July 2, 2009
College films Jets camp commercial
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Camera assistant Andrew Inglin marks a scene with actor Chuck Rogers during the shooting of a commercial recorded Wednesday outside of Old Main on the SUNY Cortland Campus
CORTLAND — Kim Hall leaned Wednesday against a sign in front of SUNY Cortland’s Old Main and squinted up at the man towering above her, who also leaned on the sign.
“Do you play baseball?” the blonde teenager asked, following her script, while young people playing SUNY Cortland students walked behind her and sat on benches nearby, talking.
The man — 6-foot-9, 400 pounds and clad in a New York Jets football player’s uniform and gear — shook his helmeted head vigorously.
“Cut,” yelled a director nearby, laughing.
SUNY Cortland filmed a television commercial Wednesday and today to promote the Jets training camp that starts July 30 and runs until Aug. 12 at the college’s Stadium Complex and Park Center.
The commercial will promote the idea of coming to camp to watch the NFL team’s practices.
“The theme is that the Jets will be part of the community,” said Gradin Avery, the college’s marketing director and associate provost.
Produced by Cortland’s Greystone Projects, the ad will appear in three versions on TV stations from Watertown to Binghamton and between Geneva and Utica, including ESPN and ESPN2. The ad will reach up to 600,000 households. The college is sponsoring it, with the Jets’ approval.
The $19,900 ad campaign will be paid for by federal stimulus funds.
In the scenes, a man portraying a Jets player eats chicken wings at Central City Bar and Grill, stops traffic as a school crossing guard, meets with college officials in a boardroom, rides a lawnmower at Graph-Tex owner Brent Riley’s house, buys hot dogs or ice cream from a sidewalk stand downtown, buys sweet corn from a roadside stand, and fishes off a dock at Little York Lake.
The crew was adjusting this morning for filming in the rainy weather, hoping for the dark skies to pass.
“The commercial will begin and end the same way but have different scenes,” said Jeff Johnston, the executive producer. “The message at the end will be to come to camp.”
The actor with Hall, 46-year-old Chuck Rogers of Clay, was one of five recruited by Greystone through Craigslist ads.
Rogers is a biomedical engineer at SUNY University Hospital in Syracuse. He said he did not play football in high school or college but tried out for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers.
“I haven’t asked yet what I’m being paid or if I’m being paid,” Rogers said. “I’m honestly just doing it for the fun of it.”
Johnston said Rogers will be paid.
The college-age people recruited to be in the scene were not paid but did not seem to care. They portrayed students going to and from class around Hall and Rogers.
A trio of women walked through the foreground, two groups of students walked in the background, others walked down Old Main’s steps.
Director Kevin Hicks and assistant director Brian Balog rehearsed the students, who were recruited by the college and were local residents who attend either SUNY Cortland or other colleges. Some were orientation counselors, training for the college’s orientation sessions, the first of which starts this weekend.
The production company of about 20 people was mostly Tompkins Cortland Community College students. For the closeup with Rogers and Hall, one was the gaffer, one held a sound boom and one held cords.
The high-definition digital camera was operated by Christine Guest, an instructor in TC3’s media arts TV production major, with Hicks watching the overall image.
It took about 45 minutes to rehearse and shoot the scene, which will last only a few seconds on TV. The crew had to monitor the light, which ranged from sun to bright overcast — good for filming, Johnston said.
Balog told the young actors that this was just a sample of how a movie is made.
Only SUNY Cortland’s name could appear on the actors’ shirts. Balog asked two men wearing Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees shirts to turn them inside out.
Balog had the actors rehearse the scene three times, then shot a few times, then chose Hall to say a few lines with Rogers.
Hall asked the Jets “player” if he played baseball and if he transferred from Miami.
“It was fun,” said Hall, a Cortland High graduate who will be a sophomore at Fashion Institute of Technology, a State University of New York college in New York City.
Aaron Batchelder, a SUNY Cortland senior on campus as an orientation counselor, said the experience was “pretty cool and shows how filming something like this is done.”
The hot dog and ice cream scenes were being filmed with cousins Amy, Catherine and Marianne Bertini.
Johnston said the actors to play Jets were recruited not just through Craigslist but through a Syracuse TV station’s Web site. The ad asked for men at least 6-foot-6 tall. It attracted 60 replies, 40 in the first hour.
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