Middle Tennessee State University students manned cameras, ran video packages, produced audio for both a broadcast and public address system, built a stage and more for a special NTT IndyCar Big Machine Music City Grand Prix event on Lower Broadway in downtown Nashville, Tennessee.
Along with True Blue Production Services and as part of a production team, nearly 20 Middle Tennessee State University Media Arts Productions students, recent graduates and Media Arts engineering staff spent 12 hours dodging rain Thursday, Aug. 3, preparing, filming and taking down equipment used to capture a news conference atop Nashville Underground.
Their work was to also include a live broadcast of an IndyCar pit road competition, but Mother Nature had other plans, forcing the cancelation of that aspect of their day. Weather permitting, the Friday through Sunday, Aug. 4-6, IndyCar race concludes with Sunday’s grand prix.
“We had to quickly pull the show together (after the rain subsided),” said Helen Grace Daniel, 21, an MTSU senior video and film production major with a concentration in live production. Her job was as technical director for the event and assist Media Arts professor Robert “Bob” Gordon, the executive producer and director, who used the opportunity as a creative project for students.
“Everyone with IndyCar was happy with it (the production),” added Daniel, who is scheduled to graduate in December. “We had a good time, we learned a lot and it was a pretty good show.”
Ruthie Culbertson, director for event productions with the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix, said the MTSU team did “an amazing job. These events are never easy and everyone was responsive and flexible and great at problem-solving with a clear, calm head— which is never easy to do. Our executive team was thrilled with the effort and result, and we are looking forward to working with MTSU in the future with bigger and better projects.”
In this Media Arts Productions job — a paid, student-staffed, faculty-managed, multicamera, live-event production company in the Department of Media Arts in the College of Media and Entertainment — Gordon said “it was a great opportunity for the students to do something new and to represent the university. Hopefully, next year, the weather will not be a factor.”
The production was a freelance producing opportunity for Nathan Wallach, MTSU assistant athletic director/broadcast operations and alumnus. Involved with the grand prix since 2021, Wallach was approached by organizers about the live broadcast of the pit competition and news conference. He connected with Gordon, who jumped at the extra-curricular event for his students.
“This opportunity gives the students an entry into the racing world, from a television perspective, and gives them an addition to their resume which no other university can provide,” Gordon said.
Needing audio/visual support, they reached out to Director Robert Mogensen of True Blue TV Event Productions, “with a proven track record for success and great MT Athletics partner,” Wallach said.
Featuring the college’s $1.7 million mobile production truck on location, the talented MTSU crew, which has a rich history of production accomplishments, once again enjoyed success.
Providing real-world experiences for video and film and audio production students at a select number of live events each year, Media Arts Productions produces many live events annually, including MTSU football and basketball for ESPN+, CMA Awards Red Carpet Special, Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and more.
Now in its third year, Big Machine Music City Grand Prix has developed partnerships with MTSU’s Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center and the Concrete Industry Management program in the School of Concrete and Construction Management. Big Machine Music City Grand Prix is led by CEO Matt Crews, an MTSU alumnus and former Blue Raider football player.
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)