Chasing Sarasota: Director Interview

by | December 6, 2011, 8:00am 0

You’ve probably already seen the trailer for Matt Mastrantuono‘s documentary Chasing Sarasota (if you haven’t, scroll down and watch). Chasing Sarasota tells the story of Portland Rhino’s 2011 season and ultimate upset in the game to go against Furious at NW Regionals. But it is more than just that: it’s a story about a team, the bonds that team is made of and the friendships that sometimes outweigh success.

Skyd spoke with director Matt “Milkshake” Mastrantuono about the upcoming film and what he has in store for the Ultimate community and movie-goers around the country:

Skyd Magazine: In your own words, what is Chasing Sarasota?

Matt Matstrantuono: Chasing Sarasota is the first feature length documentary on an elite club Ultimate Frisbee team. It tells the story of Portland Rhino’s 2011 season. There were cameras following the team on and off the field, getting an inside look at what goes into playing with and against the best players in the world. The film will have very personal storylines about the guys who play for Rhino and exciting highlights as the team battles against the best teams in the country.

Where did the inspiration for CS come from? Why did you decide to create it?

Matt: At the end of the 2010, I was in a pretty low place. After losing in the game-to-go to Nationals and enduring such a heartbreaking collapse, I didn’t know how to think about the 2011 season. On top of that, I was struggling to make a break into documentary filmmaking. Ultimate takes up a huge part of your life and can provide obstacles for career aspirations. I ended up realizing that the way to take both to the next level was to combine them. Ultimate and filmmaking are my two greatest passions, so I decided to tell the story of my team.

I wanted to create it because the Ultimate community has so few, in depth documentaries on our sport. There are so many stories to be told about the blood, sweat and tears that go into the game we love. Not to mention, showing people what it takes to play at the highest level is a fun portrait to paint.

What is the story that CS tells?

Matt: I’m not sure I can say it any better than the synopsis of the film:

In 2010, Portland Rhino was moments away from their dream. Two points shy of Club Nationals, Ultimate Frisbee’s premiere event, the team collapsed and surrendered five straight points to lose. Broken and disillusioned, Rhino was left to pick up the pieces.

Chasing Sarasota is the story of Rhino’s 2011 season: rebuilding, reloading and fighting for redemption. Live the full experience as Portland competes against the best teams in the world, in the nation’s hardest region. Rhino learns that battling the best also means battling yourself. Team depleting injuries, strategic breakdowns, player disqualifications and the demons of last year’s collapse jeopardize their ambitions to play on Ultimate’s biggest stage: Club Nationals in Sarasota, Florida.

For the first time ever, get an all-access pass to an entire season with an elite club team. Experience everything about Portland Rhino – the outrageous humor, the unique personalities, the off-field struggles and the on-field triumphs. Rhino goes for broke trying to create a legacy and, on the way, creates something much greater – a family.

What are some of the highlights of the film? What is your favorite part?

Matt: Oh man, there’s so much that I love about the story of this year – it’s hard to pick the highlights. We’re going to show people some hilarious stuff from our team camping trip and the ridiculous nature of Rhino. Audiences will get to see Rhino at its lowest: being embarrassed in front of their home crowd against NexGen. I can’t wait to give people an inside look at who the players are off the Ultimate field. The 2011 NW Region was one of the most exciting Regionals in recent memory. Revolver, Furious George, Rhino and Sockeye battling for 2 bids – enough said. Not to mention the roster issue that happened right before Regionals. There will be a lot of great dramatic storylines throughout.

When is the expected release?

Matt: I’m shooting to release the film in the spring/summer of 2012. As a one man post-production team, it’s hard to give a definitive date. The plan is to take this film on a cross-country tour and hold events in cities all over the nation. We’ll be screening the film, having Q&As with people in the movie, selling merchandise, hosting after-parties and doing a variety of other things to make this a full movie experience. I plan on partnering with Ultimate organizations around the country to bring this movie to a city near you!

How do you expect the film to be received by the Ultimate community as a whole? Do you see it serving some broader purpose for the sport?

Matt: I don’t place too much weight on expectations, I’m just trying to make the best film I can and hope audiences enjoy it. I think people in the Ultimate community want to hear a more personal story about a team – one that goes beyond the scores and the online chatter. The feedback from the trailer has been very positive, so I want to keep that going and create a community around the film. Allowing people to interact with me, the team, the story and about Ultimate as a whole is very important to me.

I didn’t intend to use this film as a catalyst for promoting Ultimate, I really just wanted to tell a story about a sport and team I love. At the end of the day though, if it’s able to promote my favorite sport and help advance the Ultimate community, I’m all for it!

What’s the single most important take away you hope to communicate with CS?

Matt: I want people to see everything involved with being on an elite team and enjoy a compelling story through a professionally produced documentary.

Who’s involved in the making of CS?

Matt: There are almost too many people to credit for helping this film get made. I’m entirely indebted to the network of friends and family that surround me. The financial and emotional support I received over the past year has been unbelievable. Specifically though, I had a fantastic, professional film crew working with me for production. Keri Donovan was our main camera operator and, as you can tell by the trailer, she did an amazing job shooting the movie. Allan Luebke, Jon Garcia and Gil McIntyre provided some wonderful additional photography on the film. Spin Ultimate was there for all of Rhino’s apparel needs this year. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with great musicians for the trailer: Emancipator, The Filthy Violets and We’re From Japan!

Tell us about your history and experience with filmmaking. What is your production company Blurred Lens all about?

Matt: I have been making movies for a little over 8 years now. It started out with me and my friends making absurd movies in high school – then it progressed to something more professional. I started to learn and care about filmmaking as more than just a hobby. Over the years I’ve worked for production companies, on movie sets and run my own business.

Blurred Lens Productions ( is the company that I founded and currently run. Originally, I just wanted to come up with a name for what I was doing back in high school. We made such ridiculous videos, it was as if we were looking through a “blurred lens.” At 16, that was good enough for me and I called myself Blurred Lens Productions. I got serious about running my own business, created an LLC and just decided to keep the name.

How can people find out more about the documentary and follow its release?

Matt: The best place for all the latest information is and @ChasingSarasota on Twitter. I’ll be frequently updating those with loads of information on the film. Also, everyone should feel free to contact me at with any questions or comments.

Follow the production at

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