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ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 Shorts celebrates first primetime Emmy victory

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Back row: Tate Donovan (director, Arthur and Johnnie), Connor Schell, Maura Mandt (executive producer, Arthur and Johnnie); Front row: Dan Silver, John Dahl, Bill Simmons
(Photo courtesy of Bill Simmons via Instagram)
On Deck for 30 for 30 Shorts
The next film in the 30 for 30 Shorts series will be Field of Fear, directed by Academy-Award winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, which chronicles the story of former New York Mets catcher Mackey Sasser, who suffered from the “yips.” Gibney has directed films for ESPN before, including Catching Hell and Ceasefire Massacre. Field of Fear will premiere Wednesday, Sept. 17, on Grantland.com.

ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 Shorts series took home an Emmy for “Outstanding Short-Format Nonfiction Program” Saturday night at the Primetime Creative Arts Emmys in Los Angeles.

Following the big win, Front Row sat down with ESPN Films senior director of development Dan Silver, who oversees the series, and was on hand to accept the award.

What was your initial reaction when you heard 30 for 30 Shorts won?
Overwhelming excitement at first. Seeing [executive producers] Connor Schell, Bill Simmons, and John Dahl’s beaming smiles was incredible because I knew the same look was mirrored on my face. But as I stood up and approached the stage, an overwhelming sense of responsibility and gratitude washed over me because I knew that as the person giving the speech, I was representing everyone else on the stage with me, and everyone who’d worked on the series.

How did it feel to be nominated among some of the best short-format nonfiction programs, like “Jay Leno’s Garage” and Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee”?
Saying that it’s a great honor often feels like vapid, safe public-speak. But in this case, it’s the truth. I grew up revering Jerry Seinfeld. So much so that my friends from college still make fun of me for turning down a date with a girl because there was a new “Seinfeld” episode on. And given that I set Outlook calendar reminders for Thursdays at noon to notify me of the premiere of a new “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” I think I can say that I’m one of the show’s biggest fans.

What does this win mean for the company?
We started this series with a very simple, but ambitious goal: “How can we make, distribute, and monetize cinematic quality short-form content that is platform agnostic?” Meaning, these aren’t just pieces that live on the web, but rather, across all of ESPN’s outlets – web, TV, social, etc. So the reason why I’m so ecstatic about this win is that it’s a validation of the hard work and collaboration of many different people, from many departments across our company, essentially creating something from nothing.

Watch previous 30 for 30 Shorts.

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