Project

Draft Academy 2019

Every year, thousands of football players are evaluated, tested, and interviewed for a chance to play on the ultimate stage: the NFL. Evolve Studio partnered with ESPN Features to create an unscripted sports follow doc that tells the stories of 6 of these men.

ESPN’s Draft Academy is an 8-part, 30-minute episodic, unscripted series that gives a raw point of view to the 100 days leading up to the NFL Draft. This season follows Draft hopefuls Nick Bosa, Drew Lock, Josh Jacobs, Marquis Brown, Jarrett Stidham, and Tyree Jackson on their journey being drafted into the NFL. Following the athlete’s mental, physical, and emotional preparations, we get an honest look at what these men must give up for a chance at their dreams.

Client

ESPN+

Content

Episodic Series

Draft academy 2019 | case study

the ultimate stage

Every year, thousands of football players are evaluated, tested, and interviewed for a chance to play on the ultimate stage: the NFL. Evolve Studio partnered with ESPN Features to create an unscripted sports follow doc that tells the stories of 6 of these men.

ESPN’s Draft Academy is an 8-part, 30-minute episodic, unscripted series that gives a raw point of view to the 100 days leading up to the NFL Draft. This season follows Draft hopefuls Nick Bosa, Drew Lock, Josh Jacobs, Marquis Brown, Jarrett Stidham, and Tyree Jackson on their journey being drafted into the NFL. Following the athlete’s mental, physical, and emotional preparations, we get an honest look at what these men must give up for a chance at their dreams.

THE TRUE MEANING OF HUSTLE

Time and scheduling become major players in a docu-follow sports series about high-profile athletes with heavy time demands and constraints. These 100 days of production were a physical and mental training ground for all aspects of our production team. While working against time and access restrictions, our team had to build immense trust with the players, their families, agents, and managers. We captured these men in one of the most pivotal, interesting moments of their stories – each one of these players has been a part of a team since they were children, and this is the only three month period in their life in which that won’t be the case. It was crucial for us to be in the right moment at the right time to capture these compelling pieces of their journey, because if we don’t have those moments, we don’t have a great show.

To combat this challenge, we created one of the most rigorous production schedules with crews staggered in a Tetris-like fashion to put themselves in the best possible position for capturing compelling content. This level of elaborate planning and project management spanned across all aspects of production and into post production. Because episodes delivered as the story unfolded in real time, our rapid post production plan called for footage ingest and assembly immediately after each shoot – allowing us to deliver the final episode only 5 days after the NFL Draft.

The nature of this project, and of sports documentaries in general, required great hustle, attention to detail, and flexibility from all parts of the team, reflecting the incredible work ethic and mental perserverance shared by the entire team.

GETTING TO THE END ZONE

The production schedule includes 10 film crews, filming over 100 shoot days, across over 20 cities. This rigorous and intense filming process is the only way to capture the fast pace of this preparation period for the players. But what makes this series unique is its ability to seamlessly combine fly-on-the-wall access, documentary and short-film vignettes to create an engaging narrative that doesn’t fade into the noise for this genre. High energy action scenes are paired next to dramatic recreations, followed by emotionally heavy sequences that make you root for the underdog and cheer for the hero.

While production schedules are constantly getting tighter, the efficiency of quickly pacing an always shifting narrative in real time is one of the elements that makes Draft Academy a relevant series. While some of Draft Academy’s story structure relies on the athlete’s backstory, both professionally and personally, most of what makes the series compelling is happening in real time. The editorial team was able to quickly turn around full episodes in a hyper condensed amount of time from beginning to end, while keeping the integrity of the character arcs intact. The result is an intentional, captivating storyline that gives audience members relevant content, right away, centered around one of the biggest events of the year in sports.

VIEW THE DRAFT ACADEMY 2019 TITLE SEQUENCE.