Award-winning director Tevin Tavares captures a new season of Top Class: The Life and Times of the Sierra Canyon Trailblazers as he follows the eminent high school basketball team of Sierra Canyon.
From directing an animated video for 2020’s More Than a Vote campaign, to music videos for Damian Lillard and Khalid, Tavares had displayed an uncanny ability to capture game-changing moments behind the lens. As he travels back home to Oakland, CA for the holidays, he takes some time to talk about the experience of filming season 2.
The Trailblazers resume their season after an entire year without competitive play due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the departures of graduating seniors, BJ Boston (Clippers), Ziare Williams (Grizzles) and Zaire Wade (Sat Lake City All-Stars), the new-look squad looked to their younger leaders Amari Bailey, Shy Odom and Bronny James to fill that void. The team begins the season without James due to injury, one of many setbacks viewers will see.
Tavares talks about the importance of highlighting the demands of these young men. While they are some times perceived as rock stars due to their dominance on the court, they are working just as hard to develop themselves off the court as well.
“The series does a great job at humanizing these young men,” says Tavares. “They’re going through injuries, losses, and trials and tribulations throughout their day-to-day, while doing their best to balance everything else life throws at them.
An instrumental part of the team’s success derives from the coaching staff, lead by Andre “Coach Dre” Chevalier. Through the season Coach Dre echoes the importance accountability as the Trailblazers attempt to go after another state championship.
“The connection between Coach Dre and the players is unlike any other, which makes it even more relatable. You can see how emotional it gets when we touch on subjects like discrimination and when players suffer a lost,” Tavares says.
The team also experienced the loss of 19-year-old Terrance Clark, whom they paid tribute to during a game following his passing.
Camaraderie is on full display throughout each on-screen relationship. The Oakland filmmaker notes that “Family Ties” was this season’s theme.
“I already knew that family ties would be the theme this season, so it’s crazy how the universe just aligns. When the (Baby Keem and Kendrick) song came out, I told myself this has to be the theme song for the season. `Season 1’s theme was more cinematic trap, so we listened to a lot of Travis Scott, the Black Panther soundtrack…. to dictate the moods. Season 2 was more melodic. A lot of these kids listen to Lil Durk, Baby Keem, Polo G, Juice Wrld, it differs a bit from that of Season 1. We focused on more melodic and mellow music this time around.”
Tevin Tavares typically sends a playlist to his composing partner, Casey Gibson. For there they use it as a reference to score the series. The team also pulled musical inspiration from The Last Dance documentary as well.
With a successful galvanizing premiere season under his belt, season 2 of Top Class is no different.
Check out the series for free on IMbdTV.