Coach Joe Ellis Story is a Film About Passion and Determination

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A motion picture about a Virginia high school basketball coach, who battles terminal cancer, is an inspirational story for everyone, not just sports fans. In order to produce the film, Cathy Durant has launched an Indiegogo campaign to generate sufficient funds.

Coach Joe Ellis - 2005, Surry County, VA High School Basketball Champion

Coach Joe Ellis Story is a film about passion and determination.

It’s a story of grit, determination, passion and perseverance. When Joe Ellis, battling terminal colon cancer, coached Surry County High School (Va.) to the 2005 state basketball championship, his unyielding resolve touched the lives of many.

And Cathy Durant of Atlanta in association with Devine Communications Video & Film Production and D. Ellis Enterprises, Inc. wants to bring it to the silver screen.

Durant, a former TV News Producer who has directed documentaries, TV shows, and music videos, is about to embark on her most ambitious project ever, Going Out a Champion: the Coach Joe Ellis Story. This full-length motion picture, directed by Cathy Irby Durant, will tell the true story of Ellis’ final days and how his players, as well as the entire community and the media, rallied around the ailing coach. Ellis died eight weeks after the state championship game.

The film is based on the true story novel written by Doris M. Ellis. Dominiqiue Wilkins, former Atlanta Hawks star and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, will play Joe Ellis and Bea W. Bliss plays the role of Doris Ellis, Joe's wife and wind beneath his wings. Moreover, a host of Hollywood Stars will also play.

“This is an extraordinary saga, one that transcends basketball,” said Durant. “It’s much more than just a sports movie, it's a love story between Joe and Doris and the Surry County, VA, community. Joe was a very special person and when he died, more than 3,000 people attended his funeral, packing the school gym that's named in his honor.

“People from near and far lined the streets of Surry County to say goodbye to the town's hero. This film will keep the legacy of coach Joe Ellis and his Surry County championship team alive.”

Durant is planning to produce a first-rate, Hollywood-type film and needs significant funding to make it happen. She estimates that $700,000, plus matching private funds, is needed for film production, crew and cast.

In order to generate the $700,000, Durant has launched an Indiegogo campaign, which can be viewed at

Donations of any amount are welcome. For contributions of $18 or more, backers will receive perks, such as coffee mugs, T-shirts, caps, gym bags and hoodies. For $200, you can attend the reenactment of the 2005 Virginia State High School Basketball championship game at Virginia Commonwealth University as a Featured Movie Extra, sitting in a floor seat at court-side.

Durant is also seeking corporate sponsorships of $10,000 or more.

“At the end of the championship game, people who knew of Joe's Illness were shedding tears of joy as he smiled and held up the trophy as Virginia State High School Basketball champion,” Durant said. “It had become a national story. It was like a scene out of a Hollywood movie.”

Nine years later, Durant is working hard to make that happen.

For additional information, visit; the Going Out a Champion Facebook page,; or Durant’s website,

Durant can be reached directly at cathydurant1(at)

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