All or Nothing: Juventus producer Ben Turner has explained to Football Italia that the series set out to capture the ‘culture’ of the Bianconeri, describing it as ‘a special opportunity to see inside one of the biggest clubs in the world.’
The latest in the line of successful All or Nothing series on Amazon Prime launches this week and goes behind the scenes of the 2020-21 season at the Allianz Stadium. Andrea Pirlo had just been appointed as the club’s new head coach, replacing Maurizio Sarri, with Juve planning on big changes and a rejuvenation of the squad that had just won the Scudetto – Juve’s ninth in a row.
Football Italia spoke with Turner, of production company Fulwell 73, about his experience looking behind the curtains at one of Europe’s biggest clubs, going through the ups and downs of what proved to be Pirlo’s only campaign as Juventus coach
“He was super cool, as you would expect,” Turner replies when asked how Pirlo reacted to being part of a documentary during his first season as a coach.
Turner, a director, producer and founding partner of Fulwell 73, has been covering football since the company launched and was behind the well-received Class of ’92 film that followed the David Beckham generation of Manchester United youth graduates.
Fulwell 73 also produced the Netflix series Sunderland ‘Til I die but shifted focus away from England in 2020, turning to the Bianconeri for what proved to be a turbulent season, with two trophies and a dramatic Serie A finale.
Turner revealed Serie A had interested him since Lazio signed Paul Gascoigne in 1992, and wanted to grasp the real culture of Italian football during his time with the Old Lady.
“It was a special opportunity to see inside one of the biggest clubs in the world,” he says. “And part of a foreign – to me! – league that has fascinated me since Paul Gascoigne joined Lazio in the early 90s.
“It wasn’t so much the size of Juventus that made a difference. We’ve worked at big clubs and a lot of the concerns are the same regardless of the scale, but I loved trying to understand the culture of the club.
“The Italian culture in general, the football culture and then of course the things that are peculiar to Juventus. It is this that ultimately makes the show interesting beyond just the action on the pitch.”
Turner says that past experience of covering football clubs was helpful in picking the most interesting narratives to follow, but admitted to facing the dual the challenges of COVID-19 and having limited screen time to work with.
“The experience helps which story lines to follow but you are always following the events as they happen to get to an authentic story line,” he continues.
“[It was] very enjoyable. It was made more complicated by Coronavirus of course which meant we couldn’t spend enough face-to-face time together, but sometimes going through something huge like that together brings you closer.”
The crew followed the players daily on the training ground and beyond, getting insight into the difficult moments faced by two Juve veterans, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, as they spent time on the treatment table.
But Turner was positively surprised by the joyful atmosphere during the sessions at Continassa, and saw a side of Chiellini that he did not expect.
“Just watching training was amazing. Seeing all those players working together reminded me of the childish joy of football. And Chiellini was a lot more charming that I expected him to be. There is never enough screen time to put everything in that you found interesting!”
Coronavirus, as mentioned, played a huge part in the 2020-21 season, as Serie A started and concluded without fans in the stands. Turner acknowledges the impact of the pandemic on the production team, who were forced to work in a different way than they had become accustomed.
“In a practical sense you need to be very reactive and fast moving to capture everything that is happening at the club and Coronavirus made that very tough,” Turner says. “It affected the edits by making them mainly remote and of course it affected the story.”
Watching the documentary gives a reminder of what the world has gone through, and the empty stands are a symbol of the difficult times endured. But football didn’t stop, and the production team couldn’t lean on the atmosphere in the stands to help them build tension, joy and expectations.
Turner recalls that the empty stadiums were a possible issue for the production, but feels the series adapted well and came up with solutions to still feature the Juventus fans were possible.
“That was a real concern for us. At times we tried to lean into it, usually you can’t hear the players on the pitch but suddenly all that could be recorded,” he says. “But also, we used more of the fans around the city because that is where the game was being watched and you needed the reactions of the fans to convey the drama.”
All or Nothing: Juventus launches on Amazon Prime on November 25, following a season of highs and lows for the Turin club. Pirlo led Juve to the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italia, but could only deliver fourth in Serie A and a last 16 exit in the Champions League.
Turner believes that the dramatic club season the Juventus players went through helped Italy at UEFA Euro 2020, and only wishes he could have been there to film it. “I would have loved to have been able to go to the European Championships with the Juve players and have an episode when they won it!
“I don’t think it was a co-incidence that they did so well after the season they had.”