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Featuring The Curse of Billy Penn's Rob Marcolina

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Philly2Philly recently got a chance to speak to one of the brains behind “The Curse of Billy Penn”, a documentary about the reason why Philadelphia teams suffered through the longest losing streak in the history of American sports for any city that has 4 sports teams.   

It was 25 long years, 100 seasons of losing, and enough was enough.  Rob Marcolina and Mikaelyn Austin set out to make a movie that would set the record straight about Philadelphia fans, who are so often maligned by the likes of ESPN, The NFL Network, and many other national news organizations.

“I was fed up with treatment of Philly Fans nationally and we thought it was time to try to set the record straight on the most misunderstood fan base in the Nation. Everyone knew the plight of Red Sox fans before they won in 2004, and the plight of Cub's fans that exists presently, but no one nationally knew how Philly Fans have suffered," said Marcolina.

"The Curse of Billy Penn" is our answer to Chicago’s goat, The Curse of the Bambino, and countless other curses that have befallen teams throughout professional sports.  However, fans in Chicago and Boston were rolling in confetti despite suffering through epic collapses with the Cubs and Sox.  Chicago fans had the Bulls, while Boston fans had the Patriots before the Sox ended their reign of futility! Who did Philadelphia have from 1983 to 2008? The Soul.  Enter Marcolina and Austin who embarked on a quest to expose Philadelphia’s infamous sports curse-The Curse of Billy Penn.

And, so often when filmmakers go out and make movies, they have an intended duration in mind.  But, 99.99999999% of the time the intended duration of any movie doesn’t happen for a plethora of reasons that would make a moviegoers head spin.  Just ask Francis Ford Coppola who made Apocalypse Now, the masterpiece that made the Godfather director nearly go insane.

Marcolina didn’t quite have his movie destroyed by a cyclone, but he went through his own trials and tribulations in making "The Curse of Billy Penn."  During the creative process many would-be short projects can turn into monsters of mythic proportions.  "The Curse" is no exception as it was meant to be just a “fun piece” that would air on Cable Access TV.

“YouTube wasn't even around when we started, but we were very fortunate to interview Pat Croce soon into our production and it grew exponentially from there. What had planned to be a 6 month project grew to 4 years and expanded to a full length documentary that included the likes of Kevin Bacon, Steven A. Smith, and the late beloved Harry Kalas.”

This project is what initially got Marcolina into filmmaking and it’s quite a feat for a first-timer. And, despite the frustration that comes with not “making it” he will forge forward and continue making films for the rest of his life.  “I have been at this for 5 years and despite the ups and downs of the business I can honestly say that I will be doing film for the rest of my life. There are too many great stories out there to ever stop telling them”, Marcolina acknowledged.

Mr. Marcolina is no stranger to humility and in a business that oftentimes includes many cocky, brash, personalities, he is quite the opposite and very gracious.  “We have been tremendously fortunate to befriend the likes of Ray Didinger of Comcast Sportsnet, and formerly NFL Films, Harry Kalas, the world class PA Announcer for the Eagles and Phillles Dan Baker, and so many other prominent folks in the Philly community. When we "make it big" we will give all the credit to the great members of the Philly community who were so gracious in embracing us and helping us make our dreams come true.”

"The Curse of Billy Penn" was met with much local acclaim but unfortunately it didn’t “blow up” on the national spot as Marcolina and Austin had hoped.  And, the reason for that was…their planned rally to promote the movie got the cord yanked on it with little warning.

“We had worked to get a Philly Fan Rally to celebrate the great dedication of Philly Fans on the 25th Anniversay of the last Philly Championship down at the stadiums. Expected attendance was going to between 5,000 to 10,000 attendees and ESPN was planning to cover the event. At the last moment (a mere week and a half before the event) it was canceled for reasons we didn't quite understand."

Rob is a lover of comedies and dramas like most of his counterparts, but if he had to choose one comedy to keep for the remainder of his life it would be of course-Caddy Shack, because it's “so damn quotable!”

He proudly recited a famous exchange in the movie:

" Judge Smails: You know, you should play with Dr. Beeper and myself. I mean, he's been club champion for three years running and I'm no slouch myself.

Ty Webb: Don't sell yourself short Judge, you're a tremendous slouch."

The duo of Marcolina and Austin are anything but slouches as they have many future projects in mind.  

As far as their next project they are working on a feature film of a rags to riches story, on the level of Rocky. They also have 2 sports reality series underway.  Added to that, they are working on a documentary about Anthony Drexel, the founder of Drexel U, who many consider to be father of our modern economic system.  

To order the documentary, go to www.phrustratedphan.com/home.html

For more information on the Philly Philms Production Company, go to http://www.philly-philms.com/