Part of the video’s merit is that it has the same pacing and themes of the actual “One Shining Moment” video, which traditionally airs at the conclusion of the championship game, which would have been held Monday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Gaudin recreated virtually every theme that the sappy montage pulls together every year – the player diving on the floor for a loose ball, the player pounding his chest in time with the lyric “feel the beat of your heart,” the dejected player on the bench pulling his jersey over his face, the player nodding in slow motion at the camera mouthing the words “Final Four.”
The height of his commitment to detail and his simultaneous embrace of the absurdity of this project might be a shot in which Gaudin, as a Florida State player, sits on the bench, pulling a towel over his eyes. The chairs on either side of him are wooden dining-room chairs that might be found in the homes of grandparents around the country. But they bear the NCAA branding of bench seating at each tournament site. But the branding is “NCAA” written in black marker on a white strip of paper.
Gaudin also layered in play-by-play calls – using the names of actual players, like Garza, who likely would have starred in the tournament – in which he again strived for the highest level of authenticity for a video about a basketball tournament in which his couch stands in as a scorer’s table. To produce the best sound quality, Gaudin said he stuck his head into a cloth stand-alone closet in his guest bedroom.
“God bless my neighbor,” Gaudin said. “I don’t know him well, but he had to have heard me in the middle of the night yelling into my iPhone.”
Gaudin also made sure that none of the baskets that he scored on his miniature basket were the same, a goal that ended up requiring a level of difficulty for some of the shots. That included a fadeaway jumper preceded by dribbles behind the back and between his legs that proved particularly elusive. His obsession to make the shot – which he did after about 20 takes, he said – revealed a dedication to craft and perhaps also a descent into madness.
Said Gaudin, “I was sweating and it was 2 in the morning and I was like, What am I doing?”
He also described that especially challenging segment of production as “certainly the closest that I’ve come to just lighting my apartment complex on fire.”
Gaudin even braved injury to finish his shooting schedule. When, as a Michigan Wolverine, he slapped the floor in a defensive crouch, he said he hurt his Achilles tendon.
“That was on a Wednesday and I had a lot of athletic scenes to tape, so I had to take Thursday off from doing the athletic scenes, but thankfully by Friday I felt good enough to continue,” he said.
The penultimate shot in the video – when confetti rains down in slow motion on him as a champion Michigan State Spartan – was again testament to his care and possibly the loss of a few marbles. Gaudin said he had 17 or 18 takes of the same shot to achieve the sort of image that CBS normally includes, like a piece of confetti that flutters to the ground right in front of the camera lens. Needing to gather up the confetti after each take, he said it took him 3-1/2 hours to get the shot he wanted.
(How do you film such a scene when, in following social-distancing directives, you shoot the scene by yourself? Gaudin pointed a portable fan on the shorter ladder at a pile of confetti sitting on a box on the taller ladder in his bedroom, which is separated from his living space by a wall that doesn’t reach to the top of the ceiling. Before each take, he turned on the fan, then quickly slid the bedroom door shut and turned to face the camera as the fan blew the confetti over the wall and onto himself, arms outstretched, exultant.)
The ladders proved essential to the shooting, as he stationed them around his living room/film studio/basketball court to prop up his phone.
One of the two ladders that he borrowed from his building happened to be a Werner model, lending another uncanny level of detail. Werner provides the ladders for net-cutting ceremonies for all NCAA tournament games, so the last shot of the video – as Spartans coach Tom Izzo, dressed in sport coat and dress slacks, holding aloft a net while standing on the ladder – is again exceptionally on target considering that the net was cut from a toy basketball goal affixed to a brick wall.
Rushing to finish the video in time to post it as early as possible Monday, Gaudin slept a total of about nine hours over the final three nights.
As of early Tuesday afternoon, the video had been retweeted about 750 times and viewed more than 37,000 times on YouTube. Gaudin said he figured that friends and family would appreciate the product – it was spurred in part by childhood memories, in which his passion for broadcasting was nourished by calling the action on shots he took on a miniature basket in his family’s Indiana home. But he was particularly gratified to hear from basketball fans needing a fix of the tournament on Championship Monday.
One tweeted back to Gaudin, “Unreal! Best thing I’ve seen during quarantine and what we all needed today. Thank you sir!”
Wrote another, “All day today I’ve been sulking … we should be watching the championship game! This made me laugh and I loved it!”
Indeed, in an homage to the NCAA tournament and the hokey video that wraps it up, Gaudin put it all on the line and always did his best. He’s got the cheerleader outfit and wig to prove it.
Gaudin did not spend all of the past several days creating his tribute to the NCAA tournament. Gaudin organized a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for Feeding America, a national hunger-relief organization. Those interested can find it at gofundme.com/f/voices4good.