University of Illinois

Director of Photography Eric Wycoff Talks Movies and Sports



Sometimes our dreams play out like we planned. More often than not, we instead arrive at times of self-reflection and adjustment. Eric Wycoff played football for the University of Illinois in the mid-80s. Football didn’t quite work out as planned, so he initiated a new journey into filmmaking. Read and listen to Eric share on Dreaming Made Simple how he made the transition.

Dreaming Made Simple: To get started, tell me a little bit about your journey from the U of I.

Eric Wycoff, U of I
Eric Wycoff, U of I

Eric Wycoff: I played football there in the mid-80s. Then I was signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers as a free agent and went to camp but didn’t make the team. After I didn’t make the team, I had to reevaluate what I wanted to do. When I came back to Los Angeles, through a series of circumstances, I started working as a production assistant. From there, I went into lighting. I joined the local 728, which is the lighting union.

The competitive drive that you have in sports was always sort of eating at me. I was in [movie] lighting as an electrician, and I made a good living, but I wasn’t fulfilled creatively. I really needed to reevaluate what direction I was going in and ultimately where I would like to land in the business.

Dreaming Made Simple: What did you learn as far as putting the work in before you started taking off as a filmmaker?

Dreaming Made Simple: What are you working on right now?

Eric Wycoff: I’m doing a documentary called "My Dad’s Brain." It’s the story of former Green Bay Packer Lew Carpenter. He died at 78. When he died, the Boston University Institute of Traumatic Brain Injury contacted his family. They wanted to assess whether he had [Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative disease of the brain from football hits.] They diagnosed him with the highest grade of CTE. It was the catalyst for his daughter to go on this journey to understand the disease a little bit better and try to get a hold on her relationship with her father and also the relationship he had with the rest of his kids.

Dreaming Made Simple: How much creative freedom do you have as a director of photography?

Dreaming Made Simple: What’s your dream for your career?

Eric Wycoff: I like the places that I’m in. I’m sort of going back and forth between working on films and working on documentaries and creating my own content. I like the idea of creating my own content. I think that good filmmakers are the ones that have sort of a chip on their shoulder or some sort of passion about a particular subject. I feel so fortunate now to be able to work within the context of sports and film. Being a former athlete and also a filmmaker, I see the complexity of the stories and the purity of the performance by the athletes.

Follow Director of Photography Eric Wycoff on Instagram (ericwycoff) and visit his Web site