With the Super Bowl played and a new championship team crowned, a group of local filmmakers is celebrating its own winning season after wrapping up a video series for NFL Network.
G|FCTR Films, a Richmond-based film collective, spent four months last fall shooting a six-part documentary series for the NFL-owned sports media network.
Called “Heart of the Game,” the collection of six- to eight-minute episodes highlighting NFL teams and their respective fan cultures has been posted since September on the network’s website. The clips are also set to air this summer on other NFL Network media channels, said G|FCTR executive producer Torrance Hampton.
G|FCTR (pronounced “G-Factor”) landed the gig after pitching its services to network parent NFL Media, which was introduced to the group via a mutual relationship with former NFL player and analyst Michael Robinson, a Richmond native and Varina High grad.
“We pitched the head of original content for the network because we knew that they needed someone that can tell stories better,” said Hampton, who started G|FCTR in 2016 with local filmmaker Julian Ashbee.
Hampton said G|FCTR does things differently by approaching clients with their services, as opposed to responding to a request for a pitch.
“A lot of people build a business and then go try to market it to the consumer. I believe that’s the wrong way to do it,” he said. “It should be: Go to the consumer first, understand what the needs are, and then build a business around the consumer and understanding the marketplace.”
With a network of freelancers the group is able to keep fees and overhead low, said Hampton, whose work experience included a stint at local communications firm Johnson Inc.
“We go build the agency around the idea, then we go away, and that allows us to be very nimble and quick,” he said.
The group’s network recently added Richmond filmmaker Tom Maher, whose production company, Stolen Moment, now operates under the G|FCTR umbrella.
Maher, whose work has included commercials for TowneBank and a brand film for local ad agency Fable, said the collective’s support has proved beneficial to his business, allowing him to focus on creative development.
In hiring G|FCTR, Mitchell Swartz, a senior producer with NFL Media, said the company was looking for a group that brought a perspective outside football and could help broaden its reach.
“We work with a lot of traditional sports production companies; they understand how to capture action and how to tell sports stories to the sports viewer,” Swartz said. “I believed we could benefit from working with a production company who looked at storytelling through a different lens.”
Ashbee’s background includes stints at Martin Agency post-production house Running with Scissors and with Sunny Zhao’s Dreams Factory. He was also involved in Misery Brothers’ GWAR-tinged commercial for Richmond-based Texas Beach Bloody Mary Mix.
The group operates out of Ashbee’s home studio in Carytown and an office space Hampton is setting up in Washington, D.C. In addition to NFL Network, its client roster includes sports car brand Aston Martin, and Hampton said they recently signed a work arrangement with Boston-based ad agency Hill Holiday.
Hampton said the future for G|FCTR could include feature films and TV, in addition to its commercial and documentary work.
“The advertising piece and being able to help brand and tell stories is always going to be our bread and butter, but I see us getting into developing our own films, and/or pitching TV shows that we can benefit from creatively,” he said.
G|FCTR joins a bustling video production crowd in Richmond. Motion Video recently moved its headquarters from Fairfax to Manchester’s Aragon Coffee Building. Barber Martin Agency launched a video production division. Other players include Sprocket Media Works, MadBox, Spang and Park Group.