OKCThunder Films Provides Inside Look At NBA Organization

    • The Thunder’s film production arm has produced five films, including the most recent “The Everyday Saint.”
    • OKCThunder Films generally premiere at the annual deadCenter Film Festival in Oklahoma City, before living on its website.

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Marc St. Yves has worked for the Oklahoma City Thunder organization dating back to 1979, when the team was still in Seattle. In those 40 years, he has advanced from ball boy to vice president of logistics and engagement. While he likes to stay behind the scenes, his story is being told in the latest edition of OKCThunder Films.

“The Everyday Saint,” which centers on St. Yves, debuted on June 11 at the 20th annual deadCenter Film Festival as the fifth project by the Thunder’s film production arm. 

“We’ve always had a robust broadcast production department to support TV broadcasts, social and website, but we felt like we could take the content and give it a different feel, a different way of storytelling and brand it differently,” Dan Mahoney, Thunder vice president of broadcasting, said. “Last year, we decided we should keep building this brand.”

While OKCThunder Films officially launched last year, the projects started as forward Nick Collison prepared to retire in 2018. Collison had been with the team since 2004 when it was still in Seattle, and the broadcast department’s collaborative relationship with basketball communications made it an easy sell to follow him through his final two weeks. 

Other productions thus far include “Growing Up George,” an animated film about Paul George, “Si Señor” about guard Álex Abrines, and “The Kiwi Way,” a film about forward Steven Adams.

Mahoney said as the idea to have a film production department developed, it was important not to make the projects formulaic. That’s how the animated short with George was developed.

“We want to be unpredictable,” he said. “Everything we do is to engage fans and followers with high-quality content, but we value the idea of working with different feels and making sure we’re not typecast.”

“The Everyday Saint” veers off course by telling a staff member’s story, not a player, which posed a challenge. Mahoney said the film goes into St. Ives’ relationship with his family and the things he gave up to see more than 3,000 NBA games. It also features interviews with NBA players, coaches, and staff members from his 40-plus year career.

Several of the films have been nominated for regional Emmy awards, and the four previous films tracked global audiences on the website they’re screened. After the films screen at deadCenter, they live on the Thunder’s platforms and YouTube. Mahoney said they do not charge viewers to watch, and is not an effort driven by monetization.

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“We want as many people as possible to see these,” he said. “We’re not the kind of organization that beats our chest about metrics and rankings, that’s not our style. But what is, is telling the stories of people within our organization. We think our fans want to hear those things and go behind the scenes.”

“It’s not driven by metrics or revenue or any of that, it’s just about our community and the global reach we can get with the films,” he said.Mahoney said there’s a core group of employees from the Thunder that work on the films, ranging from himself and Vice President of Basketball Communications and Engagement Matt Tumbleson to videographers and writers. During production, filming has taken Thunder staff members to Spain for “Si Señor” and New Zealand for “The Kiwi Way.”

The budgets vary for the films, and Mahoney said the organization’s support across the board had been key to helping push the creativity.

“The organization recognizes the value and uniqueness and that it’s a great way to engage fans,” Mahoney said.

Along with providing a deeper connection to fans, Tumbleson said the projects also provide staff a new medium to work in and a way to stretch their minds beyond their day-to-day job responsibilities.

“It’s a great creative outlet and a way to broaden our skills,” he said. “It pushes ourselves to tell these stories in unique and creative ways, and it makes us better at our everyday jobs.”