With the announcement that the Netflix documentary “Full Swing” will return for a second season, now is a great time to revisit one of our favorite inside stories from the production of Season 1. In the show’s fifth episode, camera crews follow Matt Fitzpatrick across the globe as he strives to make the next great leap in his career. Interestingly, they featured him almost as a favor to agent Mark Steinberg, who secured the participation of other big players on the show; Fitzpatrick was not among their original targets. It was the show’s good fortune that Fitzpatrick would not just reward their efforts, but actually win the U.S. Open at Brookline in June. In the climactic moment, when he hit his brilliant shot out of the bunker on 18, the producers chose as their soundtrack the keening song “22 (OVER S∞∞N)” by Bon Iver, the indie band that serves as a vehicle for the reclusive singer Justin Vernon.
How did this come about? According to Chad Mumm, the Chief Creative Officer at Vox Media Studios and the show’s executive producer, it wasn’t their first choice.
“The first cut of that scene that we saw in our edit was a big dramatic shot with upbeat music,” he said, on a bonus episode of Golf Digest’s Local Knowledge podcast. “And we were just like, it doesn’t quite nail it. Emotionally, it felt like we needed something that was even more of a release.”
The editor returned to the drawing board, pulled up the Bon Iver song from Spotify, and placed it over the footage.“We watched it and it was like, chills,” Mumm recalled. “It was the perfect way to put the stamp on that moment.”
But as anyone involved with film understands, it’s not as simple as just liking the song. The difficult task facing Mumm was how to actually get permission to use the song. It was no surprise when they learned that Justin Vernon ran a very small, tight-knit outfit with his management company and that he rarely gave permission for film and TV projects. Actually using the song began to feel like a long shot, but Mumm and his team prepared a 10-minute sequence in the hope that it might lead to a miracle.
“We sent it to him on a prayer,” Mumm said, “like, please watch this.”It was dead silence for two days, and then they got a note back: Vernon loved it and gave his full approval.
For Mumm, it was another moment where he felt like luck or fate was on his side, and another sign that he had a success on his hands.