As Ultimate Documentary ‘Chasing Sarasota’ Releases On DVD, A Look Back

The main logo for Chasing Sarasota, a documentary about the elite Ultimate team Portland Rhino.When I asked Matt Mastrantuono — the director, editor, and producer of Chasing Sarasota, a feature length documentary about the 2011 Portland Rhino team — what his experience was like creating and sharing the film, he said simply, “Just think of the most cliché positive adjective and it’s been that.”

Since early last year, Mastrantuono has been living his self-proclaimed dream job, making a movie and traveling the world to show it to audiences. It has screened in 17 cities around the United States and Canada since its June premiere in Portland, along with an international stop in Dublin during the World Juniors Ultimate Championships. He has been floored by the experience of being able to put together his own feature-length film. “Not only have I been able to do that,” he said, “I’ve been able to do it on a subject matter that I care about it, with people that I care about, and taking it to people and communities that I’m invested in.”

Today, for the first time, the movie is available for purchase on DVD or as a digital download from the Chasing Sarasota website. Getting to this point has been quite a journey.

“The most surprising thing is how impossibly difficult editing a feature length film is,” said Mastrantuono. “It was the single hardest thing I’ve ever done.” He explained how he worked 12-14 hour days, seven days a week for nine months to get the film ready for release. “Weekends weren’t a thing for me,” he said.

Because of the vast amount of time he put into the film, he didn’t have time for other work. So he was forced to move quickly. “Part of it was a race against my bank account…because I quit my job and put my life savings into it. If I hadn’t released it [in June], I wouldn’t have been able to pay my rent the following month,” he said.

A Portland Rhino player lays out against Vancouver's Furious George.He has been pleasantly surprised that, since the release, he has been able to live off of ticket and merchandise sales. But, he added, “it doesn’t even seem right that I’m getting money for this…It was just fun for me.

“It took like 18 months just killing myself in pre-production, production, and post-production,” he continued. “So I’m just living this part up. I’m not rushing through the release of my first film.”

Despite a concussion that kept him off the field for the entire season, Mastrantuono has remained a part of the Rhino team that did — finally — make it to Sarasota this year, qualifying for the third and final bid from the Northwest Region. They finished 10th. “That was a huge, huge disappointment,” he said. “It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, we made it, so that’s cool.’ If we had made it to quarter[finals], that wouldn’t have been good enough…It wasn’t just about making Nationals for us. It wasn’t the end goal, it was just a stop on the way.”

Regardless of how promising next season might look, Mastrantuono doesn’t want to make a ‘Chasing Sarasota II.’ He, like most documentary filmmakers, is looking for the right story, whether Ultimate-related or not.

“I want to do this for a living,” he said. “If I can make documentary films for a career, I would be the happiest guy. Until then, I’m just picking up work around Portland as I’m eying my next feature.”

UPDATE: Mastrantuono wrote an essay about his experience touring with the film.

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    Charlie Eisenhood

    Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (charlie@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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