Behind The Scenes

ESPN Films’ new 30 for 30 projects previewed for television critics

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — The Television Critics Association (TCA) Summer Press Tour is an annual two-week event where broadcast and cable networks highlight top upcoming projects to writers, critics and other industry media.

ESPN conducted its session Friday, using the opportunity to announce ESPN Films’ fall slate of 30 for 30 projects as well as the first four 30 for 30 Shorts, which will premiere on

ESPN Films vice president Connor Schell led the first panel, joined by ESPN Films executive producer John Dahl and three acclaimed directors who will be part of the fall series: Michael Bonfiglio (You Don’t Know Bo), Billy Corben (Broke) and Coodie Simmons (co-director of Benji).

Schell discussed the slate of six films for 30 for 30’s Volume 2: “Each of these individual films are the filmmakers’ vision, where they’re telling a very specific story, and then we try and curate the larger series to tell a bigger story about sports and culture.”

A second panel — with Schell, Michael Zimbalist, director of Arnold’s Blueprint, and former California governor, actor and bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger — showcased the new 30-part digital short film series that represents a collaboration with Bill Simmons’

The shorts will be similar to the feature-length films in that each will represent a specific point of view of the filmmaker and be a reflection of how each blends the narrative with his own visual style.

Zimbalist’s Blueprint will be the first, focusing on Schwarzenegger’s teenage years in the Austrian Army and his entry into the sport of bodybuilding.

“I’m always interested in telling [my] story and ESPN, in this case, is really a great way of showing it, especially through such a brilliant filmmaker,” Schwarzenegger said of Zimbalist, who teamed with brother, Jeff, on The Two Escobars, one of the most acclaimed films of the original Emmy-nominated and Peabody award-winning 30 for 30 series.

Schwarzenegger added: “There’s lessons that you learn in sports that are unlike anything else…One of the most basic things you learn in sports is the harder you work, the further you will go. And the more you’re able to overcome obstacles and defeats and periods when you’re down, how fast you can pick yourself up, the faster you can get to the end goal.”

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