Al Raitt, BFA/TBJ ’10, puts in hours of work before the puck ever hits the ice. But when it does, Raitt and the five current Chapman students he’s hired are ready — to capture key plays, highlight crowd craziness, and help the Ontario Reign, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Los Angeles Kings, create the promotional videos that drive attendance and revenue.
Raitt is the Supervisor of Game Presentation for the Reign, a job most people probably don’t even know exists. But game fans are certainly aware of the impact of what Raitt does, because going to a game is no longer simply about watching the action, but also about being an active part of a highly produced show.
Raitt’s job is “to make game days exciting and engaging for our fans. Without a positive experience, we wouldn’t have any season ticket members or new fans coming to our games,” he says. “I love entertaining fans and creating a new experience for them.”
The work is fast-paced, using multiple cameras, switchers, graphics, and music in a live event environment to replay action, put fan moments on the jumbotron, create highlight reels and call out close-ups of key moments.
Kathryna Napier, a freshmen Television Writing and Production major, is thrilled to have the opportunity to learn “what will lift a crowd’s spirits when the team is losing and to see what will make people go even crazier when the team is winning.” She’s worked the slasher/game cam, the color camera and instant replay — learning to anticipate the action, work in the middle of an unruly crowd, and capture B-roll for promotional uses.
She particularly enjoys finding crowd shots for the “Kiss Cam, Muscle Cam, Banjo Cam, Dance Cam” and more. “Putting fans up on the jumbotron is honestly one of the best parts of the job for me,” she says, “because it’s those moments that you can see a person’s face light up with excitement, especially the kids.”
Raitt, whose career has included similar game production jobs with the Los Angeles Angels, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders FC, got his start with the help of another Chapman alum, Heather Capizzi (BFA/FTV/BJ ’05), as a part-time stage manager with the Angels and worked his way into a production role. That leg up inspired him to pay it forward and bring the current crop of Chapman students on board with the Reign.
“Since I started by having Chapman alumnae hire me, I have always felt the need to give back to Chapman,” Raitt says. “At the Reign, I was in need of quality production crew members and didn’t hesitate to reach out to (television studio engineer) Dave Goedhart and ask who he trusted and would work hard.”
Raitt credits his Chapman education and ongoing relationships with Chapman faculty and staff with his success. “Without the TVBJ program at Dodge, I would not have been able to get where I am today. I can especially point to Pete Weitzner and David Goedhart who had a dramatic impact on my career. Their passion inspires me to learn and their mentorship has been truly invaluable to me.
“The ability to get hands on training from day one of Dodge, allowed me to gain experience that I wouldn’t have had otherwise,” he continues. “I was able to direct newscasts, help produce the late night talk show Nightcap and the Cecil Award shows and learn from the best in the business, like my Advanced Videography class with Dave Turner. I point out that class because we were challenged to create stories without classic reporting narration and had to create dynamic pieces using b-roll and interviews. Without them, I probably wouldn’t be doing what I am doing today.”
Like Raitt, Napier is enjoying the opportunity provided by another Chapman alum paying it forward. As a freshman, she says, “I didn’t think I could get any decent internships let alone a professional gig with an AHL team. Being a part of a crew that has a direct connection with an NHL team (the LA Kings) has so many opportunities for other jobs. As long as I trust that I am doing my best and show that I am willing to work and learn, then I have the chance to be noticed by producers or other game broadcasting professionals.
“The film industry requires hard work and talent to move up,” she says, “but a lot of the best positions are honestly found and achieved through connection and the building of relationships and friendships with other people in the industry.” For Napier, the Reign is just the start.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally appeared in the spring 2017 issue of In Production Magazine. Read other great articles, and catch up on older issues, by clicking here.