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(Many Paths)
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'Crooked Arrows' Team Casting Lacrosse Players in Tri-State Area
credits: photo courtesy of Chris R. Vaccaro -
Sports not only serve as entertainment on the field, but when something special or unique happens they can transition into other mediums.

We have seen countless movies depicting the trials and tribulations of athletes and teams across a wide range of sports, with one exception: lacrosse.

The widely popular sport, especially along the east coast, hasn't made its debut on the silver screen -- until now.

The film, titled "Crooked Arrows," will tell the fictional tale of a Native American prep school team and its unlikely rise to the league's championship game.

Casting for the film has been a success so far -- Ellis and the film's team recently visited Baltimore -- and they will be coming to the tri-state area this weekend to pick the best of the best in terms of lacrosse athletes.

Ellis and the team behind "Crooked Arrows" will be in Hempstead, LI; Norwalk, Conn.; and Summit, NJ and expect an even bigger turnout.

"Word is getting out, there is a huge fever about the sport, and the tri-state area is lacrosse country. We need 75-125 lacrosse players, and we have seen great turnouts because these athletes want to have the chance to be in a movie and get paid to play lacrosse," Ellis says.

Ellis, a longtime sports choreographer whose resume includes films such as "Invincible" and "Miracle," says "Crooked Arrows" is a reflection on the changing trends in American sports, and he explained the difficulties the team is facing in terms of casting and pushing lacrosse into the mainstream.

Recently Ellis, a former Appalachian State football player and South Carolina coach, noted that there has been a change in what production companies are asking him for.

"It used to be that I would get calls from Disney or the WB asking me for a quarterback to run off the field and kiss the cheerleader after the big game," he says. "More and more however, they have been looking for that quarterback to be a lacrosse player."

Even though the sport has not been portrayed often in the media, and the pro ranks haven't yet picked up steam, Ellis notes there is a strong following, and "Crooked Arrows" should help expand it.

"This movie is going to propel the sport into the mainstream. Kids who have not heard of the sport or are on the fence about it will want to learn more and more about it," he says. "We're going to see it take off in junior high schools and high schools across the country."

The film has even grabbed the attention of a big name Hollywood star -- Brandon Routh signed on for a leading role last week.

Ellis also noted when athletes enter Hollywood, sometimes the worlds clash, while other times they mesh quite well.

"Athletes are natural performers I believe; only their theater is on the field. It's sometimes easier to take an athlete and turn them into an actor, I do believe that most athletes tend to be coachable and are willing to learn and work hard. It does take a great deal of time to become a strong actor, but in these types of pieces, the athletes do not have a tremendous amount to act out.

"When you need to turn an actor into an athlete, it is a little more difficult but the more athletic they are the easier it is. In both cases, our goal is to make the product look credible and authentic," Ellis says.

Ellis and the team behind "Crooked Arrows" will face their biggest challenge in finding Native American lacrosse players to fill the roles on the "hero team."

"The hero team is all in itself will be a difficult task both act and play lacrosse. We had a similar issue with 'Miracle.' We asked ourselves, do we find skaters and teach them how to act or vice versa. Here we want the Native American team to be able to do both," Ellis says.

In addition to casting, authenticity is a must, especially when you are going to be the pioneer, as "Crooked Arrows" will be.

"For lacrosse this [authenticity] will be very challenging, it is a flowing sport, so fast and ball moves quickly. That being said, we're up for it, we have a lot of ideas, the sport lends itself to being portrayed nicely on the big screen," Ellis says.

"Crooked Arrows" is expected to open nationwide in spring 2012 -- right during the height of lacrosse season.

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