Lindvahl spends hours behind camera for Reds
Craig Lindvahl will tell you, without hesitation, that he has "a very odd life."
Lindvahl cannot be assigned one title or another. He's a real Renaissance man: a teacher, entrepreneur and, most importantly for Reds fans, a filmmaker.
"Craig is a gifted artist and musician, a natural-born storyteller, with an exceptional business acumen ... a rare combination," said Reds senior vice president Karen Forgus. "You add the heart he has for young people, and there's no surprise his work resonates with everyone fortunate enough to catch his films."
Lindvahl's company, Callan Films, is responsible, in conjunction with the Reds, for several baseball-related documentaries -- most notably, "Let's Get Ready to Win," a film focusing on the 2010 game in which right fielder Jay Bruce hit a pennant-clinching home run.
Callan Films also produced "Cobb Field: A Day at the Ballpark," featuring the home of the Reds' Pioneer League rookie affiliate, the Billings Mustangs.
That's where the Reds came in. Vice president of baseball operations Dick Williams spotted "Cobb Field," and before long, Lindvahl and the Reds had forged a working relationship.
"I was impressed with his love of baseball and his innate understanding of how baseball is woven in the fabric of most people's personal histories," Forgus said. "I really liked his approach to filmmaking being about capturing the stories as they unfold."
With Forgus' blessing, Lindvahl has been shooting footage at Great American Ball Park for two new masterpieces: "From the End to the Beginning" and "The Perfect Place."
Why does Lindvahl do it all?
That question, Lindvahl says, has a simple answer.
"Baseball tells us a lot about who we are, and who we'd like to be," Lindvahl said. There's just no better place to tell these stories than Great American Ball Park."
"The Perfect Place," which Lindvahl describes as "a series of short stories that explores what baseball means to us and how baseball lends itself to similar experiences across generational lines," has wrapped up shooting.
"As I've spent time around the ballpark, it's occurred to me that everyone connects with baseball in a slightly different way," Lindvahl said. "That made me want to explore those different connections. It strikes me that baseball is the perfect game, because it's built on possibilities. Every pitch brings with it a thousand possible outcomes -- that's why it moves at the pace it moves.
"The rules haven't changed much over the last hundred years, so the experience [a child] had yesterday as a 4-year-old isn't substantially different from the experience I had as a 4-year-old 50 years ago. That's the wonderful thing about baseball."
"The Perfect Place" takes readers from the Reds Caravan in winter to Spring Training to Opening Day and beyond. It earned Lindvahl a spot in the Baseball Film Festival in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Saturday.
Lindvahl's latest project, "From the End to the Beginning" is just that: What goes on at Great American Ball Park from the final pitch of one game to the first pitch of the next.
"As fans, we just accept that the stadium looks bright and clean, the vendors are ready, the field is pristine, the scoreboard is loaded and primed, the announcers are there, and that time is just frozen from one game to the next," Lindvahl said. "The truth, however, is that it takes an incredible effort from an army of people to create the experience we know as baseball."
In order to capture the happenings that make the next day's game possible, Lindvahl has filmed cleanup crews that copiously clean every seat and every pathway. He has trained his cameras on groundskeepers, cleaning crews, engineering and maintenance crews, the scoreboard room and more.
In fact, Lindvahl bunks at the ballpark when filming for long stretches. When not towing a camera, he's a teacher, and he has been teaching for 34 years. He has led classes in every grade from kindergarten to high school senior, and he has taught music, band, filmmaking and entrepreneurship.
Lindvahl is a man of many talents, and he draws on every single one of those talents when making a documentary. He films, writes scripts, composes music, edits footage -- Lindvahl takes his films through every step of the process personally.
And that is quite the process.
"When people watch one of my baseball films, for instance, they may not realize that it is shot over a long period of time, at all times of day and night, and in nearly every nook and cranny of the stadium," Lindvahl said. "They also probably have no idea how much time it takes to put a film together. I'll have someone come up to me and say, 'You should do a documentary on such-and-such. I'd watch it.' They don't realize it takes 12-24 months to take a project from inception to broadcast, that it takes thousands of hours to pull it together."
But just because the process of making a film is a drawn out, it doesn't mean Lindvahl doesn't enjoy it thoroughly.
"I love the idea of tackling a new subject, where I have the opportunity to learn about something new, meet fascinating and inspiring people, and shoot beautiful images," Lindvahl said. "Documentary filmmaking is who I am."
Meggie Zahneis, winner of the 2011 Breaking Barriers essay contest, earned the job of youth correspondent for MLB.com in the fall of '11. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.