An open letter to FIRST and Disney

Dear F.I.R.S.T. and Disney,

There has been talk about making a movie about the F.I.R.S.T. robotics competition for the Wonderful World of Disney movie series. If this is true I have a proposal to you.

I have an open suggestion about the movie, but it does not concern story line or actors, but the screening and final cut.

I think that if Disney is going to make a movie about our competition then we should get a chance to see it and critique it before it gets released to the public. I have seen a lot of newscasts and/or newspaper articles from various sources that have totally messed up the whole game or idea’s behind FIRST. The press has done a lot of wonderful things for FIRSt but they have also done things like comparing FIRST to Battlebots and totally describing the game wrong.

My suggestion to Disney and FIRST would be to hold the final production till after the Championship Event in whatever year you are releasing it so we can watch the final cut you have. Then you can ask us what needs to change to properly and accurately convey the message of FIRST to the rest of the world!!!

I would happily give up a few hours of my time in Florida to watch the movie and discuss or comment on the film, and I’m sure a lot of other FIRSTers would as well!!!

Thank you for your time,
Elgin C. Clock
F.I.R.S.T. Team 237
Watertown, CT
The Sie-H2o-Bots

amen brother!

I couldn’t begin to count how many times I have seen movies made about someone or something that are so totally off, that it doesnt even make sense…

Replace some words. Messed with Tainted. Etc. They like professional sounding letters. Plus, start a petition too.

I figure that any movie they make with have Dean and Woody as advisors. I’ll trust them to make sure Disney gets it right.

From what I’ve heard, the writers for this movie have been doing alot of work. They are getting good advice from people who know what they are talking about, mainly from one person who isn’t a very good sumo wrestler. :slight_smile:

Andy B.

That’s a great idea, but the only problem is FIRST isn’t a “bug Juice,” or anything along those lines. FIRST has almost a four figure number of teams and each team has their own story to tell. I think that they could make a show about the program in a whole, but they couldn’t really show an accurate account of what each team goes through in the build time, the animation time, and certainly not the time that goes into the Chairman’s Award each year. Every team has their own story and I don’t know that Disney would be willing to spend the time money and effort to convey every teams story!!

Consult teams: Nice idea but will never happen. When did accuracy ever get in the way of movie producers?

I would be happy to see them actually make the movie. Concept ideas are proposed and released all the time but the actual release? Well, maybe I’m a skeptic but I’ll believe it when I see it.

My question is- could the purported “inner city” team mentored by Noah Wylie be based on Foothills or one of the other Ca. teams? Have any teams been approached for “their story”?

If Disney is going to use FIRST for a successful venture like this maybe they should direct the profits to supporting FIRST (in hard cash) and maybe expand the Nationals so everyone can attend. FIRST- the ride- hmmmmm…


i wouldnt mind competiting every day…

as for the movie- they’re going to screw it up. There has to be a bad guy… and so far from what I’ve seen there are no bad teams that are completely rotten.
also, the truth is my experience in FIRST is so indescribable Hollywood would turn it into something so… despicable.
Maybe, perhaps, if they did this- a team that proves it has an interesting story to tell, or proves itself in field (not neccesarily the national winners…) could be the producers of the movie, possibly script writers…
a contest which im sure FIRST competitiors would love.

This would be totally awesome, if Disney makes a movie I mean…

And I realize that this is NOT rumor mill, so is this supposed to be true, anybody know any specifics yet???

So long, Phil

I heard at nationals that they were going to create a first team and follow them through the six weeks and during the comps.
im just afraid it’ll turn into something like big brother and they’ll kick people off! this is just what i heard.

The following appeared in the Boston Globe on April 29:

It is availible online, if you pay to access the Globe’s archive. I got it through my school’s research database (EBSCOHost).

Bots on film

The script is still being revised, but the odds are good that ABC’s “Wide World of Disney” will air a made-for-TV movie this year or in 2003 about FIRST, the New Hampshire-based high school robotics competition founded by inventor Dean Kamen. FIRST’s national championships were held last week in Orlando - just after Kamen was awarded the MIT-Lemelson Program’s $500,000 prize for invention.

The plot of the film focuses on a burnt-out teacher at an inner city school in California, played by Noah Wylie of “ER.” Wylie’s character helps organize a team of students who are building a robot to enter the FIRST competition. Several of the students are former gang members, and the competition manages to turn them around and get them on track to go to college. Their teacher, too, is recharged by the experience.

Alan Alda will play an engineer who advises the team during the robot-building process. No word yet on who might play Kamen, or even whether he’ll be a character in the film. If he is, the smart money says he’ll deliver his lines astride a Segway Human Transporter.

The author is Scott Kirsner, who wrote an article for Wired about Dean Kamen, and also the thing in the New York Times a month or so ago that compared FIRST to battlebots.

good idea elgin

very nice and professional while at the same time staying within the FIRST principles…


-Joe G. Troy Jr.
Team 357, Royal Assault
Upper Darby, Pa

Good, it dosn’t seem like they will be tackaling world hungar, terrorism, or a bad hair day!

Sounds like there are no bad guys involved, just some uplifiting message. Hope the real Dean is in it, with the Segway.

I’d have used a burned out engineer assigned to a FIRST team and getting revived. But perhaps that’s been over done.

Any positive television publicity of FIRST will do wonders for the program. Awareness will skyrocket and teams will start popping up like mad. Even if the movie doesn’t show FIRST in the absolute best possible light (which I’m sure won’t be a problem because of Dean and Woodie), nonetheless, the program is being publicized and hundreds of thousands of people will see what FIRST is. Random viewers will watch it and say “Hey, that looks cool, I want to learn more”. Hopefully will be somewhere in the movie so that people can learn more. The point being, even if all of the FIRST message isn’t spelled out in the movie, it will be a HUGE step for the program nonetheless.

I think if they show it to us at all, it should be at the regionals, and not the whole movie either. Maybe have a different clip that they show each weekend of regionals. But i think they should show the movie on tv, say, the weekend before the national comp. so that curious people who log onto can watch the actual thing.

As Andy said, the producers are doing their best to make sure the movie is accurrate, and they’re talking to the right people. They have talked with Dean & Woodie, and they have met with members of FIRST teams to go over the story to make sure they get it right.


This sounds like a great idea! It is certainly something I have heard people asking Disney to do for several years now.
No matter how it is done, someone in this group is not going to like it. This film doesn’t have to be supremely accurate to get the message out to an uninformed public. It is the kind of vehicle to blow the lid off this competition. Even if done poorly in our eyes, non-FIRST students and teachers will be "wow"ed at the concept. Case in point was the movie “Space Camp”, where there was this mythical place where students could go and play astronaut. The key charachters were eventually launched into space on a shuttle. Space Camp is now a real place, in Huntsville, AL, with students and teachers from all over the country in attendance each year.
I for one would love to volunteer my services to Disney in any capacity, to help this project along. How about it guys? Need a volunteer TV Engineer with 6 years of FIRST experience?

Unless I am sadly mistaken, which is all too often the case, would they be creating a team to compete in an/the event and take live footage of us…the real teams…to use in the movie?

Just some food for thought.


Bryan, I actually pondered that myself. Usually when a movie is made about a real life event or sport, they use stock footage to include in the movie!! So next year (?), get yourself on as many professional cameras as possible and maybe you’ll be in the movie!!!