The media and information senior, who is also a walk-on player for the MSU basketball team, mixed that love with his passion for writing and film to create the idea for his short film, “The Cager.”
The short tells the story of former college basketball star Wesley Ray, played by SAG certified actor and former MSU basketball player Delvon Roe. Ray’s dream of living in basketball stardom is shattered after he suffers an injury during his last college game. Five years later, Ray’s life is spinning out of control as he struggles to stand by and support his family.
When Ray meets Joe, a kind stranger, at a nearby zoo, Ray’s perspectives of life, family and the meaning of true happiness are reshaped.
“Basically, it’s a man weighing the value of ambition against the value of family,” Ryan Sundberg, an MSU alumnus and cinematographer with the production, said. Sundberg, along with other members of the team, works with Eightfold Marketing & Creative, LLC. Other team members work out of Auburn Hills with alumni-founded Rumor Productions, LLC.
While the story is fictional, Wetzel’s inspiration was drawn from growing up around basketball players who share a common, and sometimes unreachable, dream of making it to the NBA.
“I’ve always wanted to do a short film on basketball, but also the transition from anything to life,” Wetzel said. “It’s always an interesting perspective when you look at (the question) ‘what do you do when you’ve done the same thing for the past 19 or 20 straight years, and it’s taken from you?’ That was my inspiration.”
The film is on its way to the pre-production stage, but the team still has a funding goal to reach before July 11. The team has a Kickstarter campaign page for their goal of $25,000. So far they have collected about $4,500 in donations, but the production is hinging on whether they meet their goal by the July deadline.
If the deadline is not met, all funds will be returned to their donors and the production process will halt.
MSU alumnus Steven VanMaele, a storyboard artist with Eightfold Marketing & Creative, LLC., said they’re still working on the shot list and storyboard even though the goal has yet to be met.
Wetzel said no donation is too small and even donations of only $1 receive tweeted “thank yous” from the production’s Twitter page. Should their goal be met, the team hopes to have filming and production completed by October.
From there, Wetzel said the 20 to 25 minute film will go to nonprofit organizations directly correlated with its message, such as Parents Without Partners and the Boys & Girls Club of Lansing.
“I hope that people take from this film that life isn’t about what you do, but rather who you affect,” Wetzel said. “This film speaks and says it’s not about fame or fortune — it’s about the ones you love and the affect you have on them.”