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Viewpoints from the frontline of content.

Scoring a World Cup success

By Claire McArdle 11-11-2022

Ahead of the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar, UK indie Collective Media Group’s co-CEO discusses its feature documentary on Brazil’s 2002 triumph, which has access to players’ personal video diaries and was funded without a commissioning broadcaster.

There is a sense of duty when producing a film like Brazil 2002: The Real Story. Not only were we handling a moment of personal significance to the contributors, we were also telling the story of an event that is of profound importance to an entire country.

The reaction to the film in Brazil so far is testament to the enduring legacy of the Penta (the fifth time Brazil have won the Fifa World Cup), just as football fans in Brazil dare to hope of the Hexa – a record-breaking sixth victory later this year.

Fundamentally, the film is about achieving success for the team by sacrificing personal ambition and creating bonds of friendship that have tied the World Cup-winning team of 2002 together to this day. Teamwork lies at the heart of the original story, and it was a theme that imbued the production.

Players Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo share memories in Brazil 2002: The Real Story

In the summer of 2021, a mutual friend, Caroline Reik, introduced Collective Media Group to Entourage Sports & Entertainment. Through our senior producer and Latin American lead, Arianna Perretta, Collective was developing a strong slate of Latin American projects and Caroline rightly thought the two companies could have projects to collaborate on.

When Rebecca Knight and myself met with the co-CEOs of Entourage, Paul Brighten and Mark Cowan, we discovered they had something quite remarkable on their hands through their work with Brazilian World Cup winner Juliano Belletti. Belletti – who came on for one game in the 2002 competition – had filmed the entire tournament from behind the scenes. The first time I watched the footage it gave me goosebumps – I’d never seen access like it. The closeness of the team under the stewardship of head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was palpable, the unguarded moments from greats of the game – Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Gilberto Silva and Ronaldhino – in training sessions, in their down time, singing and dancing on the team coach.

Another client of Entourage, Real Madrid legend Roberto Carlos, had long wanted to tell the story of the historic World Cup victory of 2002 to tie in with the 20th anniversary of the Penta. With Juliano and Roberto attached as executive producers, we knew that this was a film that would have an international audience.

At this stage, all parties agreed that the film should have a Latin American director, and for that to be someone that could connect with the importance of the story for both a Brazilian and an international audience.

We brought on board renowned Uruguayan director Luis Ara of Trailer Films, who has a strong track record in sports documentary as well as deep relationships with buyers in the Spanish and Latin American markets. Luis secured sales into Spanish-speaking US and Latin America, and Brazil. Univision was the first buyer onboard, announcing the film as part of the inaugural slate for its new Spanish-language SVoD service, ViX.

Brazilian football great Ronaldhino

For the rest of the international markets we worked with distributor Abacus Media Rights, chosen for its pedigree in distributing sport documentaries. This combination allowed us to package the film and sell to the most appropriate buyer in each individual territory. The approach tallied with our editorial decision to use the international players that faced the Brazilian national team across the tournament to provide their recollections. World-famous players such as David Beckham, Michael Owen and Oliver Kahn shared unique insight into their experiences and perception of the team and increased the appeal of the film outside of Brazil.

Belletti’s footage was crucial for a number of reasons. In the current market, access is key and new perspectives or untold stories in sport are in high demand. Similarly, there is a desire for documentaries that lift the veil on our sporting superstars, and show the men and women behind the dedication and record-breaking achievements. The archive that we used to build the narrative of Brazil 2002: The Real Story gave an unrivalled insight into an emotional as well as sporting story and it was a privilege to be able to work with it to celebrate such a momentous victory.

Brazil 2002: The Real Story will air on Sky Documentaries on November 13 at 22.00 and will be available on streaming service NOW.

today's correspondent

Claire McArdle Co-CEO Collective Media Group

Claire is an Emmy-winning creative executive who has worked extensively across broadcast and digital platforms in a number of genres.

Prior to founding Collective Media Group with Rebecca Knight, she was the MD and chief creative officer of OTRO. In a career spanning two decades, Claire has held senior executive positions at Viacom International, Channel 4 and All3Media-owned Maverick Television, and delivered International Emmy, Bafta and RTS award-winning content. She has frequently developed and mentored emerging talent both on- and off-screen. She is an avid football fan and a passionate historian, holding a PhD in 19th century ecclesiastical history.