Jonathan Moore was once a 7-foot center at Lincoln County High School, then at Loyola (Chicago) and Kentucky Wesleyan. These days, it seems likely Moore is the tallest filmmaker in California.
“I’d say I probably am,” Moore says. “You don’t see a lot of 7-foot directors.”
The son of former, longtime Kentucky high school and college basketball coach Nelson Moore and his wife, Joanna, Jonathan Moore reached into his hoops past for “Coaches’ Wives.” The documentary explores what life is like for the women who marry into the high-pressure world of coaching.
Some seven-and-a-half years in the making, Moore debuted the film last year. Last month, it was picked up by a distribution company and is now available on 14 digital platforms, including Amazon Video and iTunes (for purchasing information, visit CoachesWivesDoc.com).
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In the film, Moore, 47, featured some women who are partners of coaches whose last names you know.
Among them are Kathy Auriemma, wife of the iconic Connecticut women’s hoops coach, Geno; Meo Stansbury, wife of the former Mississippi State and current Western Kentucky head man Rick; and Jeanie Buss, who until their recent break up, had been engaged to 11-time NBA-championship-winning coach Phil Jackson.
“I know a lot of people will ask what in the world does Kathy Auriemma have in common with an Angie Wilks in Lincoln County?” Moore said. “But I think if you watch, you see that a lot of the stresses (of being married to a coach) are the same regardless of the level or the money.”
In the film, you hear how both the wives of rich and famous coaches and those who are married to the local high school head man grapple with some big questions. How to maintain a personal identity outside of being The coach’s wife? Or how, during your spouse’s sports season, to deal with feeling like a single parent?
On a less consequential plane, you also hear how various wives have solved the puzzle of where to sit during games so as not to hear one’s husband berated as every variety of dumb by over-zealous fans/parents.
Moore says the seeds of his going to California and making movies were planted as a youth in Kentucky when he first saw “Back To The Future.”
“I know people will laugh at that,” he says, “but I remember the feeling of being totally removed from my own life during that movie. I left the theater thinking ‘I want to be able to do that.’”
In 1997, at age 27, Moore was accepted into the graduate film program at UCLA. Currently, he is on sabbatical from his day job as associate professor of Cinema Arts at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, Calif.
In California, Moore met his wife, the former Karen Erickson, an associate director of the NBC late-night program “Last Call with Carson Daly.” The couple have a son, Jackson.
On “Coaches’ Wives,” Jonathan and Karen share producer credits with Kyo Edmoundson, and Karen edited the movie.
In the film, you spend a day with Meo Stansbury as she tries to coordinate complicated schedules to allow her three sons to all get to their after-school activities. Meanwhile, Rick Stansbury is immersed in running the Mississippi State basketball program — a role he left after the 2011-12 season.
“I worked on the film so long, we shot that while they were still in Starkville,” Moore said.
When UConn publicists informed Moore that Kathy Auriemma had agreed to be interviewed for his film, they were adamant that her husband would not be. “They said do not even ask,” Moore said.
Yet after Kathy did her interview, “She said ‘Do you want to talk to Coach?’” Moore recalls. “We weren’t gonna ask, but we said sure. She called down to the basement, and (Geno) came up. And he was great.”
Yet for Moore, the most poignant interview in the film was not with Kathy Auriemma or Meo Stansbury or even Jeanie Buss, whose family owns the Los Angeles Lakers.
It was with his mom, Joanna.
“I don’t think I realized all the sacrifices my Mom made, being a coach’s wife,” Moore said. “She’s the classic coach’s wife. And she’s the inspiration for the film.”