Interview with Filmmaker Patrick Guthrie (RUGBYTOWN Ep. 1)

RUGBYTOWN Ep. 1, 28min., USA
Directed Patrick Guthrie
Having failed to reach their dreams of starring in the NFL, the players in RugbyTown tell their own stories of crossing over to become professional athletes in a new sport as they help the USA win the Rugby World Cup.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

RugbyTown was created to document the transition of world-class American professional athletes into the game of rugby. The players’ stories drive RugbyTown.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

We shot the pilot in November 2020, then shot the first season of RugbyTown across the first six months in 2021, we posted and released season 1 in August, 2021. So from conception of the pilot to release of Season 1 took about one year from ideation to first licensing distribution.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Transformational challenges.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Establishing trust with the players, coaches and staff, so they would all tell us the unvarnished truth about how the players’ are responding to the challenges of crossing over. This trust was hard earned, and the player and coach interviews across Season 1 reflect a very high level of candor (read trust) that is unusual for docu-reality shows.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I actually cried (with joy) a little bit. The goal of making RugbyTown was to document the players’ challenges in crossing over to a new sport, and the film feedback video demonstrated that we achieved our goals there. The video feedback on character development, story arcs and pacing was thrilling to see and hear in the feedback loop video.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I’ve been in the business of live production of sports events since 1995 as a director and producer. But the decision to create the RugbyTown series came to me as an epiphany in October, 2020, when the City announced the first camp for crossover athletes would be in November, 2020.

After producing and directing hundreds of broadcasts of rugby over the previous 28 years for the USA market, it occurred to me that the best way for rugby to become more popular in the USA, was to create an entertainment product for a general audience. Instead of rugby breaking through the U.S. marketing noise as a “sport” seeking attention, the new idea was to use RugbyTown to create fans outside of sports in the general entertainment audience. That’s why RugbyTown is all about the players, and their struggles and victories, both on and off the field.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Apocalypse Now or The Godfather, close call.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

Not sure, we are newbies to the film festival world.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

It’s been great. Love the ease of submission and tracking software and features.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Bone-in ribeye on the BBQ with sauteed mushrooms, onions, and a great big Babcock red wine.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

Season 2 of RugbyTown is now released globally, and we will be entering S2 for festival consideration across 2023.

We have Season 3 in the can now, shot across Spring 2022, and plan to post S3 across the first quarter of 2023, while we shoot Season 4 from February to June, 2023.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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