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SL Film Night: Abstract -The Art of Design

BY ALEX KARTMAN| Director of Digital Sports Production | Ball State Sports Link

In Sports Link, we preach the importance of story. Understanding how to structure themes, emotions and stories to create a cohesive narrative is important in how we, as humans, communicate.

For my first edition of Sports Link Film Night, I chose a film that demonstrates how to use linear narrative to develop a compelling story.

Abstract: The Art of Design is a documentary series on Netflix about how individual artists develop their signature styles and advance the medium they work. The episode “Tinker Hatfield: Footwear Design” documents the pioneering designer for Nike.

I picked this work because it demonstrates creative storytelling through its structure, while also delivering outstanding visual filmmaking. While watching the piece, take note of how the story is laid out.

The filmmakers deliver multiple linear storylines at once. The overall framework of the film follows Hatfield’s life from an Oregon pole vaulter to top designer at Nike,  It also incorporates the current developments of the Nike EARL self-lacing technology, from its inception with Tinker and his team to the introductory event with the world.

By using the history of Hatfield alongside a current design process, the story connects viewers with plot development and also the personality of Hatfield.

The story also includes the development and evolution of the Jordan brand, illustrating how Tinker might have saved Nike from failure.

The filmmakers use three segments throughout the documentary to tell the story of the Jordan brand. It begins with Tinker discussing his first meeting with Michael Jordan and the work he put in to develop the Jordan III.

Next, we see the evolution and explosion of the Jordan brand with different drawings, photos and designs to illustrate the ingenuity Hatfield infused into his work.

Finally, the Jordan story comes full circle with Tinker returning to the project for the Jordan XX to celebrate the career of MJ with subtle design cues and eye-popping shoes.

I recommend watching several other episodes from the series, especially “Es Devlin: Stage Designer.” Each episode dives into a different way to think about creativity and aesthetics.




About Alex Kartman (20 Articles)
I am the Director of Digital Sports Production and Ball State Sports Link. I produce, direct, and film sports ranging from feature stories to live broadcasts. I freelance as a technical director for the Indiana Pacers, ESPN, Fox Sports and other regional TV. I also love film and attempted to be a critic in a past life.

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