Some stories are more…complicated…to tell than others.
Just about all the content we produce at Blueline is driven by interviews, whether these are on-camera or intentional conversations with clients prior to writing a script. Part of the reason we focus our efforts on these conversations is that it’s the best way to bring genuine emotion to what is often a simple story.
On January 21 we learned about the plan–Purdue game, ESPN extending halftime, former players, and a video that we’d be creating that had to be worthy of Bob Knight’s nationally-televised return. We learned just how close of a circle this was going to be; the last thing anyone wanted was to turn a celebration of Indiana Basketball’s legacy into a media circus. This was all wrapped up in our biggest challenge of all – summarizing an epic era in two minutes.
We immediately set our creative team on finding ways to meet all the challenges this project presented. Sweaters, jerseys, and chairs were discussed. We looked into leveraging our Durham Office’s proximity to certain past players and rivals. Our jingle department seriously considered a custom arrangement of Back Home Again in Indiana. Bob Knight’s life is such a rich library of iconic moments that we had endless options at our fingertips.
After lots of coordination and collaboration with our partners at IU Athletics, we ultimately landed on the video format seen that fateful February 8th – focus on the legacy, focus on the players, and focus on the fans.
With creative goals in place, we began working with the plan’s key players to capture what would be needed. Scott Dolson, IU’s soon-to-be Athletic Director, was a pivotal partner in getting an interview set up with the man himself. On the day of, Fred Glass and Jeremy Gray both provided assistance with facilities and logistics. While we already had a lot of Assembly Hall footage from assorted past projects, John Buuck provided some additional archival footage and various staff from the Cuban Center helped us gather a few new shots.
Because Bob Knight returning to campus at all, let alone Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, would be immediately newsworthy if noticed, everyone knew filming would be a tad more complicated than having him stroll into the South Lobby. Fortunately, the banners that play such a pivotal role in his legacy exist in Cook Hall as well, so that became the best site for everything to take place. Research (and legend) told us we’d want a relatively small crew to avoid feeling too much like the capital M “Media.” As the day and our conversations with the Athletics team progressed, it was decided that only two of our crew, DP Matt Dillman and Audio Engineer Ben Frazier, would be in the room with The General while he would be primarily interviewed by Bob Hammel.
Fortunately for us, Dillman has years of experience working with sports interviews, so empowered with questions from our Creative Director Grace Newlin he and Ben were able to ask some poignant questions gathering impactful answers. Fortunately for us, Ben was extremely careful in walking with Coach to the interview seat, letting us remove him digitally for an epic introductory shot. Fortunately for us, Women’s basketball was practicing in Assembly Hall during the interview, and missed our interviewee by about 15 minutes on each end. Fortunately for us, the three people in the Cook Hall Lobby around 4:45pm on January 29th didn’t look up and spoil the surprise. Carefully using every available minute to ensure that lighting, framing, and sound would be perfect, however, was taking fortune into our own hands.
With the most secretive interview complete, our editing team of Matt Rice and Ben Frazier got to work with effectively 11 calendar days to go. By the time we’d interviewed Quinn Buckner (who deserves significant credit in making this whole event possible,) and Archie Miller (who was in the middle of coaching a tournament-caliber team,) we had only 4 days. Because we had made such a significant investment in time, planning, and consideration of the factors during Pre-Production, we successfully delivered the video which played to significant applause.
We’d like to thank all those at IU Athletics who made this opportunity possible, including the chance to see our work played in the moment. This epic moment took careful planning, intentional consideration of all issues, and a dash of luck, but we’re thrilled that Blueline got to play a role in IU Basketball history.