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NBC competition finalists selected

Gene Noone | Thursday, October 11, 2007

Drawing from a pool of 37 submissions, the Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) department chose three scripts as finalists in NBC’s Notre Dame football commercial contest.

Senior James Geyer, sophomores Cristina Bufalino, Maria Bufalino and Mandy Miller, and juniors Meghan Hartmann and Elizabeth Meaney will now begin production on their 30-second spots.

Karen Heisler, the supervisor of the FTT internship program, was one of the faculty members who reviewed the submitted scripts.

Heisler said three FTT faculty members reviewed each script and chose 10 of the 37, with some members’ choices overlapping. The group re-examined those scripts, narrowed the field to three and then selected the finalists.

Heisler said the judges looked for creativity, originality and production feasibility. It was also important that each script reflect NBC’s main goal of showing what Notre Dame football means to students, she said.

“We were pleased with both the number of entries and the quality of the scripts,” she said. “There were many creative and clever scripts we could not select because the production requirements of those scripts were either too complicated or too unrealistic.”

The three finalists have until Nov. 1 to shoot and edit their spots. They are permitted to use FTT equipment, but they must complete all other production elements by themselves.

Cristina Bufalino said the most challenging part of the project for her group has been organizing all the individual elements needed for production.

Her group’s commercial will show the life of a student on game day from the student’s perspective.

“We wanted to consider and capture a student’s experience on game day because that is what Notre Dame football is to us,” she said. “It is about the experience of game day.”

Geyer took a different route for his ad.

“The general concept of the short is that Notre Dame football isn’t just on Saturday for the students,” he said.

His spot will show a classroom where a bored student imagines a play-by-play announcer calling a Notre Dame football game. The play-by-play reflects the professor’s lecture and ends with a touchdown. The student celebrates the touchdown until he realizes he’s in class and sits down, embarrassed.

“I realized the actual game day experience is more or less the same for all students across the board,” Geyer said. “So I took a different approach to it and tried to write something that you wouldn’t really expect.”

Geyer said the most difficult part of making his ad has been trying to plan it out and get actors to take the roles.

For Hartmann and Meaney, the most challenging part has been translating their script into film, Hartmann said.

“Some shots that we wanted just weren’t feasible for either logistical or visual purposes,” she said. “Writing, directing and producing a commercial is really unique. In 30 seconds we have to show the world how we see the aura of Notre Dame football.”

Hartmann said her commercial’s football theme is related to tradition.

“Our commercial has to do with time – the traditions of Notre Dame football that have lasted for generations, but also the people throughout our history who have kept these traditions alive, right up to the spirit of current students,” Hartmann said.

From Nov. 3-9, fans will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite spot on the NBCSports.com. The winner will be announced Nov. 10, and NBC will decide when and where the commercial will air.