Here we go with the second in my series of disc golf media interviews. This week, I have an awesome set of questions and answers from the crew of Central Coast Disc Golf. There are five members of the videography team, so it will be a little longer than the last post.
As one of the premier videography teams in disc golf, what do you get out of providing disc golf video coverage for us who don’t travel the country playing in tournaments?
Ian – A great feeling from all the awesome feedback we get from our viewers. I would have quit a long time ago if not for the great response we’ve gotten from the fans. Getting to watch the pros from the best seat in the house is a nice bonus though. Another fun thing about this is the travel. I’ve gone to places I wouldn’t have visited otherwise. I doubt I’d ever have gone to Pittsburgh or Montana, but I was lucky enough to visit both and had an amazing time. For the record Pittsburgh is an absolutely beautiful city, not at all what I was expecting. Montana was amazing in it’s own right too. Can’t wait to go back.
Alex – I got into it because I had already watched pretty much all of the round coverage that was available online, and I still wanted more. I wanted to be able to hit YouTube and search for “Paul McBeth Milo McIver” to study how the best in the world play my local course, in exactly the same manner that I was accustomed to studying the technique of top video game players using specific characters or maps.
Derek – For me it’s all about being part of the disc golf family, culture, scene, or whatever you want to call it! It’s fun contributing to the community and sharing our love for the game! I honestly wish I had more time to give to disc golf. Oh, and not to mention front row seats to some of the best golf you’ve ever seen is always great!
Stu – I really enjoy the opportunity to take an event and bring it to life for people that were just reading scores on a page, or articles about what happened. This was the biggest impetus for me to get involved in the first place.
Ben – Tons of money. (Just kidding) No, I don’t know, I’ll say it is quite a thrill to be close to the action on a lead card and that’s probably the best part of it. The editing can be pretty rough sometimes, but it does provide insight into how the best players play.
Since you film almost exclusively on the West Coast, what was the worst event that you’ve covered in terms of weather?
Ian – The worst weather I’ve filmed in was at the Coyote Classic. It rained for like 30 minutes. I didn’t think it would actually rain so I didn’t have an umbrella. Fortunately Peter McBride is a super nice dude, and shared his with me. I’m totally spoiled in CA.
Alex – I’ve had good luck so far, literally every event has been mostly dry and sunny. We’ve got great summers in the Pacific Northwest.
Derek – Weather? Umm… yeah. I guess Masters cup at De La, there was almost some rain, and at night it was a little chilly. For better and worse I’m typically in and around SoCal where we don’t really have much “weather” or seasons. Now if we could just get a little more rain…
Stu – I filmed Texas States in 2014, that was probably the foulest event weather wise, intermittent spitting rain causes serious problems for camera work, and there was a constant 15-20 mph wind blowing everything around. I also had my 4 month old puppy with me while filming.
Ben – Every now and then, I’ve had to break out the umbrella. When we filmed the Worlds in 2014 in Portland, we had to run to the store and get some cheap umbrellas in between rounds. It was a good decision, as we actually had a thunder/lightning delay in the round we filmed later that afternoon. PRO TIP- Sometimes you have to film with one hand and hold the umbrella with the other. This is probably tougher than it sounds. I found the best way to do this is to tuck the umbrella into my side with my left elbow (filming with the right) to reinforce it and keep it pointed straight up, even when the wind picks up. It gets sketchy out there, the last thing you want to do is sacrifice a camera.
With the wealth of disc golf talent that resides on the west coast, who besides Paul McBeth have you seen the most development from during your time covering disc golf tournaments?
Ian – I’ve had a blast watching Peter McBride turn into the disc golf monster he is. I’ve been watching him throw since he was 13 or 14, and how good he’s gotten is pretty crazy. He beat Christian Dietrich this year, and that is no small feat. The kid has game, and is only getting better. Another that comes to mind is Drew Gibson. I filmed him the first time when he was 15. He’s grown up, and improved his game a ton. Crazy talent right there. I’ve filmed a bunch of other CA guys like Rico, Philo, Kyle Eckmann, and a ton more, but they’ve been good for a long time. Peter and Drew I’ve gotten to see improve a ton.
Alex – I’ve only been at this for a couple years, but I’ve seen Nate Sexton’s backhand improve in that time. Eagle McMahon exploded onto the scene last year and can make the lead card when he’s playing well; pretty impressive when you consider that he’s not into his physical prime yet.
Derek – This is probably the toughest question to answer considering the large pool of young talent emerging each year. First off, per the usual, we’re always rooting for our homie Peter McBride, but otherwise maybe with Drew Gibson, and I’m excited to hear who he’ll be playing for this coming season. Drew’s got power, control, and has great course presence. He seems to be working his way up the ladder every year and I’m looking forward to seeing how he does in 2016!
Stu – I’ll leave this to people that live on that side of the country!
Ben – This is a tough one because the first players I ever filmed were on the lead card at some big events, so it’s hard to progress from there. But players like Jon Baldwin, Shasta Criss, James Proctor, Matt Bell, and Peter McBride are all players that I’ve seen make the leap from being regional stars to finding success on tour, and that’s been really cool to see. Watch out for Michael Moulton too…I was playing a tournament with him as an amateur a few years ago, and now he’s one of the top pros in all of California. I hope I didn’t miss anyone…I’d list them all if I could. Ricky Wysocki too…when I filmed him at the San Francisco Safari in 2011 (for DiscMastersTV), he was already an incredible talent, but not the unquestionable #2 in the world behind McBeth like he is now.
What is your favorite event to cover?
Ian – Masters Cup. I love DeLa, and it always brings the big names. I’ve played it a bunch so I’m really familiar with the course, and we get a lot of love being the local crew. Hanging out in Santa Cruz and Staying with my buddy Toryn is always fun too. I do however miss the Hernlunds who Kevin Estrada and I used to stay with before they moved to Japan. The people in Santa Cruz are great, and Derek, Ben and I had a blast last year. Huge thanks to Toryn Robinson for hosting us, and David Lykkegaard Laugesen for doing 2nd cam. I’m excited to see what the new TDs Braden Coolidge, and Stan Pratt do with it this year. Should be fun!
Other tournaments that come to mind have been 2014 Worlds in Portland as that’s where I grew up, and BSF for the same reason. The Worlds Courses, and Milo McIver where BSF is played are some really amazing courses. Milo is probably my number 1 course. The added bonus is getting to do this one with Alex. That guy and his one liners kill me! Great guy. Huge thanks to Paul Fraser and Steven Winslow for doing 2nd cam for us this year.
I can’t leave out Rocky Mountain Disc Golf Championships either. I’ve never felt so welcomed at tournament. My buddy Dylan Shorter shuttled me around all weekend, the TD Ron Pannesi hosted me at the cabin on the course the first night. I met so many nice people, and they kept thanking me for making the trek, it was a great feeling. That and those 2 courses are just spectacular. They should be on everyone’s course bucket list. Definitely going back next year.
And last but not least on my favorite tourneys was 2015 Worlds in Pittsburgh. Stu and I put in 5, 18 hour days to bring everyone next day videos with commentary. Those courses, especially Moraine State Park, and Deer Lakes, were unreal awesome. Huge thanks to Michael Sung for flying me out, and Maria Montano and her wife Deanna for hosting us. It made our stay so much nicer. I love hanging out with Stu too, so that added to the fun. Really proud of what we did there, it was exhausting, but really rewarding.
Oh I almost forgot to mention The Coyote Classic at Lake Casitas. It’s a course in the coastal mountains an hour or so North of LA. It’s a great course with tons of variety and elevation. What makes this tourney fun is that everyone camps right by the course, so it’s just a giant 3 day party. Go if you get the chance! TD Wally Moore does an incredible job putting it on. Big thanks to Chuck for letting me crash in his RV this year!
Alex – I had the pleasure of covering the 2014 World Championships, and that was just incredible because there are *so many* rounds played across *so many* courses, plus that immortalizing title of “World Champion” is on the line. But that’s a migrating tournament, so in a way I feel like that answer is cheating. As an annual tournament set in one location, I have to go with the Beaver State Fling, but then I’m local to Portland and it’s our biggest event. Still, I think Milo McIver tests every shot in a player’s arsenal over 36 holes and is unarguably one of the top few courses on the National Tour.
Derek – Oh man, so hard to say. I’m sentimental about the Wintertime Open at Oak Grove because it was the first one I filmed with Ian. I can still clearly remember that entire day. I’m also a big fan of La Mirada, being my home course and having so much history. However, Masters Cup is my absolute favorite few days of golf. Getting there early to throw a round and spending the next several days wandering the course with the world’s best golfers is really enjoyable. Just being out and around De La and the Santa Cruz scene is always fun, the air is clear, the course is amazing, and the city and people are always welcoming.
Stu – GBO, tons of stuff happens outside the event as well, it’s a less stressful version of Worlds.
Ben – Definitely Master’s Cup. It’s hard to beat that, being that I’ve lived in Santa Cruz almost my entire life, and was attending it for years as a fan before I ever had the chance to film it. There’s a sort of aura about the Master’s Cup that is pretty amazing. Long, tricky fairways force the best in the world to get really creative at times, and it’s a lot of fun to watch. Plus it’s hard to beat Top of the World as the final hole of a tournament.
Most of the videos by CCDG have post editing commentary. What made you decide to go that route rather than commentary during the round like Terry Miller does?
Ian – My number one goal when filming is to be a fly on the wall, and not mess up anyone’s game. When you’re filming you have to be close to the action, and if you talk, the players are going to hear you. With disc golf being such a mental game what someone says can affect how they play, and I would be mortified if I affected someone’s game in a negative way. Plus we like to have fun and joke around in the commentary, it’s hard to do that on the course. I guess it just comes down to better quality. Nothing against Terry doing his thing. I know he asks the players if it’s ok and I’m sure he feels the same way about not affecting the action.
Alex – Well Ian was already great at doing post-round commentary, so I was happy to continue with his style. It’s gotta be the one thing which most separates CCDG from the other outlets. Even if we were to re-evaluate how we do commentary, there are just so many benefits to doing it in post: we can have co-commentators, we can speak at a normal volume, we’re free to laugh or cringe without it effecting a player’s game, we find time to share some anecdotes, feature the occasional special guest, etc.
Derek – When the viewers responded so positively to what Ian and Kevin were doing that’s the way things continued, although refined every time. To me, the post-produced coverage with commentary provides the best overall quality, not to mention economically is way more manageable. I love what Terry is doing with live coverage but just like any ball golf tournament it takes a very large team with top of the line equipment and coordination to pull it off really well. The best live commentary has a guy in a booth who’s stationary with a team of cameras and supporting commentators posted throughout the course to jump around between all the groups and action; that’s a lot of $ disc golf doesn’t quite support at this stage (although it seems things are maturing). Similar to ball golf, live coverage is something I’ll check on throughout the day but never watch the whole thing. Post-produced coverage with commentary, however, I’ll watch every minute of from all the media outlets.
Stu – Let’s face it, two guys laughing it up and talking at normal volume beats whispering play by plays any day.
Ben – Who’s Terry Miller? No…joking aside, we were actually making tournament videos for several years before Terry Miller, and have just done it that way for a long time. When I started working for CCDG, they already had a very strong reputation for commentary, and I’m just happy to be a part of it. Live commentary is really cool, and Terry Miller does a top-notch job of it, but post-round commentary is nice because you don’t have to worry about distracting anyone. Terry has built a reputation now to where even if he does distract a player, they know the value that he brings to disc golf, and would be foolish to be extremely put-off by it. Disc golf on the whole is lucky to have Terry around, it should go without saying that he has been such a huge part of its growth in the past few years.
Ian – I can’t even begin to thank my wife Thanisha Totemwongse enough. She puts up with me being gone on long weekends, editing at night, and doing commentary and podcasts as well. She’s super supportive, and watches our awesome 2 year old kiddo in single parent mode when I’m off filming. CCDG would not exist without her support.
I wanted to give a special shoutout to my original partner in crime Kevin Estrada. I can’t thank him enough for helping me get CCDG going. I don’t know if I would have done it if he hadn’t joined me early on. It was also his idea to have two people doing the commentary, and he did such an amazing job doing it with me. I changed jobs and had to move from the Central Coast to San Diego, and Kevin’s been working a ton at his real job so it’s been tough to get together for dg shenanigans. I promise I’ll have him on for some commentary in the future, I know he’s got a ton of fans, and rightly so.
Thanks for having us on Matt!
Ben – Thanks for taking the time to interview us. I’d like to give a big thanks to my friends and family, I wouldn’t be here without you!
It was such a pleasure hearing from the guys of Central Coast Disc Golf. I can’t thank them enough for taking the time to answer my few questions.
Find Central Coast Disc Golf at the following:
If you missed the first in the series, check out 5Qs with The Disc Eye, and check back next week for another post in this series.