What year did you graduate Westlake High School?
“I graduated in 2006.”
How did you get involved with Technical Theatre and the Westlake Technical Entertainment Crew?
“When I was in 8th grade and applying for my high school classes, I wanted to do computer animation as an elective. I had put technical theatre down as an alternate because I did not completely know what it was. It turned out I got my alternate elective rather than my primary choice, and ended up in the tech theatre class. So it wasn’t even intended. “
How many years were you an officer?
“I was an officer for three of the four years I was involved in Westlake TEC.”
Did you stage manage any major productions and, if so, what was that experience like?
“My sophomore year I stage managed Brigadoon, which was that year’s musical performance. This was my first opportunity to lead a large crew. I remember thinking about the potential to make some really noticeable mistakes. I was waking up in the middle of the night thinking about cues, worried about making mistakes. It really opened my eyes to the fact that I have to trust my crew and know that if I did my part, they would follow through and do theirs. It was really cool seeing all our preparation from rehearsals spring into action on production day. It taught me how to work through issues. During one of our performances, a wireless microphone failed, and we all communicated well and worked together to overcome that difficult situation. Everyone performed their job flawlessly, and the audience didn’t even know anything had gone wrong. “
What are your thoughts about becoming president junior year?
“At first it was a little intimidating knowing that I would have to gain the respect and lead people both younger than me and older than me. I learned that doing so was possible and I proved to myself that I could do it. I liked having a second year to learn from my mistakes and build on it. I had a second shot at it and could improve from what I did the previous year. “
What have you done since you graduated high school?
“Since I graduated high school, I went to Brigham Young University, where I was majoring in Theatre and Film. After my freshman year, I spent two years in Sao Paolo, Brazil with my church being a missionary from 2007 to 2009. After that I returned to BYU and switched majors and began taking Pre-Med classes. The year before I graduated BYU, I got married to Kara Butler, a wonderful girl from BYU. Currently, I’m getting my doctorate at Rosalind Franklin, outside of Chicago. “
Looking back on your four years in the Technical Theatre program, what was your favorite memory?
“Probably my favorite memory looking back was my junior and senior year when I got to lead newer members and teach them everything that I had been taught, then getting to see them step up and succeed.”
How did your four years in Technical Theatre affect your life after high school?
“In TEC, there was something new to be learned every day. It has given me good communication skills, teamwork skills, leadership skills, discipline, the list goes on. Those are skills that you work on your whole life but TEC really gave me the foundation that I never would’ve had.”
What advice would you give students that are currently in TEC?
“My advice to students currently in the technical theatre program would be, remember that it’s not about the equipment. Throughout your life, technology will change and the technical skills you learned won’t necessarily benefit you directly, even though having a good technological base is a good thing. What really matters is the skills that you learned like how to work with other people, leadership skills, communication skills, self-discipline, etc. Those are skills that people will always need no matter how much the world changes. “
Regrettably, I didn’t attend this event as a freshman but I’ve made sure not to miss a chance like this again. I had very different experiences each time I went. As a sophomore, I already knew most of the freshman; however as a junior, I saw numerous unfamiliar faces. Regardless of my age, I always look forward to TEC 101 as an opportunity to meet new people and learn something new.
For the younger members, TEC 101 is seen as a chance to meet some people as well as get some hands-on experience with the equipment, but for me, for the older members: TEC 101 is an amazing opportunity to see the future of this organization. We'll just have to wait and see where the newer members take TEC in the next few years.
The students selected to participate in this program are recruited months in advance and must be completely dedicated to the task of producing broadcasts comparable in quality to those of professional television networks. Crew members are typically expected to dedicate three nights each week to preparing for and carrying out the video broadcasts. Just like the football team, as well as groups like Hyline, the marching band, and cheerleaders, we are often pulled out of class early on Fridays when we are traveling to an away game.
I came into the program for the first time this summer with a basic understanding of the basic operations of the Television Broadcast Crew. I was assigned, along with another newcomer, to the tasks of video engineering and cmoputer graphics. I understood the general idea behind my position, but my knowledge more or less ended there. Still, I was amazed when I walked into the Performing Arts Center on the first day of training to learn just how much was involved in broadcasting live football.
We began the first day with a brief history of the program, followed by seemingly endless hours learning the specifics of football, camera operation, and the layout of the facility from which we would broadcast home games. By the end of the day, my head was spinning and I was exhausted. Would I be able to make it through the week? I felt like I could really use a time out.
The next day was more of the same, but we started delving into the individual roles given to different crew members. Each of us learned what the other members were doing in order to better understand how we would fit into the big picture. Things became progressively easier as the week went on.
It was incredible to see the transformation of all the new members, myself included, happen so quickly, going from wide-eyed novice to confident team member. Because there were more new, inexperienced crew members this year than there have been in recent years, there was some concern about whether the group would be able to function as smoothly as in previous seasons. With that thought looming in the back of their minds, the team leaders of video crew were pleasantly surprised to find the opposite of what they had feared. By the end of the first week of training, although they had only just put their toes in the water, the new camera operators looked confident and capable. I, myself, went from knowing almost nothing to being able to take a camera output signal that had purposefully been altered to settings at wildly inappropriate levels, determine what was wrong, and remotely adjust the camera settings to obtain a high quality, visually pleasing image.
At that point, summer training was almost over and I had to spend the next week mentally preparing myself to tackle the season opener, scheduled for Friday of the first week of school. Hopefully I would be able to take the new skills I had learned and contribute to a great first broadcast!
All in all, I had a great experience this summer transitioning to being a member of the Television Broadcast Crew. One of the most valuable lessons I learned was the importance of teamwork for the success of the program. If any one person is not giving their best effort to help the rest of the group, the end result suffers. Without the dedication and commitment of everyone involved, it would be impossible for us to do what makes us so successful: putting on professional quality television broadcasts to entertain the dedicated fans of Chaps' football.
When I was first confronted about the idea of being Head Grip for Zenith, I was terrified. The thought of being responsible for an eleven person crew was scary enough, not to mention the additional responsibility of all the props and equipment that had to move on and off stage during the show. I nervously accepted the challenge after some encouragement from Mr. Poole, and my experiences from that show became some of my most memorable and rewarding in TEC.
Zenith taught me more than I ever imagined about the value of leadership, trust and passion. It gave me the opportunity to grow as a person and a leader, and prepared me for my upcoming senior year. Leadership is much more than being in charge and giving out orders. It includes building the knowledge and confidence of your crew and being a positive role model. During our pre-show meetings, leadership is often called the "glue" that holds our organization together. Strong leaders are imperative to the success of any major production, including Zenith, but leadership isn't limited to the crew heads. Any crew member, regardless of age or position, can exhibit leadership qualities at any time. Even during seemingly trivial set changes, I was always watching my crew members, waiting to see who would take charge. Whether it be rolling the piano on-stage, changing shinbuster gel colors, or even just doing homework backstage, I always enjoyed seeing someone rise to the occasion and take ownership of the task at hand.
With a sophisticated show like Zenith, the grip crew was constantly moving props and equipment on and off stage, so delegation was important in order to take care of the scene changes as quickly and efficiently as possible. It didn’t take long for me to realize how important trust and delegation were to the success of the show. With the amount of moving parts on-stage, there was no way for me to oversee everything going on at once, so I had to trust that the grip crew was following along and ready for whatever came next. At first, this was hard for me. I wanted to personally supervise everything that was going on and help wherever I could, but after a couple long and stressful rehearsals, I realized that it wasn’t necessary. Trust started to grow within the crew and they constantly impressed me with their preparedness and hard-work. This trust led to a much smoother, calmer show because everyone could focus on their own responsibilities without worrying about everyone else’s.
While leadership is the glue that holds TEC together, passion is the motivation to keep moving forward and improving. Passion is what kept us going during the long rehearsals and late nights. Passion is the motivation to put on a successful show. Without passion, the show would seem half-hearted and boring. Whether that motivation came from the competitiveness within the grip crew or just a desire to put on the best show yet, I found that passion was, without a doubt, the most important contributor to a great show. It’s what kept us striving for perfection during the long rehearsals and it paid off in the end after three great shows for the Zenith audiences.
In conclusion, Zenith this year gave me the opportunity to grow as a person and a leader. It was challenging at times but more importantly, it taught me more than I ever imagined about the value of leadership, trust and passion and provided me with memories that I will cherish forever.