Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Filmmaker's advice to UM students: Switch your major to marine biology

"The U's" Billy Corben

Billy Corben is pissed!

Corben, a University of Miami graduate and the producer and director of the highly acclaimed documentary, The U, was invited to screen the film on campus Tuesday as part of UM's Communications Week.

But according to Corben, "They invited us and then went out of their way not to promote the event." Corben says only about 20 people showed up for the screening.

Corben posted this note on his Facebook page today:
Tired of being disrespected by the buffoons @univmiami. We come out there, least you can do is promote it. I feel like the Canes in the 80s.
It's not the first time that Corben has been dissed by his Alma mater.

The university refused to cooperate in any way with Corben in the making of The U. The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson wrote last November:
But Corben said UM refused to participate and would not allow the filmmakers to interview coach Randy Shannon, former athletic director Paul Dee or former president Tad Foote, though old sound bites from Foote appear in the film. According to Corben, former coach Dennis Erickson and several former Hurricanes players said they disregarded UM's request that they not grant interviews.

``It upset me to no end,'' Corben said of UM's resistance. ``I felt disrespected and unappreciated by my alma mater. Early on, [UM athletic department spokesman] Mark Pray told me, `You should rethink even doing this project.' It was a display of rudeness, disrespect and ignorance. UM has a persecution complex about that era.'' As a result, Corben said he resigned from UM's Citizens Board, which supports the university's philanthropic efforts and promotes UM's programs.
But Corben is having the last word.

He updated his Facebook page with this broadside:
The usual foolishness. They invite us to screen THE U then deliberately do ZERO promotion for the event: purposefully don't mention us in their press releases, twitter, etc.

This is a University that only cares about the next check you give them. They do not care about their students, alumni, or athletes. It's a big mistake to give them a dime -- especially tuition for a sub par education and useless degree that renders you unemployable in any field but marine biology.
And in what might be the ultimate "eff U," Corben and his crew at Rokontur are beginning pre-production on what they're jokingly referring to as The U 2: 1992-2002.

Corben plans to pick up the story of UM's football program where the first film ended: From 1992 to 2002 starting with the Pell Grant scandals.

This afternoon I asked Corben for more background. He emailed me:
I don't mince words on Facebook, Twitter or anyplace else for that matter; I calls it like I sees it. We really do feel like the 'Canes football players of the '80s: totally disrespected by the University of Miami.

Dia Kontaxis, the director of the motion picture department at the School of Communication was kind enough to invite us to screen the extended cut of the movie as part of their Communication Week events and we graciously accepted. I really love the Cosford Cinema on campus, ever since I took a film history class in there many years ago; it's a great venue and I always enjoy screening our movies there. Then, they deliberately don't promote the event anywhere.

They leave us off their press release, don't Twitter about it, nobody on campus knew anything about it.

Hilariously, they had the temerity to kick-off Communication Week with a seminar on public relations with one of UM's media relations people. That's absurd on its face. UM has the most inept apparatus for public, media and alumni relations of any university in the country. It's Clown Town over there. Amateur hour.

About the sequel: We just had our associate producer, Evan Rosenfeld, start pre-production on our sequel to "The U." He's doing preliminary research and reaching out to people to see who's interested in doing interviews.

We're going to cover 1992-2002. Maybe we'll drift a bit further to cover high-profile stories like the 7th Floor Crew and the arrest of Sports Information Director Rick Korch for having child pornography on his work computer. I've got a half a mind not to do it at all and give UM anymore free publicity. But really it's for the fans and the players who deserve to be recognized after decades of being dissed by our own alma mater. Maybe we should hold out and only do the movie after they replace Mark Pray with John Routh. John would definitely spend less time futzing on his computer playing solitaire and surfing eBay. Plus he knows and loves UM's sports programs as much as anyone on the planet.

The working title is "The U 2," but that's very temporary. The other night at a dinner for the University of Miami Law School's Entertainment & Sports Law Society, Paul Dee asked me if the movie was about Bono and The Edge. We've got time to come up with some different ideas; in fact we're even asking for help on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. Seems to me you have done pretty well thus far with your film career. Why would it be so hard to understand UM wanting to distance itself from the "Thug-U" days? In this economy just surviving is a feat and Miami is doing that pretty well during these most difficult of times.

  2. what a pos for turning his back on his alma mater. he knew the school didn't support the project from the beginning, what did you think would happen? when they first showed it on campus, it was standing room only...why would people want to see the same showing again?
    btw, how'd that "useless" degree turn out for you corben? are you saying you are an uneducated f*ck?

  3. U of Miami Comm week has always had low attendance to it's events. Sorry there was no red carpet and cameras for you.

  4. Billy Corben is a joke. UM is a top 50 school- education wise.

    He is just a bitter tool who never amounted to anything on his own, and now he is trying to take the rest of the university down with him.

  5. Anonymous seems to be a very common name -- he's leaving all the comments here!

    "Anonymous #1": I have no complaints about my career, but UM has had nothing to do with that. Just surviving in these difficult times IS a challenge, you're absolutely right. And we work in a very competitive field; not just tough to break into, but even tougher to maintain a career in. So why when we create an opportunity for ourselves to work with ESPN to produce a movie about UM's championship football history, does the university not only refuse to participate, but tries to prevent us from making the movie, discourage other people from helping us and lies about us in the press? How the university treats its hard working alumni is pretty ugly and disappointing and ours is not an isolated case. Yet they still send me 2 emails a day looking for donations...

    "Anonymous #2": Why is a university sacrosanct? If you spend over $100k at a business (a university is a business) and are not satisfied with the product or service you receive, why is not OK to write a bad review? I bet you folks do it everyday on Yelp or elsewhere (of course you do it "anonymously"). Can't I be a disgruntled customer without being a "pos"? I certainly did not turn my back on my alma mater, in fact, we worked our asses off for years to produce a movie that has given the university more positive attention than anything they have done in nearly 10 years. I've even offered some constructive advice on how to improve the UM community by replacing the ineffective and universally disliked Mark Pray with John Routh, a true lover and promoter of Hurricanes Sports (even though he doesn't get paid for it). Also, the students who turned out for Communication Week got to screen the "extended cut" of the movie, which is 15 minutes longer than the ESPN version, so it wasn't the same showing again. And, while I am not "uneducated," my degree has, unfortunately, been of no use whatsoever; though I'm still paying off those student loans.

    "Anonymous #3": I understand the low attendance is not uncommon. But when you invite a guest to make a presentation and deliberately fail to promote their appearance and event, the school creates an embarrassing situation for itself and lets everyone involved down, the guest, the audience, the university, its reputation, etc. I don't need a red carpet (or orange one, like we had at THE U premiere, courtesy of Don Bailey) or cameras; just basic common courtesy.

    "Anonymous #4": Nobody can amount to anything on their own -- I have done it with my friends, family, and colleagues at rakontur. You can see we've certainly had no help or support from UM. And I'm not bitter. When somebody asks me a question (like Bill did for this blog post), I give 'em straight talk. If this were an official UM forum, they would NEVER permit this open and frank discourse -- they would delete all of these messages. But then, you guys aren't open, you're hiding. If you want to have a constructive dialogue about all this, I'm right here, you know who I am. I identify myself and stand behind what I say.


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