The Making of Unleash the Fury
Scott Brooks started his collegiate life as a cross-country runner for Berry College in Georgia. Berry's athletic teams were all called the Vikings, but for some reason each team also had a personalized nickname. For example, Brooks's cross-country team was called the Rage. And the Berry soccer team was called the Fury.
The reason this matters to you? After Brooks left Berry and went to Georgia State, he became an intern, then a contractor and finally a full-time employee for the expansion Atlanta Thrashers, working in the game operations department. A big movie fan, Brooks began paying attention every time he saw a film for possible "rally" clips, bits that could be chopped up and used to incite sports fans.
So when he went to see "Road Trip," and got to the part where Tom Green was trying to motivate his python to eat a mouse by screaming "Unleash the Fury," Brooks thought of sports. First he thought.of the soccer Fury at Berry College. And then he thought of the Thrashers.
Within a year or two, he had put together an "Unleash the Fury" video for the Thrashers, a montage of movie clips meant to get fans on their feet. The segment included highlights from Remember the Titans (part of which was filmed at Berry), Varsity Blues, American Pie and so on. It featured Green screaming "Unleash the Fury!!!!," but it ended with "Go do that voodoo that you do so well," a line from Blazing Saddles. Fans in Atlanta loved it, but the video didn't necessarily make everyone in the arena stand up.
, and it didn't spawn t-shirts or posters.
Fast forward to 2007, when Brooks was hired to be the director of game entertainment for the Caps, arriving in town the same day as Bruce Boudreau. He had a meeting with his predecessor, who showed him the team's big-screen clips. "Oh, you're going to find this next clip a little familiar," the guy said, and then showed Brooks a virtually identical "Unleash the Fury" montage.
Brooks kept the concept, but tinkered the heck out of it, trying to make it right for D.C. Certain clips were eliminated. Others were shortened. Bits were added from Hoosiers, Invincible, Network, Slap Shot, and Animal House. Most significantly, Blazing Saddles was cut, and Tom Green's "Unleash the Fury!!!" became the ending. (Watch it here.)
"It's kind of like the 3.0 version," Brooks explained. "When you create something, you're always going to have that second and third wave of redoing it before finally finding that one solution."
Sponsorship reads occupy many of the in-game timeouts, so Unleash the Fury settled into a regular spot during the third timeout of the third period. Slowly, it began to catch on.
"I thought it was good," Caps senior vice president and chief marketing officer Tim McDermott said. "I didn't think it was going to take off the way it did. That's why he's the game operations guy and I'm not."
Indeed, as the Caps zoomed toward the '08 playoffs and into the NHL's elite, the video went from background noise to featured entertainment. Soon, there were Unleash the Fury posters during road games, and season ticket holders with matching Unleash the Fury jerseys. There were kids waving hand-made Unleash the Fury signs on the big screen, and 18,000 people on their feet to scream the final line.
"The moment that video clip starts, the first second, you see everybody start to stand up," McDermott said. "It's Pavlov's dog now."
There have been more than 100 outside requests to use the montage, from the presidents of rival NHL franchises, from the Wizards and Georgetown basketball, from minor-league franchises, and from government agencies and corporations planning staff retreats.
One rival executive told Caps officials he believed the video and fan response changed the momentum of a game the Caps went on to win. A Finnish hockey executive talked to Brooks about creating such rally clips last week. Just this Monday, a sports franchise from Iowa called about Unleash the Fury. And when Brooks's staffers don't play Unleash the Fury--and they didn't at the final two regular season games--fans complain.
"It's a little shocking to see," he said.
While we sat in his office today, Boudreau came in to talk to Brooks. His group has also put together rally clips for private team meetings this season, and is putting the finishing touches on a new open montage for the playoffs. But he's also thinking ahead to next year; he has a file on his iPhone to record good lines and scenes from every movie he sees, and is already working on tentative rally scrips for the future. He figures Unleash the Fury will probably stick around, but you never know when a change to version 3.1 could take things to another level.
"We might switch out clips and refresh it," he said. "Or we may do something brand new, whatever that next line is."
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