Behind the Scenes of This is Football with Donna Ferry

Donna Ferry

It’s likely that nearly the entire population of planet Earth knows Starbucks. Whether or not you’re a fan of their coffee, the company defines ubiquity in a modern business sense. Beyond their initiatives to bring affordable education to their employees and the implementation of beneficial environmental endeavors, the Seattle based company has been inching towards the arts with some impressive results and alongside some stellar company. Paul McCartney was the first artist signed to Starbucks Hear Music label in 2007. 2019 saw Starbucks first foray into filmmaking with the documentary series This is Football. Available on Amazon Prime, This is Football is a daring and passionate presentation of the world’s most popular sport and the deep roots the majority of the world finds in it. Executive Produced by John Carlin (of the twice Oscar nominated film Invictus) and Primetime Emmy Nominee James Erskine, the six episodes contained in this series utilizes a number of acclaimed professionals behind the scenes including Donna Ferry. As proven by her work on the History Channel Emmy Award Winning documentary (in the Outstanding Special Class category) ‘Scars of Nanking” (triple Emmy Nominated), Ferry is known for her skill as well as her ability to manage international communication and decorum with the highest proficiency. Because This is Football was a major international production which at times presents stories of peoples overcoming political and social strife through the magic of this sport, the benefits of a talent such as Donna Ferry are nearly incalculable. 

  While football is most certainly front and center to this documentary series, the human stories depicted in each of the six episodes are its true emotional core. From the genocide survivors of the Rwanda Reds to the Japanese women’s football team’s FIFA World Cup win following the country’s devastating tsunami and earthquake, from the slum football of India to the sport’s iconic Lionel Messi; This is Football presents how anyone can elevate themselves through the sport. The path to Donna Ferry’s inclusion in the team which created the series was uncommon. Starbucks legal counsel Erik Hyman brought Ferry on board as the Starbucks Production Consultant for the series, specifically to act as the conduit of information between the production company and Starbucks. Though originally hired to assess the budget and schedule that Brutal October (the production company creating This is Football) had submitted to Starbucks for the production, it was immediately evident that Ferry possessed the understanding of the process and communication style that could benefit both sides. In regularly held meetings with the Senior Starbucks team and Brutal October, Donna was key to the discussions and feedback which resulted in the final form of this documentary series. Working closely with Director of Communications for Starbucks Public Relations Colleen Davis, Donna’s vast experience in the world of television production world contributed a vast wealth of information regarding the reasoning and “how to” of the industry to a company who has established itself as the global leader in its own industry in less than half a century. Creating a solid foundation for this collaboration sets a baseline for potential future endeavors and thus laid enormous responsibility on Ferry’s role. Regarding the positivity of the experience, Donna notes, “Watching the Starbucks team care so deeply that their brand identity and message ran through the creative of these films was very encouraging. They were focused on telling a truly inclusive story that reached a global audience from every walk of life, much like the game of football reaches that same audience. Their team was dedicated to ensuring that the films supported the Starbucks worldwide mission and values as a company, and I learnt from them about how in very subtle ways you can deliver your message to an audience. When you work on projects in this fast-paced industry you don’t often have the time to stop, look around, and appreciate the group of people you are working with. On this production, working with two such accomplished teams, I had the time to stop and appreciate the creativity, support and respect they each showed to one another and to me. I would consider myself very lucky to get the opportunity to work on this kind of project in the future.”

  In addition to being awarded the Humanitas Prize, This is Football has been nominated for a Sports Emmy Award and a Golden Reel Award from the Motion Picture Sound Editors, USA. Currently available on Amazon Prime, this documentary series highlights the power of football and the spirit of the game to discover our better selves through being challenged. What it imparts equally is that through communicating these stories we are inspired to be our best. Communication, this is the key. Donna Ferry’s role in this production is a perfect example of how one person can use their skill to facilitate the greatness of two teams to create something special. 

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