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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA swim documentary a family affair

    Patty Busch had the feeling her daughter was ready to throw in the towel after spending two years in Los Angeles, performing stand-up comedy and learning film production, among other things.

    “”It started with a phone call to my mother, who had been a nurse practitioner for 10 years and was ready to retire,”” daughter Molly Busch said. “”Between the two of us, we came up with the idea of doing a documentary about the swimming season, the year that this sort of Cinderella story was supposed to break through.””

    Molly, an Arizona graduate and business major, moved back to Tucson and, with her mother’s help, began production of a documentary film on the UA swim and dive team. Giving permission to film the project was none other than Molly’s father, UA head coach Frank Busch.

    And boy, are they happy with the choice Molly made.

    The two Busch women – dubbed Busch League Entertainment – will debut their film, titled “”Between the Water and the Wood,”” at 7:30 Thursday night at The Loft Cinema.

    The film follows the lives of five Wildcat swimmers – including individual champions Lacey Nymeyer and Albert Subirats – through the 2006-07 season. The season had the potential to be a breakthrough for what remained most elusive from the recent teams: a national championship.

    Although neither team won the title that season, with the men finishing third and the women finishing second, Molly and Patty commenced production as the teams began their 2008 season. After all, losing was a part of reality, and reality is what they wanted to capture.

    Presenting a winning team was important, but the piece also brought to light the “”discipline, maturity and sportsmanship”” of the individual athletes, Molly said.

    She and her mother held out on production as the Wildcats pushed through the season. Lo and behold, the 2008 version of the Wildcats took home both the men’s and women’s national championship trophies.

    The pair’s film had suddenly evolved from a simple documentary of student-athlete life into a “”Hoosiers””-like tale of victory.

    “”The stars aligning is probably an understatement,”” Molly said of the project’s timing. “”You cannot script seeing that – it was amazing.””

    But the path to creating the film was a rocky road. Before she could even begin filming, Molly needed to get approval from her father.

    Frank Busch feared the constant filming of his athletes would become a distraction and was fairly hesitant from the beginning. After all, Molly was hoping to shadow the swimmers not only through swimming practice and competition, but also through their social and academic lives, she said.

    Soon after filming began, Frank opened up, fully endorsing the family project. The swimmers also became more open to the filming, allowing Molly into their lives. Six weeks into filming, Molly said she felt like part of their family.

    While she recorded all of the video, Molly quickly pointed out her mother’s equally important role in making the film. Patty arranged clips and wrote the script, acting as the creative essence of the two-headed production crew.

    Patty, who had “”zero production experience,”” looked at different directions the documentary could take. The film could detail the aspects of compliance issues in NCAA sports or just represent nonprofit sports in general, Patty said.

    As the 2008 season began, their self-funding put strains on production. Finding a legitimate editor, however, would have cost the pair more money than they could afford.

    The turning point in the production came when Patty found a local editor who was willing to make a 10-minute preview based on the material the Busch family had compiled thus far.

    Around this time last year, the UA swim parents were gathered in a hotel lobby after seeing the team off during the Texas Invite, the team’s second most important competition of the year. With the 10-minute proposal in hand, the Busch’s decided to show the parents their project.

    “”We put together this 10-minute screening in this hotel, in a conference room,”” Patty said. “”The parents were moved by it.

    “”Molly just did this power pitch, and within a half-hour we had raised the money for a professional editor,”” Patty added. “”It was the parents who came through. That really made us stay with the project.””

    Jump to today, where the entire Busch family looks ahead to the local debut. Including brother Augie, an assistant coach for his father, the family hopes the premiere at The Loft’s main 500-seat theater will sell out.

    “”We’re nervous, we’re excited,”” Patty said. “”This is a Tucson story and we know people are going to like it.””

    The biggest skeptic at the very beginning, Frank Busch, could not be more proud of the women closest to him.

    “”For my daughter and wife to have a documentary, and the next year to win both (NCAA championships) and to share that with the Tucson community … This isn’t something anybody could write a script for.””

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