ESPN Films has announced the return this fall of the Emmy-nominated documentary series 30 for 30, and is also expanding the brand to include a 30-part digital short film series. 30 for 30 Shorts will be a collaboration with Bill Simmons’ Grantland.com and will be similar to the feature-length films in that each piece will represent a specific point of view of the filmmaker and will be a reflection of how they blend the narrative with their own visual style.
“Creating this shorts series with Grantland gives ESPN Films a chance to expand the subjects we can explore while also offering more flexibility to filmmakers who may want to tackle subjects that are told better in this form,” said Connor Schell, vice president of ESPN Films.
The 30 for 30 Shorts will premiere monthly on Grantland.com and each short will be complemented by a written feature and additional material to provide context. The first short, Arnold’s Blueprint, will premiere on September 26.
“We thought these short films were a logical extension in 30 for 30’s evolution and Grantland’s evolution, too,” said Simmons, “We want Grantland to be a multi-media site and breaking into visual storytelling is a big part of that. With the advances in streaming video and mobile devices, this is the perfect time creatively to do something like this.”
Arnold’s Blueprint focuses on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s teenage years in the Austrian Army and is directed by Michael and Jeff Zimbalist, who previously directed the highly-acclaimed 30 for 30 film The Two Escobars. This 10-minute film focuses on the years before he was the “Universe’s Perfect Specimen,” when a young Schwarzenegger seized upon an opportunity to use the sport of bodybuilding to catapult himself to international stardom. The short documentary will show how the young Austrian farm boy’s mandatory military service played a critical role in his journey to international fame.
Additional 30 for 30 Shorts film topics will include:
The Arnold Palmer
Director: Barry Gordon
Summary: An exploration into the history, mystery and industry surrounding “The Arnold Palmer,” the lemonade-and-iced tea beverage that has become a piece of Americana.
Holy Grail: The T206 Honus Wagner
Directors: Nick and Colin Barnacle
Summary: The T206 Honus Wagner baseball card is over 100 years old, worth more than 2 million dollars, and has a life story that is a marriage of myth and reality. Only a handful have ever come to market but the wealth and heartbreak created by this two-inch tall piece of paper is unimaginable. The T206 Honus Wagner: equal parts nightmare and fantasy.
The Other Side
Director: Vanessa Roth
Summary: When 18 children – nine from Palestine and nine from Israel – come together to form a kids soccer team, they come face-to-face with the other side for the first time in their lives. United by the common goals of teamwork and dedication to a shared purpose, they confront generations of fear head on. Is peace through sports really possible, or is it hopelessly naive to think that a handful of 12-year-old soccer players can begin to change their world?
A 30 for 30 Short directed by Eric Drath entitled “Here Now” about Pete Rose is currently online at ESPN.com/30for30 as preview of the series.
About ESPN Films
Created in March 2008, ESPN Films produces high-quality films showcasing compelling sports stories. In October 2009, ESPN Films launched the Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated 30 for 30 film series. Inspired by ESPN’s 30th Anniversary, the films that made up the series were a thoughtful and innovative reflection on the past three decades told through the lens of diverse and interesting sports fans and social commentators. Additional projects from ESPN Films include, among others, the critically acclaimed and Television Academy Honor-winning 16th Man, Cannes Film Festival official selection The Two Escobars, and the Peabody Award-winning Black Magic. More recent projects include Catching Hell, from Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, and The Announcement, from filmmaker Nelson George.