If you’re a fan of Bradwell Institute, go ahead and circle March 18 on your calendar.
That’s when “Welcome to the Jungle: The 2004 Bradwell Tigers Documentary” will make its world premiere at Liberty Cinema in Hinesville.
The hour and 17-minute documentary is by former BI linebacker Chris Bell, a San Antonio filmmaker who has been working on the project since 2014 through his production company, Bell Filmz.
As the title suggests, this documentary is about the 2004 BI football team.
“It’s about what we accomplished and the things we went through to accomplish them, and how our story will always be one of the top stories in Bradwell history,” Bell said.
That 2004 team was certainly one of the most potent in the school’s football history, especially in the regular season. The Tigers were 9-0 and ranked in the Top 10 heading into the regular season finale, a 14-12 loss to No. 1-ranked Camden County that was witnessed by an estimated 10,000 people at Olvey Field.
“That was pretty good for a high school football game,” Bell said.
That loss was followed by a first-round exit in the state Class AAAAA playoffs, a bittersweet end to what had been one of Bradwell’s best-ever seasons.
For Bell, who earned All Region 3-AAAAA honors that season, the lessons he learned are about more than what happened on the field. And so is his film, which includes interviews with former players from that team and others.
“This film is aimed at encouraging and inspiring young athletes to work hard on and off the field,” he said. “It’s not just about focusing on being a good football player, but a good student as well.”
Among those featured in the documentary are 2004 players Vince Vance, who went on to play at the University of Georgia, Omar Stoddard, now in the military;Jarrell Crawford, a former Region 3-AAAAA offensive player of the year who played at Georgia Southern and is now in the Army; Jake Walsh and J.J. McWilliams.
Players from earlier Bradwell teams are interviewed, including former NFL linebacker Gary Guyton and standout running back Joe Matavao, as is former head coach Jim Walsh Jr. and defensive coordinator Jeff Miller.
Bell, who has family in Hinesville and considers the city his hometown, plans to have a red carpet event prior to the premier, which is a one-day only screening starting at 10 a.m. He’s inviting everyone.
“You can wake up early in the morning, get you an hour and 15 minutes of good football and then have the rest of the day to go to church or do whatever you want to do,” he said.
After the premier, Bell intends to enter “Welcome to the Jungle” in film festivals and will attempt to get it distributed through various outlets such as Netlix and Hulu. Bell is also planning to make the documentary into a series.
There is no charge for admission and concession stands will be open, according to Liberty Cinema General Manager Robert Williams, a former high school football player who said screening the movie free of charge for Bell is a way for Georgia Theater Company and Liberty Cinema to give back.
“We want to do this for the community,” said Williams, who added he’s heard the documentary is well worth watching. “I want to see it myself.”