Episodes
Published 12/14/21
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...
Published 12/14/21
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...
Published 11/30/21
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....
Published 11/23/21
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...
Published 11/16/21
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...
Published 11/09/21
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...
Published 10/26/21
Andrea & Sean Fine met serendipitously working at National Geographic and fell in love over their passion for movies and storytelling.  The couple decided to leave Nat Geo and make their own films, and boy was that a good idea. Their first feature documentary War/Dance about Ugandan child soldiers, garnered their first Academy Award nomination, and then they hit the red carpet again in 2013 but this time they were victorious winning an Oscar for their short documentary, Inocente. Just...
Published 10/21/21
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Marquis Daisy's passion for hoops and hip hop motivated him to focus and achieve through higher education. Daisy headed north to prep school in New England and then to the Little Ivy, Williams College. His plan to be a teacher was derailed when he was offered  a Production Assistant job at HBO Sports. After 6 years at HBO, Marquis found himself working freelance on a  ESPN 30 for 30 film which led to him to a staff Producer position in ESPN's Original...
Published 10/12/21
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1980’s basking in the glow of the Showtime Lakers and the golden era of LA Sports, Jon Weinbach found himself glued to the LA Times reading the likes of Jim Murray and Gene Wojciechowski. Then At Yale under the watchful eye of his Sports Editor, Baseball’s eventual boy wonder, Theo Epstein, Jon flourished as a writer for the Yale Daily News. After a short stint with the Wall Street Journal, Jon then transitioned to producing a show for ESPN called the Life,...
Published 09/28/21
 Growing up in what appeared to be a retirement community in North Miami Beach, Alfred Spellman quickly realized Miami was more than meets the eye. After meeting Billy Corben in his 9th grade production class, the duo went on to be the youngest filmmakers ever to reach Sundance and then went on to start rakontur, a Miami-based documentary studio. Perfecting their craft of what they call ‘synthesis journalism’, Rakontur has created a legacy of exploring the corruption and drug trade in the...
Published 09/07/21
When Chris Martin and Coldplay are your college roommates, you must have a charmed life and for director Mat Whitecross I’d say that’s the case. After his award winning doc The Road to Guantanamo which put him on the map, Whitecross has never looked back. After knocking out the rock doc genre with the brilliant Oasis: Supersonic and a doc about his old buddies Coldplay, Whitecross turned his attention to a golden era in Boxing with the film titled “The Kings” for Showtime, a 4 hour...
Published 08/31/21
 After stops at NFL Films and Nascar Productions, Rory Karpf has become one of the biggest directors in the game. Karpf helmed 2 of the highest rated ESPN 30 for 30s of all time, I Hate Christian Laetnner and the Nature Boy, the intimate look at the wild life of Rick Flair. Karpf Is now the go-to director for Dana White and the UFC and he considers Shaq and Snoop good friends after directing their docu-series.    Rory has stories for days and you will hear several of them. From how ESPN...
Published 08/24/21
A titan of our industry, Ross Greenburg walked into HBO in 1978 as a green 23 year old and walked out the door 33 years later with over 50 Emmy Awards and 8 Peabodys.  Greenburg’s vision reinvented the sports documentary genre and he also created shows like Real Sports, Hard Knocks and 24/7. Ross will undoubtedly find himself inducted into the Broadcast Hall of Fame…  Ross walks us through his journey from playing sports with Frank Gifford’s son as a kid to negotiating contracts for Mike...
Published 08/17/21
Growing up in a blue collar town on the outskirts of Boston, Michael Tolajian’s love of Larry Bird and the arts helped him get his big break at NBA Entertainment in the early 90s. After getting his masters at USC Fim School Tolajian jumped back into the world of Sports Television, directing what is hailed as one of the best 30 for 30’s of all time, Once Brothers, and has gone on to be a top creative executive at the Pac 12 Network and Fox Sports.  Michael details how a Civil War destroyed...
Published 08/10/21
Hailing out of Woodstock New York, Zak Levitt’s  love of basketball landed him a job in the Miami HEAT video room right next to future Hall of Famer Eric Spoelstra. Levitt than took his love of sports and storytelling to NBA Entertainment where long nights in the edit bay led him to become their lead director on some of their most formidable documentaries. Including the highly anticipated 20 year anniversary documentary on the Dream Team.  Zack tells us what it was like to work with 11 Hall...
Published 08/03/21
Born and raised in the shadows of the Hollywood hills Brett Rapkin was destined to be a filmmaker. As CEO of Podium Pictures, he has created a deep track record of success in producing impact-driven sports films, from narrative to documentary. Most recently, Brett’s The Weight of Gold, a documentary produced in partnership with Olympic legend Michael Phelps detailed the mental health challenges of elite athletes. It was selected to the SXSW Film Festival and acquired by HBO.   Brett shared...
Published 07/27/21
A 3-time Peabody Award Winner, George Roy set the standard for documentary filmmaking during the Golden era of HBO Sports. Roy and his partner Steve Stern emerged from an illustrious production roster at MLB Productions to start their own shop, Black Canyon Productions.  In 1991 through a stroke of Yiddish luck (we’ll get to that later) they created what many hailed as the greatest baseball documentary ever made, When It Was A Game for HBO and the rest was history… Roy’s catalog is extensive...
Published 07/20/21
Born into an entertainment family in Queens, New York Jonathan Hock was destined for a career in sports and film.  For over 10 years, Hock cut his teeth under the tutelage of the legend Steve Sabol at NFL Films, leading him back to Brooklyn where he started his own production company, Hock Films.  After producing the beloved And1 Mixtape Tour for 7 seasons, Hock made his first award winning documentary, Through The Fire, profiling Staten Island basketball phenom, Sebastian Telfair. Hock has...
Published 07/13/21
On today’s show we welcome Jim Fabio, a extraordinary documentarian who has won multiple emmy awards while serving as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve overseeing the Combat Camera unit.  In this conversation, we talk about why Jim was inspired to attend the Air Force Academy, how a downsizing of the military in the 90s derailed his hopes of becoming a pilot in the Air Force but then led to his award winning career and we focus the spotlight on his short film: Orangeburg: A Town, A Team, and...
Published 07/06/21
In this episode we welcome Division 1 football player turned filmmaker Micah Brown. Micah tells us about his determination that earned him a Div 1 football scholarship at University of Kansas, he tells us about his year in Hollywood and then how a meeting with an ESPN executive motivated him to make his first documentary, Prison Fighters for Showtime. Micah shares with us how he was able to get the intimidating Chuck Liddell and Tito Oritz to be so forthcoming and vulnerable in his ESPN 30...
Published 06/29/21
Born & bred in the streets of New York City, Johnny Sweet’s love of hip hop music and sports propelled him into a career in sports media. A Syracuse grad, Johnny paid his dues at ESPN before going out on his own where he has told stories for the NFL, Fox Sports, & Bleacher Report just to name a few. Johnny then directed 2 big time docs, one about Michael Vick and then the one we will talk about today, the Emmy Nominated Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story.  Johnny breaks down every...
Published 06/22/21
In this episode we welcome one of the finest storytellers in the non-fiction space, Kevin Shaw.  Kevin has won multiple Emmy Awards and the Edward R. Murrow Award for Sports Reporting Excellence, for a feature that he produced for the Big10 Network.  Kevin most recently worked alongside documentary legend Steve James on America To Me, which debuted at Sundance and is lauded as one of the greatest docu-series of all time.  Kevin shares with us some of the advice his father gave to him working...
Published 06/15/21
In this episode we welcome Jenna Contreras and Lauren Stowell. This dynamic duo behind the groundbreaking WNBA documentary 144 - has taken ESPN by storm. In just 9 short years Jenna has rose through the ranks of ESPN to be one of their lead feature producers. Lauren’s work has garnered her 5 Emmys & is respected as not only one of the finest storytellers at ESPN but in the entire sports media industry.  You can hear the passion in Lauren’s voice as she told us about incorporating Brianna...
Published 06/08/21
 In this episode we welcome Award Winning Director Anthony Smith who has been a driving force at NFL Media for the last 16 years. Among his important work in the Social Justice space for the NFL, Anthony has directed documentaries about Fritz Pollard, Nipsey Hussle and for this conversation we will go Beyond The Lens on his film about the dynamic Hall of Fame Running Back, Jim Brown, as part of the NFL Films documentary series A Football Life. Anthony was just nominated for 7 Sports Emmys...
Published 06/01/21