On the morning of Super Bowl XLII, NFL Films has its own pregame meal. It is no different, really, than the pregame meal for the two teams. All the personnel gather in a hotel ballroom and after the dishes are cleared away, we go over the game plan one last time. Every assignment is checked, every detail is reviewed.
For me, standing in front of that room is always a special moment. Everything we've done for an entire year, all the footage we've shot, all the miles we've traveled, it has all come down to this one game. Like the two teams, we know the stakes. This game will define the season for the coaches and players. It will define our season as well.
That was especially true this year with the New England Patriots attempting to put the final brush stroke on a 19-0 masterpiece while the New York Giants sought to pull off an upset for the ages. Either way, it would be history. It was up to us to capture it on film. The action, the pageantry, the emotion, all of it.
Looking around the room that morning, seeing veterans like Hank McElwee, Donnie Marx, Bob Angelo and dozens of other talented cameramen and soundmen, I felt a great sense of confidence. I felt like Vince Lombardi looking around the Green Bay locker room at Bart Starr, Jim Taylor, Paul Hornung and the rest of the Packers. Today was the big game, but I knew we had a team that was equal to the moment.
They demonstrated it once again in Super Bowl XLII. As you will see in the NFL Films coverage of the game, our 23 cameras had every angle covered from David Tyree's acrobatic catch to Giants guard Rich Seubert carrying his son through the shower of postgame confetti. The game was memorable and the images are indelible.
"Capturing the Moment: NFL Films at Super Bowl XLII" will take you onto the field with our team and introduce you to the people who have pioneered the camerawork that now is synonymous with NFL Films. One thing that comes through in the film -- and the individual profiles linked to this site -- is how much our guys love their work and how much they love the game. They are artists and this Super Bowl was a rich pallet, indeed.
Title: Senior Producer/Sound Cameraman
Years at NFL Films: 33
On the game: "It was a terrific game and from my position (on the New York bench) I could hear and feel everything. The action on the field was intense, lots of hard hitting, and the emotional swing with those lead changes in the fourth quarter was just amazing."
His Take: "You know right away when you get something really good and that happened for me at the end of the game. As the Giants offense was getting ready to go back on the field for the last (touchdown) drive, I was shooting the linemen and all of a sudden Michael Strahan walks right into the shot and says: 'The final score of this game will be 17-14. You gotta believe that.' I'm thinking, 'If the Giants do score and this game ends up 17-14, this is a shot that will be played and re-played for years.' As a cameraman you live for stuff like that."
Years at NFL Films: 14
Role at Super Bowl XLII: 48 frames/second camera, New England sideline
On the game: "The early part of the game was actually boring. There weren't a lot of exciting plays, at least from a cameraman's perspective. But in the fourth quarter, it turned into one of the most exciting games I've ever seen."
His Take: "I started as an intern at NFL Films, then worked in media services and started shooting games ten years ago. I really studied the work of Howard Neef, Sr., (a now retired NFL Films cameraman). I studied his footage every week because he didn't miss a thing. He was always in the right place, he was always in focus. I've tried to do it the way Howard did it because, in my mind, he was the best."
Title: Senior Producer/Cameraman
Years at NFL Films: 9
Role at Super Bowl XLII: "Weasel" sound cameraman
On the game: "As the weasel, I'm not looking for action as much as I'm looking for other things, such as fan reaction, sideline reaction, emotion. There were a lot of great moments in the postgame celebration. I got a shot of (Giants center) Shaun O'Hara and his wife hugging and he spins her around. The look on their faces said everything about how much that game meant."
His Take: "I've been with NFL Films for nine years, but I've only been shooting for three. During a game, I don't shoot randomly. I'm always looking for the one shot that really tells the story, a face or a reaction that brings it all together."
Years at NFL Films: 30
Role at Super Bowl XLII: 120 frames/second camera (super-slow motion).
On the game: "You really have no loser today, and Iâll really take that with me as a thought to carry me through the day, you know, history and then again a ring ... itâs going to be history no matter who wins."
His Take: "I always think of myself as the eyes for a million people, or imagining I'm somebody's access to the field so that they can see the game. It's a privilege for me to show them the way I think theyâd want to see the game, or maybe how theyâd want to remember it if from the sidelines if they were down here with me."
Title: Director of Photography
Years at NFL Films: 40
Role at Super Bowl XLII: Shooting long lens camera from the end zone.
On the game: "It was the best (Super Bowl) ever, in my opinion. It was everything you could have hoped for in terms of drama. Not in my wildest dreams did I think the Giants could beat the Patriots, but that final drive is one I'll always remember. As you're shooting it, you know you're part of something special. It's a great feeling."
His Take: "Shooting the games is the best part of my job. For those three or four hours, there are no phones ringing, no meetings to attend. My whole concentration is right there on the field. And when you get a game like that (Super Bowl XLII), there's nothing better."
Years at NFL Films: 45
Role at Super Bowl XLII: Coordinated coverage from press box.
On the game: "I was talking to some people after the game and they were trying to decide if David Tyree's catch was the greatest catch in Super Bowl history. I said, heck, it's the greatest play in Super Bowl history. You had (Eli) Manning's escape from the rush, which was amazing, then the pass and Tyree catches the ball and holds it against his helmet as he falls to the ground. I've seen it from every angle and I still can't believe it."
His Take: "We knew no matter how the game turned out, it would be historic. It would be a game that people would talk about forever. Whatever we shot would be going in a time capsule so we wanted (the film) to be good. And it was."
Title: NFL Films cameraman
Years at NFL Films: 2
On the game: "It got exciting toward the end there. I didnât think it was going to be a (great) Super Bowl and ended up being really cool. Amazing! Let's do it again next year."
His Take: "I had always wanted to work for this company. I graduated film school in August 2006 and here it is February 2008 and I'm shooting the Super Bowl for NFL Films, not for FOX, for NFL Films, and I'm still shooting film. It looks amazing."
Runners: Michael Bennett, Dr. Phil Eskew (left) and Barry Wolper
Role at Super Bowl XLII: Each NFL Films cameraman has a runner assigned to assist him on game day. The runner's most important job is loading the film mags, always having one ready so that when the cameraman needs to change, he can do it quickly without missing a play. The runner also serves as a second pair of eyes, alerting the cameraman if something is happening on another part of the field while the cameraman is following the play.
For Super Bowl XLII, the runners included: Barry Wolper, NFL Films chief financial officer (and die-hard New York Giants fan) and Dr. Phil Eskew, a physician from Indiana who met director of photography Hank McElwee years ago at a Colts game and volunteered to "help out." Since that meeting, Eskew had been running for Donnie Marx at Super Bowls. This year, Eskew was reunited with McElwee for Super Bowl XLII.
The true runner in the group is Michael Bennett (right), who is a running back with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bennett, a seven-year NFL veteran, met cameraman Jim Barry during the filming of HBO's "Hard Knocks" series at the Kansas City training camp last summer. Bennett, who was traded to Tampa Bay during the season, expressed an interest in learning the film business so Barry brought him along as his runner at the Super Bowl.