How We Became Claymaker: An Unlikely Path
Dreaming of Hollywood
I started my program at Florida State University with a day one objective to move to Hollywood. I was convinced that I’d graduate and would immediately head out west to make a splash on the silver screen despite how unlikely it may be. That was nearly a decade ago – and oh my, how much has changed!
When I started the program at FSU, I entered with a fair amount of experience in video production for my age, especially with respect to post production software, and I considered that an advantaged head start over my classmates. I carried myself at the beginning with a certain swagger that I ultimately learned is what perpetuates the “film school snob” persona. I remember in day one of Intro to Film, a survey course of probably 200 students, nearly everyone raised a hand when asked “who here wants to pursue a career in Hollywood?” I remember laughing and rolling my eyes thinking that none of these people would actually make it to Los Angeles.
Working With Seminole Productions
While I’m not sure which students from that course ultimately did or did not head to California, I know one person that never set foot there after graduation – me!
There was one event that completely changed my career course while I was in the Digital Media Production Program at FSU’s College of Communication. It was a women’s basketball game of all things! As part of its core curriculum, students in the program take a live television/multi-cam production course, and effectively, the course is real-world, live broadcast experience, crewing video board, television and web stream productions of Florida State sporting events alongside FSU’s in-house production unit, Seminole Productions. This was the one course that I was dreading, as I had zero interest in sports or television. I saw the course as a deviation from my Hollywood feature film ambitions.
Changing My Perspectives
All of that changed though when I crewed my first event. I was a camera assist (grip) for a handheld camera operator at a women’s basketball game, and I also shot a little bit towards the end of the game after I had a sense of the job. The thrill and rush of live television instantly swirled around me, and I was hooked. I had no idea that sporting events truly are live entertainment. I had no idea that so much goes into game presentation (a new term for me). After that one game, I started volunteering to crew more games than required. I started learning the other positions – producer, director, technical director, replay, graphics, shading, highlight editor. And most importantly, I started to learn that there are many applications of film and television, and that a Hollywood eye has a place in sports broadcasts.
Discovering Joy and Purpose
I changed my entire senior year course load to effectively be a Seminole Productions internship. I crewed everything from football to basketball to baseball, created motion graphics, edited VFX-laced sports videos, and I actually learned about the games. That lead to a part time job at Seminole Productions, and after graduation, a full time job at Seminole Productions. I could not get enough of creating and activating content on video boards. Tens of thousands of people would see our work on game days and the opportunity to impact such large audiences gave me such joy and purpose. I could use my cinematic skillset to make a difference in the game experience for both the players and the fans. And as I quickly would learn, exceptional game presentations get recognized.
That’s when the NFL came calling.