AFL Media and The Final Story

September 22, 2011

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AFL Media

I just caught the last episode of The Final Story, the four part series chronicling some of the VFL/AFLs greatest Grand Finals. This was the episode that looked back on the 1991 Grand Final and made headlines on the back of Brereton's public contrition over his racial abuse of Chris Lewis during the match.

It was a great production that seamlessly blended tense narrative with fuzzy nostalgia.

I was interested to note that the series was produced by AFL Media. Is this a sign of things to come? With speculation that the AFL may be looking to establishing their own broadcasting platform a la MLB it's not surprising that they would look to become more directly involved in content creation.

AFL Media... As with many AFL initiatives no doubt the NFL is a template.

I'd love to see an Australian sporting league step up and create the type of mesmerising TV that NFL Films has been producing for decades.

In some ways The Final Story was a small-scale version of the NFL's brilliant America's Game series that tells the history of the Superbowl champions.

NFL Films has always excelled at storytelling. Stories are what inspire and bring people together. They are what entertain and enthrall us.

As good as The Final Story was, I'd love to see AFL Media create a series that more closely follows the America's Game formula.

Sure it won't be original. But there's nothing wrong with following the best in the business.

When the great Allan Jeans passed away earlier this year I thought of how wonderful it would have been had the force of his personality been captured with the piercing intimacy of America's Game.

The format of the interviews on America's Game, where the immortals of the NFL stare at you eyeball to eyeball is tingling. Against a naked white set every crease on their face becomes a record of their deeds.

It is absolutely compelling television. Face to face with the greatest heroes to have played the game. Their stories in their words.

Music has also long been a pillar of NFL Films productions. Whereas The Final Story took a pedestrian pub rock approach to its soundtrack, NFL Films always heighten the drama with a crashing orchestral score.

Making the game larger than life is what NFL Films excels at.

Of course the massive advantage that NFL Films holds is that they have their own cameras at the matches. While the host broadcater's coverage follows the play by play, NFL Films cameras follow the player. They get up and personal and follow the human story.

To my knowledge the only thing the AFL/VFL has done that's come close is the famous film footage taken at the 89 and 90 Grand Final, where the camera tightly zeroed in to the players, their anguish and elation.

Can you even image the 89 final without the famous footage of a wounded Dermie charging towards the camera in slo-motion?

Imagine if the AFL had 50 years worth of similar footage? NFL Films has built such an archive, and it's the human stories captured within that have translated the game and made it cut through with a global audience.

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