Saturday night after the Nebraska - Northwestern "Battle for NU", BTN will show a documentary about Brook Berringer. Entitled "Unbeaten: The Life of Brook Berringer", the piece is produced by BTN Originals and directed by Matthew Engel and Kevin Shaw.
BTN gave us the opportunity to watch an online preview, and I asked our Ryan Tweedy to preview it and give us his thoughts.
"Anybody can be a starter, the people who finish are important."
- Ron Brown
I settled in Friday morning to watch the film. There are certain things, like most people who will watch the movie, which I took with me into it. I took my 14-year-old self, my un-wavering love of Tommie Frazier, Brook Berringer and the greatest teams in the history of college football. I took my respect for Tom Osborne and disdain for anything negative ever said about the '95 Huskers' character. I took a large piece of who I am, a Cornhusker, into my office and watched a private YouTube link 24 hours before it went live on BTN.
If I'm totally honest about it, I was nervous. I mean, the two guys who produced and directed it, Matt Angle and Kevin Shaw, aren't from Nebraska. I didn't think they could understand two things. One, I didn't think they could find the beauty in Nebraska's rural areas. I pictured a lot of poorly shot dirt roads and dying corn. Two, I didn't think they would be able to fathom how much we care and how much Brook means to us. Not only in a real world, we watched him play for us way, but also in the metaphorical, underdog like me kind of way.
I was wrong. They did get it.
It was well made. It was well told. It was beautifully shot. It was well edited. Sometimes the music was a little cheesy but that's documentaries. Good music isn't cheap or easy to find. Chances are you won't even notice the music.
I'm a video editor by trade and I work on documentaries as well. As a matter of fact, I've interviewed Jan Berringer, Brook's mom, for a movie I made and I know how hard those interviews can be to do. The BTN crew handled it like champions. They handled the inevitable end sequence in the most poetic way I feel I've heard it. I have no real complaints about the story they told and trust me here, I'm a jerk who likes to complain.
I hope the BTN continues to make more programming like this. I'd even watch a movie about Eddie George. Especially if it's about how he should give Tommie Frazier his Heisman Trophy, since we all know it's really Frazier's anyways.
I'm not sure how the star system works or if I'm supposed to give "x" amount of corn cobs out of 5. I'm not 100% positive I'm qualified to write this article. So I guess I'll just end by saying this: I would watch this film, unless you have to be not sad shortly after.
Ryan Tweedy, Producer/Director - "Through These Gates"
Going in, I admit, I had the same reservations as Mr. Tweedy.
I wondered if a BTN crew that had little clue about Nebraska could capture the spirit of the state; not just the football, but the land because it's the land that ultimately made us who we are. Typical "foreigners" see only flatland and corn stalks, but there's true beauty in those blowing waves of grain and the documentary captures that better than I could have imagined.
It doesn't take long for you to remember (or discover, if you're a younger one) who Brook Berringer was; his good looks matched by his decency as a human being. The interviews are powerful. Coaches Turner Gill, Tom Osborne and Ron Brown provide a deep background on Berringer. Gill's speech at Berringer's funeral is a particularly poignant moment.
The word "competitive" comes up repeatedly as an adjective to describe the relationship between Frazier and Berringer. It's not much of a secret that Frazier was difficult to get along with, and Frazier makes no bones about it during his interview. It is Frazier's statement near the end of the documentary that reflects what impact Berringer had on other people's lives.
During a Thursday conference call, BTN's Bill Friedman stated that they were looking to do more in-depth stories with the "Originals" series. If this is the kind of quality they can produce, Big Ten fans are in for something special.
It will be hard for them to match the power of "Unbeaten", a story that every Husker fan should see.