“Untucked,” directed by Danny Pudi, who graduated from Marquette’s College of Communication in 2001 and went on to act in primetime TV shows like Community [ITALICS], sheds light on a backstory to the national championship that has eluded many basketball fans.
At the centerpiece of “Untucked” are the famous “untucked” jerseys Marquette men’s basketball players wore as they captured the national title under Coach Al McGuire. The jerseys were designed by player Bo Ellis, who had an intrinsic interest in fashion design and even took college courses in pursuit of design.
Pudi created the film as part of ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 series, which is comprised of 30 short documentaries covering “issues, trends, athletes, teams, rivalries, games and events that transformed the sports landscape from 1979 to 2009,” according to the series’ website.
Pudi became part of the 30 for 30 series through a Twitter conversation with ESPN. When the sports organization asked him if he would want to be involved with the series and if he had ideas for a documentary, he sat down with his wife, Bridget Showalter Pudi, to brainstorm.
The series required his film unfold in less than 15 minutes and focus on a top that was personal to him.
“For me, it was exciting because it was a chance for me to research something I was really interested in,” Pudi said.
Beyond the jerseys, Pudi also wanted to explore the correlation between individual expression and team unity as well as the unlikely relationship between Ellis and McGuire, who Pudi refers to as “polar opposites.”
Part of his intent in creating the film was to showcase how the two worked together and “gelled” to “create some really great things, not only a jersey but also a championship for Marquette.”
Pudi has an intrinsic interest, himself, in collaboration and what results when individuals with very different backgrounds come together to create something they would have never imagined – a theme very apparent in the storyline of the 1977 team.
After review by a jury, “Untucked” was selected to debut in the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 16, an honor Pudi said he never anticipated after his year of filming and editing.
Filming for the documentary brought Pudi, along with fellow alumnus and co-producer Chris Marrs, back to the Marquette campus community, an instrumental place for Pudi’s development, he said.
“It was a place where I guess I had a lot of discoveries, and I think it’s nice to go back to that place sometimes and recharge my batteries and reground myself,” Pudi said.
Dave Murphy, vice president of the Marquette’s Office of Marketing and Communication, assisted Pudi and Mars with gaining access to past players from the championship era, their uniforms and key locations for filming.
“I’m really proud of the alums who have a passion for Marquette and want to connect back to the university and help tell our story,” Murphy said. “And we’re more than happy to support that and help the alums that are engaged and interested.”
Support from both Marquette and Milwaukee made the project come alive, Pudi said.
“The whole Milwaukee community and Marquette was super helpful, and I couldn’t have done this without their support,” he said.
“Untucked” will make its next premiere on ESPN in March and will be available for viewing at www.grantland.com. A premiere of the film may also run on Marquette’s campus but is still being confirmed.