It occurred to me recently that I have passed another milestone, of sorts; I have been doing some aspect of video production for 20 years now. I really don’t think of it as a career anymore, it’s my passion! I love to tell stories via video.
I actually started (don’t laugh) doing public access cable work. I was interested in learning about production, so I took a class (if you can call it that) that amounted to 2 four hour sessions on consecutive Mondays after which I was “authorized” to use the cable company’s equipment. The guy teaching the class mentioned that they would be crewing up for high school football soon… if anyone was interested, add your name to a list on a legal pad. I was actually kind of surprised when they called me a few weeks later. Soon after, I was standing on the press box of a local high school behind a cool camera… and I had no idea what I was supposed to do! Thankfully, the smarter people talked me through it. After just a few weeks of that, I WAS HOOKED! Some people played softball, some went bowling, I shot high school football games… for FREE, if you don’t count the pizza that we usually had afterwards.
That 3 years of volunteer work combined with my previous still photography work got me off the assembly line and into a position doing corporate video work for PING Golf Clubs. After honing my craft more on the job, I was able to start taking on some freelance work. It started with some easy jobs, like corporate meetings, some town council meetings… I found out it was nice to make a little extra cash! After a few years of that as a routine, I was using most of my real job vacation time to work more and more freelance jobs.
Tough financial times hit the company in the mid-90s and while I managed to survive the first round of lay-offs in 1996, when the ax started to fall again in the fall of ’96, I didn’t stand a chance. Many companies that had in-house video departments had started to cut their staffs in favor of out-sourcing; we were no exception. Out of work and on a very small severance, I started taking whatever freelance work I could get. I would help out on minor league hockey games for the cable company for a measly $60.00 a night just to help keep the lights on… I learned so much about networking, hard work, and what it meant to be available 24-7 just to make a living. I really thought that I would just freelance for a while until I found another real job… months turned into years later and that elusive job was nowhere to be found.
I made good friends, I made good contacts, I worked A LOT. I did NBA games, NHL games, NFL and college football games, Major League Baseball… and just about everything in between. I did big award shows, big corporate shindigs, and met and worked with countless famous people. One way that you can know that you’re moving up the ranks of this weird world is that the networks start calling you and flying you out to work big games all over the country. While the calls were quite flattering, the increasing travel load was taking more of a toll on my family… I was always gone. Even when I was working in town, I was missing more and more time at home since sporting event are typically played when the spectators show up… evenings, weekends, and holidays.
The pinnacle of my unexpected career came in the summer of 2004 when I got the call to go to Athens, Greece to cover all of the basketball games of the Summer Olympic Games. Unbelievable! I shot more basketball games in three weeks time that I would do in a full NBA season… it was intense. So many times I found myself asking the question, “How did I get here?” While it was all amazing, it was also about that time that I started to really consider that all of my work in sports broadcasting was rather meaningless in the longest of long-term… I started thinking and praying about the possibility of taking all that I had learned in television and moving it into ministry.
After sending many resumes and several interviews, I accepted my first real video ministry job. Three years later I have no regrets; I love that what I do now has potential to change some one’s life for eternity! If nothing else, I am living proof that God can take what ever your past is and use it to reach the people that he loves.