-By Mike Windley – Director of Video Services Colonial Athletic Association
“Multum in Parvo.” It means “much in little,” in Latin. It was the motto of my high school, and a phrase that has always stuck with me throughout my years. It goes without saying that not everyone has the budget or resources that big schools and conferences have. One of the challenges I have faced in my young career has been to create content that meet and exceed everyone’s standards with a limited amount of resources. As I have gotten more and more miles under my belt, I have come to realize that I can take this challenge and use it towards my advantage. Here’s how:
Part 1: Backpack Filmmaking.
One of my biggest duties as Director of Video Services at the Colonial Athletic Association is to travel to all of our schools and produce our award-winning “Going Deep” and “In Focus” feature series that tells the stories of our football and basketball student-athletes. It is an opportunity for us as a conference to highlight all of the good things our student athletes are doing off the field, rather than just talking about X’s and O’s.
When I started working here, I wanted to blow people out of the water with the quality of my work. I wanted fancy lighting, steadicam shots, motion graphics, you name it. I wanted everything to look like a 30 for 30 feature. I quickly realized that doing all of this on my own was going to be pretty difficult. On my first couple of trips, I was overwhelmed with the amount of equipment I could not bring with me. I spent so much time thinking, “How am I going to get these lights on the plane”, and, “I can only bring one camera bag?” This led me to many phone calls and email conversations with school video departments begging for assistance while I was on location.
I did this for quite a while, and it was exhausting. While I was able to achieve the look and feel of the footage I was looking for, in hindsight, I realize that I had wasted a lot of time and effort. So that is what led me to my “come to Jesus” moment with my equipment where I said, “Forget the bells and whistles. Just take what you need to get the job done.” That’s exactly what I did. This year, I began limiting myself to bringing whatever would fit in my backpack. No lights, no sliders, no glide cams, just the essentials.
The result of this decision was more time for me to spend focusing on the story. In other words, I was able to devote more time to create a piece that was more compelling, instead of a piece that just looked good. Story first, always. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place to go all out to get that amazing shot, but you can’t forget about the fundamentals when it comes to storytelling. Get a good understanding of what you want to say, create the right interview questions, and hit record.
It is as simple as that. As with many things in life, I found that putting my ego aside was important for me to succeed my goal of telling a great story. Sometimes you have to look at something and really ask yourself, does this really make it better? Will people even notice that I am not using a full light kit? Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t. Like I said, there is a time and a place. You just need to know where and when that is, and prioritize.