Some may find it difficult to imagine where a digital media student would fit into the realm of theater performance and production, but for Anthony Watkins ’16, the connection is clear. Since his graduation last May, Watkins has found his niche working as a lighting technician for Sight and Sound Theaters in Lancaster. His background in video production and editing has given him the knowledge and ability to run the prolific number of lights the theater uses in all of its productions. He also helps with regular upkeep like replacing lamps, adjusting the focus and replacing gels.
Figuratively and literally, Watkins’ “position” gives him a fantastic opportunity to see immediate results of his work. Working on catwalks that suspend 40 feet over the audience, he can see every audience member’s reaction to what’s happening on stage. He says, “It’s a truly fulfilling experience that gives you a great feeling that what you’re doing is making a direct impact on viewers.”
Watkins gives credit to the Communication Department for helping him learn a team dynamic, a main component of his current job at Sight and Sound. “During my years at Messiah, I worked on several short films in which I had to work with others to accomplish the goal of producing the film— from pre-production to shooting to post-production. I also learned effective communication skills during those film shoots that are also needed when spotlighting a live show.” He adds that his experience in cinematography lighting has nicely transferred into the lighting skills needed for live theater.
For students who want to be prepared for the work force when they graduate, Watkins encourages students to not be afraid of starting the job search early, even as early as freshman year. Looking into internship opportunities and jobs that are available may help students decide what they want to do and how to get there. He also advises that the projects students do in classes will most likely be helpful down the road when interviewing, allowing them to show tangible examples of their work. He adds, “Employers aren’t only concerned about your GPA— they want to see the work you’ve been doing during your academic career.”
Watkins’ transition from digital media and film to live theater offers a great example of the kind of job variety alumni can expect to encounter after graduation. His ability to transfer skills and apply hands-on learning shows that with the right communication skills, alums can match their education and experiences with just about any job that fuels their interests and passions. - Stephanie Bricker ‘18