Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Football legend Desmond Howard urges students to 'stay in the blue'

Heisman Trophy winner and Super Bowl MVP Desmond Howard stars in a student-produced video that urges Michigan students to moderate their alcohol intake so they can "stay in the blue."

The 30-second public service announcement debuted on the new high-definition video scoreboards at Michigan Stadium during the Wolverines' Sept. 3 season-opening victory.

  Watch Desmond Howard's video urging students to "stay in the blue."
  The students of Filmic Productions pose for a photo as their day with Demond Howard comes to a close. They are, from left, Stephanie Hamel, Chris Duncan, Rodney Hyduk, Desmond Howard, Steven Coffey and Josh Buoy. (Photo by Rick Fitzgerald, Public Affairs)

• Learn more about Stay in the Blue.

• View a list of Under the Lights game-related events.

The video starring the 41-year-old Howard — who will be recognized at the Big House during Saturday's first-ever night home game — was written, directed and produced by U-M students. The video is sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs and Athletics.

Josh Buoy, the U-M junior from Northville who directed the video, is earning praise for the work he and others are doing just one year after taking their first film production class. They are working together under the name of Filmic Productions.

But he may now be best known by his friends as the student who told Desmond Howard "you need to be cooler" while his team was shooting one of the scenes of the video.

Howard, who is part of the ESPN College GameDay crew that will broadcast from Ingalls Mall and Michigan Stadium on Saturday, spent most of a day on campus last month shooting the video. He says he enjoys giving back to his alma mater.

"I had a wonderful experience at Michigan as a student and as a student athlete. I want these students to have just as good of an experience.

"Plus I really believe in this (Stay in the Blue) campaign. I didn't drink as a student and I don't drink now, so this was right up my alley."

"Stay in the blue" refers to keeping a person's blood alcohol content (BAC) below 0.06 percent. For those who choose to drink, keeping the BAC below 0.06 will keep drinkers at low-risk levels. Anyone who has a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher may be arrested for drunken driving in Michigan.

Buoy credits producer Stephanie Hamel — "the most organized person I know" — for taking care of all the logistics for the video and keeping the crew on schedule as it shot at five different locations on campus. Others deeply involved in the production include student directors of photography Rodney Hyduk, Chris Duncan and Steven Coffey, and narrator Evan Watkins.

As many as 40 students, friends and even family members of the production team helped make the day a success.

Omar Hashwi, an 18-year-old sophomore from Dearborn, was off camera tossing a football to Howard through at least a dozen takes of the opening scene on the steps of Michigan Union. And, yes, Howard really did one-hand the ball through every take.

Brenda Gunderson, a senior lecturer in statistics, played the instructor teaching a class when Howard created "Michigan time" by arriving 10 minutes after the hour.

It was Buoy's mom, Patti Buoy, his brother, Jacob Buoy, and other family and friends who carted banners, chocolate fountains, salads, pizelles and a lobster to Elbel Field to create the tailgate scene.

Throughout the day of shooting, Howard willingly took direction from the student directors, posed for photos with students and chatted with members of the Michigan Marching Band who helped create the tailgate atmosphere.

Howard's willingness to help with this project "is an expression of his love for Michigan," says Greg Harden, associate athletic director.

The professional-quality video was shot using a Canon digital camera. The students have several cameras among them, but borrowed lights from the university. They create their smooth-looking action scenes by using a camera dolly made from plywood and wheels with a PVC-pipe track.

Buoy and Hamel estimate the group has invested about 500 hours in the production of this one video. They have three others in the works that will be released on the big screens at the Big House during future home football games.