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Film Engages RMHS Students and Staff

On Screen and Off
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The recent filming of the Hal Croft documentary gave students and staff at RMHS the opportunity to experience what production is like and go inside the world of professional filmmaking. 

The documentary, which is set to release in early 2024, is about former Vietnam Veteran, RMHS teacher, and track coach, Hal Croft, who managed to accomplish a 29 year period without losing a single spring track meet. One of his previous athletes, Brandon Millett, decided to write the extraordinary story of Reading’s success and his exceptional coach. To tell the story, Millett decided to include students and staff from RMHS.

A Student On Screen

Senior Graham Goodwin was given the opportunity to portray his current cross country coach during one of the biggest scenes of the documentary. In 1998, an athlete under Croft, Michael Connelly, was disqualified during the Woburn vs. Reading track meet, causing the streak to be jeopardized. Connelly finished 1st place to beat Woburn but as he was finishing, he held up a victory finger in the air. The referees thought it was dramatic and unsportsmanlike and handed the win to Woburn, breaking the streak. Croft thought this decision was unjust and took their case to the MIAA to fight for the streak and Connelly’s reputation.  Later during a school day, the MIAA overturned the decision and gave Reading their victory back.

It was a unique experience.

— Graham Goodwin ('24)

Goodwin seized the chance to honor his coach and was cast by the producers to play him for this impactful, dramatic scene. He took his role seriously and prepared for this. He explained, “I got the same haircut that Michael Connelly had when he was a student here, and I pretty much shaved my head.” By being so closely involved in the filming practice, Goodwin was exposed to production and the behind the scenes. He shared, “I learned a lot about the world of production and what it was like to act and have to do multiple things over and over and over again, which was a double edged sword. It was a unique experience.”

A Student in Production

Another student who had a fascinating role with the production was senior Owen Gaffen. Gaffen, who plans to major in film after high school, was approached by his teacher who told him that the Croft documentary filmmakers were looking for students to help out with it. He jumped on this opportunity and got to be a production assistant, working directly with the Constant Motion Entertainment film crew. He shared what it was like to work with them. “The film crew were really good about making sure it was an educational experience for me, and so I learned a lot from it.” He followed the statement with, “It was cool being on an actual film set.”

The film crew were really good about making sure it was an educational experience for me

— Owen Gaffen ('24)

AD as Actor

Not only was the filming of the documentary striking to students’ interest, but also to the staff. RMHS Athletic director Zaya had a special connection to the film. He said, “The person that is putting it all together, Brandon Millet was a high school classmate of mine. So I’ve been in contact with him or he’s been in contact with me for quite a while about the film.” Zaya worked with Millett, who he’s known for years, to coordinate details and arrange aspects of the filming at the school. Zaya also got to act as the Woburn track coach during the same disqualification scene as Goodwin. While Zaya has worked at RMHS for many years, nothing like the Croft documentary has been seen by him.  “Film production-wise, I’ve been involved with more small-scale things but this production has a producer, executive producer, director, head of cinematography, camera person, and all those different parts. That’s something that I wasn’t sure was going to be part of this.”

Students and staff were grateful to dive inside the world of cinematography and learned a lot from this special event.

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