Many football fans throughout the U.S. spent their summer watching football documentaries, such as HBO’s Hardknocks and Netflix’s Last Chance U, preparing for football season to start. The documentaries inspired Senior Kevin Redfern to create his own version of the series based on the GBS football team.
“I have an unhealthy obsession with football and it is the most electric sport there is,” Redfern said. “When you see people in practice and in games, there is a new side of them that comes out and you don’t really see that anywhere else other than under the lights. My mom noticed that I was binging Last Chance U and she said ‘why don’t you do this at South?’”
To make the documentary possible, Redfern reached out to Senior Brendan Garvey. With Garvey’s background in TV at South and Redfern’s background in radio, they were able start the process of creating the documentary.
“We didn’t want to take away from practice, distract anyone or annoy the coaches,” Garvey said. “We tried to get interviews where we could with as little equipment as we could. When people were getting water breaks or in line for drills we would ask them a few questions, and tried to get as much footage as we could.”
Redfern and Garvey are hoping to create a three-part documentary, with two episodes out so far. According to Redfern, the biggest difference between the first episode and the second was adding Seniors Zach Carr and Nick Mathein.
“As we got more comfortable with it, so did the players,” Redfern said. “So we added on Nick, who brought another camera, and Zach and I have a background in journalism so [we] would talk to people and [Nick and Brendan] would shoot it.”
According to Garvey, this documentary was unlike anything he has done for TV. In TV, Garvey believes he is in a more controlled environment, but on the field he says he learned a lot on the go.
“I learned a lot about how to talk to someone and get a lot out of them even if they don’t want to talk to you,” Garvey said. “The coaches for example wanted the fewest distractions as possible. It was really nice of them to let us in and we had to be as respectful but we had to figure out how to push our limits to get as much out of them as possible.”
Due to football being a school-affiliated sport and South TV equipment being used, Garvey says they faced several roadblocks before the documentary could be published. Each episode had to be checked by TV teacher, Julie Benca, who had the final say of what could go in.
“Early on in the season the story was that the team was horrible, so we asked fans what they thought about the team, and they had pretty negative responses,” Garvey said. “We had to take that out because Ms. Benca didn’t think it was fair to the football game. But that is what I think the difference is between a school project and a personal documentary.”
Once the documentary was posted, Garvey and Redfern both say they received positive feedback from the football team and coaching staff.
“We were really skeptical after the first week, but we got feedback from Coach Myers and he said that the coaching staff all loved it,” Redfern said. “We put the first episode out Friday afternoon and all the players watched it together in their pregame and [they] all loved it.”