Media arts grad uses video to inspire athletes
ARLEE – Jordan Lefler, 24, stands on the sidelines with video camera in hand at just about every Arlee boys football and basketball game for the past few years, hoping to capture phenomenal moments — and avoid being hit by the ball.
“I’m trying to get the emotion of the game,” he said.
Lefler graduated from Arlee High School in 2009. He went on to get a degree from the University of Montana in 2014 in media arts. He is using those skills to create action-filled sports videos layered with intense graphics, heart pounding music and inspirational dialogue. At the end of the year, he gives the players a copy of the video. During the season, he puts shorter clips on Facebook to help motivate the team.
“My goal is to inspire them,” he said. “My dad gave motivational speeches when I was wrestling. I think he is the one who taught me to inspire, but I’m a little shyer than him, so I think videos are my way of helping to inspire.”
In the last football season, Lefler caught the memorable moments against Superior.
“I’ll remember that game for the rest of my life,” Quarterback Riley Rogers said. “Superior’s been good for years and we ended up winning. (Lefler) was there on the sidelines. He gets good angles and adds cool effects.”
Riley gets a different perspective when he watches the video.
“Sometimes, I watch and I think: I didn’t know I threw it that far,” he said. “Watching them is pretty awesome. They give me and the rest of the team motivation to win.”
Riley, a senior this year, was a freshman when Lefler made the first video.
“Every year he gets better,” Riley said. “And he gets better cameras. I don’t know of anyone who does this for their community. He puts a lot of time into it. It’s pretty awesome.”
The project started out as a way to earn college credits for an independent study course a few years ago.
“After the first season, I decided this was something I loved to do: to inspire youth,” Lefler said. “So I kept going with it. In the last football game, they were neck and neck. They ended up winning. It was the last game the seniors would play and I was lucky enough to be there and to get it on film. I feel lucky to be able to do this.”
Producing the videos takes money.
“I’m in the process of fundraising for the basketball video,” he said.
It costs about $3,600 to produce the videos with a modest $10 an hour pay scale, plus the cost of equipment and DVDs, but Lefler settles for less.
“I’ve been doing this for about half the cost I figured that it takes to make it,” he said. “I wanted to set it low so I can keep doing it.”
Lefler starts a fundraiser each season at gofundme.com.
“Enough people donated to the football team so we got the DVD for free,” Riley said. “We’d like to do that again for basketball.”
Donations are appreciated with recognition on the video case and in the credits.
“I can’t do this without the support, so I give recognition to donations,” he said.
Lefler shapes his entire life in a way that allows him to produce the videos. During the offseason, he does freelance video editing.
“I even live at home so I can make this work,” he said. “My parents have been very supportive, and my brother helps me out by running another camera so I can get more angles.”
Expanding the project to other schools is on his list of ideas.
“I’ve found something I’m really passionate about and I’d like to expand it. I’d like to work with more schools and add more sports, and I’ve started making scouting videos for individual players. But right now, we need more money for the basketball video.”
Donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/warriorbasketball.
Videos can be seen on Facebook at Arlee Warrior Basketball or Arlee Warrior Football and on YouTube at Arlee WarriorTV.