Two men stood on their marks and shivered in front of a 20-foot metal arm while the wind off the Tidal Basin bit their cheeks.
Their teeth did not chatter as as they spoke the 237-year old words originally drafted by the man standing 19-feet tall in bronze at the top of the marble steps.
Art Monk and London Fletcher were supposed to show off their suits for the camera, but the chill at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial demanded overcoats to shield the tailored fabric. A member of the Fox Sports crew craned the camera jib upwards up before gliding it down, creating a sweeping effect to meet the project’s “look ethic.”
The talent read the teleprompter without a hiccup, but the scenery was out of control. Geese honked and helicopters whirred overhead, blowing out the sound in the microphones hidden under the knots of neckties. The occasional tourists innocently milled into the camera frame.
Every interruption on Jan. 16 made Monk and Fletcher restart the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence, which they read on camera for a Fox feature honoring military service members.
In about 45 minutes of filming, the Hall-of-Fame Redskins receiver and the recently retired linebacker added 13 seconds of narration to a piece running just longer than six minutes. The finished cut would piece together footage shot at locations ranging from a U.S. aircraft carrier in the San Francisco Bay to the White House.
The piece aired during Fox’s pregame coverage leading into the most-watched television event in U.S. history. Super Bowl XLVIII drew 111.5 million viewers.
The crew call at 900 Ohio Drive in January was at 6 a.m.
Audio technicians, gaffers and grips configured a generator, constructed the jib and positioned the lighting, screens and flags. Car service delivered the NFL players at 10, when Jennifer Pransky took them inside a quiet National Parks office to brief them.
A coordinating producer for Fox Sports Media Group’s Features Division, Pransky has worked on the Declaration of Independence features for three Super Bowls including last Sunday. She said the tribute has become a “cornerstone signature piece” for Fox since the 2002 Super Bowl, when the network created the patriotic feature in the wake of 9/11.
“We have about 10 or 12 shoots all around the country,” Pransky said.
“You’re very selective in the players and the people that you want to participate. Not only do they have to be great players on the field, but they have to be great representatives of what being an American means.”
Pransky’s work begins before the shoot. She plays a part in acquiring the talent, picking the locations, obtaining the proper permits from the city and hiring a crew.
She said Fletcher and Monk were easy choices.
“London is… widely known as one of the nicest, most down to earth and inspirational leaders of a team that you could possibly have, so how could you go wrong there? Not knowing at the time that we selected him that this would be his last year, it all kind of culminates in one great reason to have him,” she said.
“And with Art Monk, he’s a Hall-of-Famer. He was the man in DC for so long and such a great figure even though he’s always been kind of shy and reserved I think, especially when it comes to the media.
“When you see him, people get excited.”
That includes Fletcher.
“I thought it was a great opportunity with Art being a part of it,” the linebacker said.
“It made it even more exciting for me to be with a Hall-of Fame player. I know that it would be aired before the Super Bowl. They’re talking about the Declaration of Independence, which our country was founded upon. It’s awesome to be a part of it. I’m honored.”
“It was a great,” Monk said. “Representing our country and all that entails in the law enforcement and military around the country, it means a lot.”
After a few good takes, Fletcher and Monk stuck their heads under a hood to survey the footage on tiny screen. The men were comfortable with how they looked, which meant Pransky and the crew had all they needed for the day.
Tags: art monk, Declaration of Independence, Fox Sports, london fletcher
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