Freedom Digital Wins National Sports Emmy

Freedom Digital Media (FDM) takes home gold for their role in the Ravens Productions/NFL Network’s feature NFL 360: The Gift of Gaba. This is the first national Sports Emmy win for FDM.     

The piece revolves around the life and tragic passing of Mo Gaba, a 14-year-old Baltimore sports fan who suffered from a rare form of cancer. Mo became an avid caller of local sports talk radio shows, threw out the first pitch of a Baltimore Orioles game, and was the first person to announce an NFL draft pick written in braille.

NFL Network‘s Trent Cooper (Creative Director, Original Content) reached out to Ravens Productions for assistance with producing, filming,  and location scouting. With the need to tell Mo’s story correctly, the Ravens team had only one company in mind for a project this encompassing. “Freedom is our only call,” said Jay O’Brien (Vice President of Broadcasting and Gameday Productions ) O’Brien continued, “Freedom Digital Media is not out of house for the Ravens, they are a part of our crew.”

We worked closely with Dakota Diel (Director/DP) to execute his vision, while exhibiting our own creativity by adding value to the shoots. The whole production team worked diligently to incorporate his style for the piece. Dakota secured Hawk Anamorphic Prime lenses to mount onto ARRI Alexa Mini cameras to fully meet the needs of the project and FDM supplied the additional support and equipment packages in conjunction with Ravens Productions.

To further complicate the filming process, the shoots all took place during the middle of the COVID pandemic.

Following the COVID safety protocols was of the utmost importance for the shoot as everyone remained socially distanced and masked at all times. There was a COVID safety official on-set to ensure the health and safety of others. “We had to get a space large enough to be aesthetically pleasing for the director and it had to be big enough for us to be socially distanced and be safe,” said Jeff Atkinson, President of FDM.

Throughout the whole project everyone had to overcome obstacles in order to create the video, For instance,  Eddie Coughlan (Director of Photography, Ravens Productions) often had to run a two camera shoot by himself for the interview segment with Ravens players, the head coach, and general manager.

To fully comprehend the emotional reach of Mo, we prioritized acquiring essential shots of Baltimore city and the surrounding areas. “Mo is Baltimore, Baltimore is Mo,” said Atkinson.

On the FDM side, there were five days of shoots where we travelled around for B-roll and interviews. There were exterior shots of Mo’s house, Mo’s school, M&T Bank Stadium, 105.7 The FAN radio studio, Baltimore City and the greater Baltimore area. Location Scout  Caprice Ericson was very helpful in coordinating the requirements for all the scenes.

When a team is on shoots irregularities occur and a team must be ready to adapt to the occasion. “One day a location didn’t work out so we had to, on the fly, find another space to film in,” said Jon Firman, videographer. “It ended up working out really well with the skyline shot of Baltimore.”

Winning a National Sports Emmy is a wonderful accomplishment, but the most important aspect is to honor the memory of Mo Gaba. “You want it to be a memory of him that outlasts all of us,” said O’Brien.

The #SportsEmmys Award for Outstanding Long Feature goes to @NFLNetwork

— Sports Emmys (@sportsemmys) June 9, 2021

It’s an achievement which can only be accomplished through the trust of the client and the company. “Our relationship with Jeff and Freedom Digital Media is decades old at this point. Anytime Freedom is involved with a project we know the project will succeed and we have nothing to worry about,” said Eddie Coughlan.

Trust is the foundation for a strong working relationship. Trust is built over time. Trust allows for interpretation. Trust is how FDM won a national Sports Emmy for Outstanding Long Feature in 2021.

Recently with Ravens Productions, Jeff won two regional Emmys in the Sports Story-Short Form category and the Sports Promotion category for his work on Letters to Lamar and The Chapters.

Ready to start an award-winning relationship? Inquire through our website to learn more about our practices.

Posted on June 30, 2021 in Uncategorized

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