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Revisit IU Bloomington in the 1970s with Films by Al Edyvean

In addition to scripting, shooting, and editing several films during his undergraduate and graduate years at IU, Al Edyvean—who plays seven instruments—wrote and performed the jazz score for his senior film project, The Freshman Experience. All photos courtesy of Al Edyvean.

Educational film major Al Edyvean, BA’72, MS’75, spent much of the 1970s behind a camera—filming social gatherings and sporting events on the Bloomington campus for the IU News Bureau and the IU Athletics Department.

Al Edyvean, who worked for both the IU News Bureau and the IU Athletics Department as a student, is seen preparing a reel of 16mm color film for production in 1978.

He shot and edited all football and basketball highlight films from 1971–78. He filmed 122 TV halftime shows—two-minute clips that covered subjects representing the best of IU, including alumnus Mark Spitz, ’72, winning seven gold medals in the 1972 Olympics, and how IU—at the time—held the patent on Crest toothpaste. Several of the clips were aired as part of NBC’s Game of the Week, gaining national recognition for IU.

Yet Edyvean’s career in media almost never got started. After taking a news-film production class his sophomore year, Edyvean learned there were no other film courses available to undergraduates. IU eventually allowed him to enroll in graduate courses. But there was a caveat—he had to have his own camera.

“So, I went looking for film equipment on campus,” he said. “In those days, the athletics department shot basketball and football games and daily practices on 16mm film. They had a film processing lab at the newly built Assembly Hall and more equipment than they could possibly use. I went to see the IU Athletics photographer, Dick Bundy, and asked if I could borrow one of his 16mm cameras. I’ll never forget what he said: ‘Boy, there’s only two things I never lend—and that’s my cameras and my wife!’”

Still, Bundy hired Edyvean to be his assistant. They worked together in the university’s film lab for the next 10 years, processing game films and still photos of athletes across the board, including women’s varsity sports, which weren’t fully recognized until Title IX was enacted on June 23, 1972.

Edyvean also wrote, filmed, and directed The Freshman Experience, his senior project that became IU’s go-to orientation film from 1972–80. It was so successful that Edyvean traveled to many high schools to show the film and answer questions about IU, including about the then-controversial “open visitation” policy allowing men in women’s dorms and vice versa.

In the following Q&A, Edyvean talks about his time at IU and the three films he made while a student on the Bloomington campus.

What inspired you to pursue a career in media?
Al Edyvean: I went to IU to major in theater because my father ran the Edyvean Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis. In my first semester, someone in the theater department told me, “You’re not a senior, so you won’t be in any shows for three more years.” So, I changed my major.

You worked at the IU News Bureau. Can you talk about that experience?
AE: In my junior year, I was asked by the man who taught my news film class, Robert Petranoff, BA’48, MS’63, who also worked for the IU News Bureau, to help him shoot news clips to send to the three local news stations (Channels 6, 8, and 13) in Indianapolis. This started with weekly clips from the IU School of Business. We’d talk to a professor who would give us the economic report for Indiana or interpret the week’s stock market.

Tell us about your senior film project, The Freshman Experience.
AE: I went to [University Division] and said, “I need to do a film for my senior year, and you guys need an orientation film, and I would like to make one for you.” And I think I just piqued their interest. I said, “You guys need a film. You can’t do this university justice walking around with a bus tour or having somebody stand in a high school and say, it’s a great place to come, read this brochure. That’s crazy.” The University Division guy said, “Well, that’s a good idea. What would it cost to do that?” And I said, “Well, about 30 grand. And he took a deep breath and said, okay, give me a day,” and came back and said, “I think that’s great. Let’s just do it.”

When the film was released in the spring of 1972, I was asked to go on the road with it to many of the high schools [in and around the state of Indiana]. I was sort of the “young filmmaker” that could comment on the questions that students and parents had about the campus.

One of the hot topics at the time was the beginning of men and women being allowed in each other’s dorms on Friday and Saturday nights. It was called open visitation and if each floor in the dorm voted on this at the beginning of the semester, then men were allowed on that floor of women and/or women would be allowed on that floor of men.

This was a new policy as IU was unofficially moving away from its former policy of “in loco parentis,” which is Latin for “in the place of the parent.” In those days when a student went to college, the university was officially watching over them “in loco parentis.”

Well, IU wanted me to explain this to parents and students without saying the obvious, which was, “We have decided to let students get together in each other’s rooms because they are adults, and they can do that.”

So, this went on for over a year, at which time it began to get old. I asked to be relieved of this duty, but they were getting great [recruiting] results with me and with the film, so they pushed me to stay on. Finally, I was too busy, and they kept pushing and scheduling me. So, on the next trip when a parent asked me about open visitation and said: “Is it true that the university will let young men come onto my daughter’s dormitory floor?” And I said: “Yes ma’am.”

Then she said: “But will they be allowed to come into her room?” And I said: “Ma’am, in their infinite wisdom, the Board of Trustees at IU has decided to take sex out of the back seats of cars on campus and put it back in the dorm rooms where it belongs!” And that was the last personal appearance I made for University Division and Admissions.

You also produced and directed 1975’s More Than a Place to Live for the IU Panhellenic Association. Can you talk about that?
AE: Interestingly, the closing scene for that film is a John Denver song, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” Except in the film, the girls were singing, “Thank God I’m a Delta Z.” I couldn’t close a recruiting film for the entire IU Panhellenic organization with, “Thank God I’m a Delta Z,” or I would never be able to sell that. So, at the place when they were singing “Delta Z,” the music comes up and covers the “Delta Z” part. If you listen closely, you can still hear it, but nobody caught it. And it was a great close because it’s typical of all the sororities. They all have these [events] where the girls get together and they sing and they square dance, and they do all the kinds of stuff that was in the film, but nobody sees it except the sororities and fraternity guys. And that’s what this was about. This was about showing what sorority rush was.

I met about 200 women making More Than a Place to Live. I [presented the idea] to about four or five sorority houses and said, look, I’m making this Greek film, and I’m just looking for a bunch of women who are willing to [be in the film].

By the way, that film is about to turn 50 and could be used by those sororities that may be planning 50-year reunions. None of those women have ever seen the film that they are in.

What about your 1976 film, A Team That Wouldn’t Be Beat, which covered the IU men’s basketball 1975–76 NCAA Championship-winning season? That is really a period of IU sporting history. How did that come about?
AE: When it comes to sports, I think I have done just about everything. I’m a water skier, I’m a downhill skier, I’m an ice skater. But I’m not into competitive sports. That said, while I was working for IU Athletics and the IU News Bureau, I went to 26 games a year—football and basketball—for eight years. For A Team That Wouldn’t Be Beat, we shot footage of every game that season. My boss, who was the athletic photographer, was always in the crow’s nest at the top of the building for the game film. All I had to do was catch the good baskets during the course of the game.

A lot of people don’t realize when you watch a highlights film, you can’t do a whole lot when you’ve got to cover around 42 games. So, it’s like two baskets and the score, two baskets, and the score. Transition shot, cars in the parking lot. “Hey, we’re at Ohio State,” two baskets and the score. You don’t have a whole lot of time to do anything else until you get down to the last two or three games in a tournament.

So, it’s about 40 seconds a game. But [the film’s narrator] Don Fischer did a phenomenal job in highlighting those things that were important. And he would skip two or three games at a time. Because you really want to show the games that the average fan wants to see. They want to see Ohio State, Michigan, Purdue, and North Carolina, where there is huge visibility for their coaches and the competition that they’ve had over the years.

That’s what it comes down to, what makes a good sports film. It’s a combination of really good narration and hitting the [right] highlights.

Changing gears, you’re a jazz pianist?
AE: I had a baby grand in my living room as a child that my mother played. I took lessons and learned seven other instruments along the way. I played a lot in the dorms, where there was a baby grand in every lobby, and then played in piano bars during grad school. I got good at playing musical and movie music from the Great American Songbook, primarily made famous by Frank Sinatra.

Are you retired these days?
AE: I’m officially retired from the last position I had, which was running my own company called Image Master. As a marketing consultant, I helped nonprofit marketing managers “master their image” and create awareness for their organizations in the Indianapolis market.

Looking back over your long and diverse career, what are you most proud of?
AE: I loved teaching and still do. I have students that are working at ESPN, CNN, CBS, and ABC affiliates all over the country. I’m always tickled when some student writes to me and says: “If it wasn’t for your class in radio, I’d still be milking cows in my dad’s barn.”

A profile of Al Edyvean was originally published in the Spring 2023 issue of the IU Alumni Magazine, a magazine for members of the IU Alumni Association. View current and past issues of the IUAM.

Written By

IUAA Staff

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