Thunder Forward Patrick Patterson is a Film Producer in the Making
Patrick Patterson will never forget the first time he cried in front of his mom, Tywanna, during a movie.
It was November 1996. The future Oklahoma City Thunder forward was just seven years old when he watched Set It Off—featuring an all-star cast of Jada Pinkett, Queen Latifah and Vivica A. Fox—with his mom and her best friend in a Washington D.C. theater.
By the time the credits rolled, “I was just bawling my eyes out“, Pat tells CloseUp360 over the phone.
Tywanna and Buster Patterson Jr., Pat’s father, made cinema a staple of their son’s youth.
“That was a way of us to bond together,” Pat says. “Just going to the movies once or twice a week.”
With the full-time duties of a professional athlete, Pat can’t frequent the silver screen with mom and dad as much anymore. But when he can get to the theater, he makes the most of his time there. He’s used his passion for film to connect with fans and teammates through his annual “Pat Presents” movie night, which he hosted during a late October afternoon in Oklahoma City.
In a star-driven league, and with social media as a vehicle, Pat has found a way to engage with fans and give them a glimpse of who he is off the hardwood. To decide who gets to attend “Pat Presents”—which he’s been hosting since his time with the Toronto Raptors—he typically issues a challenge on social media and scans through submissions. Nowadays, winners join Pat and his teammates for a private movie screening at OKC’s Harkins Bricktown Cinema 16, along with a question-and-answer session after the credits roll.
Patrick Patterson addresses fans at "Pat Presents." (Courtesy of the Oklahoma City Thunder)
This year, ahead of Halloween, Pat treated his guests to a showing of Hunter Killer, starring Gerard Butler and Common.
“Once I saw those two together I'm, like, ‘Okay, that's gotta be one of my movies on my list,’” Pat says.
As he watches the movie with a theater full of strangers he’s invited, Pat gets to be a fan alongside his biggest supporters.
“They see me as a basketball player,” he says. “They can read up on my life and read things that I like to do, but there's a lot of fans out there who look up to me, and who look up to us athletes in general. And they don't really get a chance to hang out with us or talk to us. This was just a great idea to allow that to happen.”
Just as fans get to see a different side of him through “Pat Presents,” so too has the event offered him another window into the passion that makes the “Loud City” moniker a fitting one for Chesapeake Energy Arena during Thunder home games.
“I have people who participate every single time since the start of this,” he says, “so I can definitely sense that it's different here.”
Pat's fans have been known to go above and beyond in order to score tickets to his annual event. As part of a "Pat Presents" contest in February, he asked fans to create short, spy-themed videos. One submission, in particular, caught his attention—and left him feeling more than a little concerned.
“He literally jumped out of a moving car,” Pat says. “That blew my mind. He was in the passenger seat and opened up the door, like a high-speed chase and then jumped out of the car and did like a little barrel roll. And he posted that to his Instagram and I called him out.
“Whenever I saw him in the theater I'm, like, ‘Man, I appreciate the dedication on trying to win the tickets, but I do care about your safety. I'm not trying anything bad to happen to anyone to win tickets, but I love the heart and passion that you put forth.’”
Pat begins every screening with a speech. He congratulates and thanks his guests for attending, then lays out some ground rules: no recording during the movie; pictures and autographs can happen after it’s over; and general etiquette reminders in general.
Pat takes the art of filmmaking seriously—perhaps more so than any NBA player. He has participated in film internships, worked red carpet premieres as a TV host and even took over Sports Illustrated’s Twitter account during this year’s Academy Awards. He can break down the aesthetics of a movie scene and the flow of a play on game film with equal aplomb.
Though Tywanna took Pat to the movies when he was a kid, the love of film has always been a full family affair in the Patterson household. What began with theater outings turned into movie nights at home, complete with VHS tapes and caramel popcorn. Whenever Pat sees a fresh film—Bad Times at the El Royale, First Man and Bohemian Rhapsody topped October’s watch list—the first text he sends goes to his mom and dad.
"Me and my parents, we have this thing,” Pat says. “Any time we see a new movie, we always rate it on a scale of one to 10. So if they go see a movie together, I always tell them to message me when the movie's over, give me a number one to 10 on how it was. Any time I see a movie, I do the same thing."
The last 10 Pat awarded? Avengers: Infinity War.
“I probably gave it like a nine,” he says, “just because I didn't like the snap at the end.”
Like any family full of film fans, the Pattersons have their own preferences for genres. Pat, for one, doesn’t care for the slow-paced Westerns that his dad and grandfather love. But he and Buster Jr. do share an appreciation for some action flicks—chief among them, Ninja Assassin.
Following his selection to the McDonald’s All-Star Game out of Huntington High School in 2007, Pat took his passion for movies to the University of Kentucky. If you were looking to catch a movie in Lexington between 2007 and 2010, Wildcat Coal Lodge was the place to be. Not only was Pat the biggest film fanatic on the basketball team, but also he and his roommate, fellow NBA player Jodie Meeks, also had the biggest dorm of anyone on the roster. Add in orders of pizza and cheese sticks from Mad Mushroom, and it was a party.
Comedy classics from the ‘80s and '90s, like Friday, Boyz n the Hood and Pootie Tang, were essential. Pat could recite the scripts by heart along with the actors on screen.
“That's how often we watched the same movie over and over,” he remembers. “It got to a point where we could literally mute the movie, and each and every one of us would just say a different line throughout the course of the entire film.”
Nowadays, Pat streams his movies through DirecTV, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, while kicking back on his La-Z-Boy recliner at home. Although his movie collection is now primarily digital, he’s kept every tape and DVD he’s ever purchased. And he still saves room for his caramel popcorn, though he’s down to about one bag every other week or so.
“It sucks,” he says of his reduced popcorn consumption, “so I try to spread it out.”
On the road, Pat’s the one guy you’ll always find awake in his seat. While he can’t sleep on planes, all that bleary-eyed travel time bodes well for a film fiend like him.
Pat's Picks, By Genre
Horror: A Nightmare on Elm Street
Action: The Fast and the Furious series
Comedy: Step Brothers
Romantic Comedy: Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Even while head coach Billy Donovan is writing the bus loading time on the whiteboard in the postgame locker room, Pat is already thinking about what he’ll load onto his iPad.
“I'm, like, ‘Yo, make sure we're like on the bus and ready to go,” Pat says. “They're, like, ‘Pat, don't worry. We're gonna get on the plane and you can watch your movie.’”
When it comes to fellow movie lovers, Pat is in good company among the Thunder. Sometimes on road trips, Raymond Felton will rent out a theater for the team to catch a new movie. Jerami Grant loves to discuss the Marvel Universe. And Steven Adams will make a case for movies from New Zealand. (For the record, Pat agrees that Aquaman, played by Jason Momoa, is Steven’s doppelganger.)
The movies have become more than just a source of comfort for Pat in the midst of the 82-game grind. With his sights set on a career as a film producer after basketball, he has spent his summers picking the brains of established Hollywood executives. Most recently, he’s been inspired by Tommy Oliver, who produced The Perfect Guy and the television series Black Love, among other projects.
“Patience is what I realize the most,” Pat says of his industry revelations, “whether it's when you have a movie that you finished and you're trying to get it out there in the public. Just being patient. Whether it's studios turning you down, or if you do have a studio who's behind it and wants to put it out there. Just having the patience to let it happen.”
In the meantime, Pat has plenty on his plate.
From Hollywood to the hardwood, patience has been a theme in Pat’s life this past year. After signing with Oklahoma City in the summer of 2017, he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. The injury—combined with the emergence of Jerami and addition of Carmelo Anthony—resulted in a season of uneven playing time and uncertain expectations.
“I was so far behind,” Pat says. “I was trying to play catch up the whole time, so I do think last year patience played a vital role in overall my mentality and overall just my play out there. Just because I wanted to do so much. But my body wasn't ready yet and I was slowly, but progressively, getting back to normal, getting back to my old self.”
From his ambitions as a player to a movie mogul, Pat understands that with persistence comes the opportunity to practice.
“I have so many ideas in my head,” he says. “I just want to get them all out there as much as possible.”
Every day, Pat jots down thoughts on future film projects and “crazy stuff” from his dreams in a tan notebook. He keeps more developed drafts of scripts and short stories on his phone. Ask him to share, though, and his lips remain sealed.
But what Pat isn’t shy about is his desire to be a movie producer.
“Finding the right director, finding the right editor, finding the right people to make that vision come from the paper to the screen,” he says. “Just the whole creative aspect of the movie and how people can make these ideas, how these people already have all these ideas. And it's just all about creating some type of masterpiece for yourself and for the people, and just putting it out there.”
Pat with fans at his movie night last week in OKC. (Courtesy of the Oklahoma City Thunder)
If Pat had his way, he’d have Idris Elba play him in a movie about his life. But he doesn’t need to be a silver screen hero to face down the fears that might keep others from venturing into entertainment.
“The idea of Hollywood, it doesn't frighten me, it doesn't scare me,” Pat says. “It's just like basketball. You're going to have failures. It takes a long, long worth of time with practice.”
Along with his game on the court and his aspirations as a producer off of it, Pat has plans to evolve “Pat Presents.” As a frequent patron of the Toronto International Film Festival, he has a vision to develop his very own contest for teens to submit their short films to be critiqued by celebrity judges—from agents and producers to NBA peers.
Film has given Pat access to a wide world off the court, and he realizes the door he can open for kids who share his passion.
“It allows them to put their story out there, whether it's like their life story, whether it's their friends' stories,” he says. “They can get creative, use their imagination in any way possible, and just put forth some type of project that they truly love, that they care about and just showcase it to the world.”
Nikki Kay is a veteran NBA writer based in Southern California. She previously covered the Oklahoma City Thunder. Follow her on Twitter.