Team Roster: Production Crew
Like some of us here at COTM, I’ve received quite a few queries as to how many people we have on staff in the Production Department and what they do... Since all of my previous experience comes from what I’ve gleaned out on the road being a member of a road crew or managing a tour, it made sense at COTM to build up our team in a similar manner.
On a road crew, most of the teams remain fairly departmentalized primarily from an organizational standpoint. Although I’ve emulated a road crew from a practical standpoint where each member of our team has a specific role, it is commonplace for us to forget our specific jobs and work on the same facet of a project so we can accomplish a task more efficiently. This not only creates and maintains a feeling of teamwork but helps build general production knowledge in areas that may not be in one’s daily purview. I’ve never been a fan of the someone saying “That’s not my job, man”, so around here it’s definitely all for one whenever the need arises...
Keeping that in mind, here is a breakdown and description of our production crew:
YOURS TRULY // Production Manager & Audio Director
I expend most of my energy planning and implementing how all of our production areas ministry-wide have to come together to accomplish the final result laid out by the creative team and church leadership. This includes long-range planning, logistics, budgets, scheduling, assisting on scenic and staging designs, and an occasional nap.
On the audio side—I head up our audio team and make sure that we are staffed on all events, keep our auditory direction focused and in check, mix all of our main service events, and mix some Pro Tools stuff here and there as needed.
DANIEL CONNELL // Lighting Designer
Daniel designs all of the lighting for everything we do on campus and oversees the lighting crew as they program and staff all of our events. It’s a daunting job as we not only have our main auditorium but several auxiliary auditoriums that have sizable systems with equally high equipment and design needs. I’ve worked and been close friends with Daniel going on close to 10 years now and his knowledge of the craft is impressive. He not only knows what to do to make things fit into the creative vision of what we’ve been given but how to get it there quickly and professionally. As the leader of a production team, you always want a person who not only can deliver the goods but manages to have quality problem-solving solutions on the way—Daniel is that guy. Oh, and he has a cool Jeep.
CHICO TORREZ // Operations Manager & Set Carpenter
Chico has done everything—from all facets of video to audio to working on oil rigs, lighting, some random Bigfoot sightings, you name it—this guy has done it. Chico manages all of our backstage areas and our stage crew and he can build or fabricate just about anything. If I draw it on a napkin or a marker board or even in the dirt—Chico will figure out a way to build it and make it look like a million bucks when all I gave him was $10.
TOM DOERNER // Live Video Director
Tom is an enigma—while I don’t think there is a place in the 48 states in which he has not eaten (and remembers a story about it), he oversees our video department and directs the video for all of our live services. Our weekly video teams are predominantly volunteers, so he spends a great deal of time keeping our teams trained and up to speed.
ANDREW SWAN // Video Engineer
With the recent addition of some large LED video walls, Andrew has his weekly work cut out for him. In addition to the video engineering of all our live services and grilling the best meat in the midwest, he maintains all of our video equipment. To say that video is finicky would be an understatement but he manages to keep all of these complicated systems in fine working order.
JESSE BURR // Audio Systems Engineer
In addition to being a terrific Audio Engineer, Pro Tools guy, and wireless frequency nerd, he implements the audio plan I come up with for each event and keeps a watchful eye on all of our audio components on campus. There are several large PA systems and many secondary systems scattered all over—he must have an awesome cheat sheet hidden around here somewhere...
KENDALL SELF // Audio Engineer
Kendall’s primary job is to manage the production for our Children’s Education department. They have numerous complex and busy events in multiple rooms that occur simultaneously so it’s great to have a pro who can mix audio superbly but can also keep all rooms staffed and running. Kendall has a real heart for the younger generation so he stays in sync quite well for their production needs. Maybe it’s because he has 4 or 9 kids—I’ve lost count.
TODD YANDELL // Computer & Programming Genius
Yes, that is his title—at least it’s what I call him. Todd writes Mac software (you gotta like that) as his day-job and helps us sort out many of our more complicated computer/video integration issues in the wee hours of the night. As I mentioned already—video is finicky but Todd helps us keep the gremlins at bay. He’s also pretty good at writing programs that can run our switcher mainframe from his iPad 10 minutes before a service as a “backup”. My head hurts.
So in addition to these key positions, we have several part-time guys that round us out and are scheduled according to our event and activity load. These guys comprise the remainder of our lighting, audio, and stage crew—hands down, our part-time guys rock, are dedicated to the task at hand and above all, are teachable. We couldn’t get it done without them.
As for our volunteer participation—we have a large contingency of volunteers that we staff in almost all of our departments, such as spotlight operators (as needed), camera operators, live video switchers, live video computer graphics, stage crew, runners, carpentry, audio mix engineers, and lighting board ops. We are blessed to have many industry pros that volunteer for us quite a bit allowing us to maintain a high level of excellence and consistency throughout all of our productions.
Overall, we’ve developed a production team that works well in our specific situation but we have continued to adapt as need be according to the pace and changing variables we encounter. Being able to change midstream has been a hard thing to do sometimes, but as we serve one another, we strive to embrace these changes and keep our focus on maintaining an adaptable attitude.