when the New York Red Bulls II take the field on their home turf at MSU Soccer Park at Pittser Field, fans at home can watch their live broadcasts on ESPN+. These visuals and sounds are captured by a production team comprised of a director, camera operators and engineers – a majority of whom are either alumni or current students of Montclair State University.
“My role as a director is to make sure all the pieces come together into a nice, tight-knit package with a bow on the top.”
The production crew are employees of Fascom Productions of Nutley, New Jersey, which drives its high-tech mobile video studio truck right up to the turf of MSU Soccer Park. Fascom is one of hundreds of companies in the New York and New Jersey region jump-starting careers and engaged in meaningful partnerships with the University.
Last year, more than 3,000 Montclair State students completed hands-on learning experiences, including co-ops, internships, fieldwork, practicums, externships, student teaching and faculty-led research. Students who have benefited include Casey Owens ’18, who works audio sound during Red Bulls II broadcasts. She earned her degree in TV Production and had several “dream internships” while a student, including The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Late Night with Seth Myers and Say Yes to the Dress. “I’ve had an amazing amount of opportunities,” she says.
Fascom’s owner Patricia Fastook, who also teaches at Montclair State as an adjunct professor in the School of Communication and Media, says the company routinely hires the “great, young talent” she finds in class for the intense, live Red Bulls II productions. “It’s a professional shoot and the crew has been instrumental in helping us pull off this big endeavor,” she says. “I was a little nervous going into this,” says Christo Apostolou ’17, who directs the sports show. “But the excitement that comes from the crowd, the players and plays are second to none. I love it.”
The players for the Red Bulls II are prospects for major league soccer, and the team has made Montclair State home to its developmental squad, upgrading the stadium with new turf and stands, and constructing camera towers for the live broadcasts.
“When I’m directing,” Apostolou says, “what I’m looking for out of my crew is consistency and being ahead of the game. A big part of soccer is being on top of what you think the players are going to do.”
“I had various internships at ABC’s The Chew and Wendy Williams. I learned a lot at both their studios and Montclair State’s TV production studios. Now that I’m in the real world, I’m confident that what I learned will help me succeed.”
Camera operator Andrew Amiano, a Montclair State senior majoring in TV Production, says he has learned to appreciate this fast-growing sport by filming the action, though through a lens so in a much different perspective than that of the fans in the stands.
“I’m not watching it for the players or for the game itself,” Amiano says. “I’m watching it for the production. So, while people will say, ‘That was such a good goal.’ I’ll say, ‘That was such a good [camera] shot.’ It gives me a different perspective.”
Amiano, ever focused on the angle of the camera, cheers, “Follow, Follow, Follow,” instead of “Go, Go, Go, Go.”
student announcers score home run
One week before the first pitch of the Women’s Softball World Championship in Chiba, Japan, the School of Communication and Media partnered with digital sports provider Eleven Sports to help produce the tournament’s global English-language play-by-play broadcast.
“This event allowed us to do what we truly aspire to accomplish, which is partner with cutting-edge media properties to give our students and recent graduates hands-on, professional experiences that place them at the forefront of the industry,” says School of Communication and Media Director Keith Strudler, who set the pace by calling the first game.
Project manager Keanan Carter ’18 assembled a team of student and alumni announcers in August to call the tournament’s 72 games as they came in via live overnight feeds from Chiba. The winning team – USA – automatically moves on to the 2020 Olympics.
“We scrambled,” recalls Mark Effron, the School’s clinical specialist. “We were doing something never done before at Montclair State, calling an international sporting event from here and broadcasting to different platforms around the world. Who knows what we’ll be doing next? We’re at ground zero of this new world.”