Rob Gehring is responsible for directing HBO series “Hard Knocks”, and he’ll be doing so for the Cincinnati Bengals this year. He talked about the process of setting it up and what goes on behind the scenes, and while he wants to provide his audience a quality viewing experience, he wants to do so with minimal distractions for the Bengals:
Gehring said a small group of NFL Films staffers will arrive a week before the start of training camp (July 24) to scout the facility and determine where to install robotic cameras and set up office space. A half-dozen staffers including Gehring will stay the entire seven weeks with the team. The crew will typically shoot 300 hours of film weekly for a one-hour show. Gehring said he was not concerned with a repeat of the Bengals given the roster turnover (about 80 percent) since 2009.
“If anything, it helps you because the nuts and bolts people in the organization like those in travel and catering already know the drill,” said Gehring. “You have guys like [defensive tackle] Geno Atkins,” Gehring said. “I don’t know if he will be a story or not but I do know that he is a guy well respected as a player but not a whole lot of people know who he is.”
LaDainian Tomlinson, who was part of the 2010 edition of Hard Knocks as a member of the New York Jets, said the extra cameras and attention aren’t a big deal and players get used to it:
The hardest thing about it is getting through the first few days. After that, you kind of forget the cameras are around. But you always had to watch what you were saying and what you were doing because you don’t know whether the camera is around or what it will capture. There is a bit of hesitation at times to say things or do certain things. I felt at that point in training camp you are trying to build camaraderie and the chemistry of your team so it was weird to have cameras around to capture such moments.
Former Baltimore Ravens Head Coach Brian Billick talked about whether it’s a good or bad thing for an NFL team:
Depends on the team and what do you want to accomplish. I will tell you this, it does energize your camp. There are a lot of coaches obviously who will say we don’t need the kind of distraction that that provides. But they do a pretty good job. After you get past the first day or so, you’re not even aware that they’re there. … I will tell you, it does energize practice. But you do have to have a veteran team; you have to have a team that understands why you’re trying to do it that can kind of put it at arm’s length. Cincinnati having been through this before, certainly that’s going to be an advantage for them.