IU faculty member's Assembly Hall documentary to air on WTIU

A documentary film project about IU's most historic athletic venue that took IU students, alumni and faculty two-years to complete will air this month on WTIU.

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A new documentary details the storied history of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Photo by Eric Rudd, IU Communications

Director and producer Jo Throckmorton, who is also an IU Media School adjunct faculty member, feels both relief and pride for his new documentary, "Assembly Hall: Pride of Indiana."

"Overall, I'm glad the end is in sight, and I'm very pleased with the final product," Throckmorton said.

The film explores the history, stories and secrets behind the iconic venue now named Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Beginning with the original conception and design of the building, the documentary examines the compromises and behind-the-scenes politics that led to the eventual design of Assembly Hall. Little-known facts about the building are also uncovered, including a proposal for an ice rink underneath the basketball court.

The documentary originated from a class project at The Media School. Throckmorton teaches video production and had been working with IU Athletics on various projects for about six years. When a decision was made to renovate Assembly Hall, he and his students were tapped to create a documentary.

Creation of the film got stalled because the project couldn't be completed in one semester. But after some encouragement from Brent Molnar at WTIU, Throckmorton took it up again.

"After I agreed to finish the work, I hired one of the students from the original class, Katy Urbano, as our assistant editor," Throckmorton said.

He also reached out to alumni who graduated from IU with a degree in telecommunications, including Kevin Grelle, who handled online editing; his nephew Kaleb Throckmorton as the primary videographer; and Nathan Crowder, who worked on the sound design and music composition.

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Filmmaker Jo Throckmorton. Photo courtesy of Jo Throckmorton

"This documentary shows IU has the talent pool to produce high-quality TV at all levels from students to alumni," Throckmorton said.

In addition to looking back at how the building originated, the documentary also highlights Assembly Hall's uses outside of basketball, including as a music venue and even as the home to a circus (that vowed never to return).

The show then moves to the recent remodeling of Assembly Hall and explains the reasons for upgrading the facility rather than building a new one. Viewers are taken on a tour of the venue to see what has changed and what features make up the aura of Assembly Hall.

For Throckmorton, the experience of putting together the documentary has helped him see Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall as more than a tough home court for basketball.

"I had a lot of interaction with the campus while in high school, and I certainly saw Assembly Hall first and foremost as a sacred basketball arena," he said. "Learning about some of the other uses did broaden my understanding of how the building has woven itself into the memories of students and the fabric of the campus in a much deeper way than if it were truly only used for basketball."

Air dates for the "Assembly Hall: Pride of Indiana" documentary are March 11 to 13 and March 18. 

View the trailer