BY LOGAN DUBBS | Ball State Sports Link
Where are your roots planted?
For Cody Rudy, it’s simple — hard work, perseverance, family legacy.
The Cody Rudy story was a story about just that. Growing up, Cody would spend a majority of his time on the farm doing whatever his father and grandfather would ask.
If that was feeding the cows, or driving the tractor until 10 or 11 o’clock at night, Cody would do it and then wake up early for school or practice the next morning.
Telling this story was compelling. Whether it was going to Cody’s farm and filming him working and driving in the tractor, to traveling to Nashville to interview Cody’s uncle, Rory Feek.
When Sam Ahrens and I first talked about doing this story, we had no idea it was going to be this big.
We first thought that it was a hometown story about a guy who lives in Delaware County that walked on to the Ball State Football team and drove a cool car.
We brought Cody in for a pre-interview to talk about what he wanted in his story. As we’re talking, he tells us his aunt played a big role in his life and wants her in the story.
It turns out that his aunt is Joey Feek, a Grammy Award winner and two-time Academy of Country Music Award winner, who lost her battle with cervical cancer on March 4, 2016.
That just added a whole new layer into our story. We went from doing a “Meet the Athlete” type of story to a three-to-four layered full length feature.
The story blew up in our faces, in a good way.
This was Sam and I’s first big story and we were excited, but we also didn’t realize how many hours would actually go into putting this all together. To shoot the interviews, b-roll and get materials to tell the story with the respect it deserved, took a little over five months.
Especially the editing process. No offense to Cody at all, but he talked for two hours straight in his interview.
When we first put everything on the timeline of quotes we thought we were going to use, we were around 45 minutes of just Cody sound bites. We still had to interview Cody’s mom, Coach Neu and Rory Feek.
It was very intimidating.
There was so many great sound bites we couldn’t use because it didn’t fit the story or we needed to cut down on time and we had to get rid of.
The best part of telling this story was getting to travel to Nashville for a weekend. Getting to go to downtown Nashville was cool, but the best part was going to Rory and Joey’s farm.
The farm was absolutely beautiful. Located in Columbia, Tennessee, the farm sits on 8-10 acres in the middle of nowhere. Joey and Rory would perform their concerts in their farmhouse located on the property. Joey is also buried there.
We interviewed Rory during one of the days we were there and then that night he invited us to his concert. It was a very emotional concert because this was just the second time — and the first full concert — Rory had performed without Joey by his side.
Cody and his whole family were there, which made it even more emotional, but also showed how much Joey meant to all of them and how missed she is.
This really brought the family legacy part of the story together for me.
It took Sam and I until about the beginning of February to finally hit our stride and figure out how to put our circular storytelling model together. It was a big learning experience for me, and I’m sure Sam would say the same thing.
This was the most fun I’ve had telling a story and it turned out great. Thank you to Cody and his family for letting us tell it.