Michael Finley has taken another big dip into the movie industry.
The assistant vice president of basketball operations for the Dallas Mavericks, Finley is one of the executive producers of the new critically acclaimed movie titled The Birth of a Nation, which is directed, produced and written by Nate Parker. The movie will be in theaters across the nation Friday, and Finley believes the timing couldn’t be more perfect.
“I think it’s a good movie, it’s well-acted, well-directed, and in my opinion it has a good message for the times that we’re in now,’’ Finley said. “It’s the kind of movie that some people will love it, some people will hate it.
“But more importantly, it’ll bring about the conversation of where we are as a country right now. And that conversation could be very beneficial for us becoming a better country, a more racially sensitive country, and in the end it’ll make us better.”
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The Birth of a Nation depicts a literate slave and preacher who uses his preaching skills — at the behest of the slave owner — to subdue unruly slaves. Initially, Finley wanted to steer clear of this movie.
“Nate Parker called me and told me he had a script that he thought I would be interested in because he knew the type of movies that I did, so I read the script,” Finley said. “And after reading the script I pretty much told him this is a good script, it’s a great story, but America is tired of the slavery movie.
“After that he called me and we had a conversation for about an hour-and-a-half, and within that hour-and-a-half he explained to me that it’s more than just a slave movie. It’s a movie about our history, where we are as a country, it’s a love story. He broke it down, and after that I was like ‘You know what, I’m sold,’ so I got with him.”
In 2009, Finley started his own film production company called Follow Through Production. The two-time All-Star always wanted to invest wisely in something that was dear to his heart.
The Birth of aNation is a movie that hit home with Finley, who played in the NBA from 1995-2010 and for the Mavericks from 1996-2005.
“I was one of the first financiers that Nate Parker came to,” Finley said. “And I was the first one to put my money in, to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, because I have trust and faith in what he can bring to the table.
“To me, it was a great investment and a great risk to take.”
Other stars in the movie include Armie Hammer, Gabrielle Union, Penelope Ann Miller and Aja Naomi King, who stars on the hit ABC-TV show How to Get Away with Murder.
This is not Finley’s first foray in the movie business. He was a co-producer of the 2011 movie Sanctum, and executive producer of The Day, and Sneakerheadz.
Finley also was the executive producer of The Butler — another critically acclaimed movie featuring Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, Jane Fonda, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz and the late Robin Williams.
In addition, Finley is an executive producer of an upcoming movie featuring Tom Cruise named American Made, which he said will be released next year.
Elsewhere, Finley is an executive producer of an upcoming documentary called The First to Do It, which is a story about Earl Lloyd, who was the first African-American to play in the NBA. Finley anticipates the documentary to be released in February during Black History Month.
Mainly a financier or executive producer, Finley was in front of the camera for a 2012 movie named LUV, which starred Danny Glover, Charles Dutton and Common.
“I had a brief two-minute stint,” said Finley, who played an assistant basketball coach and also was an executive producer of LUV. “I was on the set for almost three hours for two minutes, so I said, ‘Hey, I can’t do that.’ ”
Reviews for The Birth of a Nation have been trickling in and they’ve been overwhelmingly positive. Finley said he can’t wait to see the movie in theaters.
“It’s a good story, especially where we are today,” he said. “Just to show that until we understand our history, or correct our history, it’ll be tough for us to change our current situation.
“I actually did a private screening for some friends here. But I’ll go and purchase my ticket.”
Pick and roll credits
Former Dallas Mavericks two-time All-Star Michael Finley started his own film production company in 2009. Here is the list of movies/documentaries that Finley has been in or is involved with:
*The Birth of a Nation
#The First to Do it
*It will be released on Friday
#It should be released in February
+It should be released next summer or fall