On Thursday, July 7, the Northsiders supporters group will be hosting a screening of Rise & Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story at the Rio Theatre (1660 East Broadway). The event will be used as a bid to raise funds for the worldwide release of the film, which follows Jay DeMerit along his remarkable journey from obscurity to the English Premier League, and ultimately the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
The final barrier for the film’s release is to obtain licensing rights, and to do that they need help. Anyone who pledges $25 or more will be admitted to tomorrow’s screening event, while those who pledge at least $75 will have the opportunity to meet DeMerit and participate in an intimate question and answer session with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC captain prior to the screening. (Q&A is at 9 p.m. PT, screening is at 10 p.m. PT)
After going undrafted in college, DeMerit set off to Europe with few resources, but a dream to play professional soccer abroad. Perseverance pushed him from living in an attic to leading Watford FC to England’s top tier and starring for the United States men’s national team.
“This film is not just for those who love soccer, but for anyone who has a dream,” says co-producer and director Nick Lewis. “No matter who you are or what your passion is in life, Jay’s story is one that will inspire.”
Like DeMerit, Lewis and film partner Ranko Tutulugdzija also have a dream – to tell this inspirational story to the world. Their story is equally as astonishing as DeMerit’s. Several years ago, the pair decided to document DeMerit’s ascension up the soccer ladder, but neither had any filmmaking experience. They initially hired a professional director from London to help them out. However, the director had to pull out due to an emergency a week before filming began, so Lewis and Tutulugdzija were on their own.
"Nick and I, we had no idea what we were doing,” Tutulugdzija told The Guardian in April. “[But] you know what, we figured it out along the way. Film is so special because it opens its arms up to anyone who has the passion or the heart. And for me, even though we lacked experience, we had the heart for it."
Now, with a Rising Star Award from the Canadian International Film Festival already in hand, Lewis and Tutulugdzija are following in DeMerit’s footsteps and achieving their dream.