JOEY LOVES DOGS
by Danielle Miller
The first time Julia and I met with Joey Arietta, General Manager of the Akron Racers, she told us her story and we hung on her every word. Never before had I met someone so dedicated and unwavering in her goals. Joey never had the option of playing softball on any organized level. Those opportunities simply did not exist for her. Because of this, she has accepted it as her personal mission to change the situation for future generations and the players of the league today.
Here are a few facts about Joey that you may not find in the final edit of the film:
1. She loves dogs. Riding along on a Memorial Day float with the Racers (aka the bed of a truck), I witnessed Joey squeal in excitement at the sight of each and every puppy that passed us by. It was like seeing Julia’s reaction when she realizes that the restaurant in which we’re dining offers pot stickers.
2. Standing at 4’11”, Joey is nimble and easy to lose in a crowd. I could cut an entire blooper reel consisting solely of Julia and me trying to follow her through the stadium on a busy day and screaming the words, “WE LOST HER!” over and over again.
3. She refused to allow us to leave the stadium without taking a plate of sloppy Joes and potato salad with us at the end of a long day.
4. When she gets excited, she says things like, “Holy tomato soup!”
The moral of the story here is that it’s pretty hard not to love this woman. Hopefully you’ll root for her as much as we have.
BY DANIELLE MILLER
“So what’s this daggone movie about?!?” you ask? Let’s get to it!
Burn the Ships is the story of the Akron Racers, the only team to survive since the inception of National Pro Fastpitch in 1996. Led by General Manager, Joey Arietta and her tireless work ethic, they’re a blue collar team whom everyone we’ve ever talked to described with the single word, “scrappy.” They have a never-say-die attitude and an endless love for the sport of softball.
The NPF is a league that’s seen its fair share of struggles over the years. Without getting into too much detail (uh oh, looks like you’ll have to watch the movie!), I’ll tell you that it’s an organization consisting of some crazy devoted individuals. When hope seemed lost, these folks, including Joey, fought to keep it alive.
Players now are in a pretty tough situation. Despite being the best in the world at what they do, they don’t get paid enough to make a living as professional athletes. As an outsider, their struggles were difficult and frustrating to witness, but you’d never hear them complain. They’re just happy to extend their time on the field for as long as they possibly can.
“But I don’t know anything about softball!” you say, “I would rather watch The Bachelor than play sports!” You and me both, you guys, but the fact is that while this film takes place in the world of softball, our story is one about determination, sacrifice, and the inability to give up when all hope seems lost.
So maybe you’re not an athlete. Maybe you opened your own glass-blowing studio and your nights are spent creating ashtrays and vases by candle light, striving to see your work displayed in the window of…a store…that sells glass stuff. Maybe you’re a parent whose only goal is to watch your child blossom into a successful adult with all the opportunities he/she can imagine. Maybe you have an impossibly long Netflix queue at which you relentlessly chisel away, determined to see all of the movies. If any of this describes you, there’s something about this film that you’ll be able to relate to. So grab a match/pull out your favorite camouflage Bic lighter with a deer on it and let’s burn these ships!
BURN THE SHIPS
Hello, and welcome to the Burn the Ships blog!
I’m Danielle, and this is my co-director Julia.
In the fall of 2014, Think Media Studios was approached with the idea of making a documentary about the Akron Racers and the NPF, the women’s professional fastpitch softball league.
Didn’t know there was women’s pro fastpitch in this country? Neither did we, and that’s why we wanted to make this movie. But before we get too far, let me tell you a little bit about us.
Somewhere in a Tupperware® bin beside a petrified hot dog that was created in an attempt to feed my sick mother (note to all the five-year-olds reading this: 10 minutes is far too long to cook a hot dog in a microwave), lives a hot air balloon made of construction paper that reads, “When I grow up I want to make movies.”
Staunchly dedicated to standing by all decisions I made at the age of nine, I felt it important to pursue this dream until it became a reality. I went to college for digital media production (RIP, Art Institute of Pittsburgh) and $3M later (tuition estimated based on emotional stress), I graduated a budding film and video editor.
A year and a half later, I found myself begging for a job at Think Media Studios with a bunch of people who were far better at what they did than I. Ever the motivated youth, I studied their skills and talents and spent many a late night practicing my craft, desperate to make my former self proud. Now, here we are, almost eight years later and I’m knee-deep in editorial of my feature film directorial debut, Burn the Ships.
Having not consulted Julia on her background for this blog, I will now take the liberty of fabricating her past.
Julia was essentially raised on a pirate ship, her father a lowly deckhand, her mother the daughter of royalty (why her rich mother was on a pirate ship is a sensitive subject, so please do not ask.) One day, the ship’s lookout spotted something suspicious from his crow’s nest. It was an object the size of an oblong volleyball. He shouted to the crew below him until the mysterious item was retrieved from the waters. Scooping it on board, the men realized that it was not the misshapen tool of family cookout fun, but rather an egg. The egg eventually hatched and a young Julia was welcomed to the world. Nobody wanting the responsibility of raising a human reptile, Julia was tragically neglected in her first days on earth until the deckhand and the rich maiden came together to feed and clothe her for decades to follow. Twenty-something years later, Julia fell overboard in the ocean and somehow washed up on the shores of Lake Erie where she was discovered by Think Media’s fearless leader, Brian Glazen. Brian offered Julia employment, and she’s been with us ever since, flawlessly producing and directing everything from broadcast commercial spots to this film.
Note: Any similarities between Julia’s past and Pirates of the Caribbean/Jurassic Park are strictly coincidental.
Other Note: Julia wishes to inform you that this is not very accurate, but is mildly offensive.
Now that you know a little bit about us, stay tuned to learn about this film and our adventures making it!