What began as a campaign on Kickstarter is now a completed production scheduled to premiere at some of the most prestigious film festivals nationwide. "Panorama" is a short film executive produced by retired New York Giants linebacker Spencer Paysinger and current Giants defensive end Leonard Williams. The 17-minute movie tells the story of Sam, a young man mourning the loss of his mother. After nearly dying due to being hit by a car, Sam's mother helps him navigate through emotional chapters of his life.
Written and directed by Scott Felix, he says his own childhood was a source of inspiration for the film.
"It started out with a little moment I had with my mom five years ago while I was playing football," the former USC football star explained to Yahoo Sports. "She was going through a hard time and we had a really honest conversation about life. That was really my first time having that talk as an adult man.
"The best thing that will help your art is living your life. We all undergo different journey, different moments and meet people along the way where we hear their stories. That's why I landed on the title 'Panorama,' because it's essentially a wide view of life."
Williams is the only active player on the production team, and he told Yahoo Sports he and Felix's similar upbringing was a huge catalyst behind the decision to attach his name to the project.
"A lot of things that brought me and Scott together was being able to talk about our families with each other. We both come from a tough background family wise. And that’s what this film Panorama explores, the complexity of family."
Redefining life after sports
The film is not about sports, which is what Felix wanted. Producer Dane Morck justified that it allows fans to see some of their favorite players shine in a different trade.
"I just knew Panorama would be a special opportunity for us to showcase what athletes really were capable of in the creative space," he said to Yahoo Sports. "Especially when it came to developing content outside the general sports narrative. That was important to Scott from the start of this journey; and was also a main point of focus when Spencer and I established Moore Street Productions."
Paysinger is well aware of using life experiences in the creative space. CW's hit series "All American" is based on the former Super Bowl champion's life as a high school football player in southern California. Paysinger embodies the #AthleteAnd philosophy with such earnestness, he had a poignant response about the importance of athletes teaming up to recount a sentimental story.
"To be clear, 'Panorama' is not about sports. But this film doesn’t get made without athletes who have succeeded at every level coming together through an urge to further define ourselves off the field."
It was never the intention to bring in a cohort of former players, but by the time they went into production, there was a common through line that couldn't be overlooked. Save for Williams who is still playing, all the aforementioned names and more individuals responsible for the movie's success have found prosperity in life after football.
"My hope is for people to watch 'Panorama' and don't think current and former athletes are behind it, but rather filmmakers who coincidentally have a shared history of playing sports."
Before a larger rollout occurs and a theatrical release date is announced, "Panorama" will make the rounds at various festivals in the coming months and next year.
The film stars Shane Paul McGhie ("Deputy"), Karimah Westbrook ("All American"), Maleah Goldberg ("On My Block") Former NFL player Thomas Q. Jones ("Luke Cage"), Krystian Alexander Lyttle ("Foster Boy"), and Myles Cranford ("Mindhunter").
Jordan Orsak, Jevin Lee, and JP Hughes will also produce. The film was developed through Felix’s Sunflower Pictures, Moore Street Productions, FilmPro, and Pine Tree Pictures.