Save Our Squad with Radek Sienski
Sport is relatable no matter what part of the planet you reside in. For some it’s a pleasurable pastime while for others it’s a call to demand the very best of themselves. The most popular sport in the world by far is football (that’s soccer to you Americans) and arguably it’s most famous player is David Beckham. The new Disney+ series Save Our Squad with David Beckham follows Beckham as he returns to his East London roots to aid a team (Westward Boys) in distress, not as a player or a coach but as a mentor. The four-part series doesn’t seek to aggrandize Beckham as the living legend that he is but rather to display how each of us can cultivate the greatness within ourselves. While soccer casts a “wide net”, the perspective of a teenage boy is not instantly relatable for every viewer, necessitating the creators of Save Our Squad to hire the most gifted of editors to present the footage in a manner that would seem intuitive to a diverse audience. Series editor Richard Mears made his first call to editor Radek Sienski. The two had a history of collaboration that included such productions as the BAFTA award-winning series First Dates and the BAFTA nominated The Write Offs. Save Our Squad is about a group of British youth soccer players but it’s also not only about them because of the way that their story is told. The true message of this series is that everyone faces trials but with proper care, there is a best version of ourselves waiting to be born. Communicating that message in a way that it will resonate profoundly with each viewer is as important as the story itself.
Though he’s recognized as a football superstar with an illustrious career, David Beckham has a deep understanding that the true lesson of sports is about the bond constructed among a team. Establishing this with each of the players and reserve players of the Echo League team he mentors in Save Our Squad, Beckham cultivates the sense of pride and individual strengths each exhibits a potential for. David secretly observed them during one of the games to see their strengths and weaknesses and officially joined them after they lost that game. It’s inspiring to see this God-like figure of football not only carefully analyze their tactics but also tap into the personalities of each of the boys to bring out the best in them. Though later joined by edit producers, Radek Sienski was the editor tasked with defining the style of the show and its musical identity. Specifically, he brought a grand cinematic tone to this streaming series. Series editor Rich Mears professes, “Radek has strong opinions but is always very collaborative. I love working with him because he, like me, is always keen to try experimenting to elevate any program we work on. But he’s also mature and honest and will tell me if an idea isn’t working. He also has a great passion for cinema and that reflects in his work. It pushes up the standard of programs he creates so it never feels like ‘just TV’. It feels like cinema.”
Even the team featured in the show felt the effects of how Mr. Sienski imparts a story. One of the most moving segments of the show is when Beckham takes the team to London’s legendary Wembley Stadium to see footage of themselves playing on the venue’s giant screens. Radek edited this footage of previous games to maximize emotional impact and inspire the team for their final two games of the season. The experience was a highlight for the series and team members, even eliciting tears from some participants. Perhaps the only scene to rival this one in terms of raw emotional output is the game which pits Westward Boys against Orange Pro Soccer. Sienski describes how he constructed this stating, “I found a lot of good shots that showed clearly that they [Orange Pro Soccer] are bigger and more muscular than the average boys of that age. I carefully selected strong shots that gave them enough gravitas and intercut them with our team which looked much smaller by juxtaposition. I used dramatic music and looks to build the tension and suddenly the whole game read differently. It gave it more importance and it did almost feel like David vs Goliath.”
What the viewer understands through watching this series is that the expertise of someone like David Beckham extends much further than his ability to train the next generation. It’s evident with each passing episode that Beckham sees a potential for building skills and character at the same time, one that demands an approach as unique as each member of the team. At its core, Save Our Squad with David Beckham is a timeless underdog tale. Seeing the best in others and nurturing that is a story to warm any heart.