Behind the scenes on the movie 'Draft Day'

Inside 'Draft Day'


Ali Bell, Producer
Tracy Perlman, NFL
Ivan Reitman, Director

Movie director Ivan Reitman took the ‘13 Sports Marketing Symposium audience behind the scenes of his new film, “Draft Day,” as part of a Hollywood-focused panel on Day 2 of the conference. Reitman said the first step in making the movie was “to find out if the NFL was interested, because to really make it the way it had to be, we needed their cooperation.” He added, “We couldn’t make up team names the way certain films have and create our own league or our own draft, because then the film really wouldn’t have any power. It wouldn’t have the energy that the story had.” Convincing the NFL to be fully invested in the project was not an easy task. NFL VP/Entertainment Marketing & Promotions Tracy Perlman said, “When we got the script originally, there were some things in it that made me a little bit nervous and we weren’t sure where it was going.” But a meeting with Reitman allayed those concerns. Perlman: “I could see that he wanted to make an authentic film about the NFL and about what the Draft was truly about. After we spoke, I brought it around the building and said Ivan’s the right partner, he wants this to be exactly what it is. He wants to show the drama of being on the clock and the humanity of having to save your job on this day, the humanity of being a football player and trying to wait to see what’s going to happen to you.” She added, “I realized if we brought everyone together to make this film it would be about what the Draft, the league and life is really about.” The script had to go through a long list of NFL departments for approval, including legal, PR, marketing, events, football operations, NFL Films and the individual teams that would be involved. Reitman said, “It was a really difficult process finally to get all the pieces together – actors, money, distribution - in time to make the film. And we just made it by the skin of our teeth to be able to shoot with the Draft.”
It was important to both Reitman and the NFL that the league and the Draft be portrayed in an authentic way. All of the NFL’s sponsors – include Gatorade, Pespi, Frito Lay and GMC – are represented in the film, without any kind of separate deal. Perlman said, “All of our partners are in the film because it’s authentic to who we are. It’s authentic to what happens at the Draft.” The NFL Network and ESPN also play large roles in the film. Reitman said, “They are the great commentators of sports events, particularly football. They are the Draft as it’s portrayed on television and so they had to be a very big part of this film.” Lionsgate next week will begin pre-screening “Draft Day,” and the hope is the film will come out sometime between Super Bowl XLVIII in February and the ’14 NFL Draft in April.

QUICK HITS:

*Producer Ali Bell on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s role in the film: “There’s nothing more credible than having the actual commissioner show up.”

*Reitman on Texans RB Arian Foster, who has a role in the film: “I think he’s got a future as an actor. He has this lovely quality. For a guy who pounds it up the field, he has extraordinary sensitivity in a close up. I actually moved him up to a larger part after I saw it.”

*Bell on getting other teams to participate: “It was sort of hard to get the other teams involved because one of the key plot elements of our script is that there’s a quarterback in the draft that’s ‘the best since Andrew Luck.’ There were teams that really wanted to be in the movie but were like, ‘We have quarterback issues we can’t do it.’ It was funny because everywhere we went life sort of imitated the script.”

*Reitman on Browns fans: “We filmed the opening day of the Cleveland Browns and … it was the first time I was ever on a professional football sideline. I got caught up in, and I could see, the emotionality of the Cleveland spectators who are well known as a remarkably rabid fan base that have been greatly disappointed over the last 20 years or so. You could see that there was a great hope this year, and they were in fact ahead at halftime and then they lost the game, and ... I suddenly felt that as if I was a Cleveland fan living in that city and what that really felt like.”

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