Behind the scenes of MLB's Yankees championship video
The New York Yankees' championship video took months of preperation
Our writer goes inside with the film crew who put the season-long video together
From Spring Training to the final out of the World Series, the film takes you there
The wheels for Major League Baseball Productions' 2009 World Series film are currently being set in motion in a conference room at its headquarters in Seacacus, N.J. It's Oct. 16, and the men and women who help create the annual film hold their first official meeting to examine a slew of pressing issues they'll sort out over the next month.
They know the resources they'll have at their disposal: dozens of cameras at each game from a slew of networks, including themselves, MLB International and FOX as well as audio feeds from ESPN Radio, FOX and both teams' radio broadcasts.
The twist is the time frame in which they have to complete the film from the end of the World Series: nine days. Yet the shape of the film can't truly take place until they have a clear vision of the champion.
Plus, the unpredictability of who'll win the ALCS and NLCS breeds a sense of doubt for the settings of their 12th World Series film. (MLB launched MLB Productions in 1998 after years of outsourcing.) Depending on which two of the four remaining teams is victorious, the three film crews that cover each World Series matchup could travel to Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium in Los Angeles, to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia or Yankee Stadium in New York. At this moment, it's all up in the air, so they have to plan for everything.
"We've always tried to push the envelope when it comes to gaining access with the players," MLBP's executive producer Dave Check says. "We try to show fans a different side of the game, an insider's perspective that they haven't really had access to in the past."
As the creators of the film set their plan for the 2009 version -- all the way through the New York Yankees' 27th World Championship -- SI.com followed five staff members closely intertwined in the film's production. Here is how everything came together through their eyes:
David Check, Executive Producer
Check has fond memories of his first day on the job. It was August 18, 1998, and the Cardinals were visiting the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were embroiled in a tantalizing race to break Roger Maris' single-season home run record (They were knotted at 47 homers at the time). What resonated with Check that day wasn't what happened during the game, a nondescript 4-1 Cubs victory, but what occurred beforehand.
"That batting practice was quite a spectacle," Check says.
His access to players on the field that day represented the type of approach that he strives to capture in the World Series films.
"We've made great strides ... in terms of gaining access with the players, and trying to demonstrate to the players that we're an extension of their family and that there's an inherent trust value there," Check says. "So they might give us access in areas that maybe they wouldn't give to other media members. They know that we're a league entity and it's in our best interests to promote them, to celebrate their greatness and to tell the compelling stories that go on around the game."
Part of his role during the playoffs is to review what's worked well in previous films. Last year's edition is a prime example of what he wants to continue in the 2009 edition.
"Being in the clubhouse, where no TV cameras are, and Brad Lidge and Carlos Ruiz giving Charlie Manuel the game ball [after clinching a spot in the World Series]," Check says. "Those are the types of moments that really stick with you. These are the types of elements that people respond to because it's not what you see on the FOX broadcast or what you're seeing on SportsCenter."
James Potocki, Lead Producer
Check supervises the World Series film, but he also manages a litany of other projects that require his attention. Therefore, he needs a point person to oversee the production's various elements on a more intimate level. Enter Potocki.
"As lead producer of the DVD, I guess you'd say I'm the director," Potocki says. "I'm relying on a lot of people to be creative, make decisions on their own and to do a lot of work. Production assistants putting in their footage, [game] loggers logging footage, the production field getting all the access it needs [for player interviews and pregame and postgame footage].
"All the pieces come back, and the editors will put it all together. They'll get direction from me as far as an outline from the game. It's the most pure baseball story we do. It's about the game."
For the editors to efficiently sort through the footage for the specific game to which they're assigned, they need a system with easy access.
"We have an Internet system for all the shots (game footage)," Potocki explains. "Once a shot is loaded in, all the editors have it. It used to be that everyone had their own local drive. So, a Mike Piazza interview from 2000 ... if you had eight editors, it had to get loaded in eight times. Now, when editors come into their station, everything is there for them."
Potocki has plenty of other responsibilities -- writing questions for player interviews and overseeing musical content, among others -- but it's his communication with game editors and the field production crew that most directly influences how the crew captures the game's storytelling moments.
"It's really hard for an editor to look at all the footage that's available to them for their one particular game," Potocki notes. "As a producer, you're not going to see all the stuff that can be used. It's important for the field team to relay back to us, 'Hey, we got this money shot.' The Aaron Boone walk-off [home run] in [Game 7 of the] 2003 [ALCS], everybody knows what happened. It's the shot where there might be somebody in the dugout looking and reacting to something that happened in the second inning, that might be the best shot [to build suspense in the film]."