“Why Not Us” production team shares full access to Florida football and A&M culture

Lights. Camera. Action.

That’s life at Florida A&M during the 2021 football season on a daily basis.

Every move the Rattlers make, from injury tapes to post-game celebrations, is recorded for the Why Not Us: FAMU Football docuseries presented by Cricket Wireless.

The series originates from The Undefeated and is available on ESPN +. NBA superstar Chris Paul is the executive producer.

Members of this diverse production team come from various parts of the country. They were transplanted from the New York tri-state area and settled into a hotel.

Tallahassee has been their temporary home since the fall camp began in August.

ESPN camera operator Ty Stone films practice for the Why Not Us: FAMU Football docuseries at Bragg Memorial Stadium.

Producers, showrunners, cameramen and photographers have become accustomed to the campus and the city.

Mainstays spanning the Rattlers include Abe Issac (field producer), Elandra Fernandez (story associate producer), Tom Stukas (cinematographer), Cameron McLaughlin (audio / sound), Ty Stone (camera operator) and Jorge Mejia (camera assistant).

Multimedia veteran Jeff Anderson serves as showrunner.

“ESPN and the production companies made a very smart choice in picking Florida A&M for Why Not Us season two. It was a perfect match,” said Anderson.

“I’m a longtime journalist and producer. It’s not like work – it’s great to be here. We had great access to the pitch, stadium and athletics office. We’re just guys. flies on the wall showing people what’s going on with the team and the university. “

Why Not Us staff members cover FAMU football practices daily and games weekly.  Left to Right: Abe Isaac (Field Producer), Elandra Fernandez (Associate Story Producer), Tom Stukas (Director of Photography), Cameron McLaughlin (audio / sound), Ty Stone (camera) and Jorge Mejia ( camera assistant).
ESPN camera operator Andreas Vasquez (front) and Cameron McLaughlin (audio / sound) cover FAMU football practice for the Why Not Us docuseries streaming on ESPN +.

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During training, the cameras zoom in closely to capture images. The shoot also included interviews with players and coaching staff.

Head coach Willie Simmons drew the most individual attention.

He has installed cameras in his home to show interactions with his family. The ESPN team also filmed a recent outing at the North Florida Fair.

“It was crazy. Sleeping at night was about the only free time we had. But it’s great and a lot of good exposure. It gives people a glimpse of who we are as a team. It allows them to see who I am as a coach and a family man, ”said Simmons.

“Shaia (female) came. She warmed up to the idea of ​​a film crew filming us having dinner or going out. The kids see the camera and they show off. I think they’re working on a spin-off show. “

FAMU quarterback Rasean McKay is featured on ESPN live recording

There was also a period of adaptation for the players. They are used to being filmed in training. However, it was a different perspective.

The film crew spoke with them for one-on-one sessions. Some players have had on-air segments having lunch at the campus cafeteria and local restaurants.

“It’s fun. I feel like a celebrity on campus. It mostly comes with the position I play. I run with that and I don’t let it get to my head,” said the quarterback. FAMU Rasean McKay.

“Sometimes they go everywhere. But if you don’t want them to check you in, they won’t. It gives you the flexibility to do whatever you want.”

Having full access to the Rattlers was a treat for the entire production team.

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But it’s a deeper level for Issac and Fernandez. Both workers are graduates of the FAMU School of Journalism & Graphic Communication.

As alumni, they provided an inside track on the cultural background of being a Rattler. Covering the team this season has given them a memorable experience.

“It’s a looping moment here. I was here from 2008 to 2012. It’s very special to put the spotlight on FAMU and other HBCUs. We want to make sure the right content is displayed,” he said. declared Issac.

“Being a part of Why Not Us is great. FAMU has given me so many opportunities. FAMU has taught me how to behave when opportunities arise. I know that due to my time here I have been able to relocate in the tri-state area and network. “

This is the second season of Why Not Us. The program debuted earlier this year and followed the North Carolina Central men’s basketball team.

NBA goalie Chris Paul wearing custom FAMU sneakers.

Why Not Us: FAMU Football is produced by Roadside Entertainment, Paul’s Ohh Dip !!! Productions and ESPN +.

“The second season of Why Not Us will continue to highlight the importance of the HBCUs, including their challenges and triumphs,” said Paul.

“Why Not Us will chronicle the Florida A&M football team and spotlight these extraordinary athletes while inspiring audiences with their incredible journey of resilience in the face of adversity.”

The wall-to-wall coverage will document the Florida Classic landscape.

“I told them to expect a different atmosphere, just like coming home,” Issac said.

“They haven’t had a win since I was a student. We have to finish the season and get this win. To top off this great season it’s a must-have win. I let the team know that it will be a big game. “

FAMU volleyball

Florida’s A&M volleyball team lead the 2021 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) tournament as the No.2 seed. The Rattlers meet Prairie View A&M No.7 on Friday.

FAMU (22-6, 14-2) ended the regular season with its first 20-game campaign since 2006. It is also the only SWAC team to have achieved this total of wins this season.

The team are currently working on a nine-game winning streak (the longest active streak in SWAC).

FAMU’s highly successful season also includes 17 sweeps.


Who: FAMU (8-2, 7-1 SWAC) vs. Bethune-Cookman (2-8, 2-5 SWAC)

When or: Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Camping World Stadium, Orlando

Television / Radio: ESPN + / 90.5 FM

Follow FAMU beat writer Rory Sharrock on Twitter @ married2game1.

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