The Football Tribe Documentary Film

by Sam Bassett in London, Greater London, United Kingdom

We did it
On 25th April 2023 we successfully raised £7,625 with 35 supporters in 41 days

We're making a feature documentary that explores the different ways in which people around the world express themselves through football.

by Sam Bassett in London, Greater London, United Kingdom

This feature documentary collects stories across the universe of football, examining its potent rituals and the vibrancy of its surrounding culture. We explore the contrasting ways people around the world express themselves through the sport, from everyday banter, to the extremities of fandom.


Directors Statement

Football is more than just a ball game. It has become a fundamental form of communal and individual expression. Each football team is its own tribe with its own heartlands, patois, symbols, and chants. The best matches are emotional cauldrons transporting supporters between ecstasy and despair – sometimes in moments. In the passion of their support, fans can exhibit the best and worst of human nature.

We spent nearly every weekend of our childhood on football pitches, where we played for the same local team, inducted into the rituals of football. Playing may have instilled discipline and honed skills, but perhaps most importantly, it was an outlet for emotions. On the sidelines, during matches, parents were unleashed, wildly celebrating our triumphs and creating pantomime villains of our rivals. It created a sense that the pitch and its environs were a place where we – and our families - could be ourselves.

Football is a global spectacle like no other, played in all corners of the world, with fans worshipping their favourite players like gods. Of all the events in human history, it’s football that attracts the largest audiences, with 1.5 billion people watching the 2022 World Cup final. If this was monitored by aliens on a cruising UFO, how would they explain it? A sacred dance of some kind? A ritual battle? A religious ceremony, perhaps? 

Desmond Morris’s book The Soccer Tribe, explores the ritualistic nature of football, and is a very special book for the both of us, inspiring us to make this film. It introduced us to fundamental questions about identity and belonging, and has shaped the way we experience and think about football.

“I learned all about life with a ball at my feet” – Ronaldinho



This film is a sequence of intimate vignettes which affectionately convey the richness of football culture, and how it has become embedded in the daily lives of its devotees. We will span nationalities, genders and ages, to accurately capture the eclectic nature of the game and its fans.

The film will return to individuals featured in the vignettes, using football as a vehicle to go deeper into their lives and the world in which they inhabit. Through revisiting the football collector, for example, the film will explore further the pleasures and loneliness of nostalgia. These different narrative arcs will be weaved together to build an image of the human condition, told through football.

We’ll examine just how deeply football has shaped our everyday experience, from drunken pub banter to Sunday league matches in Eastern European fields. We’ll follow Scunthorpe United fans as their team battles relegation from the lowest professional league, and capture the ways immersion in the sport pervades our living rooms, taxi journeys and corner shops. 

At the pinnacle of the game, we will examine the top professional players, who live opulent dream-like existences, and show how the growth and power of the football industry has created a global spectacle like no other. We’ll peek behind the scenes of football media coverage,  at commentators and journalists who work tirelessly to feed the public’s insatiable fascination with the sport. 

This film will take us round the world, from the icy fields of arctic Norway to the dust pitches in Nigeria, exploring how football rituals differ and compare. There’ll be cameos of tribal chants, footballer-inspired haircuts, and a kaleidoscope of team-coloured hats, scarves and flags. This film captures how football is a mirror of society, and will explore the ways women around the world integrate themselves into a traditionally male-focused sport.

We’ll visit the extreme ends of fandom, entering the lives of eccentric collectors of football memorabilia, a Chelsea headhunter (hooligan) at his bar in Thailand, and Argentinian fans who mourn Maradona at a shrine. 

Each vignette will illustrate football as a window into human identity, and will capture the varying highs and lows of life in football culture, from the humiliation and dejection experienced by a losing team, to the triumphant highs of stadium celebrations. This isn’t just about the game, it’s about our place within the tribe.


Why is this film unique?

Football media is a saturated market. It’s watched everywhere, in documentaries, news, video games, and commentaries, all because of an insatiable desire to consume the game. 

What makes our film distinctive is that this is not simply an account of football history or the life of a player. We are going to create an experience where the viewer looks at football afresh. At the heart of the film is the question: what is it about human beings, and the game of football, that has nourished their powerful symbiosis?

Through football, we will reveal the familiar peculiarities of human behaviour and will draw attention to the importance of rituals in bringing us together. This isn’t just a film about football fandom, it’s about passion itself, and how we shape the things we love into cornerstones of identity and belonging. 


Visual Style

The Football Tribe is an observational documentary, where intimate long shots transport the viewer, and encourage them to make their own conclusions on what they experience. The specific observational style will build on techniques developed when making Atur, a short documentary Sam Bassett made during his masters on documentary direction.

We’re going to utilise the qualities of photojournalism as inspiration for our aesthetic style, looking at methods in which the game is captured, such as high angle wides, as well as images that depict the culture of football fandom.

Structurally, The Football Tribe will comprise of vignettes, which act as windows into the many worlds and faces of football culture. The different vignettes will transport the viewer through the mundane and spectacular, encouraging them to see the sport through new eyes. This is a vision of football culture as a shared ritualistic expression of humanity.

We developed the idea of making the documentary in this format after researching different documentary styles. We cite Meanwhile On Earth, Workman’s Death and Sacro GRA, as our principal sources of inspiration. These are films about human nature, and ritual. We will also draw stylistic elements from Roy Anderson’s fictional vignettes, which capture everyday life through a style that balances realism and artifice, encouraging the viewer to look anew at human behaviour and shared expressions of society.

We’ve also taken inspiration from sources outside of film, including the painting Going To The Match, by L.S. Lowry, which explores collective identity and ritual through the language of football. The bleak, cold setting, in combination with the spectacular mass gathering, captures the dichotomous strangeness and beauty of the sport, and the pathos of collective human behaviour.


We have already established relationships and access to a variety of contributors for the film. These include; the notorious Chelsea headhunter, Jason Marriner, Football memorabilia collector and key Chelsea fan John Drewitt, a Spanish newspaper (Diario de Jerez) and a Yoruba Nigerian Elder. These would act as our initial starting block to expand outwards from.


Director / Cinematographer: Sam Bassett is a director and editor that specialises in documentary and factual film with experience in features, broadcast, short form, music videos and branded content. After studying Media and Cultural Studies at University of the Arts, London he went on to do a Masters in Film Directing at the University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh College of Arts). He has since edited two feature documentaries, sports broadcast and a number of short films, where he has refined his storytelling techniques. Sam has experience in directing and producing film, from short documentaries to music videos, and when possible looks to utilise past formats, ranging from analog to VHS, to create a mixed-media feel in his work.

Director / Sound: Sam Perry is a documentary filmmaker, with a preference for directing and editing. His background, in music licensing for film and TV, has equipped him with a unique understanding of the natural rhythms of cinema, that silently exist beneath the surface of life and are the key to capturing evocative documentary. He studied documentary filmmaking in Buenos Aires and has refined his skills working on everything from BBC documentaries to Hollywood Blockbusters like Mission Impossible.

Producer: Harry Double is an experienced producer with a solid background in the world of football. He has cut his teeth at IMG, clipping up concise and informative highlight reels for a diverse range of live sports, ensuring that content is tailored to client demands with a prompt turnaround time. He’s worked on multiple Wimbledons, producing graphics and social media edits, and currently works as a freelance producer for the likes of the Premier League, UEFA, and LiveScore, where he produces a diverse range of engaging content such as player features, fixture packages and press conference highlights. Harry ensurd content is of the highest accuracy and proudly represents the worldwide brand of the Premier League and UEFA.

Producer: Daksh Punj was raised in Delhi. In 2015 he finished a diploma in Creative Documentary course at the Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts and Communication, Delhi. Since then, he has been working as a producer, cinematographer and editor. He has worked on feature documentaries, digital and advocacy films for Discovery, National Geographic, NDTV, Animal Planet and various NGOs. In 2018-19, he worked as the post-production supervisor & assistant editor on a feature fiction film called Ranj that got its premiere at Jio MAMI, 2019. Most recently he has finished an MA in film directing from Edinburgh College of Art.

Editor: Julia Elger was born 1986 in East-Berlin, and is an editor and animator. After completing a BA (Hons) in Media Production and an MA in Documentary Film at the University of Bedfordshire she moved back to Berlin in 2009 and started working freelance for theatres such as Schaubühne Berlin and HAU Hebbel am Ufer. Works as an editor include the American-German production Softness of Bodies (premiere at LA Film Festival in 2018) and several productions of short documentaries such as Brotherness (premiere at FIPADOC International Documentary Film Festival in July 2021). As an animator she contributed to theatre performance pieces like Deep Godot by Interrobang Performance (2021) and has conceived and animated a series of trailers for international theatre festivals at HAU Hebbel am Ufer. Julia Elger is a founding member and programmer of the British Shorts Film Festival in Berlin. 

Colourist: Caroline Morin is originally from a small town in the French Basque Country, and currently working at Wash, a London-based grading and finishing studio. Caroline brings a strong cinematic quality and careful attention to detail to her work. Cutting her teeth in the world of music videos, she quickly translated her beautiful aesthetic to short films, TV Series and Commercial projects, working with brands such as Cadburys, John Lewis, Under Armour and Mulberry. Morin’s extensive credits in grading music videos in the past two years include videos for Dave, Lewis Capaldi, Ama Lou, Bruno Major and Whenyoung. 


Our phase one target, in order to carry out all principle photography, is £40,000. We are looking to crowd fund this, as research shows that nearly all first time documentary filmmakers have to self-fund. This initial goal will cover the cost of; kit rental, travel, crew costs, insurance, and platform fees. This budget will also enable us to carry out a preliminary edit of the film so that we can start phase two of funding.

If we were to beat our phase one target, we want to secure the full £80,000 which is what we need to complete the film. Those funds would immediately go into phase two, post-production, including a fine edit, graphics (titles, credits), licensing, sound mix and colour grade. Additionally phase two will also cover entail marketing needed in order to generate attention from distributors.This includes the entrance costs for film festivals - a great way to establish attention ahead of a major release.

Finally, we’re creating a limited run of hardback photo-books to accompany the film. This will feature portraits and landscapes of the people and places we capture in our documentary. Executive Producers and Partners will receive a copy free of charge.

Thank you

Thank you for taking the time to read about our project, The Football Tribe. It really means a lot to us and any support is greatly appreciated. We live and breathe documentary and now we need you more than ever to help bring this to life!


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Exec. Producer

You will qualify for 5 points in the film. You will receive an Executive Producer credit, which will be listed on IMDb. You will receive a copy of the aforementioned limited run photo-book. You will be contacted immediately after donating. You will also be entitled to all other lower tier awards.

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This amount will entitle you to an online link to the screener so that you can see the film before release. You’ll also receive a thank you in the credits.

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Premiere Donation

You will be invited to the premiere screening which we will be partnering with an independent London cinema for. There will be a Q&A with people featured in the film and the makers. You will be able to bring a plus one! You will also have a thank you in the credits.

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Associate Producer

You will qualify for 2 points in the film. You will receive an Associate Producer credit, which will be listed on IMDb. You will be contacted immediately after donating. You will also receive all lower tier awards.

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Brand / Individual Partner

£10,000 or more will entitle you or your brand to officially partner as a sponsor of the film. Your logo will appear in the credits of the film and in the accompanying photo-book. Furthermore, depending on suitability with football, we would make arrangements to feature your product or clothing in the photos. You will receive a copy of the photo-book upon completion. You will be contacted immediately after donating.

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If you pay for the project you will receive 38 points. This is only valid if the donation is made before either the Associate Producer or Executive Producer rewards are claimed. If they have been claimed we will deduct the already allocated points. Donate big, early, if you can. This will entitle you to an Executive Producer credit and allow you to have stakeholder rights in distribution deals. Please get in contact with us if interested.

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