Jeff Haynes, one of the directors of Bleeding Orange & Brown: A Cleveland Tradition, wants to be clear: He sympathizes with Browns fans. He's one of them. Which is why he didn't feel bad when he set out to poke fun at guys in the Dawg Pound who bare their painted chests in the middle of winter. "But it turned out that it was really hard to do that, because the people are too genuine," he says.
Northeast Ohio natives Haynes and co-director Christopher Pete set out to chronicle, week-by-week, the team's 2004 season from the perspective of fans. "We were kinda hoping that the season would go bad, because it would be a better story," says Haynes.
Fortunately for him, the film was no Fever Pitch, which had to be rewritten at the last minute when the Boston Red Sox stunned everyone by winning the World Series. The Browns, as usual, sucked. Still, rooting for the Browns to lose was against Haynes' nature as a fan. "At the beginning of the season, I'm always like, we're going to be 16 and 0," he says. "That's my hope. I know better, I guess, but I don't want to admit that until about midseason."
Bleeding Orange & Brown (which makes its world premiere on Saturday) contains no actual footage of the Browns in action, because the NFL was put off by the film's coarse language. Outside stadiums and inside bars, Haynes and Pete shot more than 80 hours of fervent fans ruminating on their team (the finished cut runs about 85 minutes). By the 13th game, the bars had emptied out, and the filmmakers found just one lonely fan clinging to hope, dressed to the nines in Browns apparel. "And that one person is the perfect example of who we're trying to capture," says Haynes.
Haynes admits to being one of those people. He lives and works in New York, but he still calls Cleveland home. "I'm not a Yankees fan; I'm an Indians fan," he says. "But I'm not rooting for the team. I root for Cleveland. I want the city to succeed."