BY KATHY JONAS
In the time it takes to eat an apple or brew a cup of coffee, Jo Throckmorton, maker of TV commercials, tells the stories of billionaire sportsman Mark Cuban, soprano Ailyn Pérez, and ESPN broadcaster Sage Steele.
“It’s all about differentiation,” Throckmorton says of the commercials, which were created for Indiana University to illustrate the value of an IU education as opposed to an education elsewhere. “Why would you want to leave your home and come to this place? How can we help you achieve what you want to achieve?”
Throckmorton is the owner of Filmworks, a Bloomington media and production company, and is also an adjunct instructor in The Media School at IU. “Each commercial is the story of a person who is successful,” he says. “We want students to be able to identify with the story and know how they can fulfill their promise.” He also wants viewers to identify with the hardships and sacrifices that led to their success.
Throckmorton says all of the scenes in the commercials were taken from real life. Pérez, a rising star in the operatic world, didn’t start out performing at the Musical Arts Center (MAC). She got her foot in the door by pulling the curtain ropes as a stagehand. She kept working behind the scenes, studying and auditioning, until she earned a singing part. Recently, Pérez debuted at The Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
Dallas Mavericks owner Cuban fought to get on the IU rugby team. And, initially, his professors were not enamored with his business ideas, but Cuban refused to take no for an answer.
Steele, the 2015 undergraduate commencement speaker, at times struggled academically but went on to realize her dream of becoming an elite sports broadcaster. Her spot will air beginning in the fall, when university promotional pieces typically accompany televised college football games.
“When we were working to develop the stories we would tell to help represent IU, I realized a writer was needed. Someone who knows how to weave a story that is deeper than just, ‘Hey, come to IU. We’re number one,’” Throckmorton says. “We needed a storyteller who understood the emotional depths and feelings associated with IU.” That writer ended up being Angelo Pizzo, screenwriter of Hoosiers and an IU alumnus.
The Cuban and Pérez commercials earned Silver Telly Awards for excellence in video production.