A Cinematic Take on 2020

Spirit Week Video Directors Welcome Abessinio Stadium


Matthew Deckers, Entertainment Analyst

After months of eager anticipation, Abessinio Stadium finally opened its gates to the Salesianum community and hosted its first football game on Friday, November 13. The crowd was filled with excited, socially-distanced fans, while WSAL live-streamed the game to the folks at home in their brand new studio. But the stadium wasn’t the only thing being prepared for this eventful night. Behind the scenes, a group of passionate, dedicated students spent weeks working on the 2020 Spirit Week video, continuing a recent but much-appreciated tradition that unites the Salesianum body.

This year, project leads Jack Kohn ‘21 and Aidan Keener ‘21 took a slightly different approach to developing the Spirit Week video than what had been done previously. Because of COVID-19, they wouldn’t be able to get footage from actual games, while other Sallies traditions had to be removed from the video entirely. Going into it, Kohn and Keener wanted to split their focus into two separate videos, the second to be created in preparation for Feast Week next semester. “We had already known what we wanted for Feast Week,” said Keener, “but it wasn’t until we found out Spirit Week would conclude with the opening of the brand new stadium that we found our idea.”

Kohn explained that they wanted to focus on making an exciting, sports-oriented video to welcome Abessinio Stadium. It highlights the four major teams that will be using the stadium throughout the remaining school year: football, soccer, track & field, and lacrosse. “From that point, we knew we wanted a good song,” he said. “I looked for a while on platforms we have used previously, but it was hard to find that perfect song.” It’s here when he turned to Noah Brecht ‘21, who helped develop the audio for the Feast Week video last school year.

Brecht spent some time after school working on the general melody and structure of the song, based on the vision Kohn had for the tone of the video, then expanded on it over a period of two weeks. “They didn’t start the video until after I finished the song, so I didn’t have to worry about timing the music to video clips or anything,” he described. “I needed to make it about two minutes and as hype as possible.”

To capture footage of the four teams, Kohn and Keener scheduled practices with each of them to meet at the stadium. This is where the greatest challenge arose: capturing the energy of a regular game without making the video seem staged or fake. “We both composed ideas of what we wanted and brought [them] together in order to create a unique blend of shots,” Keener described. He handled many of the action shots, while Kohn used his drone to get the more cinematic angles of the team and stadium. “We both learned from each other and brought that together.”

This process had some interesting moments, particularly on the Friday following the 2020 Presidential Election. “[Joe Biden] was scheduled to talk that night down at the Riverfront, which was about three miles away,” Father Beretta explained. “Apparently, there was a strict ‘no-fly’ zone which included drones.” After detecting Kohn’s drone at Abessinio, the Wilmington police and Secret Service showed up to the stadium. Father Beretta even had to stop an angry police officer from walking over to Jack and Aidan. “Outside of the fence were three Secret Service agents. We went over, and the police officer was like, ‘Okay, you don’t have to be nervous being with these guys,’ and I was like, ‘My dad was a federal agent, so I’m okay,’” Father Beretta said. “I just didn’t want to scare [Jack and Aidan].”

Despite this memorable hiccup, the team got all of the footage they needed, and it couldn’t have been done without the help of the players. “They were all eager and excited to help, and I think the footage speaks for itself,” Kohn said. Despite being difficult to perfectly replicate the atmosphere of a Salesianum sports event, the video team and the athletes worked together to create something truly unique.

From there, the editing process was fairly straightforward. The team storyboarded where they wanted certain shots to go, placing a heavy emphasis on motion to create sequences that would flow right into the next. After color graded the video to give it a cool, darker look, and give the project some finishing touches, it soon premiered at Abessinio Stadium on November 13 for Spirit Week.

Kohn, Keener, and Brecht’s work on this year’s Spirit Week video will likely set a precedent for how future ones are made. “As far as I am aware, this video was the first one in Salesianum history to have a fully student-produced soundtrack,” Brecht adds. “Coupled with the fact that all the footage was shot by Jack and Aidan personally, this might be the first entirely student-produced Spirit Week video.”

Some quotes edited for clarity. You can watch the 2020 Spirit Week Video here (starts around 33:50)