By: Zac Miklusak | @zmiklusak
Ball State Sports Link
It’s been over 20 years since Ball State students and faculty last produced the commercials to promote the University for local and national TV markets.
With many changes coming to Ball State under President Paul W. Ferguson, this was one of them, and a major one for the TCOM department.
After my poor academic performance in the Spring of 2015, I made a promise to myself to shift my focus on my academics for the Fall 2015 semester so that I can graduate on time and not take on as many projects as I have in the past. This included turning down a producing role for Sports Link’s newly envisioned football show 3rd Down Chirp: GameDay.
Once classes got underway in late August, I began to hit the books more often and turn my attention away from Sports Link and focus on my 16-credit course load.
It only took a few weeks into the semester for Chris Taylor to pull me into his office and present the opportunity to become a student producer for the new athletic-focused commercials for Ball State. How could I say no?
I knew I wasn’t going to be receiving any class credit or monetary bonuses for my time working on this, but I thought to myself, who else can say that they developed, produced, shot and edited commercials for their University under the President’s supervision? I can’t think of one University in the nation that can say the same thing.
After collaborating with Mick Tidrow, the other student producer on this project, and getting the head nod from CT on the idea we came up with, it was time to pitch it to the head honcho himself, President Ferguson.
Going into the meeting with the other student groups, the President and his advisor for the project, Julie Hopwood, it was extremely easy to be nervous.
“What did the other groups come up with? Will he like our idea? What if he doesn’t?”
All those questions and more kept rushing though my head. At the end of the day, both the President and Ms. Hopwood absolutely loved our idea and we were off and running with our production.
To give you an idea of how we executed our commercials, we asked the students of Sports Link as well as the student-athletes shown in our commercials to write a letter to Ball State and depict what Ball State means to them. After sorting through multiple pages of scripts, we chose the quotes and lines that stood out to us and the ones that were the most powerful.
After compiling our script, we contacted the SIDs to select the student-athletes to represent all 19 sports. In the middle of October we had our candid shoot with the student-athletes. After a 10-hour day we had 17 student-athletes recite our scripts and also partake in a candid shot.
After sorting through all of our footage, we decided we could not fit everything we wanted to into one commercial, so we created three 30 second spots. All three spots portray all 19 sports and use the best shots we captured during our shoot.
Mick and myself would like to thank President Ferguson and Julie Hopwood for presenting the opportunity for us to portray Ball State through the eyes of students.
We also would not be able to do this without the tremendous support of the Athletic Department, especially Athletics Director Mark Sandy, Associate A.D. for Strategic Communications Mike Clark and Assistant A.D. for Marketing and Fan Development Shawn Sullivan.
We would also like to thank the SIDs who make it possible for us to work with the athletes on a daily basis and provide us with the opportunities to share their stories. Thank you to Brad Caudill, Tyson Mathews, Paula Haughn and Jenna Jorgenson.
We would also like to thank TCOM Department Chair Tim Pollard for working with the President’s Office and making this opportunity possible. And a big thank you to the directors of Sports Link, Chris Taylor and Alex Kartman for working with us throughout the entire process and supporting the vision we had for these commercials.
The fact that all three :30 commercials Mick and I produced are going to be used on various platforms is very humbling. It gives you a sense of pride in what you do to have your work recognized not only on local TV stations, but national networks as well.
I am absolutely grateful to attend a University that puts its trust into its students in such a professional manner and give us this real-world experience.
Over the past four years at Ball State, and as a member of Ball State Sports Link, I think I’ve learned more life lessons and matured more than I ever would have imagined. I couldn’t see myself attending another college and getting the same experience.
I am very fortunate to have experienced all I have in the past four years and am confident Ball State has over-prepared me for my future career.