Freddie Roach & Peter Berg: Triumphing over adversity on HBO doc
"On Freddie Roach" is a six-part HBO cinéma-vérité documentary series focusing on world-famous boxing trainer Freddie Roach, who owns and operates the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, stomping ground for countless Roach protégés and world champions such as Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan, Oscar de la Hoya and Mike Tyson.
It is a powerful and personal insight into Roach's life and career, providing an in-depth look into Roach's battle with Parkinson's disease. For Roach, allowing cameras to capture his life in such detail was never a problem. He found that, over time, the camera crew became like a family. Most important for him was giving the audience a clear understanding of what it means to triumph over adversity. "If you work hard, and don't give up, you can achieve anything," says Roach, echoing the show's underlying message.
Multi-hyphenate Peter Berg, a two-time Emmy Award nominee (as director and producer of "Friday Night Lights") and three-time SAG Award nominee (as a cast member of "Chicago Hope"), serves as producer on the show. "I thought it would be a really great idea and that Freddie would be a compelling subject for a cinéma-vérité series," reveals Berg, when speaking to Gold Derby bringing his friend's life to the small screen.
At its core, "On Freddie Roach" dramatizes and spotlights the human spirit and qualities of competition, passion and determination. "I've always been really inspired by the psychology of violence," admits Berg. "It seems cliché to say this, but sports are the last great gladiatorial opportunity for human beings … really risking something. And I find that infinitely compelling."
The series is submitted this year in the Best Nonfiction Series category alongside such varied competition as "American Masters," "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations," "Biography," "Frozen Planet" and "Inside the Actor's Studio."
"It would be very satisfying," says Berg about being nominated. "It's an acknowledgment of a lot of hard work by certainly a lot more people than just Freddie and I, like crew members, and cameramen and editors, who worked exhaustively."