. Booker was also a lot of fun -- enthusiastic kids with great questions about both the sport and the filmmaking process. And of course, they were also psyched to jump.

Other highlights: hearing that Summerwind was picked up from the airport in a limo, seeing Sarah Jo on a panel about distribution, sunset swim, Miami Rice Pudding ("have a rice day!"), the doc Great Speeches from a Dying World, the magicians (more soon), the farmers market and dancing our hearts out at the closing night party.