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Weston basketball coach controversy: Filmmaker goes public with his story

Stephen Moramarco is the writer and director of Forbidden Fruit, a short film that stars former Weston High School boys varsity basketball coach Mike Hvizdo.

Stephen Moramarco, the writer and director of the short video school administrators say is the reason a Weston High School basketball coach lost his job, has gone public with his story on the surrounding controversy.

Mr. Moramarco penned the post “Forbidden Fruit: The Untold Story!” on the blog Moremarkable on Friday, March 1, after Good Morning America aired a piece on Mike Hvizdo, the former coach of the Weston High School boys varsity basketball team. Mr. Hvizdo, who became coach in 2011, stepped down after school officials discovered that he had taken part in a short video in 2003 that they deemed “inappropriate for a leader of kids.”

That video was “Forbidden Fruit,” the film made by Mr. Moramarco in 2003.

In his blog post, he explains why he removed the film from IMDb.com (International Movie Database) and made the YouTube link private. He also posts a new link to the video, which is labeled as NSFW (Not Safe for Work — a term used to describe material on the Internet deemed not appropriate for viewing in the workplace) and not for viewing by anyone under 17.

“It’s not a masterpiece, but it was my first short film and I am proud of it,” Mr. Moramarco writes.

Mr. Moramarco, a graduate of the UCLA film school, said in his post that he made the film while he was attending an acting class in New York City. “During the first class … I met Jonathan Chase and Mike Hvizdo, or ‘Daddy Viz’ as he liked to be called at the time,” Mr. Moramarco writes.

“One day, I had an inspiration for a short film,” Mr. Moramarco writes. He gave the script he wrote to Mr. Chase and Mr. Hvizdo, who agreed to help Mr. Moramarco make the film.

Mr. Moramarco notes the film was made before the advent of YouTube, “so it didn’t get much exposure until I put it up online in 2006 when it seemed to receive 80,000 hits overnight — a pretty good sum at the time, and still not too bad.”

Then, he said, no one gave it much thought.

Until, Mr. Moramarco writes, he was contacted by Mr. Hvizdo. “A few weeks back, I get a call out of the blue from Daddy Viz — not too unusual since we are Facebook friends and do keep in touch — but he sounded serious,” he writes.

“‘Dude, I just want to say I love you, you are one of my favorite people… but “Forbidden Fruit” just got me fired.’ I felt a pit in my stomach … Essentially, Mike was taken off-guard, was strong-armed into resigning, which he refused. He was let go anyway,” Mr. Moramarco writes.

The writer/director says in his post he removed public access to the film online “out of care and concern for my friend.”

However, he goes on to say, he began to get concerned when he felt his reputation as a filmmaker was “being tarnished.”

“Mike Hvizdo did NOTHING WRONG.

“I did NOTHING WRONG.

“This was a movie for adults, by adults, created by artists working in their craft,” Mr. Moramarco writes.

He says he was contacted by Good Morning America, which offered to show a clip from Forbidden Fruit. While happy to get the exposure, “it also worried me — if you show a clip of certain scenes out of context, it could indeed be construed as cheap and vulgar,” he writes.

And so, in the name of “sunshine,” Mr. Moramarco made the decision to make the video available to the public.

“Not only is Mike’s reputation at stake, but so is mine. I have a chance now to tell the world that I am a filmmaker, that I am an artist, that Mike and everyone involved are not criminals — they should not be ashamed or sorry for their involvement in this project.”

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