Josh Mitnick, senior cinema and photography major, spent the entirety of the football preseason on the field with the players capturing the moments that define Ithaca College football.
Mitnick is a paid student-worker for the Office of Intercollegiate Athletics who makes videos. In the past, he has made highlight reels, hype-up videos for the swimming and diving teams, season recaps and most recently, the 2018 Training Camp video with Ithaca College football.
Sports Editor Dani Pluchinsky spoke with Mitnick about what his favorite kind of videos are, what he likes best about working for the athletics department and how he feels about the impact of his videos.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Dani Pluchinsky: How did you start working for the athletics department?
Josh Mitnick: I’m very grateful for my freshman roommate JJ Klein. JJ had known about the concept of athletic communications, and I had no idea it was a thing but I knew I liked sports. … Before I knew I wanted to be a film major, I rowed crew in high school and I made videos for my crew team. When JJ saw what I liked to do, he recommended that I check out athletic communications, so I originally worked as a volunteer where I did live streams and operated the camera. At the start of my sophomore year, Justin [Lutes] became the head sports information director, and I approached him and asked, “You know NFL films? Why don’t we do something like that for football?” And he was like, “OK, sure.” And that is how it started.
DP: How has working for the athletics department improved your filmmaking skills?
JM: I think, first of all, being a filmmaker is about telling stories. One of the things I struggled with freshman year and sophomore year was I felt like everyone else had stories they wanted to tell and I didn’t. Doing this kind of stuff made me realize that when the story is already there, it’s the idea of how are you capturing it, and it’s my job to capture it.
DP: What are your favorite kinds of videos to make?
JM: Obviously, I like the long–form stuff like the training camp video. The highlight videos is just trying to tell the story that happened. I really like the track and field video I did because I realized I didn’t have any good b-roll. We went into the A&E Center, turned off all the lights, brought in our own lights and had them pole vault and hurdle in the dark and lit it dramatically. It was really cool because that idea of having a director’s vision for that was really cool.
DP: Take me through the process of what your day is like when you’re shooting and editing a video.
JM: For football, it’s the most intense stuff because I go to all the away games too. I get there two hours before the game starts and then I’m there. I shoot the warmups and the game. As soon as I’m done, I immediately start editing, and I’m trying to get it done as soon as possible so it’s usually from 11 a.m. and I normally don’t finish until 8 or 9 p.m. that night.
DP: Do you interact heavily with the athletes?
JM: I do. When I first did it, I was a little more weary because I didn’t want to intrude. Over the course, I realized how much the films mean to them. I think being a DIII athlete, you aren’t doing it for attention, you do it because you like to play that sport. I think them getting some recognition and them being able to watch themselves means a lot to them. Having them say “I loved your video” or “I watch your videos with my parents.” It’s something that really opened my eyes, and so this past year after the training camp videos, I know the football players the best because I go to all the games. Seeing them as people really changed my approach with the videos.
DP: What is your favorite thing about making videos for the athletics department?
JM: One of the cool things about DIII athletics is all of the athletes go to each other’s games, and they’ll help out. I’ll be at a basketball game and I’ll see football players, and they’ll tell me they love my videos. Also, it definitely makes me feel like I have a purpose. I feel like if you’re just going to college and doing nothing but go to class, it can make you feel like you’re spinning your wheels so having that sort of extra purpose is really important.
DP: Is it cool that you’re able to reach so many people with your videos?
JM: It’s definitely exciting. It’s also scary because I’m not afraid to have my own style, but it does feel like I’m putting myself out there because I know there are different ways to tell stories. And I really like slow motion but not everyone does. Knowing there is an audience and that there is a wider audience, I think it’s a double-edged sword because it’s not like anything in college. This goes out there, and it goes to 60-year-old grandparents, and it’s going to anyone who clicks on the YouTube link So it’s exciting but nerve–wracking.