"This is a film that will stay with you forever."
- Chicago Tribune
Nominated Best Narrative Feature
Amidst the seedy streets of the San Fernando Valley, a minor league baseball player recklessly claws to keep his big league dreams alive.
Geoffrey Lewis (in his final film), Phil Donlon, David Yow, Ernie Hudson and Lindsey Haun star in this dark drama / slice of life that explores the dangerous nature of living in someone else's shadow.
In preparation for the film, High & Outside producers encouraged Phil Donlon to attend a professional baseball training camp in Palm Springs, CA. There he was able to spend time with players both young and old - veteran coaches who had been to the big leagues, and hopeful kids trying to break-in.
One night, Phil joined some of the guys in their hotel room to screen some early scenes from the film. There was an eerie silence in the space, and Donlon worried that they didn’t like it. Then one ex-big leaguer broke the quiet and said, “How did you know?” What he meant -- and what all of the guys in the room eventually explained -- was that High & Outside was capturing the real life, off-field game of baseball in a way that no other film had before. Many of the coaches and players pointed to moments in the film that were similar to ones in their own life. Art imitating actual life, rather than a glorified idea of what baseball life should be.
But this is no coincidence. Director Evald Johnson is the son of former big league manager and player Tim Johnson. Evald quite literally grew up in the game and set out to make a truthful baseball film that reflected what he witnessed. The result is a stark look at the contrast between the romance of the game and it’s brutal off-field realities. A slow burning tale of fathers, sons, and the shadows that haunt them.
A LEGEND RETIRES
Having an actor as accomplished as Geoffrey Lewis accept the role opposite Donlon was remarkable. Having him become part of our family was the greatest gift imaginable. The making of High & Outside took approximately 3.5 years, through which Geoffrey endured his own personal health battles. He was, however, unflinching in his desire to see the film completed - calling the story "very important". He would later confide that his initial attraction to the project was the "honest and untidy ending" that Hollywood so often misses in motion pictures. When his scenes were finally completed, he jokingly lobbied for more to be added. He became the project's champion, but unfortunately didn't get to see the completed film, having passed just months before we finished photography. Like everything in Geoffrey's career, he gave the character of Len Harding everything that he had. It's a painful but sweet goodbye that we feel lucky to have captured in cinema.
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