It’s all a bit of a blur at the moment, but I have just survived my first Iowa High School State Wrestling Tournament as a film director. It’s actually my second State Finals, but this year I was able to bring in a crew of four talented professionals to help me capture as much as we could in a four-day frenzy of wrestling. And after 6 months of travelling the roads of Iowa on my own, lugging the cameras and making my own shots, I was able to direct my own film.
I handed over my vision (and my favorite floor shots) to Bill Sallaz and James Drescher, I sent Sherri Barber off into the stands to cover the parents (she still hasn’t seen the final matches) and asked my colleague from Ohio University (and recent graduate) Mike Grey to help record the sounds of the event. And after all of the planning and production meetings, that left me chasing wrestlers through the back hallways and climbing the stairs to capture the overhead shots, about as far away from the action that I have followed so closely for the wrestling season. And in 2:55 for Jake with his record-setting pin and with Brandon in 6 minutes with record-tying career win, it was over.
I can’t even begin to thank all of the people that helped make this finale run as smoothly as it did… Alan Beste and Bud Legg from the IHSAA, Coach Darrell Frain from Creston and Coach Chris Krueger from Denver-Tripoli; Jackie, the building manager at Wells-Fargo; JP,Todd & all the others from security; Bill Roths and all of the officials and table workers for their support; all of the coaches and wrestlers who went about their business when the cameras were rolling; the photographers that helped us save prime positions on the mat to film the matches that we needed; the staff at Chilli’s in Clive for feeding us late at night; the staff at Days Inn for letting us sleep in and the Quality Inn for letting us film; the wrestling fans that stopped us in the hallways of Wells-Fargo to show their support…. AND MOST OF ALL, the Sorensen and Marlin families, who opened their homes and their lives so that I could tell their stories of this season. When they were cheering on Brandon and Jake in the final moments of their high school careers, they let us film them on the edge between celebration and the unthinkable.
Along the way, we got some great press from the Des Moines Register. I even heard that the project got a mention on the TV coverage.
In the end, we gathered around 16 HOURS of footage over the four days. The final matches had 6 cameras rolling (and one shot that will forever be “the one that didn’t roll”… my fault on that) and a dedicated stereo audio track on the crowd. 17, 000 fans rose to their feet for TWO ovations after the matches and another TWO during the medal ceremony. Serendipity was also on our side when Brandon walked into the frame to congratulate Jake after all of the festivities and media interviews. Some things you can plan for a full year, other things just happen and you pray that the camera is rolling.
And when the mats are rolled up, life goes on. I’ll end my time in Iowa with final wrap up interviews, stopping along the road to get one more landscape image and packing up the apartment. Next stop is a windowless editing room at Ohio University. It will be nice to sleep in my own bed and leave my car parked at the house for a while.