In "The Stars Are Aligned," 14 famous figures - each representing a different university in the Southeastern Conference - spill their emotions and explain why they'll never forget where they came from. "The Stars Are Aligned" will air on the SEC Network Thursday, Aug. 14 at 9 p.m. ET.
Andy Billman, the film's director, sat down with SECSports.com for this Q&A about the upcoming film.
SEC: What was the inspiration for the idea and creation of The Stars Are Aligned?
Andy Billman: "With the creation of the SEC Network, the talk was to do a film that was more celebratory. With any type of project, we have a goal in mind, whether it's a particular theme, moment or person. In this case, we talked about a project that focused on all 14 SEC schools and we were looking for a way to do that in an hour or hour-and-a-half. When we were brainstorming, we thought, maybe the way to do it is to select one particular fan from each school and get into what's unique about that school, why they're a fan of that school and memories they have from the past. This film celebrates why we're all fans. They feel like they know these people from reading about them or watching on TV from afar, but hopefully this brings a different light to them. All fans are the same. Whether it's Ashley Judd, James Carville or Governor Rick Perry, they're all the same - they're nervous, they're intense and they're happy or sad based on a win or a loss."
SEC: This film is a little different from the SEC Storied films in the past. How does this film fit into the SEC Storied series?
Andy Billman: "In this case, what we're doing is re-living a series of moments and highlights from a different perspective. The theme of this film is that we're all fans. You're hearing James Carville re-live the Billy Cannon play, Ashley Judd re-living the LSU-Kentucky game from 1994 where Kentucky made that great comeback, Jonathan Papelbon talking about why he loves Mississippi State and what drew him to the school, and Shepard Smith talking about The Grove. It's a very unique perspective and a very cool perspective."
SEC: What is unique about The Stars Are Aligned?
Andy Billman: "What this film does is that it touches upon every school, which is something that we would normally not try to do. It's not easy. It's a hard thing to touch upon one person in an hour, much less all 14 schools. I think the most important thing is that it represents what all fans have gone through. We've all sat through great wins, frustrating losses and memorable moments. This is why you come back to your school and this film reminds us why we go to games. Sometimes you forget these things when you're busy, but these moments bring back memories of family and conversations from your past. We've got to do that more. We live too much in the digital age."
SEC: What is the most interesting thing you learned through the production of this film?
Andy Billman: "That each school has a unique characteristic. When we started this project, I honestly didn't think I'd learn that much new stuff, but I learned a lot more than I thought I would. Every school has a unique tradition, a unique story and something that I did not know about. For instance, Missouri has a scarf man who throws up his scarf every time a free throw is shot."
SEC: What makes this film so relatable for fans?
Andy Billman: "James Carville has obviously done many high-profile things but, on a Saturday night, he's probably the same guy I am - pacing, nervous and he just can't watch. When LSU wins, he wants to read every article. When LSU loses, he can only read the New York Times. I can definitely relate to that and other fans can too. You go to games expecting certain things and sometimes the outcome is different. It's all relatable. These 14 people display the same emotions we do on gameday."
SEC: All 14 subjects highlighted in the film are high-profile individuals with busy schedules. How were you able to coordinate all of the interviews?
Andy Billman: Everybody we talked to has a busy schedule and we realize that. It was 14 people who are spread all over the country in different locations. We just asked them, when they had some time available, we knew they were huge fans of this particular school, how could we get some of their time? That's how it worked. Everybody, once we started talking to them, was very interested. It makes a great film. I am very appreciative of them; they made my job easy."
SEC: What do you hope the takeaway from this film is for viewers?
Andy Billman: "This film reminded us why we go to games and why we are fans of certain teams. You get to hear different personalities and why they come back to their universities and the fields or courts. I hope people get as much joy out of this as I did. It is a fun film and I hope everyone gets a kick out of it."