From big leagues to big screen: Former MLB star Kenny Lofton is now a movie producer
Kenny Lofton had the type of career that most pro athletes dream of. A six-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner, Lofton enjoyed 17 seasons in Major League Baseball, living the dream. He was paid, very handsomely, to play a kid’s game — and was considered one of the best at his craft during his prime. Yet his childhood dreams were left unfulfilled … until now.
Life after baseball can be challenging and even sometimes cruel for many former athletes. But for Lofton, the end of his baseball career meant that he could pursue his true passion — film and television.
"I got my degree at Arizona in TV and film, and wanted the opportunity to pursue it after my career," said Lofton. "In 2004 I started my company FilmPool Inc. and I knew that’s exactly what I wanted to do."
Last weekend Lofton returned to Cleveland, the city he called home for 10 years of his MLB career, to premiere his new movie, "My First Miracle."
Lofton is the executive producer of the film, which is an inspirational story about a young girl who is battling cancer and struggling to find a bone marrow transplant. Through faith, hope and prayer, she witnesses how God works in mysterious ways.
Lofton said that he knew he wanted to make the movie as soon as he saw the script.
"Once me and my business partner saw the script, we thought ‘this is something we need to get out.’ It’s about cancer, but it’s about awareness for people who have this rare form called Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS). It hits a lot of people, but if you’re multiracial, that’s the tough part because you have to find a bone marrow match. So we hooked up with people from Project Race, who go out and help find people to donate their bone marrow."
"My First Miracle" was written and directed by Rudy Luna stars Quinton Aaron ("The Blind Side," "Be Kind Rewind"), Sean Patrick Flannery ("The Boondock Saints," "Suicide Kings"), Valerie Cruz (Showtime’s "Homeland" and "Dexter"), Matthew Rauch (Cinemax’s "Banshee," "No Reservations") and Jason London ("Dazed and Confused," "Out Cold").
The film was shown by the Greater Cleveland Film Commission in Euclid, Ohio, last weekend. It was very well-received by the audience, who interacted with Lofton in a Q&A session after Thursday’s screening. A portion of the proceeds from the screening were donated to MetroHealth’s Cancer Care Family Community Room.
As far as Lofton’s future in the film industry goes, he’s just getting started.
"The bottom is line is just to produce as many films as I can," Lofton recently told MLB.com, "and be on the watch list of people saying, ‘This production company produces some great films, and we want to work with them.’ We want the bigger companies to come to us and say, ‘We want to work with you guys. We see the great things you’re doing.’"
While Lofton faced his fair share of adversity during his 17-season MLB career, nothing prepared him for the grueling demands of working in the film industry.
"It’s a very tough process. First you have to figure out the script you want, then once you have the script you go to your producing partners, then you gotta find the money to get it made. From there, you have to find a place to film it."
How does working as a pro athlete compare to working in the film industry? Lofton said it’s a completely different set of challenges.
"It’s tough because you can go out and work hard and do whatever you need to do, and in baseball — when you do all that and it works out, you make the team or you start or whatever. … But in this industry, you can go out and work as hard as you want, but you have to know the right people, know the right situation to put yourself in."
However, one of the most important lessons Lofton learned during his playing career applies to his new venture — teamwork.
"It’s a team effort of getting it all done," Lofton said (via MLB.com). "That’s part of what I did back in my day [as a baseball player]. You got a team together, everybody did their job and everyone gets it done. Then, when you see it for the first time, it’s very touching. It’s like, ‘Wow, we put this all together.’"