You don’t need to be a sports fan to have been touched by the 30 For 30 documentary series produced by ESPN, one of the few thriving outlets anywhere for nonfiction filmmaking and a patron of diverse directors from Oscar winners Barry Levinson, Alex Gibney and Barbara Kopple to legends Albert Maysles and Steve James to neophytes Ice Cube and Steve Nash. As such, today’s a good day for all of us, with ESPN announcing that it will continue 30 For 30 both on the network and online.
Originally intended to celebrate ESPN’s 30th anniversary from late 2009 to the end of 2010, the series gained enough popularity to continue through 2011 and beyond; its most recent installment, Jose Morales’s 26 Years: The Dewey Bozella Story, premiered in March. Today, meanwhile, the NYT reports that the network has re-upped 30 For 30 for two years in conjunction with its sports-culture offshoot Grantland:
“When we embarked on 30 for 30, we always wondered if there would be 30 good stories,” said Connor Schell, vice president and executive producer of ESPN Films. “Now, I think all of us in this group believe that there is an infinite number of stories.” [...]
As the films roll out, they will be augmented on Grantland by podcasts, feature stories and oral histories. A short digital film — which will be unrelated to the longer ones — will make its debut each month on Grantland.
Mr. Schell described the shorts as “visual editorials,” of five to nine minutes. “They’re meant to be interesting conversations with people who have a point of view about something or sports stories that don’t require a four-act treatment,” he said.