Sports were always part of Tim Chambers’ life.
Chambers was born in Newtown Square, where he lived with his eight brothers and three sisters, his family practically a team of its own. Growing up, he played football for the O'Hara Lions and the University of Pennsylvania Quakers. Little did he know, he would one day go on to combine his love of sports with a yet-undiscovered passion for film.
Several years after graduating in his early 20s with a degree in Economics, brief stints as a free agent for the Philadelphia Eagles, then a stockbroker, Tim Chambers set out to Los Angeles to pursue his real dream—to one day write and direct his own movie.
After 25 years of working in the film industry, Chambers’ dream became reality in 2011 with the completion of his first independent feature film, The Mighty Macs. Based on the true story of the 1971 Immaculata College women’s basketball coach, Cathy Rush, the movie illustrates Rush and the Macs’ journey to winning the first-ever national championship in women’s basketball in 1972.
“It was a historic moment in women’s sports…They were the first Cinderella team,” Chambers said, adding the team helped to influence Title IX, a law passed in 1972 that prohibits gender discrimination in government-funded schools.
Chambers got word of an idea for the movie back in March of 2003 when he was relayed a message from Marie Moughan, Immaculata University’s Director of Communication. Moughan was interested in having a movie produced on Cathy Rush and the Macs' story. Tim had been working as a director of the Pennsylvania Film Office at the time and Moughan had seen his picture in the paper. Chambers pursued the idea, gathering information on the school and coach over a year of research and interviews. Chambers spent two years writing the script, began filming on a $6.5 million dollar budget in 2007 and completed production in 2008.
Chambers traveled the U.S. to promote the film and talk at various venues and schools, including his alma mater and his son's school . The movie hit theaters in 2011—the Macs’ 40th anniversary.
The Mighty Macs world premiere was held at the Philadelphia Kimmel Center in Philadelphia on Oct. 14, 2011, a week before it hit theaters, followed by a '70s-themed disco party. Attendees included cast members like Carla Gugino, David Boreanaz , Immaculata sisters, teammates and the real-life Cathy Rush.
Seeing the movie for the first time was a special moment for Chambers, who knew the film was important to many different people and that it depicted an important moment in the history of women’s sports.
“It was exciting and rewarding just knowing how much hard work went into it… First and foremost, my allegiance was to Kathy and Ed Rush, then the school, then the team,” he said.
Everything about the movie was generally true according to Chambers, “as far as plot points go,” but he was given the creative license to dramatize certain events for interest and entertainment value. For example, ‘Sister Sunday’ was a fictional character. Overall, Chambers feels that he captured the real essence of the story in the script that Rush, the players and Immaculata sisters approve.
The most difficult stage of the movie’s production, according to Chambers, was the unpredictable phase after its completion—distribution. It took time to find a good distributor, but the movie was eventually distributed three years after production through Ocean Avenue Entertainment.
“When you finish and it goes into distribution, it’s out of your hands,” Chambers said.
The best part of writing, producing and directing the film, Chambers said, was getting to work with a talented cast who were able to take the abstract concept of Cathy Rush’s story and transform it into something concrete.
“A-list actors breathe life into the film and you see the characters come to life,” Chambers said.
The wrap-up and release of the movie was celebrated at a “wrap party” with the cast in 2008, a private on-campus screening for Immaculata students last March and an on-campus party for the cast last summer.
Looking back on the movie that grossed $1.8 million to date, Chambers has many things for which to be proud. For an independent film, originally expected to hit about 250 theaters, to end up playing in over 1,000 venues, was a great accomplishment. And Chambers has also been pleased overall with critics' and viewers' overwhelming responses to The Mighty Macs, receiving recognition from major publications like The New York Times and Variety Magazine, as well as Roger Ebert.
“It’s been tremendous,” Chambers said. “I’m most proud of the fact that it’s a movie that’s historic in nature and wholesome. It’s rated ‘G,’ and it can be viewed by anyone from 8 to 80 years old. Also, I’m proud to be recognized by critics in a favorable light.”
Chambers lives locally with his family. His three boys—two in high school and one in grade school—who are all involved in sports—football, basketball and lacrosse. Chambers currently serves as a grade school football coach for his youngest son’s team. He frequently travels back and forth between his offices in Malvern, where he is the CEO of the televised traffic channel, Tango Traffic, and L.A., where he is partner and founder of Quaker Media (named for his alma mater.)
Chambers was recently offered another directing gig, but is not permitted to disclose just what it entails and whether he’ll accept the offer. He said he’s open to working with any new material that interests him, regardless of the rating.
Similar to Chambers’ own experiences with making an independent film, the Macs went from underdog to champion status, and their story—the story that Chambers brought to life—is one of few that young women athletes can look to for inspiration. He believes the overriding theme of the movie is “empowerment and change." His advice to those looking to pursue big dreams, as he did, is to find and pursue their passion.
“All things are possible if you’re committed to your dream and your passion,” he said, which was the main message he intended to get across to audiences through The Mighty Macs.
The Mighty Macs is now available in stores on DVD. It includes deleted scenes, the making of The Mighty Macs and The Mighty Macs ESPN Segment.