“Now or Never” movie will document the rise of Tony Romo, Burlington community
By Daniel Schoettler
Tony Romo will be the subject of a new documentary about his meteoric, unique rise to football superstardom.
The Texas-based video production group ZGN Productions is at the head of the documentary “Now or Never,” to chronicle Romo’s journey from Burlington to the National Football League.
Christian Hanna is the founder of the production group and is the director and creator of the project. He is an independent filmmaker from El Paso, Texas.
“This documentary came about with me being passionate about Tony Romo and his career, not just the Dallas Cowboys, but who he is on the field,” Hanna said. “I had read an article from Dallas called “The Last Best Hope of Tony Romo,” by Michael J. Mooney, an author from Dallas, and he had written an article how it was now or never that if Tony Romo didn’t go chase a Super Bowl now with Jason Witten and Dez Bryant that he may never get it.”
Hanna explored doing the documentary to find out what was going through Romo’s mind during his career.
“I always thought that how has no one made a film about what was going on in Tony Romo’s mind as far as the good and bad snaps, the good and bad throws, and not just his life, but the perspective of those who saw him before he became a celebrity,” Hanna said. “We wanted to interview the coaches and everybody, so that is how the idea came out.”
Getting the ball rolling
After coming up with the idea, Hanna did his research and interviewed Mooney, as well as Romo’s former coach and current Burlington boys basketball coach Steve Berezowitz, and both loved the idea for the film.
“We came to Burlington and interviewed Steve Tenhagen, Berezowitz, a bunch of his community members,” Hanna said. “Here we are a year later still filming and now we got his dad, and Tony (Romo) loves what we are doing and is part of it and gave us time to give his real story.”
Hanna said during the process for the film that the production group didn’t go through any agents or managers.
Connecting with the Burlington community gave the documentary some initial steam, he added.
Hanna said they interviewed a few of Romo’s Eastern Illinois teammates as well.
“The documentary is very community-based with that origin of the people who saw him develop into the superstar and celebrity he would go on to be,” Hanna said.
Sound Designer Nina Hedberg, who is also one of many helping on the project, added that they were also able to get game film of Romo during his high school days from a few of his coaches at Burlington.
“We were fortunate enough to have some of the coaches send us some of the footage of him shot back in the day of Tony Romo playing,” Hedberg said. “We have a couple of hours of unseen footage, and it will be used in the documentary and I think some people will be really excited to see some of that.”
Producers dreaming big
Hanna intends this documentary to be available everywhere. He is hoping to show it at some big festivals like Dallas International and the Sundance Film Festival, but it depends on what they think.
“Having Tony and his dad, and having the production value of the people who were there has increased the value of our documentary,” Hanna said. “We are hoping to get it distributed, and the dream is having it on Netflix, Amazon, and DVD.”
Hanna also stated that when the documentary is finished that he intends to return to Burlington to show the film.
Burlington head football coach Steve Tenhagen is excited about the documentary.
“Christian and the group over the course of the last few years have put a lot of passion and pride into this project,” said Tenhagen, Romo’s top receiving target in high school and good friend. “I have had the opportunity to see the sneak peek, and it really is special and they’ve have done a tremendous job.”
Hanna and his production group have worked on this film for a year and half, which included two separate trips from Texas to Wisconsin.
“It has just been an honor to have Tony, his family and the community to give us the opportunity,” Hanna said. “To have the opportunity that Tony saw in us, we’re little people and we’re trying to make something big. That is what he saw in us, and we hope that we can give his story, his family, and his community justice.”