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Aspiring filmmaker doing documentary on 2004 Tigers
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Chris Bell (51) during his playing days in this photo clipped from the pages of the Courier. - photo by Provided

She told him to go for it, he said.

And despite living in San Antonio, Bell still has strong ties to his hometown.

"This is not just some ordinary project for me, this is a story of hard work and dedication growing up in a small town with little or nothing to do," said Bell, who noted it was easy for kids to get into trouble in Hinesville without positive role models.

That’s where football came in, providing a path forward for many.

"Being around teammates and coaches really pushed us to stay on track," he said. "I hope we can deliver the same message to our audience."

The documentary itself will include updates on where players and coaches are now, but it’ll focus on the 2004 season "and the challenges we faced on and off the field in Hinesville," Bell said. "We had the second best regular season football record at Bradwell if I’m not mistaken, we had a large senior class and talent left and right."

Since announcing the project, Bell said he has gotten support and help from former head coach Jim Walsh Jr. and defensive coordinator Jeff Miller, and from players on that team who’ve shared memories and press clippings.

"There have been players and coaches I haven’t spoken to in over five years and being able to talk to them and catch up is a good feeling," he said. "They are family to me and even though we haven’t communicated in years, we can pick up where we left off years ago like it’s nothing."

Still, Bell said some people asked him why bother doing the documentary, since Bradwell didn’t win a region title - the Tigers won their first nine games of the regular season before a hardfought 14-12 loss to defending Class AAAAA champion Camden County - and bowed out in the first round of the state playoffs, losing 21-7 to Houston County.

But the point for Bell isn’t what the Tigers failed to do, it’s what they did achieve, both on and off the field.

"A part of me felt like we let the city down, but I looked at the positive side of things," he said. "A lot of the players went off to college and played ball but most importantly, got a degree in their field of study. So, at the end of the day, we may not have won state but a lot of us successfully went to college and are currently living life to the fullest."

Bell points to himself as proof of that. He’s got a family of his own now, and a full time job, and a film company on the side that Bell hopes will launch him into a career as a "big movie" filmmaker. He’s even got his own website,

"I’ve always been into film since middle school," Bell said. "I started to research it more once I got into high school and next thing you know I was borrowing my parents’ camcorder on a regular basis to record any and everything around town."

Bell said work with local film producer McKesson Stafford "gave me the knowledge and motivation to pursue a career in film production. He paved the way for me wanting to start my own business, so I’m very appreciative of the knowledge he showed me."

The former linebacker, who played a few years of semipro ball and still dreams of getting back on the football field, is also grateful for his wife Nastaja’s support, as well as that of his mother, Cynthia Bell "for always being there to support, record and scream (her) lungs out during all my years at Bradwell."

In an email, Bell also gave a "shout out" to those he feels helped him get to where he is today: his grandparents, since passed, who he can still hear cheering for him on game tapes. They left him with a scrapbook of sports clippings he’s held onto all these years.

There also are his teammates he hopes to immortalize in the documentary.

Their tale, he said, is an instructive one, and one he hopes has a message for today’s players.

"I hope to inspire players to work hard not only on the field, but in the classroom," Bell said.

Stay tuned.

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