When Real Madrid Fooball Team proposed the purchase of Spanish women’s football club Club Deportivo Tacón, producers Tomas Pastor and Ana Pastor saw a story — women’s soccer team that was going to make it into the biggest club in the world.
With the success of the U.S. women’s soccer team, they got the ball rolling and started “Un Sueño Real (A Real Dream),” a docu-series following this team’s transition from the First Division league.
However, when the coronavirus pandemic halted production and the football season, the filmmakers pivoted their storytelling. They followed the players into their homes. Stars such as Kosovare Asllani, Sofia Jakobsson and Thaisa became integral to the narrative as they continued training at home, but started to shared stories about parenting, politics, LGBTQ rights and anxiety.
Ana Pastor, Tomas Pastor and President of Exile Content, Daniel Eilemberg talk to Variety about changing the narrative during the pandemic and why telling this story is important to the face of soccer.
How did the idea for “Un Sueño Real (A Real Dream)” begin?
Daniel Eilemberg: The idea came from Newtral and we have a partnership with them to produce non-scripted content.
We were first made aware of this story through Ana Pastor and Tomas Pastor who were following the purchase of the football team, Club Deportivo Tacón. When we heard this story about a team that had made it from the First Division league less than a year before and were about to become part of Real Madrid, we saw we had a special story there.
The season was about to begin, the purchase was about to begin and we moved the production forward. But before we could move forward, we had to get approval from Real Madrid, which we did.
It was so important to be there from the first day and follow the team with cameras because this was a moment that would never happen again.
Tomas Pastor: I was reading about the impact this would have on women’s soccer and it’s going to be huge. It will impact the academies as well as women’s soccer around the world.
It was also unique opportunity to be able to shoot from the first day. To go from shooting the last day of the team as Club Deportivo Tacón and their first day as Real Madrid. We were in the locker room and in their lives.
You started shooting this in August, and the world took a turn in 2020 when we went into lockdown and soccer was canceled, how did that impact your production?
Tomas Pastor: When the lockdown happened, we contacted the players and asked if we could shoot them in their homes. We followed their training virtually and met on Skype with the coaches and were with them during the lockdown.
In one episode, we had a moment with Isa Moreno (Midfielder) she has a conversation with her mother where she says, “Mom, you didn’t want me to play soccer as a kid.” That would never happen with little boys, so we caught nice moments like that.
You can see how they overcome difficulties as a team and individuals because of it.
Eilemberg: It was a difficult production challenge and one we had to learn how to contend with, but it’s an interesting turn of events within the series and we get to highlight how the sport treats men and women.
We also get to look at the dynamics of a team forced to train and live individually and adds this great layer to the storytelling.
Ana Pastor: The men’s team were able to resume training in May, but the female leagues had to cancel any competition. As filmmakers, we really got to see the disparity between genders. Even in training, you can see how Sergio Ramos who is the captain for the men’s Real Madrid team has a home gym and can train. If you compare the women’s training, they’re at home training with bottles of water for weights. So, we were really able to bring that to light.
How did the crew size change because you can’t have 100 people on a set?
Tomas Pastor: Our post-Covid crew is made up of a cameraman, a sound person and a reporter. We have to follow the regulations set by the Spanish government and social distance.
How did your shooting time get delayed by the lockdown?
Ana Pastor: Our shooting has been extended by two months because of the pandemic.
Eilemberg: Structure-wise, it’s still four episodes and we stuck to that, but the storyline shifted. Six games still needed to be played and things were left up in the air a bit as we didn’t really have the ending anymore, but we did find a way to close out the series during all of this.
Ana Pastor: They closed the season in May and now it’s starting up in September. So, we have to follow the journey because the merger was just completed this past July 1.
Are you seeing an interest in women’s soccer because of Real Madrid’s Women’s Team and the success of the U.S. Soccer team?
Ana Pastor: Absolutely, yes. In the documentary, there’s a little girl asking why they don’t have women in football cards, and they don’t. The cards only feature men. So, her mother creates these stickers with women players just for her. We were recording that moment, but what happened, since we made the documentary, they have the cards.
It’s really a new phase in women’s soccer and that’s what the documentary will show — the genesis of this team.