The following excerpts are from an interview
of Ray Bettinelli and Scott Nocella. Commentator
and freelance writer Valerie Fries conducted the interview on 1/6/2005 at Success
by Design studios in
Hicksville, NY during an editing session of Square Circles
- Life Between The Ropes.
To contact Ms. Fries E-mail Her At: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. The physical
image of a square circle proves a challenge to conjure up in the
mind, tell us about the symbolic meaning behind your show's title
"Square Circles- Life Between the Ropes".
Ray: For the most part it's metaphoric. When you think about the
ring in which a boxer performs it's just a big square. But a boxer's
movement within that square is circular. He/she must always be moving
to avoid being hit or worse, knocked out! I always say to my kids
"You stop, you get dropped!" In many ways that's the way
life is. We seem to always be boxed in by all these problems whether
it's stress from work, bills, family etc. Take NY for instance,
this is the stress capital of the world! Here you gotta fight every
day just to stay in the red! The point is in life, like in boxing,
you must keep moving. You stop you get dropped!
2. Who and/or what inspired you to create this new reality show?
Ray: I got the idea a few years back when I began helping other
men set up their boxing gyms. Then after I began coaching, I started
to see how beneficial boxing was to those who took it up, namely
these young people. The stories that I would come across in these
gyms were just amazing to me. Some upsetting, some uplifting but
all of them were interesting. In the back of my mind I thought this
would be a terrific theme for a show someday, about how people use
boxing to battle back from adversity. I just don't get why all these
reality shows have to exploit the failings of others. Why can't
there be a positive, uplifting reality show? Originally I was just
gonna focus on the drama that unfolded after I got BCBA open, then
my oldest brother Louis, suggested I start the show from the beginning
of the process and document all the hurdles you have to jump over
to open a positive place like BCBA. The more I thought about it
the more I agreed, so that's what I did.
3. Tell us about Lindenhurst's connection to boxing and why it is
the perfect locale for this new show?
Ray: As it turns out this town was once a very big proponent of
amateur boxing. The PAL once ran a youth boxing program right out
of the 1st precinct. Why they stopped I don't know, but to me it
indicated that this town could again support a well-run youth gym.
Plus, Lindenhurst happens to be the community in which I now live.
I grew up a few towns over, in Bay Shore. But I moved to Lindenhurst
in 1998 and have been here ever since. I believe people should first
try and help the community in which they live before venturing outside
of it to do good works. Since I consider Lindenhurst my "adopted"
hometown, this is where I decided to open BCBA. And seeing as BCBA
is the backdrop for Square Circles, naturally Lindenhurst will play
set to the show.
4. Tell us briefly about the history of boxing and why so many
men and women are drawn to this sport at the recreational level?
Ray: Again, metaphorically speaking, in many ways the battles we
face in life are similar to those a boxer faces. Boxing is not a
team sport, it is you and you alone in that ring facing your challenger.
Life's the same way. We must be prepared to handle challenges on
our own. Like a boxer, only those who are in shape or prepared will
succeed. Granted there are support systems for both, a boxer has
his corner men and we have friends and family, but for the most
part we must be prepared to face our challenges alone. People get
that with boxing, even if they never compete. Spend 3 minutes hitting
a heavy bag sometime and you'll see what I mean.
5. What is BCBA and how is it connected to your show "Square
Circles- Life Between the Ropes"?
Ray: First and foremost BCBA will be a youth gym. We will focus
our efforts on giving our local youth a facility where they can
train, develop structure and discipline. But it will be way more
than that. It is my goal to have BCBA become know as a full-fledge
community center. The show not only will spotlight the interesting
life stories that will unfold as we begin operating, it is also
intended to document what it takes to open a facility like this.
It is my hope that Square Circles becomes the catalyst which will
inspire someone in another community to step up and serve their
community by opening a similar based facility/program.
6. What programs does BCBA offer for adults and youth? And which
program will you be documenting for "Square Circles"?
BCBA is gonna turn this game on it's ear, for the
most part we're not looking to build better fighters. Our D.R.I.F.T.
program is designed to build better young men and women. Boxing
is just the vehicle we use to reach our kids, for the reasons I
have already expressed. I'm blessed to have in Assistant Coach J.
Harry Ayala, a man who understands this. If you want to build a
better boxer you must first build a better person. Our D.R.I.F.T.
program is designed to do just that! Then there's our learning center.
BCBA will be introducing our kids to some of the most cutting edge
courses as they pertain to computers and technology. And for those
who need it, we will be offering a GED assistance program. Like
my brother Eddie said, "make them hit the books, before they
hit the bags!". Yes, we will have an incredible learning center
on the premises. As far as the adults are concerned we will be offering
training programs for them as well. To help offset our operating
expenses we will be making available a limited amount of annual
adult memberships. It will be on a first-come, first serve basis
serving those who live in Lindenhurst first, then the Town of Babylon
residents and if any memberships are left people from outside those
communities can join. Kids 10-15 are always free but must first
go through our D.R.I.F.T program. Just log onto BCBA.info to get
all the particulars. And all of these great programs will be documented
in Square Circles.
7. Do you think today's youth are being challenged in positive
or negative ways?
Ray: I don't think they're being challenged at all! Unless you consider
sitting on a couch playing video games all day or acting like these
jackasses in music videos a challenge. You want a challenge? Step
up! Motivate, inspire, lead others now that's a challenge!
8. And is it important for the body, soul and mind of the individual,
as well as the community, to be challenged in positive ways?
Ray: Absolutely! You not only get what you give, you get what you
settle for! You build better communities one resident at a time.
And that starts with the young people! Show me a community overrun
with drugs, crime and gangs and I'll show you a community whose
young people are uneducated, disillusioned and who's lives are in
9. Why will the average viewer be drawn to this new reality show?
And do you believe their powerful emotional reactions will manifest
into even more intense physical actions?
Ray: Call me crazy but that's what I believe. I think people are
tired of these shows that make the viewer feel good about themselves
at the expense of others. Where are all the shows that inspire or
motivate? Why are all these shows about train wrecks rather than
people getting their lives back on track? How is a person like Anna
Nicole idolized. She should be in an institution somewhere getting
help, not on TV! I think the reaction after last year's Super Bowl
incident said something about the TV audience. A good segment of
them are fed up. They're tired of being fed this constant diet of
TV drivel, where every show seems to be geared toward people with
the mentality of two year olds. So yes, I think there is room for
positive TV. And I think much in the same way we as kids got motivated
to workout after watching Rocky, people will do the same after seeing
how those featured in Square Circles turn their physical being around.
How did you select Scott to be your DP?
Ray: This whole journey has been a series of positive events, one
right after another. Scott's meeting was no different. When I first
pitched the idea of Square Circles to a few Networks I was met with
the same response, "do you have a trailer?" Heck, if I
had the money to develop a TV Show trailer I would be spending it
on the equipment I need to open BCBA. So I had to figure out how
to get this trailer done without having any money. Seeing that both
the Show and BCBA are about what can be accomplished when community
works together, I reached out to a local school close to my community
that is known for their Audio and Video curriculum. Since we both
work with kids I thought they would see the benefit of getting their
students involved first hand in my production, after all this is
what they are schooling for. Unfortunately the head of the video
department couldn't see the value in it for his school or his students
and passed. I then went to The Art Institute of NY City. Though
they are technically outside my immediate community they run a much
larger institute that is better equipped to collaborate on the type
of production Square Circles needed. Anyway, Donna Guariglia a career
advisor was sharp enough to see the benefit of getting A-I students
involved. I went into the city to sit with her and we had a great
meeting. They run the type of facility I would want to introduce
BCBA kids to. After our meeting I realized I would need to can some
footage if we were to document the process of opening BCBA from
the beginning. Their schedule at the Institute was such that they
could not get involved until after the New Year. I tapped a mutual
friend for the name of a videographer that I could hire for a day
to shoot some footage of an important upcoming village hall meeting.
He gave me Scott's name and number. After meeting Scott we both
realized we shared the same value system and vision for the show.
He was suppose to shoot for just one day but his lens eye was so
perfect I knew he had to stay on board. Then The Art Institute got
bogged down with their scheduling so like everything else related
to this project that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Scott
and I decided to proceed on our own to finish the project. Judging
from the reactions of those who have seen our featurette, I'm glad
11. Scott Nocella has signed on as Director of Photography.
Scott, tell us about your role in this new reality show and the
role you think the show will play in regards to helping to impact,
for better, today's perception of the word: "community".
Scott: Well Val, I'm glad you've asked this question, as this
is certainly key to my involvement with the show "Square Circles".
When Ray and I first discussed the show I found that the element
that went straight to my heart was that this show would document
the human spirit. I've yet to see a reality show that addresses
this from the interest and context of community in an entertaining
positive way. As a DP this show gives me the opportunity to challenge
myself to not only be the best I can be in my craft but to have
the very images I document go to work in bringing communities together
in a positive way. I share Ray's belief that television entertainment
today doesn't have to be so negative, violent, and manufactured.
I believe that "Square Circles" is the answer and template for a
number of other similar shows that can truly challenge the way we
perceive community and how we can redefine the word "community"
in the most positive sense. This show impacts the resource that
we value the most, and that is children. Children today need positive
points of reference and mentors that they can look to for guidance
and trust, and there simply isn't enough of this type of entertainment
in television today. This shows role, for community, is to be recognized
as a unique benchmark in 21st century broadcasting that communities
can look to as a "roadmap" for positive change and as an "evolutionary
bridge" in televised entertainment today. Television is such a powerful
tool, and when a show like this comes along I see the true potential
of a community communicating to the world of what can truly be done.
As Ray explained this is not just about boxing. Boxing provides
the key to the doors of knowledge within as it gives children access
to an inner discipline and sense of self that is so needed, especially
today. The edge in entertainment needs to be positive, and "Square
Circles" is going to be that edge. My role is to facilitate the
creation of this show and many others like it for the benefit of
community and quality entertainment. I believe that quality entertainment
is based on stories about the human spirit, and "Square Circles"
is the show that people and communities have been waiting for to
tell these stories. Val, I look forward to discussing a number of
shows that are centered around community in the near future, as
I've found it to be an extremely enjoyable experience working with
Ray on this show.
12. Who are the other team members and what roles will they be
Ray: Again, I consider myself blessed to have a group of like-minded
individuals throwing their support behind BCBA. Everyone involved
in BCBA is committed to helping others. They are all talented in
the roles they will be playing. To meet them just visit our website
13. There are reality shows that may seem to parallel "Square
Circles". Can you highlight key concepts of your show that
will help establish it as stand out amongst other "challenge
Ray: The biggest difference between Square Circles and other reality
shows is the reality. We did not and will not cast any parts in
this show. Most of the other so-called "reality shows"
are not only scripted but are cast with actors looking to further
their careers. Plus, the challenges they face on some of these shows
are usually game show challenges, how many worms you can eat or
crap like that. And as far as being compared to the other makeover
shows, yes we are similar but the difference is the people who will
change their lives at BCBA will be doing it from the inside out!
No plastic surgery or simple wardrobe fixes. These will be people
who change because they are willing to take on a whole new way of
being, in attitude, diet and exercise.
14. I am very excited to tune into your new reality series. When
and where will "Square Circles- Life Between the Ropes"
Ray: That's still up in the air. Trailers are only now being sent
out to the major Networks. Whichever Network this show may land
on, you can bet it will be one that is committed to promoting positive
15. Mr. Bettinelli, how many boxing rounds must I survive before
I can call you "Coach Ray"?
Ray: Just the first, but that's the toughest one. Because that's
the round in which you make a conscience decision to get off your
butt and get to the gym.