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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Growl skits expected to top last year's

It may be hard to imagine Steve Spurrier having a direct effect on the production of theatrical skits, but like his playbook, the Ol' Ball Coach is full of surprises.

Gator Growl skits changed from live performances to video recordings at Spurrier's behest.

When Spurrier had natural grass laid on Florida Field in 1990 to replace the AstroTurf, performers were prohibited from running on the field, said Aron Weingard, producer of Gator Growl.

As a result, performers began videotaping skits and have never turned back.

"I'm maintaining a poker face, but it's going to be great," Weingard said of the skits.

Weingard said even though the main theme of the skits is always based around campus jokes and athletic rivals, new technology has created opportunities for the highest quality of production.

The staff is willing to do whatever it takes, no matter how much time is involved, to create the best possible skits, he said.

"For every minute of footage, we probably spend over an hour of filming time," said Michael Jordan, creative co-director of Gator Growl.

The process of creating a skit begins with the seven-member creative team brainstorming ideas, writing and editing a script, casting actors, filming and editing, Jordan said.

An element of surprise is important for the success of the skits.

For that reason, the skits are only pre-screened by a select few directors on staff before the show.

No more than 10 directors will have seen them before they are viewed by thousands of people.

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Jordan said different video elements, including songs, sound effects and footage, give pre-recorded skits an advantage over live ones.

"When you see a musical, it's one-dimensional," Jordan said.

"But on screen you can really accomplish a new look that isn't possible on stage."

Video can be taken from five of 10 different views at once, which gives the staff flexibility to choose the funniest or most creative version for the audience.

The screening process for actors was more intense this year, and the overall quality is the highest ever to be seen at Gator Growl, he said.

No individual characteristics of the skits make them the best yet, he said, but rather a combination of factors.

"Our video editor shoots so tight and makes it so crisp that each of our skits are like short films," Jordan said.

Commercials will also be acted out, he said.

Instead of showing cameos all at once, as the 2006 show did, they will be spread out during the entire Gator Growl show.

"The show as a whole is going to be one of the best shows that students, alumni and the Gainesville community is ever going to see," Jordan said.

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