Wakai - New Sports Documentary

David Quintana, CEO of Wakai Media, a production company specializing in new sports documentaries, helps to understand the phenomenon around this format by transferring the keys to some of her latest work, including collaborations with big clubs like Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, ​​or athletes like the pilot Marc Marquez.

Wakai Sports, sports marketing and representation agency led by Toni Muñoz, once a player and sports director of clubs such as Atlético de Madrid, had recently turned to creating sports documentaries, an emerging format that in recent times has focused on the most personal perspective of the great idols of the sports scene. This effort materialized in documentaries such as Simeone: live game by game o FC Barcelona: a new era, that achieved public recognition after its premiere in Amazon Prime Video and were carried out hand in hand with companies such as Telefónica Broadcast Services (TBS) o Barça Studios.

Now, Wakai inaugurates a path of its own producer with the aim of continuing to explore the paths proposed by this type of documentaries, as well as factuals that will see the light throughout 2023 y 2024. At the head of this division, david quintana, a professional with almost two decades linked to the production of sports content in houses such as Movistar, Mediaset, Telemadrid and more recently his own TBS.

Along the following lines, the CEO of Wakai Media not only helps to understand the guidelines that will accompany the production company on its journey within the audiovisual industry, but it also transfers its privileged understanding of this particular revolution of sports documentary; the one who adopts new codes and forms to go where it had never been before, and that allows reduce the distance between professional sports and the amateurs of the world of sports.

Wakai - New Sports Documentary - Simeone

The transformation of the sports documentary

In recent years there has been a whole eye of the sports documentary. It is a genre that has always existed, usually around sporting milestones or specific personalities. were formats encapsulated, frequently away from the episodic, and generally reserved for channels distribution focused on documentaries. For some time now, everything has changed. The sports documentary has become part of the audiovisual mainstream, with a growing relevance and, each time, more prominent names.

For Quintana, there are three keys that explain the rise of this type of content. The first is the athletes predisposition to show your more human side, which allows "to go beyond the first layer, the one that normally reaches fans and viewers": "It has a lot of value when the idol is willing to get closer to the fan." A second pillar, for Quintana, is the growing interest from sports organizations in opening up to this type of content, assuming participation in this type of initiative is a brilliant opportunity: “For clubs, competitions and organizations, this type of content adds value to their brands. (...) They help these organizations or professionals grow in followers and people interested in sports. In addition, all the agents are understanding that they are contents that bring sports closer to a younger audience, which is interesting, relevant and complementary to the most common live broadcasts”.

Wakai - New Sports Documentary - Marc Márquez

Platforms: the ideal window

The third pillar listed by the CEO of Wakai is the irruption of the platforms, which has been accompanied by a change in audience content consumption. This has led to a programmatic trend for platforms to bet on this genre. The domino continues to fall: as a result of this increased popularity, the production values ​​"have grown a lot", which allows "a treatment, investment and texture that until now could only be seen in the world of cinema."

Quintana has nothing against the linear tv, which today remains the home for current affairs and live sports broadcasts. However, he acknowledges that formats like Formula 1: Drive to Survive of Netflix or Wakai's first works are consumed "very well in VOD mode, choosing if you want to see one, two, three or four chapters in a row." "Platforms are the most natural choice for the type of content we do," says Quintana.

Wakai - New Sports Documentary - Real Madrid

unpredictable productions

The new sports documentary distances itself (although it does not renounce in its entirety) to hackneyed structures as withdrawals, milestones o chronological biography. The camera does not face the protagonist, but is placed in profile to serve as companion.

The story, in this way, develops organically, although there is an important pre-production work to find the space time suitable and thus capture reactions, milestones and the so desired personal side of the athlete. In the words of Quintana: “The pre-production and planning of this type of project is key to success. It is true that sports documentary series cannot have a closed script when filming begins, because they depend on current affairs, but it is very important to have the intention worked out and where we want to go with this type of product”.

Equally necessary to be able to delve into the theme of the sports documentary will be the coordination with the protagonist, club or organization. If you are the voice of the people traditional secrecy of some prominent names in this world years ago, today the situation has changed: "We are counting on the trust of platforms and organizations, as well as the value of our expertiseto carry out these projects. In the end, when you open the doors of a house, it is essential to do it with people you trust”.

Marc Márquez: All In – When everything changes

The documentary Marc Márquez: All In (Amazon Prime Video) by Wakai herself was going to illustrate the return to the ring of the famous Catalan pilot. However, what was to be a successful return to the slopes ended up becoming new journey through the operating rooms, with all that this implies: the risks, the search for sensations on the motorcycle or the reception of family and friends to this decision.

Marc Márquez is a clear example of how a production of this type evolves and changes from its design to its final execution. In the case of Marc, we find a driver who returned to compete at the highest level but began to have problems at the start of the season. At that moment, he decided to stop and undergo a complicated operation again, which even questioned the possibility of getting back on a motorcycle ”, recalls Quintana.

The focus of the production changed, but the project with Márquez never had as its main objective to show sporting success, but rather, as the CEO of Wakai remarks, “transcend beyond”: “We have found a story that goes far beyond the world of sports. (…) There is a unique human story that tells how a guy like Marc is able to keep motivated and fighting every day. That has aspirational value for the general public, not just for fans of Marc or MotoGP. And that is what we look for in our projects”.

Wakai - New Sports Documentary - Simeone

Focus boutique de Wakai

Wakai considers the technique as a way to power convey the emotion of the stories that structure his sports documentaries. Quintana defines this approach as a "concept boutique”. To undertake these reports, the agility It is an inescapable maxim (especially when working with platforms). However, the core of the company goes through never giving up "important, quality productions and with the highest quality standards on the market".

These stories will be dealt with small teams carefully chosen in which "the main thing is talent and people". From Wakai, Quintana moves, we work tirelessly to continue expanding a human team that I can carry the excellence to the productions: "We contact people who have done projects that are interesting to us, that we have on our radar and that we believe can be valid." This hard core works with external professionals to end up forming the teams that shape the documentaries.

As a base of operations, Wakai has just inaugurated a new office on calle Orense in Madrid with different means of production, as post production rooms y recording equipment, although they recognize that in the short and medium term they will continue betting on outsource the technical part “depending on the projects and the needs we have”.

This space will serve as the base of operations for a 2023 that arrives with initiatives that still can't be revealed and that include "a very large project linked to the world of sports", a sports documentary on a smaller scale and "a factual of a personality who is not from the world of sports, but who is going to be a bombshell for Christmas". In this way, one draws a Roadmap marked by the production of few projects each year, but of first level.

The next big project: Real Madrid

Real Madrid: Until the End will mark a before and after in the scope of new sports documentaries. He club merengue had already promoted documentary initiatives in the past, such as Actual, the movie (2005) or other formats that have been seen through Real Madrid TV or various platforms. However, the approach of the documentary of Wakai Media con Apple TV, a “great production” of three chapters which will be released next March 10th, provides unprecedented access to how the season was lived 2021/2022 of the club, which, as Quintana acknowledges, "no Hollywood scriptwriter could have written."

“It has been a very ambitious project and challenge. It is charged with emotion and will not leave anyone indifferent. In this series, we have managed to bring together all the magical moments that happened last year”, shares the CEO of Wakai, who also acknowledges that this, his “most complex” production to date, has been “quite a challenge”.

Wakai - New Sports Documentary - Marc Márquez

Innovation for the future

"I think that we are now living in the moment of greatest interest in sports content that goes beyond live broadcasts," confirms Quintana when asked how he thinks that the phenomenon will evolve around the new sports documentary. He admits that he does not know how the survival of this format will take place, although he clings to the reality of the industry to bet on continuity of this trend: "The platforms are betting on it, and they do it because the interest of the viewers is maintained."

Until the change in trend arrives, which today is barely on the horizon, Wakai will continue to bet on the new sports documentary trying to slightly change its nature to maintain trust in all the agents (organizations, athletes, platforms and the public) that orbit around this content: "We try to innovate and, above all, generate products that are unique, that have their own DNA and are adapted to the characteristics or genuineness of the character”.

"It is true that it may give the feeling that the topics we deal with may be exhausted, but the reality is that every week new stars are emerging, new rivalries, characters who decide to retire from the elite or new competitions that want to enter this type of products. For now we are in great health and we hope it will be for a long time”, says an optimistic Quintana, who works tirelessly to shape the future of the new sports documentary.

A report by Sergio Julián Gómez

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By • 2 Mar, 2023
• Section: reports, Television, tv production