The global though sometimes Santa Barbara-centric culture that’s emerged around Frisbees is given the royally thorough and fun-loving treatment in this doc about the fast rise of disc sports in the 1960s and ‘70s and the continual if less meteoric growth since. It’s funny, enlightening, and even philosophical, with some familiar faces expected to attend the screenings here.
How did a German guy start doing a film about a mostly American phenomenon?
Playing, competing, and living with flying plastic did emerge from the U.S. but became a worldwide phenomenon. So it was just a matter of time that someone had do do a doc about that topic.
When did you first become fascinated with Frisbee culture, and why?
My mom visited the U.S. in the ‘80s when Frisbees were all over the place. She brought one home and I was hooked on that flying gyroscpic airfoil devise. It was a classic turn-on.
Which sports do you play?
I started with play and catch and object golf in parks during school. When I found the only Ultimate team in my hometown where I went to school, I started playing Ultimate, played on during my studies, became the Frisbee guy at uni teaching Ultimate, disc golf, and DDC, founded a disc golf club, became Scottish disc golf champion in 2005 — a must for people who are into golf, I think — and German champion in 2008. In 2009, I teamed up with Michael Osterhoff, a filmmaker I knew from university, and Greg Marter, who I knew from golfing, to start the first shooting trip in the U.S. A fine first edit of that footage helped to find a producer and a funding from the well known German Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg.
Are there any sports or cultures remotely similar to the scope and style of Frisbee?
If there is no surf, you can always get a disc out and play — it is a comparable lifestyle. I think you can find the right people to share fun and friendship everywhere it seems just a lot easier with the Frisbee. And you normally do not need a lot of gear to play, so it has never been an elite sport but open to everyone. You’ll find bankers and lawyers playing with gardeners and bus drivers. Being interested in that rotating flying device widens your mindset and can often help to overcome social barriers. This happens in all sports as sports bring people together. I played tennis and volleyball for years in clubs and teams, but once the flying disc hovered into my life, these balls where not as interesting anymore. This is a common feeling you can share with other disc-heads.
It was great seeing all of the Santa Barbara people and places. Are we still a center for disc sports?
How can a place with such an historic impact on the flying disc world like S.B. not be a center for disc sports? S.B. used to be the home for the world’s best Ultimate players and the best freestylers for about a quarter of a century. Now, as the sport has spread all over the world, there are definitely other places where you will find better players. But Chase Palm Park will always remain to be a superb place to play freestyle and that’s great.
Based on the Rose Bowl blowouts, it’s easy to think that the world of Frisbee has already passed its heyday. Is that true, or is the future bright?
The Rose Bowl events are still mind-blowing for all the players who have taken part in it and even for those who didn’t. Up to this day it’s still hard to comprehend how they managed to draw so many people in one stadium.
However, now there are more players meeting on the same day to compete every weekend. It’s just not in one spot anymore and not sponsored by one company who made the discs, the rules, the events, invited the players and the press. Now it has spread, it is bigger than ever and a worldwide cultural phenomenon that grew naturally over a time span of over four decades.
There are so many people involved thinking about the next big tournament, there are so many companies, especially in disc golf, who are pushing the envelope in materials and shapes. There are new courses build every day in North America and Europe. You can find a game of Ultimate everywhere on the globe, dreestyle does have younger players who do not have to start from scratch but can learn the tricks through the videos posted in the web. So there is evolution everywhere and there will be a bright future for disc sports.
The Invisible String is a testimony of the history of all disc sports with some of its main characters that made the sport become this popular. The Invisible String was made to share the knowledge and to spread the joy of play!
The Invisible String screens on Sat., Jan. 26, 1 p.m., and Mon., Jan. 28, 8 p.m., both times at the Metro 4.