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Turning a 'nothing burger' into something

07/22/2011, 5:41pm CDT
By Tiffany Willits

Inside KickTV

Inside the life of KickTV producers, Jake Frantzen and Matt Shoemaker, a 'nothing burger' is when a planned story falls through. Filming a daily video show during USA CUP, this rarely happens, but on Thursday it did. Heading out to film an episode of beach soccer a few girls' U19 teams that were scheduled to play did not show up. That is when the creativity for the producers starts to flow. 

In its fifth season, KickTV rarely comes up with nothing burgers. According to Frantzen, usually there are one to two days during the tournament when a story comes up empty. "We like to have a backup story planned out in case. Since we shoot a lot of video during the week of USA CUP, we tend to have backup material," said Frantzen.

Improvising is always another choice besides using backup film and that is what happened when the beach soccer story fell through. Acting took center stage at Thursday's beach soccer outdoors. On the spur of the moment, Frantzen and Shoemaker had the brilliant idea to shoot a KickTV staff game versus the Champlin Rebels U16 girls, after realizing their original plan had failed.

"Are we going to be on TV? What station? Can we please do it? We'll do it. Pick us. Pick us," screamed the Champlin girls. With such enthusiasm, how could they resist? It was then that Frantzen took the camera lead and Shoemaker joined in the soccer tournament with three other staff members.

According to Frantzen, about 50 percent of filming is planned in advance while 50 percent is more spontaneous. A typical day involves a morning meeting in the media room where Frantzen and Shoemaker decide what they will film that day. Shoemaker jokes that he and Frantzen get inspiration from Seven Samurai, a Japanese adventure drama film as well as Hidden Fortress, a jidai-geki film.

"Producing a day-by-day web show versus a monthly college show like I did in college is more interesting because if a story falls through, you have to think of a story quick and its fun working 24-hours a day," said Shoemaker. With a more 'on the toes' type of approach, KickTV seems to be the best of both worlds.

Franzten is in his third year as the producer of KickTV, while Shoemaker in his first year working as an intern. Frantzen has worked with one other intern in the past, but enjoys getting the chance to collaborate with different people. "Every person has their own style. Learning from other people and how to work with another style is a good thing," said Frantzen.

This year Shoemaker has brought new ideas to KickTV. "Putting different twists on an idea from the past that Jake has previously taped provides for a new angle," said Shoemaker.

With the commotion that USA CUP provides, there are always constant activities taking place. "Sometimes when I ask the staff members if they've seen the newest episode of KickTV, they say no-Even if they made a guest appearance on it. It's gets hard to catch up with everything going on. It takes time to catch up and take it all in," said Frantzen.

Adding imagination and creativity to KickTV is what the show is all about. This year was the first year KickTV decided to hand out free t-shirts during USA CUP. Emphasizing the importance of social media, Frantzen and Shoemaker together with host Scott Clasen, gave away shirts to loyal fans by picking a remote location and announcing minutes before they left of their 'where abouts' on Facebook.

Those that met Frantzen and Shoemaker in the correct location with the phrase of the day would receive a KickTV t-shirt. "The t-shirt was my idea along with Scott and Angie Bertrand, NSC graphic designer. Angie designed the shirt along with the QR code," said Frantzen. The QR code allows for KickTV fans to scan the barcode on the back of the shirts with their smart phones, where it takes the fans to KickTV's channel on YouTube.

"The first day we got mobbed by people and we only had a few shirts to give away, so it was a success. We then called PUMA and asked for more goods to give away to our loyal customers," laughed Frantzen.

Although producing KickTV may seem fun, it does have its challenges. "On a more challenging aspect, we have dealt with really hot weather this year," said Frantzen. Frantzen and Shoemaker's latest night was after opening ceremony where they worked on editing footage until 2:30 a.m.

"That was the latest we stayed in the media room. Once the show is edited, we have to export it. Exporting takes a good hour plus a half hour to correctly upload it online. Being the last out of the building when it was all dark and no one was around was really late," said Shoemaker.

During the wee hours of the night it becomes harder and harder to manage simple tasks. "Thinking isn't as clear. You really have to focus and you can't spell peoples' names wrong and it's the little things that may become a problem," said Frantzen.

Whenever athletes see Frantzen, Shoemaker and Clasen walking around campus with the camera and headphones, they flock towards them. "I want to be on TV" is a common phrase. "I always say we have the most fun because we interact with people all over. We rarely focus on soccer games, but focus more on human interest stories," said Frantzen.

"My favorite part this year at USA CUP has been interacting with the British referees and listening to their accents," said Shoemaker.

KickTV can be found by visiting www.usacup.org. The most recent episode is always featured on the homepage. For archived episodes, visit usacup.org and click on "Fun Stuff" and then "KickTV."

There's no denying energy with KickTV. Just look for the bright green color shirts on Frantzen and Shoemaker along with the camera and you will see fans waving to the camera and asking the ever so famous phrase, "Can we be on TV?"  

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Tag(s): July 22, 2011