“The best advice I can give a first-time documentary filmmaker is go with your heart and explore a field that you may already know a little bit about.”

‘The Football Doctor’ follows the story of Chris Mousicos, a football coach in the United Kingdom. Chris combines coaching with therapeutic techniques to change the course of youth football development on and off the football pitch.

 The IPF caught up with the young filmmaker behind the documentary, Jonathan Paul, director and editor of The Football Doctor.

What made you decide to make a documentary on this topic?

The inspiration ultimately came from a conversation me and Chris had in the barbers. He would often talk about his desire to radically change youth football development as a coach from grass roots. What made me sit up was when he began to talk about his coaching methods and how he implemented therapeutic techniques that he had picked up from his own spiritual quest to find inner peace.

As a previous footballer who played at a high level growing up, I realise the importance psychological factors play in the sport.

I felt that people – coaches, players and parents alike – needed to hear this viewpoint.

What was the most challenging thing about making this documentary?

I think the most challenging thing – aside from the editing stage – was drawing out some really personal stories from Chris. I felt it was my job to build up some trust and break those barriers of generic conversation.

I was fortunate enough to have built up a good rapport with Chris leading up to shooting which enabled him to open up about difficult periods in his childhood and share pictures with us.

The challenge was also using improvised interview questions. Preparing my questions before shooting day was fine but I think you are in a good position when the formalities are discarded and it becomes more of a genuine conversation.

What is your favorite thing about making documentaries?

Capturing serendipitous moments. There is only a certain element of control that a filmmaker has when shooting a documentary, which is fun. Expecting the unexpected is great and it keeps you on your toes when looking out for interesting action.

Shooting sport is very unpredictable and this provided a nice common ground for us a film crew and the young football players.

Chris or the players didn’t know when the camera was rolling and this allowed the events to unravel very naturally in training and on match day.

What advice would you give to someone who is trying to make his or her first documentary?

The best advice I can give a first time documentary filmmaker is go with your heart and explore a field that you may already know a little bit about. Don’t get me wrong though.

There is nothing wrong with being intrigued by a new topic. However, I think it is nice when you are genuinely knowledgeable and passionate in a particular field.

If your interest is tangible and not something you happened to Google search on the day, your subject will feel this whether the camera is rolling or not, and people will feel it as viewers.