The offseason is a time for NFL players to relax, regroup and spend a few months away from football.
For Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, it’s also a time to make movies.
The reigning AP Defensive Player of the Year has a passion for the filmmaking business and he’s spent the last few months working on his latest projects and developing his skills as a budding filmmaker.
“Filmmaking is my second job, but it’s also my hobby,” Suggs said. “It’s fun. It’s what I do for peace and to relax.”
In between football training and spending time with his kids, Suggs said that he’s been working on his craft as a filmmaker.
And he has enjoyed some offseason successes in that second career.
His independent film company, Team Sizzle Productions, had a film selected to be part of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. The film, “The Commitment,” is Suggs’ second movie in as many years that has earned a selection to Cannes.
“This year I was like, ‘Wow, we made it again,’” Suggs said. “That let everybody know that we’re really good and we’re ready.”
Last year’s selection, “When Beautiful People Do Ugly Things,” was Suggs’ first project. He was a co-writer and producer for that film.
With “The Commitment,” which Suggs described as a drama with a political plot-line, he was a producer that green-lighted the movie to be released under the Team Sizzle brand. The writer and director was Rich Volin.
“He wrote that. He directed that,” Suggs said. “He is a phenomenal talent. He is a major producer. It was his vision from start to finish and he just did an amazing job on it.”
In addition to having another film get an invite to Cannes, Suggs also had the chance to build upon his filmmaking skills alongside some fellow NFL stars. He recently participated in the NFL’s first-ever Hollywood Boot Camp, an event designed to provide current and former players an opportunity to get a taste of the motion picture business.
He was one of 20 players selected to participate in the four-day boot camp, which exposed them to several different aspects of the film industry, including directing, writing, producing, lighting and acting.
“It was awesome,” Suggs said. “It was a real treat. They treated it like a real boot camp. We went from eight in the morning until 9:30 at night, straight. It was all about filmmaking.”
Players had to apply to be part of the program by submitting three essays and an idea for a feature-length movie. More than 100 players applied and some of the participants included Stephen Jackson, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Jordan Babineaux, Ahman Green and Ravens tight end Kris Wilson.
Suggs came into the event with a step up on most of the players, based on his previous experience in the industry.
“Some of the guys had already shot some things, but I’d shot the most stuff,” Suggs said. “It’s just the fact that to get good at something, it takes repetition, and I just had a few more reps than some of them. A lot of the guys showed tremendous promise.”
The NFL covered all the costs associated with the event, except for the plane ticket to California. At the event, the players were coached by veterans of the film industry, including actor and director Robert Townsend.
They were coached in a number of areas and had a chance to do just about every job on a movie set.
“It was a mix of everything,” Suggs said. “I didn’t really do too much acting, but we did everything else. It was all of the different jobs on set. I had to be the light. I had to be the gaffer. I was in charge of the script at one point. It was like every hour we changed. It was pretty awesome.”
As much as Suggs loves the camera as a football player, he says that he’s more interested in staying behind the scenes in the movie business.
Producing, directing and co-writing are his passions in film, and he’ll leave the acting up to others. The only time he plans to show his face on the silver screen is if it’s in a cameo role.
“I’ll eventually cameo,” Suggs said. “All of the greats cameo in their own films. Hitchcock did. Even Spike Lee.”
As Suggs continues to build up his skills and reputation in the film business, he’s noticed some similarities to his experience on the football field.
“It’s hard work, everything that goes into winning,” Suggs said. “Football is the ultimate team sport and it’s just like film in that sense. A good film is made because you have a great team and we have a fantastic team here at Team Sizzle.”
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