They’ve worked with the biggest sportsmen on the planet, from Usain Bolt to David Beckham, and count One Direction and Simon Cowell as fans ...
Yet a production company’s greatest dream is to shoot SAFC.
Such is Fulwell73’s passion for the club, they named their company after the famous end in Roker Park, and have called their editing suites Niall Quinn, Kevin Ball and Julio Arca in honour of their heroes.
Since forming ten years ago, the company has built up a client list that reads like a who’s who of celebrities, making music videos for One Direction and producing celebrated sports films including In The Hands of The Gods and Class of 92, which charted the rise of some of Manchester United’s greatest players.
This year they picked up The Best British Video at the Brits for One Direction’s You and I, and were thanked on stage by Simon Cowell, who collected the gong.
Despite their successes, the four business partners – brothers Gabe and Ben Turner and their cousins and friends Leo Pearlman and Ben Winston – still count working with SAFC as top of their wish list.
Leo, who was born in Sunderland, said: “We’ve worked with the biggest sporting names in the world, and have offered to make an end of season film for SAFC.
“We don’t care about what they pay, we would do it just because we love the club. We wanted to do something when Paolo Di Canio was appointed as it would have been a fascinating rollercoaster, but they weren’t interested. We’ve had no love from the club.”
The company’s passion for the club shaped their childhood, which led to them incorporating it into their working lives.
“I was born in Sunderland and my cousins Gabe and Ben would come up for games.
“Our dads would take us and we’d stand in the Fulwell end in the old Roker Park as kids. We grew up as SAFC fans.
“We aren’t old enough to have gone to the 1973 FA Cup win, but the amount of times we watched it we feel as if we were there. We still get back for games, it’s more difficult now with wives and children, but we still get to eight to ten a season and it’s always great to be back.”
Speaking about the name of the company, which is based in Camden, London, Leo added: “When it came to naming our company, we wanted it to be something that means something to us, plus Ant and Dec’s production company is Gallowgate, so we wanted Sunderland to be represented.
“People in London ask us about the name all the time as they’ve never heard of Fulwell. Then whenever our name comes up on credits we get people from Sunderland tweeting and Facebooking us saying ‘there must be a Sunderland link’.” The four friends formed the company in 2005 and never expected it to take off in the way it has.
We still think of One Direction as the five guys we met on the X Factor and they are still like that, they really are down-to-earth, lovely guys.Leo Pearlman, director at Fulwell73
“My background is in business,” explained Leo. “The other guys are in charge of the film and TV element, which they studied at university. In The Hands of The Gods (the story of five young British freestyle footballers’ journey across the Americas to Argentina in the hope of meeting their hero, Diego Maradona) was our first film, which did really well. We didn’t think we’d build a company from that, but it went from there.”
As well as feature films, music videos are a key part of the company.
They’ve made videos for Gary Barlow, JLS, Little Mix and Olly Murs and Demi Lovato, but have built up a particularly strong relationship with One Direction.
The video for their latest single Drag Me Down, as well as Best Song Ever, One Way or Another, Story of My Life and Midnight Memories have all been made by Fulwell73.
The NASA-inspired Drag Me Down, released last week, has already racked up tens of millions of views across the globe.
“It’s been crazy since they finished X Factor,” said Leo. “We’ve worked with them since then, and five years ago Ben Winston said ‘these guys are going to be huge’, but I don’t think anyone could have anticipated just how huge. We’ve watched them grow into a global phenomenon.
“We still think of them as the five guys we met on the X Factor and they are still like that, they really are down-to- earth, lovely guys.”
Speaking about the ideas for the videos, he said: “It’s a very collaborative process, everyone has ideas, it’s about coming up with the best version.
“Drag Me Down was actually made very quickly, we only shot it a few weeks ago. We had to fit it in around their schedules and get it out as quickly as possible.”
Fulwell73 have also collaborated with David Beckham and comedian James Corden for films including skits for Sports Relief and Red Nose Day.
“We built up a relationship with David through Class of 92,” explained Leo.
“It doesn’t matter what team you support, it was amazing to shoot a film about that team. They’re players we’ve grown up with, icons.”
The company is filming a documentary with sprinter Usain Bolt and a team has been with him in Beijing as he retained his world 100m title at the World Championships.
“The team is out with him in Beijing for a feature-length film,” said Leo. “He will retire as one of the greatest athletes of all time, so to be with him at the height of his power, as he reflects on his career, should make for an absolutely amazing film.”
Leo says creating a rapport with their client base is pivotal in the success of their films.
“I have partners who people adore,” he said. “Gabe, Ben and Ben have something about them, people want to talk to them, they want to be on camera.”
Aside from SAFC, Leo says they have a few other sports films they’d love to make in the future.
“Tiger Woods would make a fascinating film and I think we’re missing a sports film about Michael Jordan, which is an incredible shame,” he said. “Roger Federer too, I think there’s a beautiful artistic film to be made about him.
“We never go at things with a commercial approach, it’s more personal. If you make something great, all of the benefits will come.
“But, most of all, we would love a call from SAFC.”