Brian Banks seemingly had it all figured out.
It was 2002, his junior year at Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, and at 6’4” and 225 pounds, Brian was among the top linebacker prospects for high school football nationwide. He had verbally committed to play for Pete Carroll at USC after graduating and, by all accounts, seemed destined for a career in the National Football League. But then, after a sexual encounter on campus, a classmate accused Banks of raping her. He was arrested that day and soon found himself staring down the barrel of a 41 years-to-life in prison. He decided to cut a plea deal in the hopes that he’d get probation, but instead was sentenced to six years in prison. Thanks in large part to the efforts of California Innocence Project founder Justin Brooks and his legal team, Brian’s conviction was ultimately overturned in 2012, and Brian went on to land a couple of NFL tryouts. He even played in a couple of preseason games with the Atlanta Falcons, but was ultimately cut from the team and eventually left his pursuit of playing pro football to explore public and motivational speaking opportunities.
Tom Shadyac also seemingly had it all figured out.
It was 2007, and Tom was a successful Hollywood director with credits under his belt including “Bruce Almighty,” “Liar, Liar,” “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.” He had earned millions of dollars, flew private and had bought himself everything a rich movie director could possibly want. But then, after a mountain biking accident that was initially not severe, Shadyac developed severe post-concussion syndrome symptoms that drove him to the point of wanting to end his life. Instead, he sold everything he owned, moved to Memphis, Tennessee, left his Hollywood career and lifestyle behind and devoted his life to charity. He remained hungry for an opportunity to direct again, but despite his agent’s best efforts, Shadyac wasn’t able to get a job in film for 10 years, until 2017 when he was approached about directing Brian Banks’ biopic, and he jumped at the chance.
Today on FilmWeek, we’ll hear from both Brian and Tom about making the film and the common threads from their very different life stories that brought them together to make a film.
With guest host John Horn
Brian Banks, former football player whose life story is the subject of the film “Brian Banks;” he was wrongfully convicted of rape in 2002 and sentenced to six years in prison before being released in 2012 after his accuser recanted her statements and acknowledged fabricating the story
Tom Shadyac, director of “Brian Banks”