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Meet the Man Behind Those Videos of African Orphans Reenacting Famous Boston Sports Moments

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Slade Sohmer

By Slade Sohmer on November 26, 2012

Daniel Freiman

You may have seen a delightful pair of viral videos in which group of Kenyan schoolchildren reenact memorable moments in Boston sports history.

The first, a reenactment of Boston’s epic 1986 Game 6 World Series collapse, was posted back in June and has racked up more than 200,000 views on YouTube. The second, posted just last week, shows off a happier moment for Boston: Larry Bird’s famous steal at the end of Game 5 of the 1987 NBA Eastern Conference finals. That’s been seen more than 100,000 times.

Enamored as we were, we tracked down the creator of these videos, Daniel Freiman. How did this come together? Were the kids into it? Are they in on the joke? The videos are part of a $56,000-goal fundraiser to give these awesome kids access to a nearby playing field, but is there more to it than that? And what happens if/when the goal is met? Meet the man behind it all.

HyperVocal: What’s your story, and how did you pull this off?

Daniel Freiman: I am a 26 year old MBA student currently studying at Ryerson University in Toronto. I was born and raised in Toronto and was volunteering this past summer in Kenya at the Grace Care Orphanage. I was there for 6 weeks starting mid-May, and I left at the end of June.

The original baseball video “1986 World Series … in Kenya” was intended to be more of a keepsake than anything for the kids and myself, but I also decided to share with some friends back home. Within a few days it went viral, and I realized that if we made a second re-enactment video with the same level of perfection from the kids we could raise significant funds for the orphanage. I filmed the basketball video during my last week in Kenya.

When I came back to Canada I was able to partner with a Canadian charity, Lift The Children, for this fundraising initiative. Lift The Children is a humanitarian organization focused on helping abandoned African children.

The idea behind this fundraising initiative is to raise enough money for the orphanage to purchase a playing field where the kids can safely play. Currently there are no safe places for them to play, and they have resorted to playing a game called “Bounce” in their spare time. The game is a combination of rock-kicking and hopscotch. That’s the extent of recreation they currently can undertake given the small confines of the orphanage. The targeted field is available for purchase and is just down the block from Grace Centre. We have raised over $7,000 in 5 days, which is very exciting, but we still have a long ways to go.

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HV: Who came up with the idea for shot-for-shot recreations of famous Boston sports moments, both good and bad?

DF: I showed the kids the Mets/Sox clip, as well as the Music City Miracle (Bills vs. Titans) on my laptop — they chose the Buckner play for the original movie. They kept laughing at the pile-up at home plate. I chose the Larry Bird steal and dish as the second re-enactment choice.

There’s no denying the rich sports history of the city of Boston, but that was hardly the reason for choosing both of these plays. I was looking to choose plays that were well-known, easy to replicate and had a famous TV/radio call, so people could identify with them. Specifically, for this second video, I wanted to get the entire orphanage involved, and since there are two totally bent out of shape basketball nets at the school, I figured a basketball play would work. It wouldn’t have been feasible to bring 150 kids to a field 3 miles away to film a baseball or football clip.

I wanted to have all of the kids rush the court to finish the video, so the play had to be a game-winning shot. It was between Bird’s steal and Christian Laetner’s buzzer-beater for Duke, but no kid would be able to hit that turn-around fadeaway, nor replicate Grant Hill’s baseball throw down the court. The Bird play was simply a steal and a lay-up.

HV: Are the kids into it? Are they in on the joke?

DF: They totally get it and want to do more!

HV: How many people are producing this? Was it your idea to throw “Future Sports Guy” into the Boston Garden scene?

DF: In respect to crowd control, I had some assistance from some teachers and other volunteers, but I was responsible for the creative. The other volunteers and teachers didn’t really know what I was doing, but they knew enough to let me run with it. Did you know that Simmons sat directly next to the tunnel at the Boston Garden in the 1980s? Exactly where Cyrus Kubesa is standing in the re-enactment.

HV: How long do they take to film and then edit?

DF: We practiced both plays (the block and the steal/basket) the day before a bunch of times until they perfected them. It’s really tough for anyone to hit a lay-up on a net that’s totally deformed, let alone a child that has never been properly taught how to play. It was equally as challenging to have Godfrey bounce the ball perfectly off Benson’s leg and into the wall … or our version of out of bounds (0:42).

The next day after lunch we brought the rest of the school to act as Celtic fans. We taught them when to cheer, boo, go nuts, and rush the court. If you look carefully when the Pistons are being introduced, the hometown 7-year-old Celtic fans are booing them in the background (0:15 – 0:21).

Once the fans knew their roles, we brought the players out to run the plays. They nailed both of them on the 2nd take. The entire process took about an hour to film. When I brought the clips home in July I edited them with the help of my brother Dave and sister Jess. We’ve had it ready for some time, but it took a few months to find a legitimate charity to partner with. Lift The Children has been a terrific match for the project.

HV: Are there plans for any more vids? What’s your next idea?

DF: If we raise enough money to purchase a field I will definitely head back to Kenya at some point in the future and direct another movie. I have some potential really cool ideas for the next play … stay tuned.

HV: Let’s say you get to $56K — what happens next? Big ceremony?

DF: The field is already in place however it is currently privately owned but is available for purchase. Part of the $56k will go towards the labour costs associated with leveling it. It should take 2-3 months to complete. If we get up to $50k, I’ll begin to start thinking about their ceremony.

But until then it’s still a dream …

Click here if you’d like to help these kids realize that dream.

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