Covering the OSU Marching Band in 2006 sounds like the ultimate rush to an outsider: We got to see tryouts, had access to all of the home games, went to three/four Skull Sessions, traveled to Toledo, then Michigan, and went to Tempe, AZ for the Fiesta Bowl, where OSU demolished Notre Dame.
I was a videographer at the time, and was involved in most of the production. But I was also fighting tendonosis (from carrying a camera) and had an arthritic back (ditto). Yes, gear has gotten smaller over the years as digital replaced analog, but the amount of gear doesn’t change, nor does the things you worry about when you’re shooting. I couldn’t do hand-held camera much anymore, so I mostly recorded sound with a boom mic.
With a limited budget (most of fundraising for such endeavors occurs during/after production, not before), we typically had a crew of three people: a videographer (called a vid), a sound guy, and the producer/director, who was Mary Rathke.
I think we had five different shooters, but the bulk of the work went to Jason Perkins. As sound guy, I also need to serve as grip and assistant camera. This unglamorous role consists of labeling tapes, carrying batteries, cleaning the lens, troubleshooting technical problems, protecting the vid from wayward football players and band members, and keeping track of all of our gear, which is no easy task on road trips.
It’s arduous, tiring, and most of what we shot was left on the editing room floor. At times, in the middle of this production that lasted from July through January, there were times I thought it would never end.
But then the final product hits the screen, and the aches disappear and I thought to myself, “Wow. I was a part of this.” Standing at the top of the Fiesta Bowl on a beautiful Arizona afternoon was pretty darn cool; going into Michigan Stadium through the tunnel was nasty at first (it smells like sweat and urine), but being in hostile territory was indescribably cool.
The band never quite treated us like friends (it is a very tight clique), but when the cameras weren’t rolling, we heard some great stories and shared some laughs. As the fourth quarter melted away in Arizona, the Drum Major, Alex Neffinger, turned to all of us and said that we were like part of the band, there in good times and bad.
I would rather forget trying to videotape the Fiesta Bowl parade, which involved about 6 miles of walking/running alongside the band (That’s Jason and me covering the parade in the photo. This involved letting the band go by, running back to the front of them, and repeating the process – often.). Ditto the red-eye flight home to Columbus after the game, or the three hours we were stuck on the tarmac on a bus with hyperactive college students.
I don’t know what it’s like to be part of the band, but being allowed into their unique world for a few months – even at a distance – was amazing.
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