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PROVO — Fans from all over the world played a role in a film proving their loyalty to Brigham Young University's football team.
BYU took first place in the Hyundai Lens of Loyalty project, which gave seven colleges $10,000 to produce a short film showcasing the loyalty of the school's fans to its NCAA football team. BYU will receive an additional $10,000 for winning the competition.
Lane Russell, the senior film major who submitted a pitch to Hyundai and directed the video, said they decided to let fans tell their stories themselves.
"We didn’t need to hire any actors," Russell said. "(It was) just our own fans telling their own stories and that alone was powerful and emotional.”
Fans from all over the world sent in videos of their stories for the film after Russell and his team reached out through BYU platforms and personal contacts, which didn't require any of the money they were given.
"I think one of the things Hyundai really liked about our pitch is that our whole premise is that letting our fans speak for themselves doesn’t cost anything," Russell said.
The remaining $10,000 was used to focus on three special stories. They flew fans from Spain and Hawaii to a game against Boise State and brought them down onto the field for a game ball.
The selected fans were estatic when they found out they would be attending a game, Russell said. He said the man from Hawaii has been a die-hard fan for close to 30 years. The man living in Spain, who is originally from California, is so dedicated to the team he had the BYU logo imprinted on his prosthetic leg. He said watching tapes of BYU football games helped him through chemotherapy treatments when he was younger.
“We got to kind of honor them as a representation of the wider fan base we have,” Russell said.
Bronco Mendenhall, BYU's head coach, saw it and got very, very emotional and then he had his team watch it before their next game.
When visa requirements prevented a group of South African fans from coming to the game, they decided to bring the football to them. The fans received packages with BYU gear and the people making the video went to South Africa to set up a football game there.
The final product of the completed video has really resonated with people, Russell said.
“It was really cool to have people from all over the world to come have this spark of loyalty as they watch this film and it has been really well received across the board," Russell said. "Bronco Mendenhall, BYU’s head coach, saw it and got very, very emotional and then he had his team watch it before their next game.”
Russell took two weeks off from school to travel to South Africa, Spain and Hawaii for the film. A huge BYU fan himself, he said he wore BYU clothing the whole time and was stopped by fellow fans throughout their travels.
"We wore BYU attire everywhere we went and we had people come up to us in the most random places and say 'go BYU!' which kind of reaffirmed the truth we were talking about,” he said.
The other six finalists in the film competition were Alabama, Boston College, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Oregon and Pittsburgh.