April 24, 2024

near the end “History of the Atlanta Falcons” (2021) is a seven-episode, nearly seven-hour documentary in which writer-director Jon Boyce describes Falcons cornerback Robert Alford’s stunning 82-yard interception return at Super Bowl LI. The execution with just minutes left in the half, in 2017, was hailed as “one of the most influential individual performances in NFL history.”

Pretty much any other filmmaker would be content with that. But Beuys showed his work.on the sports stats website, Bois explained, has a metric called expected score, “an estimate of how many points an offense should score before and after a particular play.” Subtract one from the other, and you can determine the overall impact of the play. Alford’s interception return resulted in a minus seven for the New England Patriots in a game that would have earned them three, a margin of 10.7. Boyce pulls out a chart showing the difference for “all 8,982 individual games in Super Bowl history.” We can clearly see that Alford ranks third all-time in touchdowns.

This is not an exaggeration for rhetorical effect. When Boyce says a play is “one of the most powerful,” he means it.

Boyce is the poet laureate of sports statistics.His documentaries, including the acclaimed “History of the Seattle Mariners” (2020) and the most recent Charlotte Bobcats-themed “The man who pays for shorts” (all on his stream YouTube Channel, Secret Base) is filled with graphs, graphs, and charts, painstakingly plotting wins, losses, runs, home runs, and field goals with near-scientific rigor.

“I was one of those weird kids who really liked high school algebra,” Boyce said in a recent video interview. “As I was growing up, I just loved the statistical aspect of sports. The ability to condense a sporting event into a bar chart, pie chart or scatter chart – in a way, you can watch a thousand games in 10 seconds The game. It’s like a little time warp.”

Bois, 40, is a veteran sports writer and editor for SB Nation, a respected sports industry blog owned by Vox Media, who has become a unique voice in documentaries — in part, he explains, because of the style he “stumbled upon” Due to his “limited technical ability”. A self-taught video editor with no background in motion graphics, Bois unusually makes most of his videos in the satellite imaging app Google Earth, importing images directly into Google’s 3-D environment and using satellite maps as a Virtual sandbox. It looks a bit like a PowerPoint presentation transplanted into Street View, with giant blocks of text floating above pixelated renderings of roads and fields.

The style is impeccable. The camera seems to float in the air above the graphs and diagrams, and, as recounted by Boyce or one of his collaborators, we see old photographs, quotes from newspaper clippings, and the occasional snippet of grainy archive game footage. All to a soundtrack of mellow, synth-laden yacht rock and smooth jazz. It’s as if Ken Burns adapted “Moneyball” with the Steely Dan soundtrack.

“In an age where Internet content is impersonal and interchangeable, Boyce has his own signature,” said Jordan Cronk, a film critic and founder of Acropolis Cinema in Los Angeles. “Unlike other journalists who have attempted to make film, Boyce has found a cutting-edge form to explore the popular encyclopedia of sports history, combining the YouTuber’s flair for storytelling with the tradition of hyper-analytical prose film.”

“For better or worse, it doesn’t look or sound like anything else,” Bois admits. For him, the most important thing is “not being better than everyone, but being different.”

The types of stories Boyce and his regular co-writer/producer Alex Rubinstein choose to tell are equally unique. The teams, players and seasons they focus on are often unknown, devoid of obvious underdog success or self-made glory drama. The Mariners, Falcons and Bobcats aren’t perennial favorites or inspirational material. Their knowledge is deep and otherworldly.

“We realized that nobody was going to make a movie about the history of the Mariners or the history of the Falcons in a thousand years,” Boyce said. “These stories are not going to be dealt with as they should be.”

Bois’s level of rigor to detail can be overwhelming, and over the course of massive runtimes, can be exhausting at times. But his job is not for statistics nerds who want to crunch numbers. In fact, his approach has the opposite effect: the depth of the films makes them easier to understand. You don’t need to know anything about the Mariners to enjoy his nearly four-hour documentary about the Mariners. You don’t even have to know anything about baseball.

“He manages not to use statistics as background support for dramatic entertainment, but to use the most salient and visually stimulating elements in his narrative,” said film critic Jack Cole. Tilt Magazine.

As Boyce puts it, he and Rubinstein are “making sports documentaries for people who don’t watch sports.”

“I found it not only a great honor to be able to bring this cool, weird, often silly world of sports to people who weren’t invited, but also a lot of fun,” Boyce said.

The key to this experience is immersion in the vicarious thrills of an unfamiliar team and its mundane drama. Bois and Rubenstein manage to compress decades of tumultuous history into a few hours of dense non-fiction, a dramatic account of the rise and fall (or fall and further decline) of an obscure team on a monumental scale. After watching one of their films, you inevitably develop an intimate connection with the subject: You know every heartbreaking Bobcats loss and every hard-earned Mariners victory. It’s a welcome entry into a world usually reserved for homegrown fans.

Bois himself isn’t necessarily a fan of these stories. His latest, “People You Pay for Shorts,” is about the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats, a short-lived team that gained notoriety among basketball fans for its record-breaking poor performances that broke the The NBA’s losing streak preceded the 2014 reinstatement of its previous name, the Hornets. (The team was the Charlotte Hornets from 1988 to 2002.)

But Boyce was quick to admit that he’s no NBA expert. To get a full look at a truly bad season, he brought in producer Seth Rosenthal, who specializes in basketball, and spent countless hours researching Charlotte’s old season. Transcript spotter, read “everything they wrote about the Bobcats” during that time. “I realized I didn’t have to be a basketball expert,” Boyce said. “But I can randomly be the most important pundit in the world this season on one team,” he added, using expletives on the poor Bobcats.

The result is a documentary that leaves you rooting for these wonderfully eccentric breeds, even as you recognize how terrifying they are. He dives into the minutiae of contract negotiations, career field goal percentages and NBA draft lottery odds to make the numbers utterly riveting, and he finds cosmic beauty in the comparison between the worst teams in league history and their primary owners , Michael Jordan, the greatest player of all time. And it’s not just that you get to know more about an obscure team. You end up being moved by them.

“I operate on the general theory that there’s always a story,” Boyce said. “I can throw darts at any season at any team — the Timberwolves in 2005, the Astros in 1987, whoever it is, and I’ll find something. No matter what, there’s always something.”

He paused. “Although,” he reconsidered, “the weirder and worse the team, the better.”

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