Diesel Films captured the unique story of two NFL draft prospects hoping to make their dream of playing in the NFL a reality in a series called In The Trenches for NFL Media sponsored by Ford. While Kyle Kalis and Pat Elflein didn’t know each other personally prior to In The Trenches, their college football careers were interestingly intertwined.
Kyle was a five-star recruit out of St. Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio who originally committed to Ohio State under Head Coach Jim Tressel. When Tressel resigned in 2011 due to NCAA sanctions, Kyle transferred to Ohio State’s archrival: The University of Michigan. This opening on Ohio State’s offensive line gave Pat the opportunity to play not only at his dream school, but in front of his hometown friends and family.
DIESEL ON LOCATION
In The Trenches’ principal filming location was Chandler, Arizona as Pat and Kyle trained under former Buckeye and NFL all-pro offensive lineman, LeCharles Bentley, founder of O-Line Performance.
“This dynamic was definitely interesting to us in a variety of different ways: How were they going to get along? Could they put the rivalry aside? How competitive would it be between two archrivals now turned roommates on their path to fulfilling the same NFL dream,” said executive producer Seth Shapiro.
As it turned out, Kyle and Pat became fast friends. “They clicked both inside and outside the gym. By the end of the series, they considered each other best friends, which was very cool to see,” Shapiro added.
While it’s common for stories to cover the more glamorous positions like quarterback and wide receiver, In The Trenches gives fans an authentic look at one of the hardest yet most important positions on the field. “If you don’t have an Offensive Line, you don’t have a team,” remarked LeCharles Bentley in his first on-camera interview for the series.
A major production challenge of the shoot was to not only deep dive into the stories of both players, but to also prominently integrate the Ford brand.
Chandler, AZ – February 16: Kyle Kalis and Pat Elflein workout at O-line performance in Chandler, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart)
“With the evolution of digital media, you hear the term ‘branded content’ all the time. Our company works a lot in the branded content space, but not all branded content is created equal. At the end of the day, the series became more what I consider commercial content, where our thought process shifted to how can we integrate the truck as soon as possible in every episode. So I think we had to find that rhythm with both Ford and the NFL to make sure both partners were satisfied.”
The pinnacle of the series was for Diesel Films to be in Pat’s hometown of Pickerington, Ohio to witness what he’s been waiting for his whole life, his draft moment. “On the day of the Draft, Pat had over 200 friends and family over for a really fun party. While the party was great, once the draft started and picks started to roll off the board it definitely got stressful.”
The second round ended and Pat had yet to be selected.
“Pat secluded himself inside his pitch black patio with his girlfriend. It was hard for us to cover that because of lack of light and being sensitive to his feelings since he was hoping to be drafted by then,” said Shapiro. “Then all of a sudden, his cell phone rings and it was the Minnesota Vikings.”
“About five minutes later, they made the announcement on NFL Network and everyone went nuts. The DJ blasted Whitesnake “Here I Go Again.” If you grew up the 80s, that hair band anthem is definitely memorable. For me, it felt like I was back home in Warwick, Rhode Island and one of my friends was drafted into the NFL. It definitely had an awesome small town feel to it,” Shapiro added.
In The Trenches naturally gives fans a behind-the-scenes look of the draft process from training to combine to Draft Day. From a sponsorship perspective, it also features the type of players Ford wants to represent in the NFL: players like Kyle and Pat who are smart, tough and durable.
Special thanks to the following partners at NFL Media: Coordinating Producer, Dan Dieffenbach, Senior Producer Mitchell Swartz, Integrated Marketing Cara Mead, and Director of Media Sales Ben Simonds. Also thanks to the great people at GTB & Ford for leading the charge.
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