Q&A: How Eagles Entertainment & Alkemy X Earned an Emmy Nom for Their Emotional Docuseries
Jordan Kelley, Content Director, BrandStorytelling.tv
The three-part docuseries Sincerely Patience, out of Eagles Entertainment and produced by Philly-based creative studio Alkemy X, follows the wedding journey of a young couple from Philadelphia who fell in love amidst the tragedy and aftermath of the horrific Pulse nightclub shooting. The series has been nominated for a Mid-Atlantic Emmy Award in the human interest program feature segment.
Alkemy X helmed production for the touching docu-series, led by EVP of TV and Digital Content Andy Singer. Singer has dramatically increased the company’s original content and development pipeline and successfully sold concepts to both networks and streaming platforms, including Amazon Studios, Discovery Channel, TLC, Food Network and Travel Channel. He has additionally overseen Alkemy X’s documentary series, “The 212” on Fuse, the celebrity-driven “Unique Rides” on MotorTrend, and most recently, the award-winning lifestyle series “Dragnificent!” for TLC. Singer also works with Alkemy’s branded team which has produced custom content for clients including Samsung and Google.
Brand Storytelling caught up with Singer and Philadelphia Eagles SVP of Marketing and Media Jen Kavanagh to discuss the making of the Emmy-nominated series and how the team navigated the deeply personal topic from heartbreak to healing:
Jen, at what point did you realize that this was a storytelling opportunity for the Eagles?
Jen Kavanagh: We knew from the moment we received Patience’s email that this was a special story. That was solidified even more after we met her and Alex and heard their love story first-hand. We saw that we had the opportunity to create a positive, lifelong memory for two fans who had experienced and shared an unspeakable tragedy.
When did Alkemy X get involved?
JK: We decided to collaborate with Alkemy X after carefully thinking through how to authentically tell Patience and Alex’s story and capture the next chapter of their lives together. Given the scale of the production, we realized we needed a local, dedicated, co-production partner that was as passionate about the story as we were.
Andy, You’ve delivered series for the adventure, food, and travel sectors. What was it like to get the RFP from a sports organization for a series? How did previous expertise lend itself to ideation around “Sincerely Patience”?
Andy Singer: A professional sports team is both a brand itself and a massive platform with the most dedicated and passionate followers and users in their fans. At Alkemy X, we’ve created content in conjunction with global brands as well as original series for cable networks and streaming platforms. Having created and produced multiple TV series about physical and emotional transformations, we were able to bring that expertise to the table. At Alkemy X, we’re consummate storytellers and in this case, it was another great opportunity to illustrate an amazing and poignant story.
What did the collaborative end of the development process look like when working with the Eagles?
AS: At the core of this story are two people: Patience and Alex. The Eagles were 100% on board with how we wanted to follow this journey and they were able to literally open their doors to the production team and the couple. It was an excellent creative partnership and we were very much in agreement with the direction and tone. There were a lot of calls, emails and meetings, but it was smooth sailing. Ultimately, the Eagles organization trusted us and they also put in a lot of effort and resources to help make it all come together.
What are your guiding principles when telling the story within a developing project, especially one like this that begins with heartbreak but becomes hopeful, all while meeting the brand’s goals?
AS: At Alkemy X, we are often charged with the caretaking of people’s personal journeys through storytelling. While we were there to document, we also had to keep their humanity in mind while remembering that something beautiful came out of a horrific tragedy. We took great care in telling this story but it also shows what an important and profound role professional sports play in our lives. In this case, their love for the Eagles is a huge part of their journey together.
Congratulations on the Mid-Atlantic Emmy nomination for the series - what’s it like to get that kind of critical reception for your work?
AS: It’s truly an honor to be recognized in this way and that it moved people. It’s even nicer that we had the chance to work with the Eagles on this project especially since we are also a Philadelphia based company. We were truly lucky to be involved.
JK: It’s an honor to be recognized for a series that is so different than anything Eagles Entertainment has ever produced or been recognized for before. It’s a great example of the breadth of powerful stories that exist within our world of football, fandom and culture at large.
What’s one piece of advice you each could offer, from both the brand and creative perspectives, on achieving a healthy branded content partnership that delivers in the way that your two organizations have delivered on “Sincerely Patience”?
AS: I am a firm believer that branded content should have a small “b” so the brand messaging doesn’t feel heavy handed. In my opinion it should inspire, entertain or move audiences. We consume an exorbitant amount of content daily, so to cut through, it has to be felt in some way that doesn’t feel like an ad. The Philadelphia Eagles understood this and trusted Alkemy X to do what we are best at. Also, there was not a lot of red tape to cut through and committees to weigh in. It was a fairly streamlined process which did not bog down the creative nor the technical aspects of the project. The Eagles were there to support, guide and collaborate throughout the process. As far as advice, I would submit that when the content makers have the support of their brand partners, there is trust and everyone understands the goals, that’s a winning formula.
JK: We are very fortunate to have great partners that understand the impact of authenticity. Together, we were able to find natural, high visibility moments for our partner brands that enhanced the story instead of overshadowing it.
About Jen Kavanagh
Jen Kavanagh is the SVP of Marketing & Media at the Philadelphia Eagles and is responsible for leading the strategic and creative development of the team’s brand, original content, marketing, digital, media and experiential strategies. Under her leadership, the Eagles have grown its programming to include multiple streaming series and podcasts as well as new, interactive strategies and experiences designed to engage the team’s 9.5 million fans globally across all Eagles platforms.
She has spent more than 15 years in media & entertainment. Prior to joining the Eagles, she founded and headed a strategic advisory firm working with Fortune 500 companies, television networks and high-growth startups. Previously, as Principal at BRaVe Media Ventures, she led advisory work for media and consumer brands, placing an emphasis on brand, sales, marketing and OTT strategies and organizational development. She also spent six years at NBC Universal as SVP of Digital at the company’s Oxygen network.
About Andy Singer
Andy Singer is EVP of TV & Digital Content and member of the senior leadership team at global entertainment company Alkemy X, where he spearheads the growth of original content development and production. He has dramatically increased the company’s pipeline and successfully sold concepts to networks, including Discovery Channel, TLC and the Travel Channel. He oversaw Alkemy X’s documentary series, “The 212” on Fuse and the celebrity-driven “Unique Rides” on Velocity and “Drag Me Down the Aisle” for TLC, which is currently in production. In his current position at Alkemy X, Singer also produces digital series with notable brands including Samsung and Google.
His expansive television career includes stints as GM and Head of Programming of DIY Network and The Travel Channel, leading creative cross-platform partnerships with advertisers and SVOD/TVOD distributors such as Apple iTunes and Netflix. Notable achievements include launching hit series including “Expedition Unknown,” “Hotel Impossible,” “Bizarre Foods America,” and rebooting the popular “Mysteries at The Museum” franchise. He also teamed up with national brands to craft entertaining and successful long-form branded content that drove ratings and sales for clients. Throughout his career, he has been a recipient of numerous accolades, including Cine Golden/Silver Eagle, New York Festival, and EMA awards.