Wertsbaugh wants kids to know their dreams aren’t too big
By Jeff Gilliland
Since she was a little girl, Shelby Wertsbaugh has dabbled with making music videos and writing scripts. Now that she’s doing much the same thing as a professional, she’s bringing her talents home to Hillsboro for a day.
On Friday, Wertsbaugh will be acting as producer for a Christmas video for 2013 “American Idol” runner-up Rachel Hale that will be shot at Richards Memorial Field in her hometown.
A 2008 Hillsboro High School graduate, Wertsbaugh said Hale asked her if she’d help produce a video for the upcoming release of Hale’s song “Can You Hear the Sound.” Wertsbaugh said the video will use lots of brass and trumpet and that Hall envisioned a marching band behind her. Wertsbaugh’s job was to make that vision a reality.
“There are bands here in Nashville willing to participate, but I think this would be a wonderful opportunity to bring my work back home,” Wertsbaugh wrote in a letter to Hillsboro Superintendent Jim Smith, asking for permission to shoot the video at the HHS football field and incorporate the school band in it. “I know when I was a student, I felt my dreams were too big for my shoes, growing up in such a small town. I want to show kids their dreams aren’t too big, and I want to give them an opportunity to be a part of something bigger!
“Rachel, also coming from a small town in Arkansas, aspires for the same thing.”
Smith said Hillsboro was more than willing to lend its facilities, and the video will be shot starting around 3 p.m. Friday. Hillsboro senior Emily Burwinkel said this week that about 60 members of the band have agreed to participate.
Wertsbaugh said the video scenes will mainly be with Hale interacting with the marching band. She said there will be shots of the entire band marching in formation, close-ups of instruments and feet, plus a couple solos. Other shots will include band members surrounding Hale in the bleachers, the entire band marching with flashlights after dark, and a shot of just Hale and a piano in the middle of the field.
Wertsbaugh graduated from Full Sail University in Orlando, Fla., with a bachelor of science degree in film. After she graduated, she was doing balloon lighting, then moved to New Orleans to work on the Animal Plant TV show “Pit Bulls & Parolees,” where she was in charge of the lighting.
When that show wrapped up, she received an email asking if she’d be interested in working in Nashville, Tenn. She said that since she didn’t like Louisiana much, she accepted the offer and has been in Nashville for three years.
She’s done music videos for Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Motley Crue and many others. She’s worked on large movies including “Gone Girl,” “Woodlawn,” and some not yet released.
Wertsbaugh said she works free lance, sometimes working as a producer like she will on Friday, and other times as a “grip,” or the person who pushes dollies around for cameras, rigging and lighting.
Currently, she’s splitting her time between the ABC TV series “Nashville,” an upcoming TV series on CMT staring Billy Ray Cyrus, and producing music videos for artists with an established fan base.
Hale’s career, Wertsbaugh said, started as a finalist on season 12 of “American Idol.” Since then, Hale has opened for artists including Chris Cagle, Tracy Byrd, Joe Nichols and more. Hale has made appearances singing back up on “Nashville,” and leads worship at her church, Nashville Life, under the leadership of Grammy Award winning Cece Winans, Wertsbaugh said.
Smith said Hale will give inspirational presentations to Hillsboro students on Monday in return for use of the school facilities. He also said it’s nice to see former students like Wertsbaugh who have found success and want to pay something back to their hometown.
“Since I was little girl, I was always making musical videos and writing scripts and stuff with my friends in Hillsboro,” Wertsbaugh said. “My mom wanted me to be an engineer, but I wanted a job I loved and was different. I stuck with it and it’s turned out pretty good.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.