Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Clippers Fan Turning The Music Game & Hollywood Into His Own Personal Playgrounds

For the past 7 years, Harvey Mason, Jr. has sat just off the court, directly across from the Clippers bench supporting his lifelong favorite team.

“I used to go to San Diego to watch the Clipper games. My dad and I would drive down and watch the games down there,” said Mason. “I loved the Lakers and Magic Johnson as a kid growing up as well, but something about the Clippers just stuck to me. They were underdogs, and I like the way they play. I like that they have a lot of heart.”

Mason’s obsession with basketball emerged at an early age, but it didn’t blossom until his high school years at Crescenta Valley, where he led the state in scoring as an all-CIF selection before eventually ending up at Arizona to play for Lute Olson. A torn ACL ended his dreams of playing professional basketball.

But while basketball may have been his obsession, music was always his first love thanks to growing up as the son of Jazz drummer and producer extraordinaire, Harvey Mason, Sr.

"I always wanted to be around my dad. I love being in the studio. So I didn't really rebel like a lot of kids did. I just had a genuine love and interest in music," said Mason.

I didn't really know what I was going to do. Was I going to play drums like my dad? Was I going to write songs? Was I going to be an artist? But I knew I wanted to to be in the studio, so I ended up developing as a song writer and as a producer. All these years later, here I am."

And where he is is the top of the modern day music game. Having worked with artists from Beyonce and Aretha Franklin to Justin Timberlake and Elton John, Mason has not only been nominated for three Grammy awards, but he’s also the first producer to be nominated for three Academy awards in the same year for his work on the soundtrack to "Dreamgirls."

“For me, I use that competitive spirit and nature that I had in basketball to try and beat the next guy--trying to work harder than the next guy, trying to spend more time perfecting my craft than the guy next to me,” Mason said. “I’ve used my athletic background to hopefully further my music career.”

And that athletic background has also led to another venture: film-making. Mason recently produced the highly-acclaimed documentary, “More Than A Game,” centering around LeBron James and his childhood friends. It was a project that many studio execs either passed on or wanted to turn into a tv show, but when director Kris Belman brought some of the early clips to Mason, his vision went far beyond a Lebron highlight tape.

“I saw the story of these five guys and a dad who knew nothing about basketball,
trying to work together with these kids and grow these guys up as young men.
And to me that was the most compelling most interesting part of the footage,”
said Mason. “There was so much heart there. I just thought it was a story that
needed to be told. It was about basketball, it was about LeBron, but it was much
more than all of that and that’s the title, ‘More Than A Game’.”

The film has received much critical acclaim since it premiered at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Some industry insiders and moviegoers are even comparing it to one of the best sports documentaries of all-time: “Hoop Dreams.” However, such praise was not the original goal of making this film.

“This was a movie that I felt we had a chance to really kind of make a difference.

It sounds like really corny, but people watch this movie and they feel good,”

Mason said. “You know the feel energized and motivated, inspired, and you don’t
get a chance to do that that often. I try to do it in music, and I tried to do it in this


“And I want everybody to see this movie. I want kids to see this movie. I want
parents to see it. I want athletes, non-athletes, and moms because the message in
this story and this film are important and impactful. And like I said, it makes you
feel good.”

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