This week on Director’s Cut, we take a break from our documentary-heavy lineup and welcome writer-actor-producer Ryan Churchill to discuss his film The 60 Yard Line.
Ben “Zagger” Zagowski is a diehard Packers fan. While he and his fiancée Amy prepare for their wedding, Zagger uses their savings to seize a rare opportunity to buy a house next to Lambeau Field, which he names The 60 Yard Line. His superfan status is elevated, as he spends his days parking cars for money, getting drunk and befriending actual pro football players. In all his drunken tailgating glory, he loses his job and Amy. He must figure out what is most important in his life. Also, where did this cow come from? Based on some true events.
Read more about this film, and about my interview with filmmaker Ryan Churchill.
Packers fans are in for a treat, as Churchill tells the story of a Packer fan extraordinaire who struggles to balance his love for the team and his love for his fiancée. If you haven’t figured it out yet, this is a comedy, and it is VERY funny.
The story takes place in the pivotal year of 2009 – the same season in which beloved quarterback Brett Favre left town to play for the hated Minnesota Vikings. As ESPN.com reported in 2016, the crew sent out a call for Vikings fans to play the bad guys in a key scene.
Originally from Beloit, Churchill is a graduate of UW-Stout. He is also a trained sketch-comedy veteran; he studied at Chicago’s famed Second City in Chicago and graduated from the ACME Sketch Comedy Writing program in Los Angeles (where he currently resides).
In addition to this film, Churchill is a working actor with many commercials and TV guest appearances under his belt. Fun fact from his bio on the film’s website: Ryan’s first ever paid acting job was playing an underage boy illegally buying cigarettes in a Walgreens industrial training video. (He was 27.)
Thanks to his many connections in the industry, you’ll probably recognize many of the actors in this film, such as Randall Park and Chelsey Crisp (Fresh Off the Boat), Cedric Yarbrough (Reno 911, Speechless), Mindy Sterling (the Austin Powers movies) and even UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell.
The star power doesn’t end there. For true authenticity, the film is peppered with great cameos from former Packer players such as John Kuhn, Mark Tauscher and Ahman Green. Green has had some experience on the big screen, but Tauscher’s performance was also surprisingly good. (Read Tauscher’s Isthmus interview with Churchill here.)
Full disclosure: I’m a Bears fan living in Packer country, so I related most to the character of Zagger’s best friend, Polano. In Titletown, love for the Packers is inescapable; even though Polano is a Bears fan, he helps make the house a shrine to the Green and Gold. But as a former stand-up comic and comedy writer myself, I can say with absolute certainty that you will love this film. It’s funny from start to finish.
Sure, the football season is still three months away – but The 60 Yard Line will give gridiron and comedy fans an off-season fix for both! (I realize there is no “off-season” for comedy… but I really like the way that line sounded.)
Please join me this Friday, June 8 for my interview with Ryan Churchill on Director’s Cut at 10:30 p.m. And stick around after our interview, when Director’s Cut will air the full-length film The 60 Yard Line.
As always, thanks for joining us on Wisconsin Public Television: your home for independent film!