NFL films commercial in Ogdensburg

High ranking draft picks make an appearance

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  • Photo by John Church Eric Ebron Jr. (left), a tight end with the University of North Carolina, talks with his father, Eric Ebron Sr., during a break in the filming.

  • Three of the local football players turned actors. (L to R) Antonio Ciasullo, 10, of Ogdensburg, Ayden Alexander, 9, of Hardyston, and Ivan Hicks Jr., 10, of Franklin.

  • Director John Hirsch (standing) talks to Producer Bob Mackler as (seated foreground, L to R) Antonio Ciasullo, Ogdensburg Mayor Steve Ciasullo and Ogdensburg council member Robert McGuire watch.

  • Producer Bob Mackler of New York City.

  • (L to R) Ogdensburg Mayor Steve Ciasullo, his son Antonio Ciasullo, and Ogdensburg council member Robert McGuire watch the filming process on a remote monitor set up just outside of the Cork Hill Road Tunnel.

“Fortunately you guys have a mayor that is the most helpful person on the planet. It makes for an easy shoot.”
— Director John Hirsch.

The NFL draft is upon us.

To help hype the event, which runs from Thursday, May 8 through Saturday, May 10, NFL films shot a commercial featuring expected top draft picks in several Sussex County locations.

Children and parents from the county were also filmed for the TV spot, which is set to air during the week leading up to the draft.

The production company shot on location in Ogdensburg, Franklin and Sparta with several local youth football players along with Eric Ebron, Bradley Roby, Louis Nix and Kony Ealy — who are all expected to become NFL players after the annual event.

Shots ranged from a father and son tossing a football in their backyard, a youth football game at Franklin Pond, player drills at Pope John Regional High School and the future NFL players taking a trip through Ogdensburg’s Backward Tunnel and reminiscing about their time in youth football programs.

The production company scouted several locations for the final shot, said Ogdensburg Mayor Steve Ciasullo, “but they ended up deciding the tunnel was perfect.”

During a late lunch break on Friday, director John Hirsch of Montclair came out to of the tunnel.

“Our location scout went to a lot of places all around the tri-state area to find a good tunnel that would work for us,” said Hirsch when asked about the suitability of the location. “This is really perfect.”

Watching the monitor was Eric Ebron Sr. of Irvington. His son, Eric Ebron Jr., a tight end with the University of North Carolina, is expected to be drafted in the first round.

“He set records in receiving for his position,” said Ebron Sr. “Eric had quite a stellar college career.”

Eric Jr. called his father and told him he would be in Ogdensburg for the day and to drive out and meet him.

“This is an awesome experience, watching your child fulfill his dream,” said Ebron as he watched the filming on the remote monitor.

Local athletes

Hamburg resident Sean Nugent looked on as his nine-year-old son Shane got his first-ever taste of a television film crew.

“He had a ball doing it,” Nugent said. “For the kids, it was the biggest thing in the world.”

Sean is a third grader at Hamburg School and plays for the Wallkill Valley Youth Football League (WVYFL) Ponies’ division, so simulating a youth football game was no problem for him.

“My favorite part was when I got to tackle people,” Shane said.

Hardyston’s Ayden Alexander, also nine and also a WVYFL player, showed off his skills as quarterback, running back and linebacker.

“It was very exciting,” the Hardyston Elementary student said. “I even got to meet the players.”

Ayden’s mom Kristen said she and other parents were asked to keep the shoot secret from the kids until the last minute and said Ayden was “beyond excited” when he found out what their surprise trip to Franklin Pond was for.

Benefits to the borough

In addition to seeing Ogdensburg’s landmark Backwards Tunnel on television screens nationwide, Ciasullo said the filming brought several benefits to the borough and surrounding areas.

“It was a win-win,” he said.

In addition to $200 in permit fees paid to the borough, the production company paid to have the Ogdensburg Police Department close Cork Hill Road, used Atlantic Manor in Ogdensburg for food service, made trips to Franklin to the Walmart for miscellaneous equipment and Starbucks for coffee. NFL Films also promised a donation to the Wallkill Valley Youth Football League and Ogdensburg Recreation.

“It’s a big deal,” Ciasullo said. “We’re very happy they chose Ogdensburg. The town got to really enjoy it.”

The commercial is set to air beginning on May 4 — the week leading up to the NFL Draft.

— Additional reporting by John Church

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