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From the Sidelines: A Conversation with UCLA's Creative Content Producer Suzi Mellano - Part 2

16 Feb 2023

By Ted Reyes

Last week, we featured UCLA Athletics Content Producer Suzi Mellano' s amazing work with Westwood and how music helped her tell the stories. In part two of this series, we chatted again with Suzi and, this time, talked more about the making of this incredible docuseries.



How did the idea of creating Westwood come to be?

Suzi: "Long-form work has always been my strength, and I expressed to UCLA my desire to create a whole series, and they fully backed me on the idea."

What were the challenges of covering an entire Bruins season?

Suzi: "This was a huge project for one creative to take on. The biggest challenge was time. Since I was the only one on the project, I was constantly racing the clock. It was just a lot of work."

The interviews with parents are powerful. Was it easy to get access?

Suzi: "I was very lucky to have a supportive staff and a VERY supportive fan base. When requesting interviews with parents (especially the Jaquez family) they were all eager to be a part. I also want to give a shout out to our UCLA Men's Basketball media contact - Alex Timiaros for all his help setting up the interviews."

How did you film the series? 

Suzi: "Well, crew? Just me! I shot and edited this project entirely on my own. I had occasional help from a couple of student interns on long shoot days to assist with equipment setup and breakdown. I also had the help of Alex Timiaros, who helped me work with athletes' schedules for interview purposes. But primarily, this was a one-man band situation. Equipment-wise - I shot the entire series on a Canon C70!"

Schedules must be super tight, especially during March Madness. How did you cope? 

Suzi: "I smiled through the pain! Just kidding. I have a background in TV news, where deadlines are heavily enforced, so I believe that background really prepared me for the quick turnaround times. Being organized is always the first thing I say is important. Also, having athletes and coaches who were always on time was a huge help for me!"

Not knowing the outcome, did you prepare two endings for the series?

Suzi: "I didn't prepare any "ending" to the story - had to see how things went! Which is part of the fun, right? The only things I had prepared before the season really started rolling were the evergreen feature pieces on the athletes."

Will there be a season 2? If so, how will it be different from the previous one?

Suzi: "Sadly, no season 2 this year. Possibly in the future! We just don't have the manpower quite yet to pull this off again. I cover every sport on campus, and having put so much attention on Men's Basketball last season, this year, I needed to spread the love! I have had a great time working with other athletes across campus, and I may or may not have a DIFFERENT series in the works at the moment."

Watch the entire season of Westwood now