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Past Featured Members

DANA VILLA - TECHNICAL DIRECTOR:

December 2012

Where are you currently employed?

 

I am the senior technical director at the NFL Network. I’ve been here as freelance and staff for seven years. I love that the NFL Network is located in Culver City. I am home every night with my family, which is very rare as a TD.

 

Current Project?

 

My main show is Total Access. This is a one-hour sports talk show, Monday through Saturday at 4:00 p.m. Pacific. We cover the latest developments in the NFL all year long. There is no real off-season anymore. The season starts with NFL Combine and Draft and doesn’t stop.

 

Describe Your Job.

 

For Total Access, I manage the show effects, switch the show live and manage the set monitors; there are 50 monitors on Stage 1 and 42 monitors on Stage 2. Outside my show duties, I oversee three control rooms and all effects that run in these rooms.

 

How did you first become interested in this line of work?

 

As I have found with most professions, I fell into it.

 

Who gave you your first break?

 

In 1996, I worked as a PA for the morning news at WHDH in Boston. I turned down many offers to be a writer. I can fix a script, but I find it impossible to put the first word on the page. One night, the production manager was hanging out in the newsroom. He started teasing me about turning so many offers down. Out of the blue, he offered me the morning technical director position. He was joking, of course. But, I accepted… and there were witnesses.

 

What was your first union job? 

 

The morning TD job at WHDH was my first union job.

 

Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?

 

My work at the NFL Network. Through this job, I get to work with lots of amazing people and go to some fantastic events. Our studios are an exciting place to work with NFL players, owners and the commissioner walking around. Plus I get to work at the NFL Combine, the Hall of Fame and the Super Bowl.

 

What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?

 

The biggest challenge of working in a studio is keeping fresh while doing the same thing every day. A good night’s sleep and pictures of my kids are my first steps. But mainly, I just try to approach each show with an open mind and see where it goes.

 

What was the most fun you’ve had at work?

 

The most fun I have had working was during my freelance days. Every week was a different city to explore. I made lots of friends and danced all over America. 

 

Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?

 

In five years, I hope to be doing the same thing. Now that I have kids, this is the best job for my family. I love what I do.

 

What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?

 

My kids are my passion and joy. They are the greatest thing I will ever do. In rare moments, when I get to do something for me, I love to garden. There is something so calming about digging in dirt and seeing the results. 

 

Favorite movie(s)? Why?

 

Death to Smoochie.  I think this is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. 

 

Favorite TV program(s)?  Why?

 

I’m a sci-fi geek. I love Fringe. I rarely get to see it live. So every couple weeks, I binge on the episodes that I have missed. 

 

Do you have an industry mentor?

 

Being a technical director is one of the few journeyman professions left. You can learn only so much from books. It takes a community to teach and learn this job. I have been blessed to have several people be instrumental in my work career. 

 

My first mentor was Phyllis Leocha at WHDH in Boston. She had the patience of a saint trying to teach me how to be a technical director. This didn’t come naturally to me. In the beginning, every button was a struggle for me to understand. 

 

In 2000, I made the trek from Boston to Los Angeles in pursuit of sun and freelance sports. On my first truck gig, I met Steve Andrews, a terrific engineer who has helped me to learn the engineering side of this craft. I am still learning from Steve today; he is the chief engineer at the NFL Network. 

 

And I must credit several other technical directors with taking me under their wing. Joe Hindin allowed a young green TD (who was pretending to be a tape op) to sit next to him during show set-ups. I pestered Joe with lots and lots of questions. Steve Meyer also endured a lot of questions from me. And Len Marinaccio was incredible influential to my growth. Len has a website that I learned a lot from: www.TDHelp.com.   

 

What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?

 

To anyone who wishes to become a technical director, start by talking to someone who is already a TD and pick his or her brain. Also check out the Internet. There are several forums for TDs to ask others about specific technical issues they have faced. 

 

Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance? 

 

Yes. Through Guild mixers, I was able to expand my contact base. This is a business where who you know is just as important as what you know. A job can present itself from anywhere. So, it is always good to meet as many people in this industry as possible. 

 

Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?

 

Follow your dreams. You never know where you will end up. I’ve been an actress, an electrician and a rigger. I never


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