The documentary can be viewed with this link.
Old meets new. Traditional media meets the digital age. Year after year, decade after decade, the editors and staff of the Prep News have been dedicated to delivering a physical newspaper to the student body. However, in coordination with the newly formed SLUH Student Media, they will be providing the students with a new format, a documentary.
Last June, Prep News editor in chief Carter Fortman took a virtual visual journalism course from Indiana University, inspiring him to broaden the horizons of the Prep News. Fortman wanted to create a documentary-style film to share an in depth story that would attract the interest of the student body.
“My biggest inspiration came from the New York Times. They are obviously a super well-respected newspaper, but they also have a YouTube channel that also comes out with really high quality and interesting content,” said Fortman. “But I also found inspiration from the ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries. They are also a news channel but they are able to produce these really cool documentaries.”
Fortman enlisted the help of one of SLUH’s newest clubs, SLUH Student Media, led by senior Anthony Adem, to help film and produce a documentary. After discussing possible topics to cover, they finally settled on the story of the 1970 SLUH state football team.
Basing the documentary off of SLUH’s 2018 all-school summer reading book Bull in the Ring, by Joe Castellano, Fortman reached out to Castellano to gather as much information on the season as possible and to connect with other members of the football team.
“He's (Castellano) probably the most knowledgeable guy on the 1970 Football Championship and the team because he literally wrote the book on it so he was an amazing resource,” said Fortman.
Back in September, Fortman and Adem began forming and constructing their plans for this inaugural documentary.
“We wanted to share how the story of the 1970 Football Championship and the circumstances surrounding it sort of mirrors what's going on today,” said Fortman. “How SLUH has grown and what lessons we can learn from that football championship, especially in these challenging Covid times.”
To tell the story effectively, Fortman wanted to rely heavily not on his narration but by having the players tell their stories through interviews. However, scheduling the interviews proved to be the one major hurdle that the group struggled to overcome.
“The big difficulty that we found was getting people to interview because all of the interviewees are older and Covid was a lot scarier back in October than it is now, so they were all a little bit worried about coming in,” said Adem. “Scheduling the interviews was the hardest part I think, because actually, putting a video together like writing a story isn't that difficult.”
Despite the difficulties of scheduling the interviews, once they were in hand, they proved to add a level of depth to the documentary that a narrator could not add.
“The fact that we had all these people that came back to interview about this story really just shows how tight knit the winning group was and how real the story was,” said Prep News Sports editor Luke Altier.
Another aspect of the documentary that added another level of depth and professionalism to the production was the inclusion of game film from the 1970 season.
“I think the coolest part is the footage from the season,” said Adem. “Joe Castellano provided us with a lot of film from the season. So we use that and overlaid it with the narration and some of the interviews, just to kind of show what was happening and how good the team was.”
This documentary, however, was not just about telling the story of the 1970 championship team, it was about a club that has been around longer than the championship team itself, broadening its horizons and collaborating with a new club to produce an engaging documentary for the student body to enjoy.
“It just shows the versatility of the Prep News. I'm very fond of our history and our heritage, but I'm also fond of expanding our repertoire and expanding the possibilities that we can build off and into the 21st century,” said Fortman. “To be able to team up with students and SLUH Student Media, and at the end to make an actual production that people could watch, it's just good for every organization to just try out different things, try new things.”
“I think it's really cool that Prep News is doing something different and new. They've never done a video feature before and it's a really good way to show that we're progressing into the digital age,” said Adem. “Prep News is willing to adapt, like obviously the paper will be here forever, but adding a video to their arsenal is something never seen before.”
Fortman hopes that future editors will continue producing a documentary every year, maybe even more, delivering the student body a fresh and interesting format and continuing to expand the capabilities of Prep News.
“Originally my goal was to make two documentaries, one for the first semester, one for the second semester, but our school work had gotten in the way and we weren't able to pull that off,” said Fortman. “I think it could be a very cool thing for the Prep News to start to dip his feet in a little bit more.”
Next week, the documentary will be published on the SLUH Student Media page and a link will be sent to the student body.
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