Ahead of the premiere of Verizon-owned digital platform go90′s new 10-part docuseries QB1: Beyond the Lights, which follows three of the U.S.’s top-rated high school quarterbacks on and off the field, realscreen presents an exclusive clip.
QB1: Beyond the Lights profiles three athletes, Jake Fromm, Tate Martell, and Tayvon Bowers, each committed to NCAA Division I Football programs. The trio are entering their final year of high school before they leave behind their families, friends and teams in pursuit of furthering their dreams.
The showrunner and co-executive producer for the series, Peter Richardson said in a phone interview with realscreen that he and Film 45, the production company behind Beyond the Lights, wanted the series to be observational, with no formal narration, voice-over and minimal use of interviews.
“It’s an aesthetic that has been in documentary filmmaking for decades, but it’s not necessarily one you see a lot in television or episodic documentary,” Richardson said. “Creatively, it might be riskier, and I think it takes a lot of time and patience and commitment in order to pull it off.”
One of the biggest production challenges on Beyond the Lights stemmed from this approach. It meant the production team had to make sure they were not missing key moments in the lives of the characters. They had to choose when they would be there and planned out the shots in advance, as they weren’t embedded with the quarterbacks. Although it wasn’t scripted, the team had to ensure there was enough story to sustain 10×30 minute episodes.
“It’s about embracing the authenticity of the lives of the kids we were filming. If it wasn’t there in the material, this approach wouldn’t ultimately work. High school football is dramatic and compelling and is all about human relationships and drama and conflict and it’s just a matter of being able to capture it,” Richardson said.
Although the series is aimed at young people, Richardson said the goal is to have the show resonate with a broader audience, similar to Peter Berg’s 2004 film Friday Nights Light. Richardson, whose previous projects aired on networks like HBO and National Geographic, said that having Beyond the Lights air online on go90 allows for anyone to see the series, unlike cable channels that have pay thresholds.
“Creatively there is always this part of you that says ‘Is someone going to be watching this on their phone or iPad? It’s meant to be seen, it’s a cinematic experience we tried to create. But the reality is if you have a teenager or somebody in their twenties you have their full attention…If you are watching content on your phone it’s probably the only thing that has captured your attention,” Richardson said.
The series is executive produced by Peter Berg, Matt Goldberg, Brandon Carroll, and Steve Clarkson with Richardson as co-executive producer for Film 45, and Complex Networks Justin Killion and Corey Moss.
- QB1: Beyond the Lights is available through Complex Networks’ Rated Red on go90 beginning Feb. 15, 2017.
- Watch the exclusive clip below courtesy of Complex Networks and go90.