As Lydia Peterson stepped on to the court of the Liacouras Center in 2011, in her blue and gray basketball shorts and shirt, the bright lights shone in her eyes and she grew nervous about the outcome of her try-out.
“I just felt like all of my hopes and dreams were riding on this one practice,” said Peterson, executive producer, writer, director of “Walking On” and 2015 media studies and production alumna.
Peterson drew from her experiences as a “walk-on,” a player who was not scouted or recruited to be on the team, on Temple University’s women’s basketball team to create her first film, “Walking On.” On Nov. 16, it was released to streaming platforms, like Amazon Prime, Google Play, Apple TV and Vudu, after Peterson worked on it for four years at Lid Productions, her production company, she said.
The movie is about a girl trying out for a Division I basketball team and was loosely inspired by Petersons’ own experience as a walk-on. Peterson wanted to capture the hardwork and difficulties of being a walk-on in a movie because they often go overlooked, she said.
Peterson spent the summer of 2011 leading up to her first try-out playing pick-up games and trying to prove herself to the other players, she said.
By August, Peterson attended her first practice and was asked to return the next day. Throughout her three years as a walk-on, she attended every game, practice and workout, but only played in one game, she said.
Receiving limited playing time was difficult for Peterson because she was constantly trying to better herself as a player and earn some time on the court, Peterson said.
”Because I knew how hard that was, and I know that a lot of people don’t know how hard that is, I was like, ‘this could be a good story,’” she said.
Peterson spent much of her time at Temple pursuing her interests, like photography and film, which led her to create Lid Productions after graduating in 2015. She started the company to have creative control over the stories she values and wants to share in media, she said
Lid Productions started as a photography and short film production studio, but by using her connections from Temple and working for the MLB and NFL as a camera operator and senior live content correspondent, she was able to build a repertoire to move her production company from doing photoshoots to a movie, she said. From there, she began to write, produce and direct her first major film.
Because it was her first film, she decided to self-fund it and created a GoFundMe, raising almost $5,000 to help jumpstart the process.
She credits her success and ability to create “Walking On” to her experience at Temple and the encouragement and support she received from Paul Gluck, her former History of Electronic Media course professor, she said.
Peterson’s confident and curious personality in the classroom indicated how successful she would be, wrote Gluck, an associate professor of media studies and production, in an email to The Temple News.
“Early in her time at Temple, it was pretty clear that [Peterson] had an incandescent talent and that she was determined to use those gifts to illuminate the lives of others through her expressive storytelling,” Gluck wrote.
Peterson recruited Temple alumnae Lorian Thompson and Jazmin Walker to help with the production of the film, because of their experience in the entertainment industry, Peterson said.
When Peterson came to them with the script, they jumped on the opportunity because they wanted to see her vision come to life, said Walker, casting producer for “Walking On,” booking coordinator at CNBC and 2016 media studies and production alumna.
“We’re just really proud of [Peterson],” said Thompson, producer for “Walking On,” coordinator for content development and strategy at CBS and 2015 media studies and production alumna.
“No matter what we went through, we just knew that we wanted to make this project the best it could possibly be,” Thompson said.
Peterson plans to make more feature films and documentaries that bring depth, dignity and value to complex, interesting and non-stereotypical Black roles, she said.
She hopes “Walking On” will encourage viewers to never give up on themselves or their dreams, she added.
“It’s no small thing to chase after something that you’re dreaming of,” Peterson said. “That’s a hard thing to do, and then to commit to it, and to not make anyone make you feel like you’re crazy or dumb for going after a dream — that’s something to be proud of, and I want people to feel encouraged by that.”