ESPN Films producer Erin Leyden and ESPN soccer analyst and reporter Julie Foudy teamed to create the new Nine for IX film on the 1999 Women’s World Cup Team, The 99ers (ESPN, tonight, 8 ET).
Leyden took the director’s chair for this effort. The 99ers features “home movies” from Foudy, a star of Team USA and a U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee. Foudy also was one of the producers of The 99ers, which chronicles the U.S. soccer team’s march to the 1999 Women’s World Cup. Front Row asked them about the film-making experience.
How is producing your first film different from your normal role across ESPN platforms serving as an analyst?
Foudy: Erin and producers Deirdre Fenton and Traci Loth [also a childhood friend] were the dream team. I so enjoyed our fab four group and being able to help participate in the film layout process: the structure, the script, the progression, the music, everything. It is different in that with features I do at ESPN, after I write the script, the editing happens in Bristol, so I often do not get to see the process of what ultimately goes in and out of a piece. With this film, I was able to participate in every step of the process. What a dream.
What was it like to reunite with so many of your teammates?
Foudy: It was like we had not skipped a day together. Often three or four of us get together, but never all eight of us in one place to sit and discuss the summer of 14 years ago. That was incredibly special to relive together. We had never done that and shared thoughts about that summer as a group. I learned so many things about the World Cup and different games that I didn’t realize even occurred.
Erin, how did you manage to balance directing films with your job as an ESPN Films producer?
Leyden: I actually recently directed Abby Head On [about U.S. national team star Abby Wambach] for our SEC Storied series. As a producer on the 30 for 30 series, my role is more as a project leader, giving editorial support and input to the filmmakers. Getting the chance to direct definitely helps me in that role as I am reminded of the day to day challenges our filmmakers often face.
Julie had so much footage of the ’99 team from her personal camera. Did having that footage shape how you told the story?
Leyden: Most definitely. That footage was always the driving force for making this film. We felt it brought a new angle to a well-known story. Julie’s childhood friend, Traci, had given her a camera in 1999 to document the event. I feel so lucky they trusted me and ESPN with their footage. The home movies give the film an intimate feel we never could have achieved using just news and broadcast footage from the event.