In September I fulfilled a childhood dream by working with the San Francisco 49ers as a freelancer on their inaugural #49ersInvasion project. The goal was to capture the 49er Faithful and how they travel to opposing stadiums. Following the video I sat down with 49ers digital editor Andrew Pentis for an interview to discuss the project, my 49er fandom, and how the idea came about.
Growing up in Texas how did you become a 49ers fan?
"I was obsessed with Steve Young. He was my guy. I remember going to two games at Candlestick Park when I was younger and from there I was obsessed. Living in Texas during the great 49ers - Cowboys rivalry of the 90s, I got tired of hearing about the Cowboys, so that really solidified my fandom."
Spenser, how did you get involved with 49ers Studios for this project?
"I saw Tweets from executive producer Robert Alberino Jr. about 'The Faithful' series over the summer and then I saw a Tweet about fans emailing their stories, so I emailed Rob, telling him about growing up a huge 49ers fan in Texas at the height of their rivalry in the 1990s. I was always surrounded by Cowboys fans and was the only Niners fan. I pitched him that idea and said I wanted to film my experience going to the game in Dallas because I was going to go anyway."
What went into the planning for this video?
"I had sent a treatment to Rob that was pretty detailed. Then I was sitting there thinking how we would make it interesting and not just have it be a GoPro-style thing with music attached. The day we filmed it, we just decided to make it all about the rivalry. I actually got that idea on the fly from the 49ers Twitter account, which was posting pictures of old, classic 49ers-Cowboys rivalry moments. We took it from there. We modeled it, at least the driving part, after that commercial that NFL Network did a few years back with Edward Sharpe and the "Home" song with tailgating and a bunch of fans. We wanted to keep it light. And the opposing fans were gracious and nice, which helped."
Were there more 49ers fans at AT&T Stadium than you and your crew expected?
"We were completely blown away by how many 49ers fans were there. I have been to that stadium before, so I had seen that kind of with how the (Chicago) Bears fans took it over, but nothing like what the 49ers did. My buddy was surprised and a little bit depressed when we walked in and saw red everywhere. If we would have lost that game, we would have shot it a little differently, but we didn't, thankfully. He was a good sport about it, and so were all the other fans in the stadium, which was nice to see. I saw Niners fans and Cowboys fans laughing and hugging, which you don't usually see at NFL games."
How did you get the video to be so high-quality?
"We did shoot a little bit of b-roll the day before, driving around the stadium, much of which we didn't end up using because it was too dark and the continuity was off. Then we woke up really that day, Sunday, and shot the tickets. My buddy shot it on a FS700 with some pretty good lenses and then used his Olympus recorder. We just shot high-end pro-res. I had my DSLRs in the stadium, too. We also used a handheld Nikon 800 and a Nikon D4. I do photography professionally, so I have those lenses anyway."
How much time did it take to edit?
"Two days, not full days. But the concept hadn't totally come together by the end. We thought we'd do what we did, but shaping the clips to be that way took five hours of editing and coloring and all that. We didn't want to use anything that was copyrighted so we got the audio from 49ers Studios and that was that. Kept it light-hearted."
Was working on this more fun than working on a commercial in Los Angeles?
"Way more fun. At one point, I stopped filming because I just wanted to watch the game; I wanted to enjoy some of it."
PHOTOS FROM THE GAME