Producing Girls’ High School Sports Videos
By Stuart Sweetow of Audio Visual Consultants © 2007
Originally published in Event DV Magazine
In the November 2006 issue of EventDV, we reported on the art and business of producing high school football videos for teams to show at end-of-season parties and for parents to send to college recruiters.
With scholarships providing upwards of $16,000 per year for students, an investment of $1,000 or $2,000 in a video to help get the student recognized by a coach is a reasonable idea. Certainly football brings fans to the stands and remains as ever the most popular high school sport.
But the fastest-growing segment of high school athletics is girls’ sports. Federal legislation has enabled girls to get athletic scholarships, and girls are increasingly drawn to sports that help them develop physically and emotionally.
Title IX federal legislation, passed in 1972, banned sex discrimination in schools for academics and athletics. Intercollegiate athletics has expanded in the decades since, as schools across the country set up women’s sports programs as well as financial assistance for female student-athletes who want to play college sports.
The types of sports, the numbers of events, and the opportunities for girls at the high school level have grown exponentially. Title IX has encouraged millions of high school girls to become athletes. In 1972, when Title IX was enacted, only 3% of high school girls participated in varsity sports. That number is now 40% and growing. Currently, high school girls have a chance to dip into the $372 million pot of college athletic scholarship funding. Last year 150,000 women received financial assistance from colleges to play varsity sports.
The Amateur Softball Association has a youth program also known as the Junior Olympic program. More than 80,000 teams, 1.3 million players, and 300,000 coaches participate in ASA youth softball on an annual basis. It is the single fastest-growing program in the ASA, and it has seen membership growth every year since its inception in 1974. Parents of promising athletes already pay thousands of dollars in travel and team fees. Documenting their daughters’ skills with a professionally produced video can help make that investment pay off with college scholarships.
Parents who are hoping to secure athletic or academic scholarships to help pay for their kids’ college educations are the target market for sports videographers. While booster clubs for boys’ sports, especially football, tend to trumpet their causes the loudest, parents and coaches eagerly raise money for girls’ sports too, which enables coaches and athletic programs to hire videographers as well. Here’s a look at some of the video work being done with girls’ high school sports today.
The Soft Sell
Bruce Goddard, the father of an aspiring athlete, recently hired a local videographer to produce a DVD to highlight his daughter Caroline’s softball skills. Goddard’s reason for making DVDs to send to college coaches is that “kids have limited chances to show the coaches how well they can play. Coaches don’t want to hear from parents, and most kids really don’t know how to market their skills.” He advises other parents to avoid long, overproduced videos—coaches don’t want to see those. Five minutes is a good target length, he says. “Avoid the extremes; don’t get a video that is too cheap or too expensive. It’s OK to be slick, just don’t look slick.”
In EventDV‘s November article about high school football video, we highlighted Rusty Worden’s suburban San Francisco company, Simply Interactive. The first high school sport that his company covered was girls’ lacrosse. Worden didn’t even know the game, so he met with the coach on two occasions to gain understanding of how it is played. He even asked the coach to review his footage from the first game he shot, to get additional pointers.
Developing a rapport with coaches is an important part of Worden’s strategy. His relationship with the lacrosse coach is so good that she even prepares edit decision lists for him.
One of Worden’s clients is the founder of Palm Inc., who has a daughter who is a “phenomenal” lacrosse player, according to Worden. He shot and edited seven games for a recruiting DVD that the family used to help get their daughter into a top college. Entertainment Tonite‘s Tracy Painter is another of the videographers that we interviewed for the football story. He presented a session on sports videography at last year’s WEVA Expo. In addition to football, Entertainment Tonite shoots and edits girls’ soccer, basketball, and field hockey games. Individual parents contract with his company to produce highlight DVDs to earn their girls scholarships. The booster clubs hire his firm to produce team highlight videos to show at their end-of-season parties and for coaches to review the plays.
Painter says that girls’ and boys’ sports are not much different. “As many college recruiters come to games to scout for girls now as they do for boys,” he reports. Even if the girl doesn’t get into a Division I school with an athletic scholarship, she can still get an academic scholarship from DII and DIII schools.
Differences Between Girls’ and Boys’ Sports
“There is a big difference” between shooting girls’ and boys’ sports, says Bonnie Durkin of D-Vision Video, who was also featured in the football article. “Whatever you ask the girls to do, they do,” she explains. “The girls have more fun with sports than the boys. They are not afraid of making fools of themselves.” D-Vision’s sports video business has blossomed over the years, and a healthy portion of that business now involves various girls’ sports. Videographers who want to build up their bookings in girls’ sports need to know how working with girls’ and boys’ teams will differ, she argues.
“Girls don’t lose as badly as boys,” adds Durkin, who previously was a high school teacher. She relays the story of a rare instance when both the boys’ team and the girls’ team were on the same bus riding home from games they had both lost. She said the boys sulked and cried; the girls sang songs, she recalls. “They have higher energy than the boys. They cry, but they get over it.”
The parents are another story, she says; they take girls’ sports just as seriously—and often as personally—as they do with boys’ sports. “The fathers are just as obnoxious,” Durkin says. “Whether it is their son or daughter, they are still living out their unfulfilled sports lives through their kids.”
Regarding male coaches of girls’ teams, Durkin reports that many don’t understand the temperaments of girls. “They tend to treat them as harshly as they do the boys, and many girls simply quit because of that.”
Durkin’s videographers record locker-room segments for both boys’ and girls’ sports, but she says that the girls are more likely to dance, hug, have fun, and generally display their friendships. Her season highlight videos for girls’ sports teams also tend to include photos of senior events such as car washes and pizza dinners.
According to Kim Nunley, co-owner of northern California-based postproduction facility Event Edit, “female athletes’ immediate aspirations are no different than those of their male counterparts. They are trying to stand out from the thousands of other athletes and attract the attention of college coaches in an attempt to land an athletic scholarship. Parents are similar for both sexes. They can be just as friendly or demanding.”
Nunley, a former NCAA basketball player with a master’s degree in sports and physical education, coaches women’s basketball at a junior college when she is not editing sports videos for parents and high schools.
Event Edit specializes in creating what they call “Sports Prospect DVDs.” Founder April Abeyta, a former Kodak All-American basketball player, previously edited sports programs on Fox Sports West and created highlight reels for NCAA basketball and volleyball programs. Parents and coaches provide them with the footage, and they edit it and author DVDs.
Budget and Fees
There is generally less money for girls’ sports than boys’ because fewer fans come to the games. The girls’ teams’ booster clubs don’t benefit from concession stand sales as much as football teams do.
While football games tend to yield about 30 minutes of video before editing, soccer and hockey usually fill 60-minute tapes, according to Painter. That means more editing time and a higher fee. After editing, Painter says he gives the raw game tapes to the coaches. When producing recruiting DVDs for parents (girls’ and boys’), Painter has his system down: He shoots single-camera from the stands or the press box and charges $150 per game. Then he gives window dubs to the parents, who create an edit decision list for him. They send him the EDLs via email, together with photos. Painter charges $75-100 to edit a game. Some basketball games can be edited for only $50. A full highlight DVD for parents costs between $300 and $400.
And the parents of a talented prospect are often just as excited as the recruiters about getting video of their child. “One parent hired me to shoot every soccer game his daughter played,” Painter says. “It went into post-season, and with editing, the final bill came to $4,500.”
While Kim Nunley’s Event Edit doesn’t shoot games, they provide video editing, video-to-DVD transfers, photo montages, and school highlights videos. They edit parents’ footage and offer a Sports Prospect DVD package, which includes five copies, for $399. Their editing rate is $75/hour. Video-to-DVD transfer is approximately $35, but it depends on the length of the footage and how many DVD copies are needed. Worden charges families $350-$550 per game to shoot, edit, and create a DVD. If he shoots an entire season of 10 games, the family gets a package price that includes 10 DVD copies. You can see a video demo of girls lacrosse by visiting Worden’s website at www.simplyinteractive.com.
Durkin reports that in the five years since her company started videotaping girls’ sports, that segment of her business has grown 400-500%. Lacrosse and soccer are the most popular sports. She has a good enough relationship with the school booster clubs that she now asks them how much they have in their coffers to pay for the video production. Each season, her company produces 10 team highlight videos for $1,000-2,000 each and 20 recruiting DVD videos for parents, with budgets starting at $500 each (for just editing the parents’ footage). She said 5-6 families hire her company to shoot the games, and D-Vision charges $250 per game.
Worden’s videographers shoot from the press box or bleachers, usually single-camera. He also sets up “portrait style” shots where the girls run onto the field with the scoreboard in the background. He stages some action shots with the girls, inserts a few cutaways, and occasionally will rack-focus from the scoreboard to identify the school name. Using Final Cut Pro, his editors key-in highlight statistics and create screens just with the stats.
Painter also shoots single-camera, and says it works fine for his productions. “When you shoot from the stands and you know what to look for, you can get in close and see each player. Single-camera also makes editing highlights easier. With two cameras we would lose our profit margin.”
Added Production Elements
When producing team highlight videos, Durkin includes five or six growing-up photos for each athlete, and the final shot of the team highlight video is usually a formal photo of the entire team in uniform or their senior photos.
She adds fun segments, such as during Senior Day when parents give their daughters gifts and flowers, and shots of the players eating cake—sometimes smashing cake in one another’s faces. She makes sure she gets a shot of the locker room if the girls decorate it. As for music, Durkin selects female artists, rather than the harder-edged music that she uses for boys’ sports.
Durkin includes interview segments in the school highlight videos, but says she has stopped trying to use them for recruiting DVDs; scheduling the interviews has become too time consuming. The school highlights interview segments give the girls a chance to thank their coaches and parents.
In the recruiting DVDs, Durkin scrolls statistical information for the recruiting coaches. This includes the athlete’s height, weight, high school name, class, position, her number, and awards such as All-County, All-District, or All-State.
Together with the portrait-style shots, Simply Interactive’s Worden arranges for the girls to speak to the camera about why they like the game, their academic interests, and what their career goals are. He arranges these interviews with the families far in advance of the shoot day and asks the girls to write down for him what they plan to say. He helps them condense the interview scenes into five or six paragraphs, and in the edit room, his staff selects sound bites to keep the segments down to two or three minutes.
Caroline Goddard, a high school junior whose father Bruce commissioned a recruiting DVD, advises videographers to divide the interview segments into individual questions that would elicit brief answers. She says not to just run the camera and expect a player to talk about herself. That could look staged; it’s better to shoot it as a conversation. In order to get a shot of each player, including those relegated to the bench, Entertainment Tonite’s Painter sets up a “run through” shot where each kid runs up to the camera, stops, and states her name, number, and position. He sets the camera about four feet from the goal, adjusts the tilt and zoom so that both the tallest and shortest kid can be seen, and locks down the tripod. He directs all the kids to run through, one after another, and he edits the entire segment down to about two minutes. The locked-down camera allows for cuts with minimal jump.
On Senior Night, parents walk with their daughters across the field as the announcer states their names, and Painter videotapes the proceedings. Through the magic of editing, he stretches a five-second walk into 20 seconds of each family; he adds one or two growing up photos for each girl and a graphic with her statistics. “This gives the parents of juniors a chance to visualize themselves walking with their daughters next year,” says Painter.
Painter also conducts interviews with the girls on Senior Night. He tells parents in advance to help prepare their daughters. He asks the following three questions:
- Is there anybody you want to thank?
- What is your best memory of the season?
- What advice do you have for other players?
He asks each girl, in advance, to memorize one or two sentences of each of their answers and speak extemporaneously with the rest. Painter says that girls prepare themselves more for these interviews than boys, but they are more nervous because they are conscious of how they present themselves.
Durkin tries to capture the sentiment of girls saying goodbye to one another by including growing-up photos in a montage segment of the highlight video. “These kids have played sports together since they were seven years old,” she says. “They are leaving their friends forever, and the parents recognize this as a possible finale to their children’s sports’ careers.”