Earlier this year, Panther Pride Productions, the video production company at Elyria Catholic High School was tapped by the Elyria Sports Hall of Fame to create visual presentations for its new class of inductees. Students spent months wading through hundreds of records and stats, tracking down family members and old coaches, and editing hours and hours of footage. Directed by Butler — now a freshman at Lorain County Community College — the film was unveiled for the first time in May to the surprised and delighted honorees.
At first, they asked us if we could make a slideshow for each inductee. I really didn’t like the idea. So I pitched the idea that we do an ESPN 30 for 30-style film instead, where we would get highlight reels, collect interviews and have a commentator talking about things like the athlete’s stats and their paths after high school.
There were about 10 inductees. Each student got their own inductee to research. I was assigned the [1977 women’s 880-medley] relay team from Elyria High. We were tasked with finding their highlight reels and stats. This turned out to be much harder than we thought. A few of the athletes were from Elyria West, which is not a high school anymore. We spent a lot of hours on the internet looking for stats. The Elyria Hall of Fame people had to go into the archives to find some of them.
I was the director of the film, so I didn’t do the actual interviews. But before everyone went out to shoot, we talked a lot about storytelling. I really like documentaries — and the best part of them for me always is the interviews. I love the rawness of the responses.
We ended up having a lot of footage. We would mess up or give the wrong stat, and then we would have to cut the whole thing and reshoot it.
The whole process taught me a lot about pacing. It’s so hard to find the sweet spot. The videos either seemed too fast or too slow. But we learned how to make a moment more dramatic.
The film aired in May — the only problem was it was prom night, so I couldn’t go. But my teacher told us that the inductees were really emotional. And strangers emailed us to say how much they liked it. — as told to Rebecca Meiser