In 2010, Ed Cunningham officiated at Nebraska’s spring game.
For five NFL seasons as an offensive lineman with the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks, Ed Cunningham had to make sense of the chaos surrounding him with every snap.
As a producer of prize-winning film documentaries such as New York Doll, The King Of Kong and Make Believe, Cunningham has found the knack for seeing things clearly comes in handy.
Cunningham balances his passion for filmmaking with working at ESPN as a college football analyst.
This week, the former University of Washington star begins another stint on College Football Live (3:30 ET, ESPN).
Front Row asked Cunningham how he got into movie-making, who his dream documentary subject is, and some details behind his award-winning films Make Believe (airing this month on Showtime) and the yet-to-be released Undefeated.
FR: How does someone learn to become a movie producer?
For me, it was about need. I graduated from the University of Washington in December and, with no more scholarship money, my best case for a real paycheck wasn’t until at least August. I needed to eat.
So I approached a producer I knew at a local cable affiliate who did the rebroadcast show of our games, and asked if he’d like to help make a video recapping our season. We’d won the national championship, so I assumed there was a market for it. We ended up with a well-made home video. Their sales team did the bigger business and retail deals while I banged on doors at the bookstores and swag marts around campus. After costs were recouped, I had enough to eat all the way to NFL training camp in July.
I learned to produce based on a need but didn’t return to it until about a decade later, so the education was dormant. It was when I was working on New York Doll that I realized I had already run through a full “film” cycle — idea conception and development, striking the necessary deals to proceed, producing the content, and selling it into the marketplace.
FR: How do you balance the two jobs? continue reading…