How Emmy-Winning Brothers Jules and Gédéon Naudet are Revolutionizing the Official Olympic Games Film for Paris 2024

Since 1912, the International Olympic Committee has been commissioning an official film to highlight the best of each edition of the Games. This year, the IOC has enlisted Emmy-winning brothers Jules and Gédéon Naudet to helm the official film of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Naudet brothers, renowned for their Emmy-winning documentary “9/11” and subsequent works such as “Notre-Dame: Our Lady of Paris” and “November 13: Attack on Paris,” are taking a novel approach to documenting the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Instead of a traditional film composed of clips of the Games’ sporting highlights, they are delving into the heart of the event, unveiling the untold story of how a city and a nation unite to host an Olympic Games.

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For the Naudets, covering an Olympic Games was an exciting prospect and an opportunity to become known as more than just the “catastrophe brothers,” Jules explained in a recent conversation with Variety. But, they had to call in a favor from a high place to land the gig.

Jules recalled. “About three and a half years ago, we went to see the mayor of Paris, whom we had interviewed in the past and asked for help putting us in touch with the IOC. Shortly after, we sat down with the IOC for the first time and proposed something different to what they’re used to.”

A meeting was organized, and the brothers explained their plan to produce a fly-on-the-wall documentary that would not be about the tremendous athletic feats achieved at the games but instead about how a city and a country work together to produce the biannual event.

“When we explained our plan, they understood completely what we wanted to do,” explained Gédéon. “In fact, they were thinking about doing something different this year, similar to what we wanted to do.”

Stylistically, the Naudets plan on creating something akin to their previous films or popular contemporary sports docuseries, such as Netflix’s “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” or “Welcome to Wrexham.” By telling up close and personal stories of everyday people who are involved with the Games, they feel they can create a more appealing experience for viewers.

According to Gédéon, “Our passion has always been to show people, well-known or relatively unknown, through a more human prism that viewers can connect with.”

Jules elaborated, “The film will be in our style. That’s how we translate emotion, through portraits of everyday people in addition to the athletes. What interested us most was the incredible adventure these people are on, organizing an Olympic Games.”

Tony Estanguet, president of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, explained why he believes the brothers are the perfect filmmakers for this task: “The official film and the documentary series are in the image of their directors: innovative, inspiring, and faithful to the ambitions of Paris 2024. Through their unique humanist approach, the Naudet brothers bring a coherent dimension, complementary to the vision of Paris 2024 to open the Games wide and allow the public to go behind the scenes of the organization of the biggest sporting event in the world.”

Another way the brothers will break with tradition is that rather than producing one feature-length film, they are putting together a five-episode series as well as a 90-minute feature. Each 52-minute part will air on France Télévisions, the first three episodes just ahead of this year’s Games and the final two after the closing ceremony of the Paralympics.

Emile Abinal, who is producing the project, explained the decision: “We tried to figure out how we could bring a revolutionary approach to the format of the official film. We had a theory that if it was split into several episodes, they could be broadcast before the games, between the Olympics and Paralympics and after the Paralympics.”

Paris-based production company Elephant produces the series and film with financial support from France Télévisions. “Elephant is a very important company when it comes to high-end TV shows, especially documentaries,” said Abinal.

Gédéon concurred, adding, “They are truly fantastic. Every day and every night, Jules and I are aligned in thinking that we are so lucky to be working with them. The experience they bring in terms of organization is on another level.”

Given the Olympics’ international nature, the series and feature will also be sold to other territories and subtitled in other languages when appropriate.

The Naudets started shooting on September 8, 100 days before this summer’s opening ceremony. Since then, they have ceaselessly traveled back and forth across France, meeting hundreds of people involved in this year’s games, from athletes to security guards to torch bearers to IOC executives.

By the time the Paralympics wrap on September 8, the Naudets will have been shooting for over four months. They’ll also have access to all the IOC’s official footage, creating a colossal catalog of video footage to draw from and an arduous task for the filmmakers.

According to Gédéon, that’s part of the project’s allure: “It’s been the biggest organizational puzzle we’ve ever faced in terms of organizing all the teams that are shooting, the footage, and the transcriptions. How do you make sure everyone understands what has already been filmed and what needs to be filmed? How do we work with the editors to cut this together?”

“We love being challenged,” Jules agreed. “I think for artists, the idea of having to do something new, something different, and putting yourself in a different or uncomfortable position is always great. I think that by pushing the envelope, we’re able to find something deeper inside ourselves that is really rewarding.”

Summing up the current state of affairs behind the scenes, Jules says the brothers are “so excited, terrified, happy, and all at the same time. But we believe that makes a good recipe for a fantastic production.”

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