TV goes to school
It was the first time Matt Dubics ever shot a basketball under the warm glow of a 650-watt ARRI film lamp and the lens of a rolling movie camera.
In doing so, Dubics, 16, of New Florence, nailed his role as a main character in a commercial for Indiana Regional Medical Center shot Saturday by a three-man Comcast crew in the gymnasium of the Laurel Valley High School, part of the Ligonier Valley School District.
"They said, 'Just try to get one shot in,' " said a visibly jumpy Dubics, a forward/guard on the boys varsity basketball team.
Producer/director Joe Serkoch then yelled "Three, two, one . . . action," and the scene unfolded.
Dubics took his shooting stance from the three-point line. He then was counseled on his followthrough by John Hinderliter, an actor portraying "Tom," the coach of a fictional team composed of Dubics and the rest of his teammates. The commercial encourages frequent checkups at the IRMC Herbert Hannah Center for Oncology Care to detect prostate cancer as early as possible.
"This is my eighth commercial in the last two years, and I always play old guys with health problems. After a certain age, that's the part you get," said a laughing Hinderliter, 49, of Oakmont, who was chosen for the role through his connection with Docherty Casting Agency, Pittsburgh.
The shoot's first scene was Tom observing the 11-member team as they ran through a drill. The gym was almost entirely dark at that point except for two 12,000-watt HMI filming lights that illuminated the action.
"We're trying to give everything a real hard orange glow of lighting around it, kind of like an ESPN Classic look," Serkoch said.
Next, Tom blew his whistle and huddled most of the team up while directing Dubics to break off from the group to practice his three-pointers.
Based on the script, a voice over during the commercial will say that Tom teaches his players that the best way to defeat an opponent is to plan ahead, something he has done by seeking preventative treatment at the oncology center.
The commercial will begin running at an undisclosed time in the Comcast/Adelphia Blairsville district, which includes portions of Indiana, Westmoreland, Cambria and Somerset counties.
"This is just the beginning. Then once they go into production, they'll do all kinds of stuff to the film," Hinderliter said.
The scene for the shoot was chosen by 1987 Laurel Valley graduate Mark Richards, the IRMC director of marketing/public relations, as a means of recouping on a favor, said Todd Hepner, head coach of the Laurel Valley team.
Before the start of the season, Hepner approached IRMC about helping the district purchase new gym bags for the team. Hospital officials obliged and then asked Hepner if the team would be interested in shooting the commercial. The school board approved the move at the December meeting.
"When I addressed the team about this opportunity, they were very excited about it," Hepner said. "I feel it is a great outreach opportunity for IRMC, our student athletes and our community."
The shoot was not a mandatory activity for the players, but the lure of being in a television commercial was obvious.
"They all chose to be here," Hepner said.
Teammates of Dubics participating in the shoot were Shane Dickert, Craig Bennett, Ben Saxton, Patrick Hall, Tyler Hughes, Sam Griffith, Adam Heming, Cody Hunt, Josh Ressler and Jolly Gruss.
The shoot coincided with the September installation of two IRMC family practice medical facilities in Bolivar and Seward, Richards said.