Much of Johnathan Franklin’s life in the past month or so has played out in front of cameras.
The Green Bay Packers’ fourth-round draft pick not was only a focus of local news media outlets in Green Bay this past weekend at the rookie orientation camp, but he was the subject at UCLA of footage for an upcoming documentary feature.
The first of a five-part series entitled “Franklin’s Playbook,” which follows Franklin’s path to the draft right up until getting the phone call from the Packers, is set to be released within a matter of weeks. It will be about more than just football and working out.
“Yeah, it’s an inspirational story,” Franklin told Packer Report in an exclusive interview just days after the draft concluded. “I just hope to inspire everyone with a dream, whether it’s football related or not. It shows that if you have a vision and you believe in that vision and you commit to that vision, then all things are possible. Regardless of what you’re born into, what your situation is, how many trials you go through, if you really want something in life, it can happen.”
Franklin has made it known that he has higher goals in life, as if getting drafted is just a start. He wants to be a role model, a motivational speaker and even has his sights set on the becoming the mayor of Los Angeles someday, inspired by the need for change in the city after taking part in an internship in the public arena.
Years ago, Franklin appeared on a teen reality show “Baldwin Hills” while he was going to Dorsey High in Los Angeles. So, having cameras follow him and being the center of attention off the field is nothing new to him.
“It doesn’t really faze me and it’s kind of fun,” said Franklin.
This time around, however, it was a little different. In “Franklin’s Playbook,” a creation of students in UCLA’s Theatre, Film, and Television MFA Producers Program, he was the feature subject. Executive producer Robin Pelleck, an adjunct professor at UCLA, said filming for the project, which followed Franklin through the draft process, began a little more than a month ago.
“Here’s basically what you’re going to find out about him — he was never the most talented, he was never the obvious choice, he wasn’t the largest guy in the room, he had his share of trials, and he is the hardest working person you will ever meet and he worked for every bit of it,” said Pelleck. “That’s the thing about him is his work ethic. He inspires me every day that I spend talking to him about this. For somebody so young, he’s so wise and so evolved. And I think that’s what the Green Bay fans are going to love about him. He’s a lovely person. He’s a great guy. He’s a locker room guy. He’s just a great person and a role model. But his work ethic alone will inspire anybody. And that’s the thing about him. He’s all about ‘Don’t follow a path, create your own. If you have a dream and you believe in yourself and you work hard enough, you will achieve that dream.’ And that’s truly who he is.”
Pelleck did not personally know Franklin before the project. But through a common marketing group with Franklin and her work with the graduate students at UCLA, the project became a perfect marriage.
It helped, too, that Pelleck had an extensive background in major sports television among other ventures. She, like many others, sees something different in Franklin.
“I’ve worked in sports for 20 years and, let me tell you, I don’t remember the last time I met somebody like him,” she said. “He’s an unbelievable person. He’s doing this for the exact right reason why people should do this. He’s going to be successful because his focus is beyond … his work ethic is beyond the glamour. It means everything to him. He’s where he’s supposed to be and that’s the bottom line.”
Through exclusive interviews with his family and coaches, Franklin the person, as much as the football player, will be revealed. Bruins teammate and Packers first-round pick Datone Jones even appears in the feature.
Each of the five parts of the series will run between five and 10 minutes, according to Pelleck. It will be available for viewing on a YouTube channel called UCLA Producers Program: Original Productions.
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Matt Tevsh has covered the Packers since 1996. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org