Sports fans on both sides of the Atlantic will learn more about a group of athletes from Wales when Ball State University presents a student-produced documentary, “Transatlantic Storytelling 2020,” with a world digital premiere on June 30.
Ball State Sports Link, in partnership with Cardiff Met Sport Broadcast, created Transatlantic Storytelling, an immersive learning, global storytelling project between students at Ball State and Cardiff Metropolitan University in Cardiff, Wales.
The groundbreaking documentary features exclusive stories, with 22 different interviews, and stunning visuals from Cardiff and Wales. Three of the athletes are potential participants in the next Olympic or Paralympic games.
The feature-length documentary is presented in a style familiar to many fans of ESPN, said Chris Taylor, senior director of digital sports production in Ball State’s College of Communication, Information, and Media.
“But it is more than a documentary. It’s a partnership. It's pedagogy sharing,” he said. “This is the result of a multi-year process than brought our two universities together. In fact, we have the only digital sports media program in the U.S., and Cardiff is the only one in the U.K. It’s a natural partnership.”
Ball State students collaborated with Cardiff Met students on identifying, developing, and producing feature stories on Welsh athletes. While on the ground in Cardiff, Wales, for 12 days in late February to March, students worked together to capture footage, scenes, and interviews with the athletes.
The documentary will bring to American audiences sports not commonly seen on television on this side of the Atlantic, including rugby and cricket.
“After months of preparation, including doing interviews online, we took our student group to Cardiff,” Taylor said. “We were on the ground for a solid 12 days, shooting interviews and capturing footage. It was an intense, rewarding opportunity that allowed our students to get incredible experiences learning on the fly. They had one shot to do the interviews. It wasn’t like we could easily go back.
“Of course, we got back to the U.S. and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, sending all the students home to work on the project remotely. However, they worked day and night for weeks to get this done. Of all our Emmy-award winning projects, this one will be right there.”
For viewers in the United Kingdom, the debut will be in prime time at 8 p.m. For viewers in the United States, the start time is 3 p.m. Direct links can be found through each program’s social media accounts — @bsusportslink, @MetBroadcast, and @CMetSportTV.
The initial release of the documentary will be streamed live on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the project’s official website, transatlanticstorytelling.com. In addition, student producers and athletes featured in the film will be engaging on social media using the hashtag #TransatlanticStorytelling throughout the live stream.
Following the June 30 digital premiere, the documentary will then be edited into a 58-minute version released for linear television stations and film festivals — along with additional digital platforms — in both the United Kingdom and the United States.
“We’re excited for the initial release on June 30,” said Zach Roy, a Ball State student who is the film’s executive producer and director. “It’s certainly been a challenge to put this together after coming home to a global pandemic. Thankfully, our team has been able to virtually come together, edit remotely, and craft something we are all proud of.”
As part of the five-year agreement between the two universities, Taylor said, students and faculty from Cardiff Met are tentatively scheduled to come to Ball State in 2021 and the return of Ball State students to Cardiff in 2022.