NoTsuOh@Paganello Documentary – Interview with Brett McCall

by | February 18, 2011, 6:00am 0

Sean McCall gets up at Paganello.

About to be released onto the world is Brett McCall’s 30 minute documentary about No Tsu Oh, a team out of Houston that has been a highly influential force at Paganello, the world’s largest beach tournament,  in Rimini, Italy (at which they’ve won 5 of the last 8 championships). No Tsu Oh was founded by Brett’s brother, Sean McCall (who was recently interview by Skyd) in 2000, but the team saw its last year of organization in 2008.

Skyd caught a sneak peak of the film, titled il mondo una spiaggia :: the world on one beach, and discovered a well-edited presentation of one of Ultimate’s most adored tournaments and also a glimpse at the make-up of a talented and fun-loving team – a glimpse which echoes the special bond and spirit of any successful squad.

Narrated by Brett McCall, the documentary features interviews with the event organizers and members of No Tsu Oh. Though a lot of the footage displays somewhat dreary weather for a beach tournament, the joyous atmosphere and positivity of the event’s participants saturates the film and allows for the people and relationships to take center stage.

Skyd caught up with Brett McCall to learn more about his Ultimate history and the film.

Skyd: Please start by sharing more about yourself and your Ultimate career.

Brett McCall: Started playing in High School with my swim team, mostly just messing around.  Frequent throws with the brothers in the front yard and MTV Sports grew the interest.  In 1993-94, I spent a year in Budapest, Hungary.. where I discovered the local Ultimate scene had organized a tournament and had frequent practices.  I was hooked QUICK!  1st tournament was in Vienna over New Year’s Eve where I wont the spirit award and played indoors for the first time.  When I returned to the US I was shocked at how competitive-focused the sport was here.  And was especially disappointed in the win-at-all-costs mentality so prevalent from teams in a few of the stronger cities.  “Red shirted” myself till I could stand it no longer in 1997 when I signed up to play with Turbodog for the Regional Champs.  We lost and my college career had not even begun!  Started to travel more heavily in the late 90s until I finally landed in Asheville in ’99. Where I now live.  Here I founded my school’s team at Warren Wilson College and fostered the growth of the summer league into 4 seasons of leagues and active in a few annual events.  Started the men’s team Greenman and continued to struggle in the VERY strong NC Section for years.  Finally after a break in 2008, I decided to give one more look at playing Masters.  The Raleigh based team Boneyard welcomed me in with open arms and our personalities mixed well.  This past year we stormed to the finals where we lost to the well-seasoned Surly.  Strong hopes of returning this coming year to take the gold and go to Worlds in 2012!!!

What made you decide to make this film?

Sean had announced it was the last year that he was going to build and recruit the team.  And there is a larger backstory to what it actually meant for him to have gone in the first place, but now that I was intimately involved I decided that if I was going to make the trip, then I was going to make it the BEST possible memory that I could.  So, I found a GREAT co-director and video crew to join us… and the snowball began.

Sandy Ganzell treasures the disc

Who was involved in its production and how long did it take?

Most notably: Lisa Thompson (co-director) and Marq Morrison on the scene.  Tremendous help from Sean, Alfie, Jason, Woody and the rest of the team DURING the event.  Then post event I had a number of different people involved in the film.. most notably: Virginia Paris (editor), Grant McCall (composer), Jason, Sean, Alfie, Woody, and too many more.  One very important event was HATCH ( where I met Marianna Palka (of Good Dick) and Adrian Belic (of Genghis Blues) and realized that this project is MUCH MUCH bigger than me.

What was the message you wanted to communicate in this film?

At the start, I focused on making a film that I would want to show my children, nephews, nieces in 10-20 years.  I hoped to chronicle something remarkable that I was part of and mark a time when Sean did something revolutionary.  After getting into the material I realized there is a powerful message about following your passions, NO MATTER what other’s say.  There is the notion of giving back and making the world a better place with every opportunity.  And the thread that carries through is to honor my brother for the leadership he exudes.  He is remarkable in his creativity while simultaneously tracking progression and successes.

How has Paganello and the No Tsu Oh experience changed your life?

Hmm… selfishly, it was the first World Championship event that I won!  Never settling for a mediocre life has led me to a non-traditional path. With that comes the unpredictable nature of finding a stable city that has an already strong program to settle into.  So the prospects were never good.

That said on a more grandiose scale, I believe the experience at Paganello has made me realize that TRUELY following my passion can have a powerful impact on the world around me.

How has making this film changed the way you’ve thought about Paganello and No Tsu Oh?

The meat here is in the film itself.  When planning the production I decided I wanted to appeal to a non-player audience (which my be my children for all I know) with the final material.  I wanted to present the sport and the experience from the perspective of the players on the team… I wanted to tell the story of friends coming together, conspiring and exploring new ways of approaching the game.  I believe now that every team has the opportunity to grow something unique that can radically change the face of the game for themselves and the world around.

JT Thompson snags the disc in front of a huge finals crowd.

How has Paganello and No Tsu Oh changed over the years?

My spectrum scans from 1994 to 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 – These are the years I played on the beach (the latter 4 with NoTsuOh.  The evolution of the tournament has been incredible.  From around 13 teams in 1994 to over 100 in  2004 is remarkable!!!  Now the whole city of Rimini opens a week BEFORE Easter (where historically they didn’t open till a week later) and now people come from all over the region to experience the festival that Paganello has become.  The city itself has embraced the event as much more than a sports event.. modeling for other cities how Ultimate can successfully become a spectator sport.  Watch the 2005 finals when the Italian team Cota Rica takes the title… it is OBVIOUS the potential in this sport to be viewed by 1000s of non-players!!!

What are some of you finest memories of this team?

The Junior’s clinics.. .specifically the friendships that were challenged when we had to part.  Such powerful friends in such small time.  We came and taught the clinics on the beach, they fed us a 6 course meal, we played & won Paganello, partied the whole time, then stuck around for a few extra days to enjoy our friends… All this after playing for the first time on the beach 10 years before!!!  I hope to one day top this greatest memory of my career as an Ultimate player.

Kevin Gaffney gets a kiss while holding the coveted championship umbrella

How has No Tsu Oh changed Paganello?

A better question for the Paga organizers and some of the players who have been there every year (Sean, Woody, Alfie, Jason)… But the contrast from 1994 to 2004 has shown much more style from the teams.  The price has gone up and registration is planned almost 4 months out now… which is an interesting metric since teams & players have to work much more on planning and arranging their teams before attending.  I remember the mostly-ex-patriot team from Vienna called Groove winning 1994… its a similar to the kinds of teams that come around now… a rich pool of players coming together for the biggest party of the year on the beach!!!  Amazing stuff.

How is Paganello more than just a party tournament?

Until recent years is has been the tournament that hosts the STRONGEST teams on the beach.  Now BULA is hosting World Champs on different beaches.  But Paganello will continue to attract the best BECAUSE it is a big party!!!  I think for many teams Paganello is the party… Ultimate is a sideline to that experience.. the sport is the thread that binds us all together… but once together there is soo much more to what we are all about.

Tell us a bit more about how No Tsu Oh began. Why did it last so long?

Sean started the team after attending worlds in Scotland.  I believe it lasted so long because Sean and a few key players were willing to put in the work starting in December each year to build the team and re-create the strongest possible showing each year.

When will the film be officially released and where/how will people be able to watch it?

[The] film will be released in Houston on March 18th. Location is TBA.  That event will be simulcast on the web and people can get access to it the premiere by backing the Kickstarter Campaign. I will also be bringing my film to festivals across the globe throughout the year. Additionally, I am talking with Jumpi and Gege about screening the film DURING Paganello this year!!

What’s one thing everyone should know about this film?

Watch it. Share it. Enjoy it!!

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