14 UNCSA connections to the 2023 Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is arguably just as much about entertainment as football. Millions tune in for the game, commercials and halftime performance on what is the biggest tv night of the year. From Rihanna's highly-anticipated music comeback to clothing fresheners and blockbuster movie trailers, UNCSA made a strong appearance in this year's Super Bowl programming.

Here's a list of all the UNCSA connections to the Super Bowl LVII — in alphabetical order.

MGM Studios debuted its trailer for “Air” during the Big Game. The film, which will premiere in theaters on April 5 before its release on Prime Video, follows the history of shoe salesman Sonny Vaccaro, played by Matt Damon, and how he led Nike in pursuing the greatest athlete in basketball history, Michael Jordan.

UNCSA School of Design & Production alumnus Justin Davey (B.F.A. ‘08) served as sound effects editor on the film. You can also see Davey’s work featured in the Netflix movie “Holidate” which is included in our Winter Watchlist  the critically-acclaimed “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “A Quiet Place.”

Additionally, Costume Design alumna Anna Tibboel served as a set costumer for the film — taking care of Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Viola Davis and Jason Bateman. Tibboel's recent costume design work includes the Disney+ Marvel series "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law" and the Sony Pictures film "Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile."

Apple Music Rihanna Halftime Show

After a six-year hiatus from music, Rihanna took the field as Apple Music's halftime show performer. TAIT Towers — one of the world's most innovative touring staging, scenic and automation suppliers and a major employer of School of Design & Production alumni — brought her performance to life.

According to Super Bowl project lead Aaron Siebert, the floating platforms that Rhianna and her dancers spent most of her performance suspended on made the set the most "technically advanced Super Bowl halftime show that's ever been done."

Design & Production alumnus Michael Dodge is vice president for lighting at PRG North America, which is the company that handled the lighting for the halftime show. Dodge served as the team leader for Rihanna’s performance.

Design & Production alumni involved in the show include:

  • Casey Roche (‘04): Nav camera operator halftime show
  • Daniel Porter (‘08): Lead Rigger halftime show
  • Dan McLaughlin (‘11): Rigger halftime show
  • McLane Snow (‘07): Development halftime show

Design & Production alumni currently working at TAIT include Anna Tompkins, Emily Sarich, Frank Kern, Jacob Ostdiek, Juistin Fenniman, Karla Ramsey, Kim Ross, McLane Snow, Morgan Ochs, Nakia Eckley, Nicole Abram, Samuel Santoianni, Sarah Grover, Sean Reish and Sydney Yeoman.

Watch Rihanna's full Super Bowl performance on YouTube.

Rihanna performing at the 2023 Super Bowl halftime show on a platform designed and built by TAIT Towers which is a major employer of Design & Production alumni / Photo: Ezra Shaw, Getty ImagesDesign & Production alumnus Casey Roche (‘04) at the 2023 Super Bowl where he serves as the nav camera operator for Rihanna's halftime show.

A Tribute to America | Johnny Cash's "Ragged Old Flag"

During the 2023 Super Bowl, Johnny Cash's 1974 song "Ragged Old Flag" took center stage during Fox's' tribute to America. Fox aired a similar commercial in 2017 — the last time the network hosted the Super Bowl on its channel.

School of Drama alumnus Anthony Mackie (H.S.' 97) — Marvel's new Captain America — narrates the beginning of the commercial spot and is one of the many individuals shown throughout the commercial observing and honoring the flag. At the same time, Cash's song overlays the voices of America's Youth Choir.

You can catch Mackie in the Disney+ series "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" and the Academy Award-winning film "The Hurt Locker." His upcoming work includes the live-action adaptation of the video game "Twisted Metal" for Peacock and "Captain America: New World Order."

Creed III | Extended Big Game Spot

During the Big Game, MGM Studios premiered an extended trailer for Creed III. School of Filmmaking alumnus Joseph Blankinship (B.F.A. ’14) served as Matrix Head Technician on the film. Blankinship's work was also featured in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which was nominated for an Oscar. Deisgn & Production Costume Design alumna Elisa Richards also served as assistant costume designer on the film. Richards' work is also featured in the Disney+ series, "Hawkeye," and the AMC series "The Walking Dead."

Downy Unstopables Commercial: Call Me Downy McBride

School of Filmmaking alumnus Danny McBride (B.F.A. '99) unveiled his alter ego, "Downy McBride," in the Downy Unstopables Super Bowl Commercial.

McBride’s recent work includes executive producer for the “Halloween” reboot, which he co-wrote with fellow filmmaking alumni Jeff Fradley (B.F.A. ’98) and David Gordon Green (B.F.A. '98), and creator and star of the HBO Max original series “The Righteous Gemstones.”

In 2018, McBride returned to campus with Fradley and Green to screen the horror film for UNCSA students one week before its theatrical release.

Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves | Big Game Spot

During the Super Bowl, Paramount Pictures premieres the trailer for its feature film, “Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves,” which opens, only in theaters, on March 31. In the movie, a charming thief, played by Chris Pine, and a band of unlikely adventurers undertake an epic heist to retrieve a lost relic. Still, things go dangerously awry when they run afoul of the wrong people.

Filmmaking alumnus Eric Androvich served as lighting programmer: additional photography on the film. His recent work includes “Bullet Train,” starring Brad Pitt, Joey King and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, as well as Marvel Comics’ “Venom,” starring Tom Hardy and Michelle Willams, and The Weeknd’s “In Your Eyes” music video.

Fox Broadcasting | Hospitality and Documentary

Design & Production alumnus Josh Mark is the vice president of event technology and production and executive producer for special projects at Fox Broadcasting Company. This year marked the 22nd Super Bowl he has worked while at Fox.

Each year, FOX hosts over 500 guests — including advertisers, talent, executives and other guests — with a hospitality program over the Super Bowl weekend.

Fox Broadcasting Company hospitality event and screening of "The Perfect 10" documentary during the 2023 Super Bowl weekend.Fox Broadcasting Company hospitality event and screening of "The Perfect 10" documentary during the 2023 Super Bowl weekend.Fox Broadcasting Company hospitality event and screening of "The Perfect 10" documentary during the 2023 Super Bowl weekend.

In addition to the annual hospitality program, Mark helped produce the event for long-anticipated sports documentary "The Perfect 10," which premiered on Feb. 11, 2023. The film spotlights the only 10 football icons who have achieved one of the rarest dual accomplishments in all professional sports – winning the Heisman Trophy and being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 | New Trailer

Marvel Studios' “Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3” premiered a new trailer during the Super Bowl commercial break and features work from multiple School of Filmmaking alumni. Kristen B. Adams (B.F.A. ‘16) served as assistant art director, Matthew Gorbachov (B.F.A.’12) served as video assistant operator and David Iverson (B.F.A. ‘14) served as grip on the film.

Adams’ recent work includes “Lovecraft Country,” the Emmy award-winning Showtime series, “The First Lady” and the film-adaption of the Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical “Dear Evan Hansen.”

Gorbochov’s recent work includes Disney’s blockbuster, "Jungle Cruise," “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and “Ozark.” Iverson’s recent work includes the Disney+ Marvel series “Hawkeye,” Emmy award-winning AMC series “The Walking Dead,” and “Suicide Squad.”

NFL On Location | Pre-Game Party

Design & Production, stage management alumna Amy (Poole) Crum (B.F.A. '97) is an event production manager at "On Location" — the NFL's official hospitality provider. Crum was the production manager for a 5,250-person pre-game party featuring Sheryl Crow at State Farm Stadium.

While a student, Crum worked on various UNCSA productions, including "The Nutcracker." In 2020, she shared some photos from "The Nutcracker" in the 90s.

Poker Face Super Bowl Ad 

During the Super Bowl commercial break, Peacock aired an ad for its new crime series, "Poker Face," starring Natasha Lyonne, which follows Charlie Cale — who has an extraordinary ability to determine when someone is lying — as she hits the road in her Plymouth Barracuda and, with every stop, encounters a new cast of characters and strange crimes she can't help but solve.

Design & Production alumnus Christof Gebert ('00) serves as production sound mixer, current Filmmaking graduate student Wesley Broome serves as second assistant accountant and Drama alumnus Jack Alcott (B.F.A.' 19) guest stars in an episode of the mystery-of-the-week series.

Alcott recently starred in the Showtime mini-series, "Dexter: New Blood," and guest starred in an episode of NBC's hit series "The Blacklist." Gerbert's work can also be seen in the "Halloween" reboot trilogy, which was co-written by filmmaking alumni Danny McBride, Jeff Fradley and David Gordon Green and features work from many alumni. Broome's recent work includes the feature film "Bros," starring Billy Eichner and Nicholas Stoller.

State Farm Stadium Entrance | Scene Painting

Design & Production Scene Painting alumnus Alexandra Finkel (B.F.A. ‘16) was a part of the team that painted the entrance of the State Farm Stadium. Finkel works with Cockram Construction as a colorist and painter and freelances as a painter for Jet Sets — a company that provides scenery and props for TV commercials, themed & retail environments, live events, tradeshows, broadcasts and still shoots.

Design & Production Scene Painting alumnus Alexandra Finkel (B.F.A. ‘16) at the 2023 Super Bowl where she was a part of the team that painted the entrance of the State Farm Stadium.Design & Production Scene Painting alumnus Alexandra Finkel (B.F.A. ‘16) at the 2023 Super Bowl where she was a part of the team that painted the entrance of the State Farm Stadium.Design & Production Scene Painting alumnus Alexandra Finkel (B.F.A. ‘16) at the 2023 Super Bowl where she was a part of the team that painted the entrance of the State Farm Stadium.

Strays | Official Trailer

Universal Pictures premiered its trailer for “Strays,” a film about an abandoned dog Reggie, voiced by Will Ferrell, who teams up with other strays to get revenge on his former owner. Filmmaking alumnus Tim Orr (B.F.A. ‘98) was the cinematographer for the film.

Orr’s expansive and more than 20-year cinematic career includes work on blockbuster hits like “Pineapple Express” and his recent work includes the Apple+ original series “Dickinson” and the Hulu mini-series “Fleishman Is in Trouble.”

This is Arizona | Super Bowl XVII

School of Filmmaking alumna Katelin Fasano Perry (B.F.A. '14) serves as a senior producer at Shapes and Forms — the company responsible for the creative vision and concept behind the 2023 Super Bowl.

The opening trailer features various scenic shots of Arizona — the 2023 Super Bowl location — along with animated visuals and models of the stadium and the overarching narrative for the Big Game. The trailer was broadcast on TV, played in the stadium and shared on the NFL's social media channels.

Honorable Mentions

Philadelphia Eagles Pepsi Zero Sugar Commercial

School of Drama alumnus Malik Childs (B.F.A.' 19) starred in the Pepsi Zero Sugar season opener commercial for the Philadelphia Eagles — one of the football teams competing in the Super Bowl. 

While a student, Childs was in School of Drama productions including alumnus Tony Jenkins’ (B.F.A. ‘17) award-winning play "Black Magic" and "Hairy Ape," an expressionistic study of class conflict and the search for belonging." After graduating he was also featured in Hassiem Muhammad’s (B.F.A. ‘20) original web series "Angels of Uptown."

Did you catch a Super Bowl connection that is not included on this list? Send us an email and we will update the story.

by Natalie Shrader

Get the best news, performance and alumni stories from UNCSA.

February 13, 2023