The Hero Behind the Hype

Photo by Alexsis Skeen

by fourth year Megan Smith

It’s a shockingly minimal command center. The walls are grey and so are the oversized cabinets hanging from them. It’s quite the sight after walking down a glittering hallway of glossy action shots and portraits of Mark Richt and his pearly whites. There are a few computers sitting on an oversized counter, but they too blend into their grey surroundings. The star of the room is the iconic Penley painting next to the doorway. It’s completely undetectable to those entering the room; you would have no idea it was there unless someone told you to turn around.

In this otherwise muted hub underneath Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall, poetic justice and passion are created. And you see them every week. You wait for them every summer. You get bone-deep goosebumps when you watch them, over and over again. Creating titles like, “Awaken the Nation” and “We are One,” Frank Martin is the mastermind behind UGA’s hype videos.

He’s a videographer, a photographer, an editor, a writer… but so many wonder how he’s able to come through our computer screen and tug on our heart strings. How does he know us so well? How can one person capture the spirit of the bulldawg nation and then explain it to thousands in three minutes?

As I’ve been told, he doesn’t do it alone. And his gratitude for that help has made him a legend. Martin offloads plenty of credit to his good friends who have been with him since high school—Aneek James and Grayson Holt. And together they embody the self-taught dream team.

James is the lyrical, familiar voice you’ve grown accustomed to. He’s been doing voiceover work with Martin for four years and is in nearly all of Martin’s work.

“I say ‘we’ a lot in Frank’s videos, not that I don’t say it for other people. But when I read it for Frank, it’s so much bigger; it’s the bulldawg nation. It’s bigger than football…and that’s just Frank.”

Evident from his Facebook page, adorned with oversized fan-wear, Martin has been a UGA fan since his middle school years. His high school athletic trainer, Gary Schmitt—turned supervisor when he was selected to be in charge of Martin and his incredible crew—remembers Martin as an avid dawgs fan. “We wanted to get his talents out there and I remember him telling me, ‘Schmitty, I’m a dawg fan all the way,’ so that’s where he went!”

Martin’s girlfriend Marina Gunn has a similar sentiment. She and Martin met as freshmen when she asked him to her sorority’s formal (meanwhile, Martin was so flustered by her offer, he deleted a month’s worth of appointments on his calendar checking his availability for the particular date). “He just really cares about everyone. He puts everyone above himself, even strangers,” Gunn proudly recalls. “He loves pulling artists from the Athens community to be part of his videos…Frank found Mike Young [a local poet who now occasionally writes for Martin] at a poetry reading… He wants to make people feel important; his relationships are so intentional.”

Frank Martin is an intuitive creator, a curator of stirring sentiments and a warrior of words. He captures our hearts so completely because his is fueled by our enthusiasm. He wants what we want: to be a part of something bigger.

“He gets me a couple tickets each season…” Schmitt thinks about these experiences fondly. “It’s incredible to see him on that big field, walking along the sidelines. He’s at such a big school in such an amazing program. And with all that equipment, he always turns around from the sidelines and give me a high five…that’s Frank Martin.”