Behind the Lens: The Making of ‘The Come Up’

We spoke to Sacramento Kings Video Producer Jacob Soriano, and Tyrese Haliburton’s Personal Photographer (and close friend) about the making of the much anticipated docu-series.
by Sydney Zuelke
Social Media Manager

When discussing the idea of doing a long-form video series on Sacramento Kings newcomer and Rookie of the Year finalist Tyrese Haliburton, there was one common goal.

“[We wanted to show] that Tyrese is like every other 20-year-old kid out there. He is a human, and a very reachable, relatable one at that,” said Emil Vajgrt, Tyrese’s personal photographer and close friend.

“I wanted to relay that not only will Tyrese do amazing things on the court, but the things he does off the court will leave an even longer lasting impression on the city of Sacramento, and our hometown of Oshkosh, Wisconsin.”

The question then was, how does one tell Tyrese’s story with the same amount of conviction and heart as the Iowa State Grad gives on the court.

This is where Kings Video Producer Jacob Soriano stepped in.

“When it came down to the Pre-Production process, we knew we wanted to tell Tyrese’s story from the beginning. We wanted to make sure we talked to the people who shaped him into the player and person he is today,” he explained.

In joining forces, Jacob and Emil were able to capture not only Tyrese’s journey since being drafted, but dig into the core of what got him there in the first place.

“Emil Vajgrt has been telling Tyrese’s story since his high school days at North High,” Soriano boasted of his cohort. “He has helped tremendously in making this series happen with his photos and videos. Along the way, we’ve created a great bond through art with Emil that will last a lifetime.”

First came devising a plan. Soriano explained the process of storyboarding each episode – taking it one episode at a time. The difficult part in telling Tyrese’s story was to include all the highs and the lows. It would be easy to showcase the rook’s star talent – his flashy shots, moves and passes made it easy to edit into a “hype” piece. However, showing all the ups and downs is what the team realized ultimately connects with viewers.

“Overall, no matter the outcome of the season, we wanted to make the message clear that this organization has a star in the making. And this is only The Come Up,” Soriano said.

Once the overall vision was intact, the team used a mixture of tools at their disposal to capture the content in the highest possible quality. For Jacob, a combination of HD mirrorless and DSLR cameras were used; for interviews, he shot on a Sony A7sii and Sony FS7. Additionally, photos provided from Emil were shot on a Canon 1DX.

According to Soriano, shooting interviews for the series was the most difficult part of all, as most interviews were done virtually due to COVID precautions.

“Although we were able to sit down with a few of our players during the season, we still had to follow the NBA Protocols. This includes social distancing, mandatory masks, and modified audio capturing.

“Overall, health and safety was our #1 concern. And if that means we have to interview virtually to tell the story, we were okay with that. We made the best out of what we got and I am proud of that.”

After completing all the hurdles of ideation and filming, comes wrapping all the work together and topping it with a bow. To create this kind of full-scope depiction, comes with an arduous editing process. Each episode took about 3 weeks to edit, and the team went through an extensive review process to finalize.

“Every week we had a ‘Brainstorm Storytelling’ meeting to discuss any storyline changes or modifications of each episode,” Soriano explained. “In addition, we’ve had to meet with our Legal team to discuss any content or media sources we’ve used outside of our organization talking about Tyrese’s season. Overall, each episode was meticulously planned out and edited in order to showcase Tyrese’s story in first season in the NBA.”

When filming was complete, everyone involved in telling Tyrese’s story came away with an even deeper admiration for No. 0 than they started with.

“One thing that surprised me about Tyrese is how humble he really is. He stays ‘Loyal to the Soil’ as Emil tells me,” says Soriano. "He truly loves to play basketball. He truly loves being the 12th pick to the Sacramento Kings.”

Emil couldn’t help but agree, stating: “Tyrese's legacy will long be remembered for what he does for the people. He is relatable, admirable and a leader. Once you listen to him talk, I hope you gain instant respect for the person that he is.”

While his story is nowhere near finished, we look forward to learning even more about the player you never saw coming – Tyrese Haliburton.

View all episodes of The Come Up: The Tyrese Haliburton story here.

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