Kid Press Conference with Roger Federer:
The teachers, parents and students at Gerald R. Ford Elementary came on board two days prior to the shoot date. Roger Federer was set to participate. The thought was to stage a kid press conference and emphasize the cuteness of the children, the likability of the greatest male tennis player, and to hopefully capture some laugh-out-loud moments.
My objective was to film the piece in such as way as to be very flexible when editing. Editing allows us to take a scene or a moment and make it funnier by playing with the timing, the cutaway expressions etc. We ran four cameras. A closeup on our star, a wide providing context for the press conference room, and two closeups on kids at different mics. We set it up town hall style to keep everything consistent visually.
I directed the camera operators on the floor to use the techniques of cinéma vérité such as crash zooms and whip pans familiar to fans of the shooting style of NBC’s “The Office” or any TLC reality show.
Kids are unpredictable which is part of what made the press conference so much fun. We ran audio through the built-in house system. However we also ran redundant lavalier mics taped to all house microphones. Our mics proved to be of higher quality and are what made it into the master mix. It is always important to have two clean sources of audio when filming something live that must be captured in one take.
Roger entered and while these kids may live next to a large tennis complex, not all knew who he was. But they knew to scream because a superstar was entering! What really mattered was that Roger was a good sport, had never done anything similar in his nearly 20 year career and seemed to truly enjoy himself.
I think we may have made news when Roger said he hoped to play five more years until he is 40. Other details like his pet rabbits being Blitz and Blacky were lighthearted new nuggets of information into the life of a man studied and admired worldwide.
The piece quickly hit over 10k reactions, 1.1k comments and 1.5 million views on Facebook between the tournament and Sports on Facebook pages. It was uploaded natively to the BNP Paribas Open Twitter account and later retweeted by Roger Federer’s personal account. This single video surpassed every metric from from the totality of our work at the tournament in 2016 and 2015. It was picked up by news outlets worldwide providing additional positive earned media brand exposure for Indian Wells. Our crowning achievement may have been that part of the video played on ESPN’s SportsCenter and was on the homepage of ESPN.com for more than a day.
I thank those behind the original idea (Sara Romano & Steven Villatoro) who also served as the child wranglers. Our camera crew was stellar and everyone behind the scenes who negotiated and organized a very special moment. What a team!