Brewers’ Spring Training Site Becomes Film Lab for Students
By Cooper Nelson
GCU News Bureau
Grand Canyon University appears to be taking over the Cactus League.
A large, purple GCU banner advertisement sits on the left-field wall of the Milwaukee Brewers’ stadium in west Phoenix. Another ad is fixed on top of the Brewers’ dugout.
Gregg Elder, a GCU assistant film professor, made sure to include both in a Brewers spring training documentary, which was filmed by the University’s digital film production students.
Five students spent the past month at the Brewers’ Maryvale Baseball Park to film the team’s daily training and business operations, chronicling everything from minor-league player evaluations to game footage. They even filmed the “sausage race,” a popular attraction at Brewers games in Arizona and back in Wisconsin.
“It’s a big-name project, high profile,” said Elder, a Wisconsin native, who often grinned ear-to-ear during filming at Brewers camp. He and his students made connections with a number of Brewers coaches and staffers who also hail from Wisconsin.
“It’s a great opportunity and a lot of exposure for our students and the University,” Elder said.
The digital film program’s past professional work includes assisting with episodes of the Travel Channel’s “Baggage Battles” and A&E’s “Celebrity Bucket List.” The Brewers documentary assignment also provided an opportunity for students to network with directors and producers in the industry.
“The biggest opportunity is networking and being able to work in a professional environment,” said Mike Myers, a junior digital film major on the Brewers project. He also runs his own video production company and films Los Angeles Dodgers spring training games.
The film team will wrap interviews with major-league players and coaches this week and begin editing footage into a documentary for the Brewers to use in promotions and as an introductory video for new staff and players. Interviews include stars in the Brewers organization, such as outfielder Ryan Braun, second baseman Rickie Weeks and top minor-league outfield prospect Logan Schafer.
Film students gained experience using different cameras and video equipment to film various formats. Students had the opportunity to film behind-the-scenes training such as 3-D modeling motion capture used for medical application and Doppler radar ball flight measurement, both of which are rarely seen by sports fans outside of shows such as ESPN’s “Sports Science.”
GCU beat out Arizona State University for the opportunity to film the documentary. The Brewers felt that GCU possessed more students with professional experience and superior equipment.
GCU and the Brewers are a natural partnership because of the ballpark’s location (only about four miles from campus, near Indian School Road and 51st Avenue) and the experience of a number of film students with sports-related digital media and documentaries. The Brewers have trained at the Maryvale complex since 1998.
Brewers major-league players and staff will make the trip back to Milwaukee this week to prepare for the upcoming season. The DFP students plan to stay on board with the team’s minor-league affiliates and could possibly make trips to Wisconsin to do more filming for the Brewers or the Class A-level Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (located in Appleton, Wis.), according to Elder.
“I’m hoping (this documentary) will lead to us working with other spring training teams next year,” Elder said. “Ideally, we would like to get in (with ballparks that host two teams) and start filming more games.”
Contact Cooper Nelson at 639.7511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.