UCLA  Bruins Logo

Westwood: How Music Helped Producer Suzi Mellano Tell The Story of UCLA Men's Basketball's 2021-2022 Season 

06 Feb 2023

Photos of Suzi Mellano and the poster for her docuseries Westwood

Nothing conveys human drama like sports. Stories depicting an individual or a team's struggle to reach the summit of their sport permeate our culture from the days of the Roman Gladiators up to the modern era. Heroes are born, goats are vilified, defeats are lamented, and victories are celebrated. It's the ultimate human story and precisely why sports documentaries are always must-see TV. They have inspired and enriched our lives, from ESPN's 30 for 30 to HBO's Hard Knocks, The Rise and Fall of And 1, and more.

So for UCLA Athletics' creative content producer Suzi Mellano, the Bruins' 2021-22 season was the beginning of a remarkable story told in the form of a docuseries entitled Westwood: A Season with UCLA Men's Basketball 2021-2022. Eleven captivating episodes offering an insider's look at a season that started with promise but ended with heartbreak. With behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with players, coaching staff, and family members, Westwood is on par with some of the best docuseries we've seen. 

Watch Suzie's Interview below

Music is a critical part of telling this story, and Suzi knows firsthand the challenges of sourcing the best music for a project anchored in uncertainty. She tried various services and decided to use APM last year in the middle of the season.

"I think the biggest challenge with people we used to work with has been song selection in general," Suzi said. "APM has a great library. I feel like I'm always finding something exactly what I need – whereas I've felt quite limited in the past."

Finding the perfect fit is difficult in the sea of production music services, but this was different for Suzi. She always felt that APM was a cut above the rest.

"APM has always been, in my mind at least, from what I've heard from everybody, kind of more the industry standard, especially within college athletics and teams in general," Suzi said. "So when it came to picking a new company to work with, APM was always at the top of my list."

Regarding producing Westwood, Suzi added snippets of personal stories about the players to give the audience a glimpse of them as real people, not just players wearing numbered jerseys. Fun little features within the story of the season.

"A lot of music was necessary for scene changes, features, and game action," said Suzi. "And APM had everything that I needed from dramatic stuff to exciting stuff to just quick little things for intros."

Aside from the enormous size of APM's library, Suzi said that APM's personal Music Director service also played a critical role in the success of her project. The Bruins got into March Madness that year, and as expected, the pace and pressure intensified, including Westwood's production. 

"APM provided me with a bunch of music that I could go in and access on my own without having to constantly search for it because everybody knows one of the hardest parts about video production is spending time finding the music," Suzi said. "So having the music directors to provide me with that music without me having to go search for it was game changing."

You can watch the entire first season of Westwood below.