Changing the Way Baseball is Watched – HilsFilms

Changing the way baseball is watched – HilsFilms

Who is HilsFilms? I am Hilsfilms. My name is Walt Hilsenbeck and here is how I became HilsFilms. I was born and raised on Long Island, New York. I am a die-hard baseball fan and will be attending my 500th professional game this season. This all started around 2011 when I started going to Long Island Ducks games. Let`s get this clear off the bat: I am not a fan of one specific Atlantic League team, I will explain.

One Christmas I had gotten a Flip video camera, it was pretty cool. My friends and I would go to Ducks games and I just started to film players that I liked. I had a YouTube channel and just started posting the videos of players on it. I remember being near the dugout and a few players looking at me. One of them came over to me and asked if I was the kid who put up the YouTube videos. Hesitantly I said yes, the player then motioned to another player to come over. They loved the videos, here I was thinking maybe I posted something I shouldn’t have. That’s how it began really, a flip camera and a YouTube account.

Over the past seven years or so it’s evolved from a flip camera to one a little more expensive. I have made so many relationships with players, it’s amazing. If you told me seven years ago I would be doing what I am today and had the connections I have now, I wouldn’t believe you. It has also evolved from just posting videos on my YouTube to taking this seriously. I take filming for players as a job and I make sure I get them what they need. I do this for them, not for me.

I am a personal contractor, I work for tickets and autographs. When you say Indy league people often think it is a bad word or a misfit island of broken players. That’s Wrong, it’s the land of redemption. Sure, I would love the Ducks to be an affiliated team and have prospects and major leaguers rehabbing but it’s not and that’s fine with me. The Atlantic League is filled with former big leaguers and guys looking to get that look, that chance, one more gasp of air in their dream.

I film for the guys who ride buses all night and are away from their families. You want to know a secret? All professional baseball players aren’t rich! Shocking, I know. These players are away from their families and fighting to keep the dream alive. The Atlantic League: for the love of the game. I film so players can get their swing right or send it to their family who can’t be there. If I can film a player and help him improve his game, that’s a success. I have branched out to film the major leagues and minor leagues too. I have had great success with my film of the majors and minors. I have been featured on MLB Network, Univision, Vice Sports and other sports media outlets. That is a part of my channel I am proud of, but it’s not my favorite part. I love filming for guys at an Atlantic League game mid-May that drags and goes until midnight. I love going home editing and uploading that video because I know that player will personally see it. It is so gratifying for me when a player goes out of his way to thank me. I have filmed for players on every team and have friends who have played on all of the teams. That is why I am a fan of all teams because each team is filled with guys fighting to keep his dreams alive. Indy league baseball is not a glamorous life and these players are essentially playing for peanuts.

I am not friends with everyone I film for but I have gained many friendships from doing this.  It isn’t always about having that relationship with the players for me, it’s about them getting the videos and making a difference. This past season I filmed for two specific guys on the Ducks and both of them now are in spring training camps with Major League Baseball teams. Seeing someone that I filmed for, get signed by a Major League team, makes this all worth it.

My YouTube channel has over one thousand subscribers and over a million views, it has become an identity for me. If you’re ever at a (Long Island) Ducks game you will find me in the corner next to the dugout, camera in hand. I will be sitting there filming and trying to change the way baseball is watched.

-Walt Hilsenbeck

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