When I was offered a review copy of the new documentary film 10 Yards Fantasy Football, I replied, “No use sending that to a guy with no interest either in real nor imaginary football. But please do send me your award-winning 2006 Segway documentary road movie, 10 MPH Seattle to Boston!”. Film makers Hunter Weeks and Josh Caldwell kindly decided to send me both films, and it turned out I was right. I liked 10 MPH with its beautiful landscape footage and charming roadside interviews. It has my recommendation, for what that’s worth to a movie that’s already won the award for best documentary at numerous festivals.
10 Yards, however, is IMHO strictly for those tens of millions of people who take an interest in American football. I understood little of it, and while I can see the same fine cinematic craftsmanship here as in 10 MPH, I quickly got bored with the content.
Fantasy football is a huge fan pastime where players assemble imaginary teams at the start of the football season, each made up of actual players scattered across many actual teams. Then you follow your players game by game and add up their accomplishments according to certain scoring rules. Thus, at the end of the season, your fantasy team may win its fantasy league. Along the way you make friends with the other fantasy football managers. Seems like a perfectly reasonable hobby to someone like myself, who likes to play boardgames and has hunted down hundreds of tupperware boxes under stones in the woods using his GPS navigator. But it’s not my hobby. More importantly, it’s a completely non-visual hobby.
I don’t know if the film makers were aiming to reach a non-football-literate audience with this film. In 10 MPH, we see them do something pretty grandiose that they have never done before: they ride a slow vehicle across the US on small back roads where there is a lot to see. Here, instead, we see them engage in a rather mundane hobby that’s been part of their lives for years.
Weeks and Caldwell are good at what they do. For their next project, I hope they will once more take on a subject that is unfamiliar to them and has some level of wider appeal. I have no doubt that they will then be able to make another film as fine as 10 MPH.