Showtime's cameras for its behind-the-scenes show on Notre Dame football have been all over campus since August, with producers and photographers toeing the line between being "all access" and an invasive, distracting presence.
"A Season with Notre Dame Football" debuts Tuesday night at 9 p.m. CT on Showtime. I had a chance to talk with the program's executive producer, Jason Sciavicco, on my VSporto podcast with Pac-12 Network broadcaster and Notre Dame alum J.B. Long, and Sciavicco explained how he feels his crews haven't been overbearing in following Irish players and coaches leading up to the first show.
"We ease into it," Sciavicco said. "The first couple weeks for sure we’re kind of easing into it and we kinda get comfortable with the student-athletes and coaches and vice versa they get comfortable with us. And it’s really learning where those comfort zones are and making sure they do feel like they have the space and making sure they feel like we are not a distraction.
"And we pride ourselves -- we have a great crew here in South Bend that’s done a lot of these kind of things and they know kind of the boundaries and how to work with the student-athletes and and with the coaches. So far it’s been a great experience, we haven’t had any complaints about being around too much and at this point, I really think the team kind of considers us a part of things. They know where they go, we go. And it’s worked out great so far."
Joe Schmidt. Linebacker. MVP. Paparazzi subject. pic.twitter.com/3TeFl9duuZ
— Irish Illustrated (@PeteSampson_) August 25, 2015
Among the differences between Showtime's series and HBO's NFL all-access program "Hard Knocks" is that Showtime's cameras will follow players and coaches throughout the season, not just in preseason camp. Covering college athletes means Sciavicco & Co. wanted to delve into the academic realm of things, which meant getting approval from professors to shoot in classes, too.
Sciavicco said plenty of the professors he met to granted approval to shoot footage in their classrooms.
"We wanted to make sure with this show it wasn’t just about football," Sciavicco said. "All these kids go to class still and we thought it was important to show within the show that they don’t just do football, they have to balance academics and football. And we explained that to the professors and the administration, and they agreed. They want to show that side of it. Notre Dame is very proud of their academic standards, so that’s definitely a big piece of our show."
On Tuesday's series debut, look for some behind-the-scenes footage of running back Josh Anderson before and after he found out he was being put on scholarship. "A Season with Notre Dame Football" premiers Tuesday night at 9 p.m. CT on Showtime.