Try Aussie Rules Football | MINNESOTA Freeze   

DIRECTING

Have you ever encountered Australian Rules Football? It's a fast paced, skillful, tough game played by some of the fittest professional athletes in the world where the rules don't seem to make any sense. It combines aspects of soccer, football, basketball... but no, it's not rugby.  Affectionately known as Aussie Rules or Footy, the unique sport originated in Australia in 1858. Like the NFL is to America, Aussie Rules is the number one professional sport to be played in the country under the Australian Football League (AFL). Despite only being played professionally in Australia, Aussie Rules is the 4th most popular sport in the world by average weekly attendance.  Growing up in country South Australia, Aussie Rules was and is a big part of my life. The sport is woven into the fabric of society.  I remember constantly kicking the footy, listening to it on the radio, watching it on TV,  following my fantasy team and talking about the weekend's results with my mates.  It's quite addictive and is played by professionals, amateurs and local club's from 5 to 70 year olds, bringing communities together around it.  

Nearly 10,000 Miles away from the home of Aussie Rules, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Minnesota Freeze has emerged as one of the most robust footy cultures in the United States. This popularity is equally impressive despite the cold Minnesotan climate preventing the sport being played outdoors for 4-5 months of the year.   Despite the winter obstacles, the Australian sport is continuing to grow in popularity.   The sport has seen large worldwide growth in recent years, particularly in America where the United States Australian Football League (USAFL) is alive and well with over 1,100 registered players. The competition was founded in 1997 and is now made up of 32 clubs around the nation, and every year the teams meet to play for the national championship at the USAFL Nationals. For a lot of these USAFL teams, like the Freeze, they are fueled by the passion of Aussie expats, who grew up playing the sport and have relocated to America.  However, the Minnesota Freeze is now attracting more Americans to the sport. Ninety percent of Americans comprise the team of players, making it the highest percentage of American players per club in the country. The Freeze has over 50 players/members on the men’s team, but the most recent growth is coming from women's team with 37 current players.

Being an Australian, passionate footy fan and member of the Freeze, I was approached by the Minnesota Freeze to concept and create a promotional spot for the team to generate excitement for the sport in Minnesota with particular focus on Americans.  As a filmmaker, I have always desired to create something around the sport, and the angle of pitching footy to Americans made it all the more appealing.  Because the majority of Americans have no idea what Aussie Rules is, the goal was to keep it simple and mainly excite and attract Minnesotans to the sport.  The direction was crafted to follow a familiar production quality and style of advertisements similarly used for many American sports.  The cinematic visuals, slow to fast frame rates, punchy color grading and importantly, the fast cutting with aggressive music and sound design leave you with that punch in the face effect.  The feeling of Australian Rules Football is very much the same and so it was important to demonstrate the essence of how the sport is played throughout. Regardless, if you don't understand the rules, the spot is geared to intrigue and get athletes asking more about a sport which is clearly in a league of its own.  The project took a lot of planning and coordinating, and as usual with these projects, it requires a team to pull it off. Please take a look at the crew involved in the project below.  Special thanks to the crew involved and the Freeze for being so great to work with on this project.

For American athletes who don't continue on to a professional level, college is often the end of the road for competitive sports. However, in Australian culture, footy is frequently played on a competitive amateur level by players in their 20's and well into their 40's.  The Freeze offers the same opportunity for those still wishing to play the sport on a competitive level, but also offer a welcoming culture for activities off the field as well. With quite the saturated market for sports in the USA, it’s hard to say where the future of Aussie Rules will be and whether it will be able to crack the market.   If you want to learn more about the sport, check out the video below, which the AFL released and explains the sport pretty well. If you want to try a different sport, check out the Minnesota Freeze and try Aussie Rules!

Director & Editor: Nathaniel Schmidt
Director of Photography: Alex Horner
Second Camera: Jules Ameel
Sound Engineer: Nick Mihalevich, Cape Status
Sound Design: Chase Brandau, Cape Status
Colorist: Oscar Oboza, Nice Shoes
Music Composition: Joey Verskotzi