Matt Holman, a senior at Greenfield-Central High School, films a basketball game at Knightstown, Feb. 20, 2018. The NineStar Films crew travels to all kinds of sporting events in Hancock County and beyond providing content for Channel 9. Staff photo by Evan Myers
GREENFIELD — From football to wrestling, Greenfield-Central High School has all-star students in every single sport. But some of the school’s unsung champions are behind the camera filming the action.
Greenfield-Central’s NineStar Films crew has broadcasted more than 200 local sporting events during the past four years, said William McKenna, the high school’s radio/TV teacher. McKenna said the crew is made up of his sharpest students, who travel across Hancock County and beyond putting their skills into practice.
NineStar’s TV station on Channel 9 provides coverage of area schools’ football, basketball and baseball games, said John Painter, video producer.
After NineStar, a nonprofit utilities company, entered the TV business, its leaders needed to find differentiation to compete against Comcast, DirecTV and the rest of the major companies, Painter said. Collaborating with Greenfield-Central students turned out to be a mutually beneficial relationship.
A select group of the high school’s radio/TV students travel around the state covering school sporting events throughout the week, Painter said. This gives customers access to local content, connecting NineStar to the community and putting their productions in a niche market.
The student film crew is enthusiastic and dedicated, Painter added. They work long nights to make the magic of broadcasting happen, normally being the last people out the door after a sporting event.
“These guys, they’re hungry,” Painter said. “And we’ve had them long enough that they’re good.”
Greenfield-Central’s radio/TV program began collaborating with NineStar in 2013, McKenna said. His students also have experience doing non sports-related programming, including weather reports and student-run talk shows. But their field work makes them stand out, he said.
The student-operated film crew is paid to give coverage of sporting events across Hancock County and beyond, McKenna said. Handling more than just Greenfield-Central’s sports teams, the crew now bounces around the state; they’ve covered games everywhere from Knightstown to Hamilton Southeastern, McKenna said. The team has even filmed multiple big-ticket events at Lucas Oil Stadium and Banker’s Life Fieldhouse, he added.
“It’s real world for them,” McKenna said. “Everything we do is geared toward that.”
Matt Haggard, a junior on the film crew, said the program allows him to do something he loves while getting experience and connections in the broadcasting community.
In addition to sports coverage, Haggard has his own talk show, “Unscripted with Matt Haggard.” Everything he’s learned in class has inspired him to end up pursuing a career in television, Haggard said.
The students that operate the film crew clock several hours in class and many more after school, McKenna said. David Anderson, a senior who has been involved in the radio/TV program since he was a freshman, said he has covered more than 100 games over the years.
Between the class work and the sports assignments, being on the film crew is a pretty big commitment, said Matt Holman, a senior radio/TV student and a Greenfield football player. When he first started, Holman was hesitant about the program. But he quickly found that the experience has been overwhelmingly positive.
Now Holman said he enjoys being in front of and behind the camera — whenever he isn’t playing on the field himself.
“You can only learn so much in the classroom,” Holman said. “This has definitely given me further insight into what it’s like out in the field.”
Cooper Hanson, a senior, has been interested in pursuing a career in film and broadcasting since he got into high school, he said. Hanson, a regular intern with the film crew, said his role in the organization is perfect for career preparation.
As a content producer and film editor, Hanson said he is grateful for the opportunity to cover high school sporting events, which have a live output and a captive audience.
“It’s a really unique situation,” Hanson said. “There are not many high school (programs) out there where you get to be on live television.”
The crew’s momentum has carried the school’s television program forward and given them unparalleled sports broadcasting experience, McKenna said. The team has the unique opportunity to shadow the most elite football, basketball and baseball players in central Indiana, catching the most dramatic moments of student athletics in every season.
Wherever sports history is made, you can count on the film crew to be there on the sidelines, camera in hand; capturing the action as it happens, McKenna said.
“The last four years have just been a godsend that has advanced our program in ways that I just wouldn’t have thought of,” McKenna said.