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Rise and Shine: Jay Demerit Story

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Rise and Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story


Unemployment in California is at an 11.7% rate, the second highest in the United States.  I’ve seen it first hand with so many of my friends without jobs for nearly two years. Also, I know personally what defeat or hopelessness one goes through in such hard times.  It’s been nearly a year since I’ve been laid off and still trying to search for a job.


I always heard timing was crucial in life, for instance, knowing when a fresh pizza is ready to eat, telling a joke, meeting the right girl and watching a movie.  (?) Yes, you read correctly: watching a movie.

A documentary film called Rise and Shine without any major studio support was touring the soccer community to raise funds for it’s own production. It was in its early stages of editing by first time director Nick Lewis when he showed it at British bar, The Olde Ship located in Santa Ana, CA.

Jay Demerit and Lehmann

(Spoilers) It gives us a unique perspective how Jay DeMerit (US national soccer player) grows up playing soccer in a football state – Wisconsin!  The daily struggles to become a professional athlete helped him over come odds to eventually be a captain on a Premier team in Europe.

In current conditions prosperity is scarce and people need this movie to remind themselves to bring their dreams alive again.  In other words “not giving up…”.

Jay’s story gives hope at that end of the tunnel.

“A light at the end of the tunnel”



Q&A with Nick Lewis and Jay DeMerit:

Flipflopsneeded: Nick, I contacted you via email and noticed quickly your tag signature stated you’re a lawyer.  How did a lawyer get into the film world?


Nick Lewis: I have always loved soccer and film.  Anyone who knows me would label me a “soccer junkie.”  I met Jay when he was in college through a mutual friend, Ranko Tutulugdzida.  Ranko and Jay played at UIC (Chicago) together.  Years later when Jay popped up at Watford and then on the USMNT I started following him a bit more and looked into his story.  It struck me because it is something that I would have loved to have done, to just go for it.


Flipflopsneeded: How did you and Jay start this project?


Nick Lewis: About 6 months before the World Cup the idea popped into my head, we need to document Jay’s story now.  The World Cup is something every player dreams of.  For Jay to make it the way that he did is something that won’t come around again… or for a long time.  It really is a story that people in Hollywood dream of and write down and pay people to act out.  But with Jay it was real, and it was something that needed to be captured.  I talked with Ranko and the idea clicked right away. So we approached Jay and he obliged.  Originally we were just going to oversee things as we knew a professional director who had experience in the soccer world.  However, approximately one week before we were set to begin shooting he dropped out due to family problems.  So we had a choice – let the film die or go forward on our own.  The thing is we had no formal film experience.  Luckily, we had a talented cinematographer and a lot of people to interview who really cared about Jay’s story.  We completely winged it and learned as we went.  To be honest, it was so time sensitive we didn’t have time to think about it.  We pieced the money together as we went, crashed at Jay’s in London, his parents in Green Bay, friends in Chicago, and even ran out of money to go to South Africa.  We ended up just sending our cinematographer with a lot of instructions and some prayers.  Luckily everything came out amazing. He was able to capture incredible footage that summed up the feel of the World Cup as well as street games in townships that very few foreigners have been able to see.


Flipflopsneeded: This is your first film project for you and what hurdles are constantly being jumped:


1.   editing?

2.   Copyrights?

3.   Funding?

4.   ….


Nick Lewis: Well, my answer above starts to sum it up.  Funding is a problem for a few reasons.  We have had zero Hollywood backing and are self-funded the shooting of it.  However, the licensing rights for English Premier League and World Cup is some of the most expensive sports footage in the world.  So at this point we are trying to raise the money via Kickstarter to license the footage to show on a large scale.  We are literally working round the clock to raise the funds. Jay and ourselves love the idea of having the film made possible by the fans (as opposed to a big investor or Hollywood company).  It will really add to the story and we are hopeful that it will happen.


Flipflopsneeded: Being dyslexic I had to overcome so many hurdles to come to where I am and understand Jay’s story on over coming the odds.  How has this story impacted you in your own life?


Nick Lewis: The film starts out with a quote – “The poorest man on earth is not one without a cent, it is one without a dream.”  That sums up Jay’s story as well as the film.  Somewhat analagous to Jay’s story, we had a dream to make the film, even though we didn’t have an experience.  Our original title for the film was “A Story That Needs to be Told.”  We knew we needed to tell the story and aren’t going to stop until it is told.  Jay’s story as well as the way the film came about demonstrate the power of the mind.  If you put your mind to things you can achieve them.  You know this as well as I do if not better.  It is easier to say No or just not do something that it is to go for it.  But to be successful you need to dream and put in the effort.  It has impacted my life because it has helped me realize just how powerful the mind is.  Barriers can be broken down and hurdles can be overcome, positive thinking is an amazing tool to have.


Flipflopsneeded: What’s your favorite premier team besides Jay’s team?


Nick Lewis: Arsenal. I bleed Arsenal and bleed a lot these past few years.  Also Vancouver Whitecaps!


Flipflopsneeded: Jay, I watched the film and noticed it was a risky move going to Europe to find a club to hire you on the spot as an “unknown” player. What was the key motivation for being so persistent?

Jay DeMerit down Bellamy

Jay DeMerit: I think my key motivation was to expect the struggle, enjoy the adventure that came along with it and to always try to recognize and be ready for any opportunities that came along the way.. I knew when I had trials i had to be the best player on the field because I was that “unknown” guy.


Flipflopsneeded: Would you recommend it to younger players to follow your footsteps?


Jay DeMerit: I always recommend people to get out of their comfort zones and dream big. Paths will always be different so its hard to say “do what I did” but I think its important to believe that things like this can happen..


Flipflopsneeded: What would you have done differently?


Jay DeMerit: To be honest, I don’t think i would have done anything different.. The whole process, the ups and downs made me who i am today..

Jay Demerit and Drogba


Flipflopsneeded: Are you still hiding food around?

If not – can you cook?

If so, what your favorite dish to cook?


Jay DeMerit: Haha, I might hide a few sweets from time to time to keep them to myself 🙂 i do enjoy cooking my own food these days.. I would probably cook stuffed mushrooms and a nicely grilled steak..


Flipflopsneeded: Nick, What do you need from the soccer community?


Nick Lewis: We need people to support the project and spread the word.  There are very few soccer films out there and none like Jay’s.  Please log onto http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1370261090/rise-and-shine-the-jay-demerit-story for more info.  Do everything you can, this story can help grow the sport of soccer in the U.S.





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