|Gridiron Gang (2006)
Starring Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Xzibit, Jade Yorker, Leon Rippy
based on the 1993 documentary about the Camp Kilpatrick Mustangs
|Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson
May 2, 1972
Birthplace: Hayward, California, USA
|Xzibit (Alvin Joiner)
September 18, 1974
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, USA
January 19, 1984
Birthplace: Newport Beach, California, USA
The Real "Kenny Bates" From the Film
Birthplace: Samoa (South Pacific)
"With Sean and Malcolm, it's like, they look you in the eye and talk to ya,
and you know they were sincere"
"I mean I worked the hardest I've ever worked — during that summer there, and not once did I think about running away.
...The program gave me that opportunity to earn my way back in, and you know kind of get a new start, get a second chance." -Jason Lamb (The Real "Kenny Bates")
Questioning the Story:
Was Sean Porter really responsible for starting the sports program at Camp Kilpatrick, as the film implies?
Not entirely. The sports program at Camp Kilpatrick was actually started in 1986 with the formation of a basketball squad. In 1988, the camp added an eight man football team, which Sean Porter was influential in developing. In 1990, while under Porter,
the program went into full swing with an eleven man football team and a full season's worth of games. -LA Daily News
When did the actual events in the movie Gridiron Gang take place?
The Emmy Award winning documentary Gridiron Gang was aired on television in 1993. However, the film chronicled the Mustang's 1990 cinderella season, which was the inaugural season for the team. As stated above, an eight man squad had been formed earlier in 1988, but it did not play with a full schedule against
Was the movie Gridiron Gang filmed at the real juvenile detention camp?
Yes. Most of the film was shot on location at the L.A. County Probation Department's Camp Vernon Kilpatrick, located in California's San Fernando Valley (See Google Map). More than 100 inmates, mostly gang members, went about their day as the movie shot around them. The actors and the inmates were asked not to address one another, but some exchanges did occur.
The practice scenes were shot on the camp's actual field, which is only about sixty yards long. See a few of the real present day Kilpatrick players during a game. -hollywood.com
Was it just as difficult in real life for Sean to find other schools to play against?
"Sure," Sean Porter answers. "We always had a difficulty scheduling people, getting real people out there to play us.
Also, you didn't want to over schedule and get schools too big and you didn't want to get schools too small. We were lucky we had some
good schools that would play us and believed in what we did. And after that first year and they saw the quality not just of football, but the character, that was the question. People were always concerned with the character that would be there. We had
them [the schools] requesting to play us after the first year because they liked what we did."
Did the kids on the Camp Kilpatrick team really cry after losing their first football game?
Yes. As depicted in the film, the Camp Kilpatrick players really did cry after losing their first football game. "They didn't know how to handle that type of loss,"
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson said in an interview. After viewing the film, test audiences found this part of the movie hard to believe, that gang members would cry like that. This prompted the filmmakers, including director Phil Joanou, to
include during the credits the same real life scene from the documentary. Other documentary clips were also added, such as the part from the film where Kenny Bates confesses, "I just want my mom to love me."
Did the real Sean Porter expect his team to lose the first game?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson asked this question to his real life Gridiron Gang counterpart. In an interview, Dwayne recalled Sean's answer, "I expected to lose all the games. These kids never, ever played. Eventually I knew that I was going to have to explain to them that it's not
about winning and losing, it's about accepting this challenge." -philly.com
Did the movie Gridiron Gang carry over a lot of the same speeches and lines from the documentary?
Yes. The speeches were real. When asked about the speeches, the real Sean Porter explains, "I've had people who have seen the screenings with me go, 'That's my favorite one of yours.' You know, so, they were real speeches, and yeah, I've been accused of preaching a little bit at times."
Did the real Sean Porter work closely with Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson on the movie Gridiron Gang?
"Actually, no," says the real Sean Porter. "He [Dwayne Johnson] studied the documentary. He studied the footage from that so that he could capture what the documentary had and the message that was caught there. He studied it." Former Mustang coaches Sean Porter and Malcolm Moore did spend an afternoon on the set during filming.
Dwayne Johnson, however, responded to this question differently by saying the following, "…it's like pulling teeth with Sean to get information out of him. It wasn't like he was, like, 'Hey, let's go, man, let's sit down, whatever you need to know.' I mean, it had to be earned. For example, the mom stuff. He never told me any of that.
It would have helped. It was fine that he didn't, and I respect that." -AICN.com
Does Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson have any football experience?
Yes. By Dwayne's senior year in high school, he was considered one of the top 10 defensive tackles in the country. Dwayne (pictured left) received a five year scholarship to the University of Miami, where he began his college football career. In 1991, during Dwayne's first season as a Miami Hurricane, his team won a national championship.
As he neared his college graduation, he was considered one of the top prospects for the NFL, until a severe back injury hampered his dream. Dwayne graduated from Miami in 1995. He moved on from college football to play for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. He left the CFL after only one season to pursue the family profession
of his father and grandfather, professional wrestling. For the movie Gridiron Gang, Dwayne put the football gear back on for a scene where his character teaches a player how to knock down a larger defensive player. "It was awesome," Dwayne says. "I had a chance to put the pads on. Kick ass all over the field. I had a great time."
Did the real Sean Porter want the movie Gridiron Gang to be made?
No, at least not at first. Sean was originally against the film being made, because he was worried about how the real players would be portrayed and how the release of the film would affect there current lives.
For example, he was concerned that if one of the former player's current employers discovered that they killed someone, it could greatly affect their job, and subsequently their life. -AICN.com
Does the real Sean Porter think The Rock is a good actor?
"He [Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson] is a master of his craft now," says the real life Sean Porter. "He's an actor. I don't know that people really appreciate the actor that he is, but if you see the movie, and then get an opportunity to see the documentary, you'll really appreciate what he did."
Is the character of Willie Weathers based on a real person?
Yes. Willie Weathers, whose cousin Roger is killed early in the film, is in fact based on a real person. However, the real individual's name is Michael Black, not Willie Weathers. After leaving Camp Kilpatrick, Michael Black went on to play for Washington State, and then to the NFL where he played for both
the Dallas Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks. -AICN.com
Who is the real life Malcolm Moore, portrayed by Xzibit in the movie Gridiron Gang?
Malcolm Moore (pictured here, far left) is a former USC and NFL veteran. He was originally drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1984, and he went on to play as a wide out for the Los Angeles Rams. After leaving football, Moore became a probation officer, eventually meeting up with Sean Porter at Camp Kilpatrick.
Did the real Malcolm Moore like his job at Camp Kilpatrick?
The real Malcolm Moore considers his days as a coach at Camp Kilpatrick the best job he's ever had. "I could save somebody else's life," Moore says. "I was thrilled as hell when I made my first professional football team. I played with Steve Young, Ronnie Lott and Marcus Allen, but there's nothing like making a difference in a kid's life." Malcolm Moore is currently a deputy probation officer in Antelope Valley, California. -LA Daily News
Did the 1990 Kilpatrick team really have cheerleaders at their games?
No. The real Camp Kilpatrick Mustangs did not and do not have cheerleaders at their games, especially not cheerleaders bused in from a local girls correctional facility. Obviously, these "cheerleaders" were added to the script to be an element of humor.
-LA Daily News
Was the part in the film about Coach Porter's mom passing away true?
Yes. In an interview, Dwayne Johnson spoke about this part of the film, "I always thought the mom's illness was creative liberty until the day we shot the scene," Dwayne says. "The producer came up to me and said '[Sean's] mom passed away in the middle of the season. Just thought you'd want to know that.'
To listen to him say that was all very surreal for me." -movies.msn.com
Did the kids really give Sean Porter flowers when his mother was sick?
Yes. This scene from the film did happen. Malcolm Moore brought Sean Porter into the gymnasium (not a dorm as shown in the film). There, the kids gave Sean flowers for his mom, and he began to cry. Actor Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson had only learned that this flower scene was true three weeks before the film's release,
when he sat down to dinner with the real Sean Porter. Dwayne claims that Sean didn't tell him earlier, because Sean expressed that he just doesn't like to talk about his mom that much. -AICN.com
Did the Camp Kilpatrick Mustangs really make it to the championship game?
Yes. As shown in the film, the Mustangs struggled early, but by the end of the season had made it to the region's championship game against Montclair Prep High School
(not the fictitious Barrington High School seen in the film). At the time, Montclair Prep had lost only three games in the previous four years. Camp Kilpatrick played hard, but lost 13-7. Many feel that they would have won if it wasn't for fourth quarter mistakes and unfortunate penalties. -seattlepi.com
Did any of the real Camp Kilpatrick football players ever try to escape during a game?
Yes. Although it's not shown in the film, during the 1990 playoffs, one of Kilpatrick's standout players disappeared into the crowd after a playoff game and went absent without leave. -LA Daily News
Did the football program at Camp Kilpatrick really help to change the lives of the players (inmates)?
Yes. Although the corrections department has no recorded statistics on the effects of the Kilpatrick football program on the inmates, a lot of them, such as Jason Lamb (pictured right), claim that it helped them to eventually straighten out their lives.
In 1990, Jason Lamb (the real "Kenny Bates") was a 17-year-old car thief who played wide receiver on Sean Porter's team. Lamb's story was part of the 1993 Gridiron Gang documentary. "It was definitely life-changing for me," says Lamb. "I'd been in trouble a lot, but once I got in the program, I never tried to get out [escape from camp] again."
Today, at age 33, Jason Lamb works as a salesman and from time to time still comes out to cheer on his old team (LA Daily News). Jason is seen in the photo above (on the left in his 1990 Mustangs' gear and on the right watching a Mustangs game against Grace Brethren High School in Westlake, California, on September 8, 2006).
Are any other sports currently offered at Camp Kilpatrick?
As of 2006, Camp Kilpatrick has nine sports programs, including football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and track. There is a junior varsity and varsity team in all sports except track. The sports programs have a relatively slim $65,000 yearly budget, mainly for equipment, traveling costs, and stipends for the coaches. -LA Daily News
What does the real Sean Porter do today?
The real Sean Porter moved on from his job at Camp Kilpatrick to become a manager for five camps (prisons for kids) in the Western region. He is married. His wife is shown next to him in the photo to the left, captured at the Gridiron Gang movie premiere. -stfrancis.edu
Who is the current coach of the Camp Kilpatrick Mustangs?
For the past two years, former UCLA football player Derek Ayres (pictured here) has served as head coach of the Camp Kilpatrick Mustangs. The program is very much the same, with almost all of the players only on the team for one season.
They are either released from Camp Kilpatrick or move on to adult prison facilities. -LA Daily News
Do any of the original Mustang players appear in the movie Gridiron Gang?
Yes. Several former Camp Kilpatrick Mustang players appear as extras in the film. This includes former inmate Joseph Lucero, who even had a speaking part. Today, Lucero works closely with gang members from Los Angeles neighborhoods, as he tries to lead them to a better future.
Who else in Hollywood wanted to play the role of Sean Porter?
Interest in the movie version of the documentary has existed for close to 15 years. Actors Nicolas Cage, Bruce Willis, and Sylvester Stallone have all at some point expressed interest in playing Coach Porter. Producer Lee Stanley, the Emmy Award winning filmmaker behind the documentary,
held on to the movie for so long because he never felt that he had found the right actor. He chose Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, because Dwayne shared a somewhat similar story with the kids in the film. -AICN.com
How can I get my hands on the original Gridiron Gang documentary?
Unfortunately, the original 1993 TV documentary (also titled Gridiron Gang) is not currently for sale, nor is it available for viewing anywhere online. Although there is no official word yet, more than likely Sony will include the documentary with the Gridiron Gang DVD release.
Sony probably didn't want to release the documentary on DVD at the same time as the film, for fear that people would opt for the more true to life documentary instead.
Gridiron Gang Interviews:
Check out the humorous Rock and Xzibit MADTV Interview below.