Season 1 of Beyond The Lens will focus on Sports Documentaries. Seth Shapiro (Founder and EP of Diesel Films) and AJ Speaks (Sr. Producer, Miami HEAT) sit down with some of the industry’s best filmmakers. From Billy Corben discussing 'The U' to Steve James describing the riveting details behind his documentary, Hoop Dreams. Seth and AJ get the untold stories of how these docs are brought to life and pull back the curtain on all the challenges these filmmakers have to overcome from concept to completion. This is Beyond the Lens, from Diesel Films // www.dieselfilmsinc.com // firstname.lastname@example.org
Eric Newman: Kevin Garnett Doc (Showtime)
Eric Newman’s journey to the top of Showtime basketball was one of hard work and dedication. An accomplished basketball coach on the Nike circuit, Newman used an experience he had with Kobe Bryant at Rucker Park to springboard himself into the world of sports media. After grinding on the freelance market, Newman took his skills to Bleacher Report and then eventually to Showtime basketball where he helped create the mega popular podcast All The Smoke and directed the film we’ll talk about today, Kevin Garnett: Anything is Possible….
Eric’s love for basketball and more specifically the Boston Celtics matched up well when the opportunity to direct a Doc featuring Kevin Garnett was presented to him. We dive into the four pillars that helped guide his story and and he tells us why they made the decision not to include Stephon Marbury. You won’t want to miss a moment of this episode of Beyond the Lens presented by Diesel Films.
Steve James: Hoop Dreams
Steve James needs no introduction. In my opinion, the most prolific sports documentarian of all time. He took his vision from the Cabrini Greens playground in Chicago to what became Hoop Dreams, the most successful sports doc of all time, the film that paved the way for the proliferation of Sports Films on HBO Sports, 30 for 30, and Netflix. James has since gone on to produce and direct a variety of films from Prefontaine to America to Me, an award winning docuseries on the education system in Chicago , but in this conversation we deep dive into the Legendary Hoop Dreams….
Steve James’ hoop dreams started on the courts of Hampton Va where he had his first experience with basketball and race. From there he studied at James Madison University before his heart led him to follow his future wife to Southern Illinois. Steve shares the films that inspired him when he first started and tells us how stories from his father helped pushed him to return home to make a film about a basketball icon who had gotten into some trouble in a bowling alley. It is our pleasure to have Steve James on this episode of beyond the lens presented by Diesel Films.
Rudy Valdez: Breakaway: The Maya Moore Story
Self taught and self-made, Rudy Valdez is a shooting star in the world of documentary filmmaking. After his sister was incarcerated for 15 years and separated from her 3 children for a first time, non-violent offense, Rudy Valdez picked up a camera & went on a 10 year journey documenting his family’s fight for her clemency and return back to her family. The culmination ended up being “The Sentence” a documentary which won the Audience Choice award at Sundance and was picked up by HBO. This experience has led Rudy on a wildly successful career and recently ESPN tabbed him to tell the extraordinary story of WNBA superstar Maya Moore who left the game in the prime of her career to rescue the love of her life who spent 23 years in jail on a wrongful conviction, for the film Breakaway …
Rudy sat in the back of his high school drama class attempting to skate his way towards graduation. Little did he know his teachers simple push would lead to his first steps in the entertainment world. From that moment Rudy followed his heart and not his head and that became became the secret sauce to his filmmaking style. In this episode of Beyond the Lens presented by Diesel Films, Rudy Valdez opens all the way and details turning points in his life as well as significant moments in his films. For fans of the docuseries We are the Brooklyn Saints on Netflix, you will want to listen all the way until the end because Rudy gives us the goods. Enjoy the pod
Clay Tweel: Gleason
After a chance meeting with super producer Seth Gordon on his first film set as a production assistant, Clay Tweel quickly packed his bags and moved from Virginia to Los Angeles. In LA, Tweel honed his craft as a jack of all trades, he learned to edit and shoot, and Gordon quickly put him to work on what is now a cult classic, The King of Kong. Tweel took that experience, what he considers his masters degree in documentary filmmaking, and became a director himself. In 2014, a sizzle about Steve Gleason’s fight against ALS was being passed around Hollywood in search of a director, and Tweel knew he was the man for the job….
Clay Tweel is an enjoyable conversationalist. His ability to draw parallels between his subject and everyday humans is his gift as a filmmaker. I love how a game of ping pong helped seal his fate as the Director of the heart wrenching film, Gleason. And how his father’s famous client became an inspiration for the story. Gleason has so many layers to it and we were lucky to have Clay join us to peel some back, on this episode of Beyond the Lens, presented by Diesel Films.
Peter Ettedgui and Ian Bonhote: Rising Phoenix (Netflix)
After winning a BAFTA nomination for their first documentary, McQueen, a Greek tragedy about fashion designer Lee Alexander McQueen, Peter Ettedgui and Ian Bonhote turned their attention to another powerful subject, the Paralympics, its history, its challenges, and its awe inspiring athletes. Ettedgui, with his masterful writing and Bonhote with his dynamic visuals, made Rising Phoenix1 more than just a documentary but rather a cinematic masterpiece that cast the athletes not as disabled but as superheroes straight out of something you would see in the Marvel Cinematic Universe….
AJ - I’m going to keep it real with you, this doc was challenging for me to watch due to my own insecurities but after talking to Peter and Ian I realized that was their intention. They wanted to open the viewers eyes to a topic many may have usually avoided. And that’s exactly what happened to me. Ian and Peter have such great chemistry. It shows in the film and in our conversation. The transparency Ian shared with us was refreshing and Peter’s attention to detail make it obvious why they make such a good team.
John Dahl: ESPN Films Executive Producer
Not because it rhymes with his name, but John Dahl has literally done IT ALL at ESPN. Getting his first byline as a senior in high school at the Charlotte News, Dahl has been on a road to success since his teenage years on Tobacco Road. From Sports Century to The Last Dance, Dahl has had his hand in hundreds of documentary projects at ESPN, and today he will take us down memory lane.
John’s experience and unique insight comes shining through in this latest edition of Beyond the Lens presented by Diesal Films. We don’t focus on just one documentary instead we pepper john with questions about the vast array of docs he has been apart of during his long tenure at ESPN. Be it The Two Escobars, The Last Dance or With Out Bias, John break down the role he played in bringing those and many other docs to life. I really enjoyed hearing him discuss all of the friendships that he has developed over the year with personalities like Kenny Chesney.
New view on sports
I’m not much of a sports fan, but from listening to the interview with Mat Whitecross, it’s convinced me to not only watch The Kings with my sports-obsessed husband, but pass the podcast along to him as well. Well-done guys!
Best sports documentary podcast by a mile
These guys are so know, fun, engaging and cover some great documentaries!
I love this pod. AJ and Seth are awesome producers but may be even better in front of a mic.
The interviews are thoughtful, the insights are profound, and there is nothing more engaging that hearing the passion that pours from a master as they share they’re craft.