Where are you currently employed?
Since 1982, I have been President of Wirth Video Projects, Inc., and I currently freelance as Technical Director at NBC Universal for The Maury Show with Maury Povich.
I just completed recording a live performance of the rock band Evanesence in Little Rock, Arkansas. It was recorded in 3D with All Mobile Video’s Epic 3D mobile unit.
Describe Your Job.
Some of the functions of a technical director include supervising the crew on location or in the studio; making sure that all equipment required for the production works properly; assigning crew members to their positions; and supervising the utility crew. During production, I switch the visuals — cameras, graphics and playbacks — as called for by the director. I also make sure the crewmembers get their breaks, meals and call times as scheduled.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
I always had an interest in photography. Going to college for Communication Arts led to opportunities to work internships at local TV stations.
Who gave you your first break?
Bob Civiello, a director at WLIW, offered me a full-time job as a field cameraman shooting for the local nightly news show. I had interned there.
What was your first union job?
We had organized WLIW.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
Receiving Emmy Awards for Sesame Street and Rachael Ray. They are seen nationally and are very well produced series.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
On location in Agra, India, shooting Yanni’s Tribute Concert at the Taj Mahal. The actual physical environment on a riverbed during the dry season brought many challenges to all the production departments at the venue. Heat, insects, dust, sand and no road to the site were just some of the obstacles that had to be overcome. I could write a book about the experience. Despite all the obstacles, the concerts were beautifully captured with 15 cameras by an amazing crew.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
Sesame Street. The “Muppeteers” keep you laughing all day long. It’s a very special place to work. Every single person in the cast and crew brings so much to the production to creatively make the magic happen. Driving to the studio you anticipate having a great day!
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
Still working with clients by either technical directing or directing. In the freelance environment, you have many options open to you as far as types of productions you can pursue. As a multi- camera video technical director, the paths vary in production such as broadcast, theatre, entertainment, sports, corporate communications and webcasting. It’s a very open field as your skills are the same for all the paths.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
Golf and travel.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
Tootsie. In the movie I had a part as Mel the technical director!
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
The Cosby Show — both of them. I was a freelance technical director for them.
Do you have an industry mentor?
There are many directors, mostly in theatre and entertainment, who are mentors to me. Kirk Browning, now deceased, the original director of the series Lincoln Center Live on WNET in New York, I admire the most.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
If you have interest in multi-camera production, ask questions, educate yourself about every job and department and what their needs are. The satisfaction you get is from knowing that you were able to make sure all their needs were met and the production went flawlessly. Technical directing is very rewarding in the fact that you get to work with such creative and talented people every day.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
The Guild has always been there to support us for contracts covering work rules, wages and benefits. That is always there and available to us any time.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
We are very fortunate to work in the field of communications. If you have a passion to create art in film or video production, pursue it. The satisfaction and rewards will come with a job well done.
Compiled by Edward Landler
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