Bring up Portland Rhino in a conversation with any ultimate fan, and they’ll quickly recount the inspiring tale of a team struggling to qualify for the Club National Championships. The worldwide popularity and awareness of Rhino is no fluke. In 2012, Matt Mastrantuono released Chasing Sarasota, a film which broke boundaries as one of the first ultimate documentaries to not only share a well-presented and compelling story, but reach international audiences.
This desire to share those vivid stories revolving around ultimate has inspired Mastrantuono to team up with Seattle Sockeye’s Tyler Kinley to produce a novel new event that provides storytellers with the outlet to present. Mastrantuono and Kinley are calling it Flatball Radio. Premiering December 3rd on stage in Seattle’s Market Theater, Flatball Radio will see ultimate-centric storytellers present to a live audience. The stories will also be recorded for later online viewing.
Skyd caught up with Mastrantuono to find out more about what he and Kinley have in store.
Tell us about Flatball Radio. What’s the elevator pitch?
Mastrantuono: Flatball Radio is Ultimate’s first live storytelling event. We bring the best storytellers in Ultimate together to share true, personal stories live on-stage. Stories are a key part of Ultimate culture; it’s a major way we bond as a community. Flatball Radio seeks to put those stories in one place, share them with local audiences on stage and produce high quality videos for everyone to enjoy.
How did Flatball Radio come about? What was the ‘aha moment’?
Mastrantuono: Flatball Radio was born out of a love of stories. As a filmmaker, my job is partly visual, but mostly it’s a form of storytelling. I am excited by many mediums of storytelling, not just movies. I had been devouring stories from the Moth, listening to all types of podcasts and consuming lots of stand-up comedy. I started to think about how important stories are for Ultimate and if there was a way to bring them to life in an exciting way. I only entertained those thoughts passively at first, but then I found some clarity in Amsterdam at Windmill Windup. I had the privilege of watching Tyler Kinley speak at a RISE UP conference in the Netherlands. He got on-stage with nothing but a microphone and a worn out square of paper and faced 150 Ultimate players eager to glean wisdom. Instead of flashing a Powerpoint presentation or talking about the latest Sockeye strategic breakthrough, Tyler told a moving, vulnerable story about his experiences. He didn’t give a presentation, he told a story. After that morning I approached him and said “this is what I want to put on stage!” We exchanged some e-mails that can only be described as giddy and we started to plan a pilot show in Seattle.
Why did you want to create something else within ultimate after Chasing Sarasota? Why do you want to do this at all?
Mastrantuono: The Ultimate community is such an important part of my life. I haven’t found another place where the caliber of people even comes close to those I have met in the Ultimate world. When it became apparent that injuries were going to prematurely end my playing career, I wanted to find a way to stay involved. I have no ambitions to make another feature film on Ultimate. I want to be a filmmaker, not a guy who just makes Ultimate movies. So I wanted to find another project that could keep me involved in Ultimate, while adding value to the community and bringing something entirely new to the scene.
I believe storytelling is one of the most powerful ways we can connect as humans and I wanted to create a space where the Ultimate community can share stories in an impacting way. I find great comfort and inspiration from hearing other people talk about their experiences. Empathizing with another person’s anxieties, laughing at their follies, gaining new perspective and being able to get lost in a well told story are vital parts to my life. I think the medium of live storytelling will serve Ultimate in an entirely new capacity.
What do you envision FR looking like on December 3rd?
Mastrantuono: December 3rd is going to be a remarkable night for Seattle Ultimate. We have rented a theater in the heart of Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. Seven exceptional storytellers have been lined up: Donnie Clark, Dominique Fontenette, Tyler Kinley, Alysia Letourneau, Frank Nam, Gina Phillips and Ben Wiggins. The night will be hosted by Tyler Kinley and presented by our awesome sponsor – Five Ultimate. We will have fun audience games, merchandise giveaways, a hilarious halftime panel discussion, and of course, our storytellers with nothing but a microphone. We are expecting an unforgettable night, exploring a new frontier of what Ultimate can be.
How will it be distributed to people who can’t attend?
Mastrantuono: Every Flatball Radio show will be recorded and edited by video production professionals. The world premiere show in Seattle will be running two HD cameras and every minute of the evening will be captured. From there, we will create videos of each story and make them available through our website. Expect the production value to be high and the cost to be low for each of these videos.
Why did you partner with Tyler Kinley on this?
Mastrantuono: The eye opening experience in Amsterdam was certainly the catalyst. It’s clear we both share a similar love of storytelling, and I wanted to involve people who are on the same wavelength as me. I thought that Seattle would make a great place for a pilot show, and it turns out, Tyler personally knows everyone that has ever played Ultimate there. He has been instrumental in finding the best storytellers in town and gives this debut event in Seattle the hometown voice it needs. Also, the dude has some devastating blue eyes.
How were storytellers selected? What are they going to talk about?
Mastrantuono: Tyler has the pulse on the Seattle Ultimate community. He lead the charge in the search for storytellers. We looked for people who were able to tell a great story. We also wanted our storytellers to have unique voices from different perspectives in the Ultimate world. All of them have magnetic personalities in their own way and can connect with a large audience.
The stories will all be inspired by a 175g disc, but the themes and emotions are universal. We want the narratives to extend beyond the field and find something greater. Our Seattle crew is currently hard at work crafting their stories. Titles and subject matter will be released in the weeks leading up to the show!
What is the importance of storytelling within the ultimate community or any community for that matter?
Mastrantuono: The Ultimate community is always telling stories. Whether it’s on the ride home from a tournament, at the bar in the off-season, at a team dinner or in the stretching circle after a long two days, stories are one of the biggest ways we connect. When you a meet an Ultimate player for the first time, within 10 minutes you are both sharing stories about your respective teams, tournaments you have attended or the latest development in our community. There is little I enjoy more than hearing an Ultimate friend tell me about a hilarious story from the last tournament or party they went to. In any community we see things like music, movies, literature and art as vehicles for conveying a story. Most mediums of expression are rooted in the telling of a story and connecting themselves with people in one way or another.
How can people find out more about Flatball Radio?
Mastrantuono: We hope everyone in the Seattle area will come check out our debut event on December 3rd at the Market Theater! Tickets are available at: http://flatballradio.