Stony Brook University’s Island Federal Credit Union Arena made its big screen debut in the indie basketball drama “Wolves,” which was released in March.
The film follows the recruiting drama of a college prospect, Anthony Keller, portrayed by Taylor John Smith. The story surrounds his struggle to earn a scholarship to play basketball at Cornell University, a school he could not afford otherwise.
His gambling addicted father, portrayed by Michael Shannon, bets the college savings the family set aside for Anthony on a college basketball game. When his father loses big, Anthony is forced to play his heart out for a chance to go to college.
The IFCU Arena is used in the movie as a facsimile for Cornell’s Newman Arena during the recruiting process. Process Media, the film’s production company, reached out to Adam McLeod, Stony Brook’s associate athletics director for facilities, in spring 2015. The New York City-based production company picked Stony Brook citing a much shorter travel time as the reason. Cornell University is a nearly four-hour drive upstate from New York City, while Stony Brook is only an hour and a half east.
“It’s part of my job to find untapped revenue streams for the facilities, and the film represented one,” McLeod said.
Newman Arena is 300 seats larger than the IFCU Arena and features high school style bleachers surrounding all four sides of the court. In contrast, the IFCU Arena features arena style seating, except for the student section, which is bleacher style. In the film, the Stony Brook logo on center court is scrubbed out.
The IFCU Arena also presents a different feel from the high school arena in which Keller plays a majority of his games. The large college arena feels like the big time, compared to his high school gym where there is a stage a few feet from the baseline.
McLeod had to be on set during filming in the summer of 2015, he said, “to make sure there were no violations and that they were doing what they told us they were going to do.”
McLeod’s office is tasked with making sure all of the athletic programs have a space to practice or play their games. His office works with the scheduling office to ensure that conflicts are minimized. For example, if multiple teams need the same space on the same day, they make sure there is ample time between games for the space to be cleaned up or for any repairs to be made.
Since production for “Wolves” took place during the summer, McLeod said it did not interrupt any athletic programs.
“Wolves” was not the IFCU Arena’s first on-screen role. In spring 2016, the arena was used in a series of Degree deodorant promos that aired during March Madness last year.
McLeod said that he doesn’t have Oscar aspirations for the IFCU Arena.
“We want to be hosting America East conference championship games before anything else,” he said.