How difficult would it be to direct a full-length film in addition to performing your normal work duties? Just ask ESPN Films producer Erin Leyden, whose documentary, Abby Head On, premieres tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ESPNU as part of the SEC Storied film series.
Front Row caught up with Leyden in advance of the film’s debut. Also, be on the lookout for another film she is directing this summer, The 99ers, part of the Nine for IX ESPN Films and espnW series. continue reading…
(L-R) ESPN Films VP Connor Schell, espnW VP Laura Gentile, Nine for IX producer Libby Geist and ESPN Films EP John Dahl. (Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ESPN Images)
The film, directed by Bess Kargman and executive produced by Whoopi Goldberg, chronicles the career of C. Vivian Stringer, one of the most prolific coaches in the history of college basketball. She was the first coach to lead three different schools to the NCAA Final Four (Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, Iowa and Rutgers) and received basketball’s highest honor in 2009: induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame, alongside Michael Jordan, John Stockton, Jerry Sloan and David Robinson. continue reading…
ESPN Films’ next SEC Storied documentary, Miracle 3, will premiere on Sunday, March 3, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
The film, directed by Rory Karpf, chronicles the dramatic events that ensued after a tornado hit downtown Atlanta during the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament at the Georgia Dome.
On March 14, 2008, Alabama trailed Mississippi State 59-56 in the final seconds of the first quarterfinal game of the evening session. Crimson Tide guard Mykal Riley sank a last-second three-pointer as time expired, sending the game into overtime. That shot not only extended Alabama’s season for the moment, but it might have prevented thousands of fans from pouring into the city streets just as the tornado touched down.
ESPN college basketball analyst Bruce Pearl was the head coach at the University of Tennessee at the time and was in Atlanta with his team. Front Row asked Pearl to reflect on the experience.
ESPN’s Bruce Pearl. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
Where were you when the tornado hit?
Our players were at the hotel and we were going through a walk through in the hotel in a very open area with a large glass ceiling. All of a sudden, everything just got darker and it sounded like a freight train was running right through the hotel. I just immediately got the players away from the glass ceiling. My first thought was that it was an earthquake, it felt like the building was moving a little bit. And then we all just huddled up and listened, crouched down and waited it out.
Were you surprised at the extent of the damage after it was over?
I didn’t let the guys out of the hotel that night. We wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to contact their families. Once the storm ended, we put on ESPN and we heard there was a [tornado] and that there was damage to the Dome. We didn’t know if the tournament was going to go on or what was going to happen.
What were you thinking when you found out your game was being moved to Georgia Tech?continue reading…
“Storytelling about women in sports is an ongoing effort at ESPN, and after the recognition of Title IX last summer, the Nine for IX series is a perfect extension and partnership between espnW and ESPN Films,” said Libby Geist, associate director of development for ESPN Films.
“The series tells nine distinct stories by female filmmakers for all our fans, male and female.”
Nine for IX film topics include an intimate look at Pat Summitt, college sports’ most successful coach ever; the largely unknown history of Katarina Witt and her link with East Germany’s secret police; and the focus of sex in the marketing of female athletes. The series is scheduled to premiere on July 2 on ESPN and the films will air over consecutive Tuesday evenings at 8 p.m. ET.