MARIETTA - The Marietta College baseball team may have multiple chances to add to its six national titles before its story is told on film.
"The 'Etta Express," a documentary project launched earlier this year by a pair of MC alumni, has been put on hold indefinitely after a Kickstarter campaign fell well short of its $150,000 goal and co-director and producer Mike Eisenberg had to leave the project, at least temporarily.
Gary Caruso, the sports journalist and Marietta alumnus who was working with Eisenberg on the film, said it's unlikely the original goal of completing the film by next fall is still attainable. But he's not throwing in the towel.
"As long as we get it done, that's what really counts," Caruso said. "And I'm reasonably optimistic that we'll get it done."
Caruso and Eisenberg, a 2009 MC grad with a Chicago-based film production company, first crossed paths while Caruso was writing his book, "Marietta College Baseball: The Story Of The 'Etta Express." Both were very familiar with the baseball program - Caruso was an assistant coach in the early 1970s and Eisenberg helped the Pioneers win their fourth championship in 2006 before pitching professionally for a while - and thought the story of the team's championship pedigree and the culture instilled by legendary coach Don Schaly was ripe for a film.
The plan was to follow the current incarnation of the 'Etta Express through the 2013 season and interweave that footage with interviews and history of the program.
The Kickstarter campaign secured commitments of less than $17,000. Fundraising then shifted to a website devoted to the film, but after Eisenberg and his company had to pull out, Caruso temporarily shut down the site, canceling transactions made by donors.
Eisenberg said he could not give the documentary, nor his other projects, the commitment they deserved given the current situation.
"It's not working out right now for us, financially or schedule-wise," he said.
But he hasn't given up on the film either.
"I want to see this film get made," Eisenberg said, adding he'd like to be a part of it. If Caruso gets the ball rolling and the timing works out, he hopes to come back to the project.
Caruso said he's in talks with some potential partners who could bring equipment, personnel and/or fundraising to the project, but nothing is far enough along that he can announce it now. He also believes he has some significant support left over from the Kickstarter campaign, but does not want to accept any money until the project is on surer footing.
"I'm pretty confident that the big contributors I have are still interested," he said.
One donor had committed at least $10,000, more than half of the total pledged.