Behind The ScenesESPN Films

30 for 30 “What Carter Lost” brings different voices to forefront

ESPN Films continues its busy summer of sports documentaries with a 30 for 30 about the highs and lows of the 1988 Dallas Carter High School football team. “What Carter Lost,” directed by Adam Hootnick, premieres tonight at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Hootnick, who directed other ESPN projects including the 30 for 30 Short “Judging Jewell” and the documentary “Son of the Congo,” chats with Front Row about filmmaking, the controversial story of this film, and why it was important to give the players, coaches, parents, and teachers a voice in the examination of that tumultuous season.

What will people learn about the Dallas Carter football from “What Carter Lost”?
For all the times this story has been told, many in the Carter community felt like their perspective had never been represented. I hope people who watch “What Carter Lost” will realize how easy it is to assume we know the whole story when we don’t and, particularly for younger viewers, how easily one bad decision can derail your entire life.

How did the process of making “What Carter Lost” differ from your other ESPN projects?
This was in many ways a hybrid of those. The storytelling in “Judging Jewell” was entirely a revisiting of events of the past, and “Son of the Congo” was a vérité story told entirely in the present. “What Carter Lost” connects a story that happened 30 years ago to the impact it continues to have today in the lives of the 1988 team and the Carter community.

You have also directed features and music videos. What draws you to sports stories?
What I love about 30 for 30 is that each of these films is a very powerful human story or theme that just happens to play out in a sports context. I love these films, and sports stories in general, because sports provides a universal context for what’s at stake for the people in the film, and often a beautiful and cinematic visual context.

Outside of your projects, what are your favorite ESPN films?
“The Two Escobars” and “O.J.: Made in America” are two of my all-time favorite movies, period.

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