Tag Archives: Adam Kontras

Gotta Be the Shoes

Meeting Michael

by Hope Madden and George Wolf

Normally, you’d expect the MVP of any doc about Michael Jordan – especially one featuring some priceless footage of MJ in his prime – to be the man himself. But in Meeting Michael, he’s upstaged by two kids curious about their Dad’s obsession.

Dad is writer/director Adam Kontras. An Ohio native, Kontras was just a youngster himself when he first idolized Jordan and the mid-80s Chicago Bulls. Now, his L.A. attic is bursting with impressive MJ memorabilia, including two special videotapes with some amazing behind-the-scenes footage.

At just 19 years old, Kontras was pulling the overnight shift at a news/talk radio station in Columbus. Through that gig, he scored a press pass for the Bulls game in Cleveland on Nov. 9th, 1995, and brought a camcorder. With both courtside and locker room access, Kontras captured a truly compelling moment in time.

He released some of the footage five years ago as a short film, drawing superlatives in outlets ranging from online blogs to the Washington Post. For the feature length version, Kontras smartly reframes the entire story as one he’s telling his young son and daughter on the day they’re finally allowed to explore his fan cave.

Though Kontras’s storytelling can flirt with self-congratulations, it’s more often laced with a sheepish wonder at what he pulled off, and some endearing self-deprecating humor aimed at his younger self.

As a director, Kontras (Fastest Delorean in the World, Fastest Delorean Part II) exhibits fine instincts for answering the questions raised by his on-court encounter. For example, footage of Jordan finally answering a merciless heckler sparks a natural curiosity about the garishly dressed front row loudmouth, and Kontras delivers. Bypassing this sidebar wouldn’t have wrecked the film, but giving some time to Eddie “the Heckler” Nahra leads to a richer experience.

It’s these details – some personal, some observational – that keep the film from feeling like a short surrounded by filler.

For Jordan and/or NBA fans, Meeting Michael is a must. But by anchoring the story through the sharing of passions – and by using a touching story about shoes to cement a life lesson – it’s a film with more of a purpose than just liking Mike.

Meeting Michael releases 11/9/20 on Amazon. $4.99 to rent, $7.99 to buy.

Pretty McFly (For a White Guy)

Fastest Delorean Part II

by George Wolf

When we last saw Adam Kontras and his record-setting Delorean, one of them was on the side of an L.A. freeway engulfed in flames.

Fastest DeLorean in the World ended with that fiery cliffhanger, and now Kontras is back to finish the story with his second documentary feature, Fastest Delorean Part II.

Kontras, a Columbus native who bought the Delorean and turned it into a stunning replica of Marty McFly’s Back to the Future time machine, has for years been making his living in L.A. by renting out the vehicle for a variety of gigs.

That led to a desire for setting the Delorean speed record, which Kontras chronicled to stirring effect in Part I. But aside from all the cool car stuff, what really drove the first film is the human drama that developed between Adam and his gearhead brother Kenny.

The status of their relationship was as much an unanswered question as the car fire, and Kontras readily admits his sequel won’t mean much to anyone who hasn’t seen the first film.

“It’s the rightful conclusion to everything,” Kontras said.

Plus, from the Universal Studios backlot to Paris and beyond, we get first person accounts of the often amazing places the car has taken Kontras and his good friend Don Fullilove, who played Mayor Goldie Wilson in the Back to the Future films.

“Just like the first one, I’m very happy as a storyteller to have somehow pieced it all together,” Kontras said. “The scope of everything is pretty intense…but holy fuck, I wish I wasn’t in it.”

“I am so done with the drama, I did everything humanly possible to make Fastest DeLorean a nice redemption story.”

“There will not be a part III.”

There will be more documentaries, though. Kontras is set to announce his next project in January, one he describes as “a love fest that has nothing to do with family.”

Okay, but what about time travel?

Fastest DeLorean Part II is streaming now on Amazon.

Searching for Gigawatts

by George Wolf and Hope Madden

Now that Adam Kontras’s first documentary feature is out, he has time to sit back and savor the accomplishment.

“I completely regret attempting it,” he says. “Had no clue it would turn out the way it did.”

How’s that?

“The movie turned out well,” Kontras says. “I just wish it wasn’t me.”

The film is Fastest DeLorean in the World, Kontras’s first-hand account of mixing business with record breaking. The owner of a Back to the Future-style time machine, Kontras documented his attempt at setting a new DeLorean speed record.

It is a fascinating story, filled with frustration, thrills, more than a little personal anguish and much more debt than expected.

Kontras, a Columbus native, left home for Los Angeles in late 1999 with a performance art piece entitled 4TVs, in which he played each member of a mock boy band that performed via separate TVs due to mutual hatred. Kontras decided to update his ambitions for fans from his on-air work in Columbus radio at WTVN and CD101 (now CD102.5) with a series of videos dubbed “The Journey,” unknowingly blazing the video blogging trail.

“I had a good email following through my time in radio,” Kontras says. “I decided to include a video with the first email announcing my move to LA and chronicling the whole journey. I just made a page with each email and video on the 4TVs site and figured I’d do it until I ‘made it.’ Eighteen years later, that video blog became a sort of therapy to handle all the bullshit out here. Once I was recognized in 2009 as the first and longest-running ‘vlogger,’ it won’t be stopping anytime soon.”

And then, like so many Midwesterners chasing Hollywood dreams, Kontras built a golf course and bought an iconic vehicle.

“I built a minigolf course in my backyard,” he says. “I was theme-ing each hole, and in 2014 an actual DeLorean Time Machine seemed like the caviar dream. Long story short, I took a loan and figured I could make the money back renting the car out. If that failed, I could sell the car at the height of Back to the Future madness in October 2015 (the “future day” Marty goes to in part 2).”

Kontras credits that “madness” with doubling his investment in 2015.

“To date, it’s still my only means of income, which is hard for me to even comprehend,” he says. “The car is simply that popular.”

Needless to say, owning that car has taken Kontras to some interesting places.

“The three times I’ve had it on the Universal lot at Hill Valley will always be surreal,” he says. “Driving Lea Thompson into Dodger Stadium, driving it on an aircraft carrier—2015 was incredible for big events like that. But my favorite events are usually the smaller ones where we get to surprise fans. You forget how much this car means to people sometimes.”

It has also led to a firm friendship with Don Fullilove, who played Mayor Goldie Wilson in the Back to the Future films and joins Kontras in his documentary.

“(Don is) as genuine as he seems on-screen and I honestly feel he saves the film,” Kontras says. “He keeps the pace light-hearted, although the content is anything but.”

As Kontras sets out to modify his car enough to reach world record DeLorean speed, costs and setbacks mount. Kontras leaned on his gearhead brother Kenny for both advice and actual work on the engine, and some of the most effective moments in the film come after their differing visions lead to a gasp-inducing bit of deception.

“I’m still struggling with the aftermath of everything and it doesn’t look like it will end anytime soon,” Kontras says.

Though The Fastest DeLorean in the World is Kontras’s first feature, the film has polish in both framing and editing, thanks to his experience assembling The Journey vlogs.

“(The film) was edited in Premiere Pro, and we used so many different cameras,” he remembers. “Mostly smartphones, to be honest. When you’re doing a lot of guerrilla shoots, being able to hand off an iPhone Plus with the steadicam feature is worth its weight in gold. So many of the shots were by friends that were just there to see what happened and I’d hand them a phone. It made editing a nightmare but I’m used to that.”

Did Kontras get his speed record? The film takes you on a captivating ride to find that answer.

“The movie ends with one helluva cliffhanger,” he says. “We’re presently shooting the sequel, the content of which seems to change daily. I’m still living every second and have no idea what or when that will be.”

Fastest DeLorean in the World is available now on Amazon.