FOOTBALL: TAKE ONE

Don Handfield in Ohio Stadium.

When Don Handfield (Journalism, 1993) was a student at Ohio State in the early ‘90s, his then-girlfriend would wax nostalgic about growing up in the small town of Coldwater, Ohio, where high school football took center stage. The stories stuck with him over the years, and today Handfield has brought a version of them to life on the silver screen.

Handfield wrote and directed the feature film, Touchback, which opened in theatres nationwide in April and stars Kurt Russell, Christine Lahti, and Brian Presley. The film tells the tale of a former high school football star who has the unique opportunity to revisit his glory days during an Ohio State championship game where he permanently injured his knee in a game-winning play. Given a second shot at his destiny, he seeks counsel from a coach to help him decide how to let his fate unfold.

Handfield, who also took theatre and film classes at Ohio State, moved to Los Angeles after graduation and soon landed a job as a production assistant at E! Entertainment Television. “I would not have been hired for that job without my journalism degree from Ohio State. That got me on the other side of the camera,” he said, eventually leading to production of the independent film, which was shot primarily in the Midwest.

"We were the first film to ever shoot scenes inside Ohio Stadium during a football game," he said. “Fortunately, Gordon Gee and Gene Smith were able to allow us onto the field during a game in autumn 2010. It was amazing being on the field with 110,000 people in the stadium.”

Handfield credits Ohio State with helping him find his niche. “What I remember most is the sense of opportunity,” he said. “Whatever you want to do, you can find ways to pursue it at Ohio State. You can find support within the university and outside of campus in Columbus. There’s a wonderful, shared sense of community there.”

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