‘Living the Fantasy’ must-see for fantasy lovers
From September through December, my Sundays go as my fantasy football teams go.
My twin, soon-to-be 4-year-old boys, are just getting into watching the sport, and unfortunately have already picked up some key words associated with my bad days on the fantasy football gridiron.
I’ll admit, I’m probably way more into NFL games than I should be from a fantasy perspective.
Every yard gained by my players, or an opponent’s, consumes my mind and can sometimes change my mood in an instant. I often run into walls watching the NFL Red Zone on my phone.
However this year, I feel like I have things a little more in perspective. Recently, I watched a fantasy football documentary called “Living the Fantasy,” which was produced by Bethlehem’s Andeep Singh and directed by Joshua Adler.
“Living the Fantasy” follows five of the industry’s top fantasy football players during the 2014 season in the high-stakes world of fantasy football. Michael Rapaport narrates the film, which was distributed by Viva Pictures. It made its debut on Sept. 9, in New York City, and can be purchased on iTunes and Amazon or viewed on DirectTV on demand.
“[Josh] had an idea to do a film about fantasy football,” Singh said. “I knew nothing about that world, but was shocked to learn about how much money was involved in the game. I knew if a non-football fan like myself could be interested, that this might be a good topic.
“Quite honestly, I’ve worked on lots of projects and it can take many years to get a doc off the ground. Sometimes a film can take two, three even five years to complete. This one was funded in less than two weeks. And we were shooting within a month.”
Singh said there was also an inherent timeline and it needed to be released for the start of the 2015 football season.
She and the team tagged along with some who played in yearly fantasy leagues as well as those in daily fantasy leagues. That included places like Las Vegas and the Bahamas where fantasy championships were hosted.
If you’re not familiar, yearly leagues are typical leagues hosted by ESPN, Yahoo! or NFL.com, and involve a draft before the NFL’s first game where you pick your players for the entire season and compete in a league of at least 10 or more.
Daily leagues are kind of the new, in-thing over the last couple years, and involve sites like Fan Duel and Draft Kings.
Daily leagues allow fantasy football players to pick a new team each week staying under a salary cap, and give more of an instant satisfaction of starting from scratch every time they play. In yearly leagues, you are mostly stuck with the team you pick before the season starts.
Singh said one of the most important aspects of the film was casting the fantasy players, something the film really nailed. It was quite a mix, and that brought home the point: fantasy football is something anyone can be successful at.
“Fantasy is played by millions of people and we wanted to find a diverse cross-section to represent that,” Singh said. “As a result, we ended up filming all over the US with people from all types of backgrounds - men, women, doctors, lawyers, stock brokers. And our players were based in five different states.”
That also included filming locally with the Phillipsburg Stateliners. It was many miles in a short amount of time.
While I was aware there were higher stakes of fantasy football than what I played, this film really opened my eyes to those who essentially play for a living. At first that concept sounded like the ultimate job, but after watching the film, I’m not so sure. Those same plays that set my Sunday mood are the same plays that cause high stakes players to win, or lose, thousands of dollars.
Another topic the film touched on was are fantasy sports another form of gambling?
Some of those featured in the film don’t believe it is, because they believe they can control the luck aspect of the game using statistics and trends they study endlessly.
While others aren’t buying that, Singh said she’s careful not to judge.
“As a documentarian, I don’t make judgment about my subjects,” she said. “I go into it with an open mind. We asked the question in the film about gambling versus strategy and I have to say, I’m still on the fence.”
Recently, New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone Jr. called for a congressional hearing into the relationship between the NFL and the fantasy leagues. He believes “the legal landscape governing these activities remains murky and should be reviewed,” according to rollcall.com, adding there isn’t much difference between sports betting on teams versus individual players.
That’s a potential future problem for the fantasy world since sports betting is illegal in most states.
“I’m definitely curious about what will happen to this industry and about how much bigger it can get,” Singh said, adding in the 15 months since the filming started, daily fantasy has exploded, offering up millions every week.
Up until this year, I never took part in the daily fantasy football games, but after watching the film it inspired me to open an account and see how I did. As for Singh, she’s not expecting to be the next fantasy football millionaire.
“Two things happened to me after starting the film,” she said. “One, I played my first fantasy football contest last year on Draft Kings to see what it was all about, and two, I realized very quickly that I’m really terrible at it. Although, I’m a marginally better fantasy hockey player. But my problem is, I draft with my heart. I can’t vote against my hometown team (Vancouver Canucks), ever. So, I’ve pretty much broken one of the biggest fantasy rules right there.”