NFL Coverage

Re-Calling the Plays: A Celebration of NFL TV Coverage

August 3, 2022 An Eastern Region Special Projects Committee virtual event

On August 3, the Eastern Region Special Projects Committee hosted the online event, Re-Calling the Plays: A Celebration of NFL TV Coverage. In a discussion moderated by Associate Director Alanna Campbell (CBS Sports), Directors Linda Malino Coppola (NFL Today), Bob Matina (NFL Today), Mike Sheehan (Football Night in America), Roy Staley (NFL Network) and Courtney Stockmal (FOX NFL Sunday) revealed how they and their teams put together dynamic and informative studio-based pre/half/post game shows.

Following a welcome from Eastern Region Special Projects Committee Chair Raymond De Felitta, Campbell engaged the panel in a discussion that covered topics including the steps of putting together a live show, changes in the shows over time and how they work with their teams and was illustrated by clips from their various programs.

Matina spoke about how he engages the audience at home stating, “I did four years of Thursday Night Football on the road, and to me, it was really important to be in the hallways and in the locker room, and to really try to give the viewer the sense that that they had a backstage pass. We spent quite a bit of time in facilities and planning so that we made sure that I had a steady cam to take Patrick Mahomes off the field into the locker rooms for the last time for kickoff. That one shot that could last 40 seconds can do as much to build anticipation for the game as anything else because you feel like you’re there with him.”

Coppola explains how she breaks down a show that has live elements coming in from several games, “That’s what keeps me up at night. It’s never the same way twice. I can only plan so much. On any given Sunday, I’ll go in in the morning and look [at the timing]—halftime is 13 minutes long, I’ll subtract the 30 second music video [of highlights], I’ll subtract a minute ten seconds or so for the remotes to get to break and tee up the second half and a couple of sponsored elements, and I’ll let the producer know, 'Here’s that you have live, but once the games start going to half time, it’s catch-as-catch-can.'”

Sheehan explained how he put a show together when he directed Football Night in America, “We started planning the show early in the week. We had our initial meeting on Wednesdays where the most important part was going round-robin and everyone got to pitch an element. On Friday, we do another meeting and the show takes some structure, but it’s always a little loose. It becomes our lifeblood to set these times. We’ve done a really great job over the course of the years of making our highlights more thematic. [On show day,] me and the AD would always go and have individual meetings with each department, and we would talk through the entire show.”

Staley shared his reaction to moving into a new studio, “It’s really cool. We started about a year ago coming from Culver City. We were there in construction outfits. We were blocking early on. We’re right next door to So-Fi Stadium and it’s pretty magnificent. We were also in a smaller studio before and it was old. Everything is now updated, which is nice. We’re still building a second stage, but that’s next year probably.”

Stockmal shared her path to directing stating, “Once I started ADing, I realized I loved it, and I loved the live control room atmosphere and that just suited all my strengths. I love live TV. The adrenaline is just one of my favorite things. The other part of it is that I love working as a team. I think it’s really empowering to see us all come and use our strengths. I’m only as good as everyone else on the team. I’m not any better or worse or different.”

After a lively and informative discussion, Campbell thanked the panelists and opened the floor to questions from the online audience.

See video from this event in the gallery below.

About The Special Projects Committee

Special Projects is the educational and cultural arm of the Directors Guild of America, providing its members opportunities for creative exchange to advance their craft and celebrate the achievements of directors and their teams.

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