The New York Times previewed 4½ episodes, providing some flavor on what fans can expect. In addition, director Gotham Chopra answered some questions in a one-on-one interview with ESPN:
How did this come about?
The genesis of it starts with a relationship that has formed over the last six to seven years. Tom used to have a home here in Los Angeles, where he'd spend time in the offseason. Despite the fact I'm from Boston, and a huge Patriots fan and have followed Tom's career, it wasn't until around 2009 to 2010 that I met him and started to form a friendship. That has evolved over time. We are the same age, and off the field, we have a lot in common -- kids the same age, both married. Me as a filmmaker and documentarian, I have been telling Tom for years now, "This is incredible what is happening here, this is historic, you should capture it, and I want to do it with you."
Tom, as everyone knows, is super polite and he would always politely decline, saying "I'm not ready. Now is not the time." And then I think this offseason, after last year's run and all the complexities of last year -- starting with the suspension, the stuff with him mom, the way the Super Bowl ended -- I think there was a part of Tom that realized, "Maybe we should have been capturing some of that." So I think heading into this year, which is a watershed point for anybody, turning 40, there was a thought of "maybe we should do this." It started out to be, "What does it take physically for someone at this age to continue to try to perform at this level?" -- a lot of the TB12 Method, working with Alex [Guerrero] and offseason training.
What stands out to you from the project that strikes you?
It became pretty obvious to me early on that while the TB12 stuff, the pliability and the work with Alex is critical and something that Tom is so passionate about, it's not just like a physical regimen that he puts himself through -- it's a lifestyle. It's something he really believes in strongly and wants to share and spread. But just spending time with him, that's just one aspect of his preparation; there is a mental aspect, there is an emotional aspect. Managing family and kids, he has a high-profile wife, his parents and all sorts of stuff -- how do you balance that?
It's really important for Tom to be one of the guys. He's achieved all the success, and he's a celebrity, but on the football field, it's very important to him that he's just another guy on the 53-man roster. I wanted to explore a little bit, and how do you really build chemistry? I'd say about 80 percent of this was filmed in the offseason, getting into bits and pieces and how he manages the different parts of it. I spent time with Tom and his son Jack when they were in China and Japan. That was part of an Under Armour event, but it was really a father-son bonding trip. We did some stuff in Montana, where Tom spends time with Julian [Edelman] and Danny [Amendola]. So it was hanging out, but also offseason training. This is how you build the chemistry that pays off. I also spent some time with him and [his wife] Gisele in Costa Rica -- a few weeks before training camp. That was how he clears his head and gets ready for training camp.
"I'm Tom's partner trying to figure out, with him, what he wants to share with his fans. I think it's really important that it's honest, authentic, and not manipulative." Gotham Chopra, producer
There will be six different parts of it?
Yes. Facebook launched a new platform, Facebook Watch, and it's episodic. If you go on there, you see everything, ranging from one minute to five minutes to 15 minutes to whatever. But we've broken these down into 15-minute episodes, and there will be six of them.
How long did it take to put the whole project together?
We've been going pretty strong from the first time we started rolling tape, so to speak, and that was in April, with some of the work he does in the offseason, with Alex and TB12 and all that. It's not every day, obviously. And Tom is quite sensitive to the idea of, "I don't want camera crews all around me; even during the offseason I have a process that is really important to me to stay close to it." So it wasn't 24/7, but it was consistent across the time, especially the offseason.
We've simultaneously been putting it together over the last two months -- my wanting to make sure it was stuff he was comfortable with. It's really intimate and over time it's become a lot more than just his physical routine. It's spending time with Gisele, his kids, his parents, all of that. It's all very personal stuff, and I wanted to make sure he's comfortable sharing it. That's something very important. The approach here is not "I'm an investigative journalist." I'm Tom's partner trying to figure out, with him, what he wants to share with his fans. I think it's really important that it's honest, authentic, and not manipulative. So that's my job -- to navigate that. But at the same time, it's to have his back and make sure it's stuff he, his wife and family are comfortable with, because it's a lot of trust.
Do you have a strong sense of why this is important to him, and what he hopes to get out of this?
There are a couple things there. People know he is a student of the game, and so before he was this great quarterback for the Patriots, he was a kid growing up in San Mateo [California]. He was a huge 49ers fan, and he's talked publicly about his admiration for Joe Montana and Steve Young. So I think Tom understands, has a love for the game, and he gets what it all means, and this is a chance to document part of the history of the game. And personally, he's 40 years old, and anybody who has kind of crossed that threshold; [daughter] Vivi is 4 years old, [son] Benny is 7 years old, [son] Jack is 10 years old. They're young. So 10, 20, 30 years from now, he wants to be able to share with your family, "This is what I did." There's a lot of stuff -- when you're making a 90-minute thing that you've filmed over months, it ends up on the cutting-room floor. That doesn't mean it's not part of the story, or appropriate, but it's stuff you'll want to share with your kids when they get married, or other moments. So there is a personal aspect to it also of "I want to capture this."
How has this been received by the team?
The Patriots have been really supportive. I've been issued credentials. I'm a Patriots fan, and grew up a big Patriots fan, and so I understand the Patriots' way of doing things. Tom has been very sensitive in making sure to always be respectful of the coach and the organization, and he knows all the success they've had around here is because of a certain culture, and he doesn't want to ever to be disrespectful of that. So we did 80 percent of this in the offseason and then about 20 percent during the season, and that 20 percent was more focused on his personal life. That being said, the organization has been great, and it's been an amazing experience. As a Patriots fan, it's been awesome to tell bits and pieces of the story of the greatest Patriot of all time, and also to be able to have the support of the club.