The Beyond Today crew plays a crucial role in preaching the gospel via television broadcasting and the Internet. Using the various mediums, their goal is to present the gospel message in the most effective way, reaching people in our modern age at their level of understanding.
What is not widely known is that most of the crew on Beyond Today are under 35 years old. Clint Porter, 28, works as motion graphics specialist and has been at the home office for five years. Tom Disher, 26, works as a senior website designer but volunteers his time to operate the teleprompter during program recording. Both Jamie Schreiber, 26, and Rudy Rangel, 31, are associate media producers and are responsible for operating the video cameras.
Producing Beyond Today is a collaborative effort. All team members are also involved in production meetings and editing scripts alongside senior video editor Clay Thornton, BT presenters Darris McNeely, Gary Petty and Steve Myers, as well as Media and Communications Services operation manager Peter Eddington.
Sabrina Clore: What is the most interesting or rewarding experience that you've had while on the job?
Clint Porter: I think for me, it's when you see some direct result from what you're working on. That is why I got into doing this in the first place. For instance, with Beyond Today it's really exciting to see the letters come in from people who just had their minds opened to a whole new area that they'd never thought about before in a doctrine.
Having spent their lives searching for some kind of answer and then they finally see this program, they realize, "I was looking for this. This fits with the things that didn't make sense when I compare the Bible to what people are saying." I think that's really rewarding.
Jamie Schreiber: When you see comments on YouTube and letters that are inspired from the videos that you've worked on, that's so encouraging! Also when I went to Australia for the Feast last year, I was absolutely overwhelmed because of all of these folks who had heard my name and knew I was working for the Church, and they wanted to meet me. They really inspired me to want to put more youth films together. They want to see some more.
SC: What is your favorite aspect of working for the Church?
Rudy Rangel: Everyone has days when they get down about work. But when you work for the Church, what we do—the effects of it-—will last for eternity.
Tom Disher: Seeing people who say, "Wow." When people find a website and they've been looking for something and it finally connects—you help make that connection—man, that's cool. I worked at GE before I worked here, and my project was to help streamline a process to make locomotives and shave off costs for a big company. So, being here and actually seeing the results is pretty awesome compared to cranking out widgets more efficiently.
CP: I was setting up mainframe security administration for Marathon Oil and SAIC—same story like that, by comparison. I think one thing that's really neat about working here, too, is knowing what our mission is—what it is and what we're trying to do. It's very exciting to get to be the physical hands that are actually doing something that somebody else is praying for.
They want to see it go forward, and you're the instrument that's being used to actually make it happen. It's neat to be a part of that process. We certainly very much appreciate how all of those different pieces are needed to make it happen.
SC: Tell me why you think television is an important aspect of preaching the gospel, doing the work of God.
CP: One of the important factors, a lot of the time, for people coming into the Church is the quality of the congregations of the people they come into contact with and the health of congregations. But when it comes to the media, it's been important to also remember that we've got different sides of the gospel message. We are making disciples as God calls people into the Church, but at the same time we've got this commission to warn the world.
These are people whom God isn't necessarily calling right now, but they do need the warning message. And they may glorify God later in the day of visitation through having heard what is being presented. Television is important to that because there are only certain ways to warn people as opposed to making disciples.
TV is important and is a medium where you can still come into contact with people who browse across where you are. They flip across, and they might hear something that is interesting and listen to it, which is a different experience than the Web where you're often going somewhere specific. The reason we use all of these different media is because each one offers something unique that is an inroad into some people's lives.
SC: What is your favorite Beyond Today program so far and why?
JS: One of the ones Rudy and I worked on pretty hard is "Dancing With the Dark Side." We got to shoot lots of cover footage with a former witch. It was very interesting being in the room while the interview was going on, and we had fun challenges to light a person who didn't want to show her face. She told her stories, and we got to shoot reenactments.
RR: She had an interesting perspective, which enhanced the show. She actually attested that the evil spirit world out there exists.
TD: I think that's my favorite because we brought in an actual expert, someone who's actually been through that. It's easy to listen to a minister talk about it, but bringing somebody's real life experience into it is really cool.
CP: "The Day After Christmas," I thought, was a really good program. And it helped that Rudy and Jamie went out and got interview clips for the intro, which really helped build the case by just asking people about Christmas. The approach to that program was very warm, approachable and respectful to somebody coming from a Christmas-oriented viewpoint. I thought it was handled very well.
SC: How do we try to set apart the BT program and make it interesting to viewers?
JS: My main focus lately has been the very beginning of the show—the opening teaser. I've tried to put in as many graphics or reenactments as possible. The program "Solving the Israel and Arab Conflict" gives a scenario of a terrorist, so my cousin, Jonathan Magee, and I did a reenactment of it. Basically, it's like the hook of a movie. We're trying to grab the viewer within the first 20 seconds of the show, so hopefully they'll continue to watch.
SC: Is there anything else that you want to share about your job—that you feel would be important for people to know?
RR: For me, you see us laughing and having a good time, but we very much take our jobs very seriously. We know the weight of the commission that Christ gave to us.
We are trying to put a message out there, for not just a specific age group. We do try to make a message relevant to everyone, which is hard to do. Young people may like this episode better or older people might like that episode better, but as a whole we try to work together to put something out there that will appeal to as many people as we can.
CP: One last crucial element is the outstanding leadership of Peter Eddington and Clay Thornton. People have developed so much from working with Clay. He has an Emmy in editing and is just a fantastic picture person, knowing where the story needs to go in these programs—and Peter as well. I have never met anyone like Peter, who is well rounded in understanding the technical aspects and also deals well with people. They've been fantastic mentors.
RR: They are also excellent team players, won't take control and openly take input. When they both like a program, it means a lot, because they are well educated with lots of experience.
SC: What's the best way for members to send feedback?
CP: One way is visiting the Beyond Today contact page and filling it out with feedback: www.BeyondToday.tv/contact.
In addition to praying for the program, keeping up with it and sharing ones that they do feel are relevant on the Web, I would want people to know we have a very open-door policy to feedback—or any kind of thing people would like to convey about what they feel worked well or didn't work well on the program. We encourage those new to the Church to give feedback since most of us grew up in the Church. We very much thrive on feedback. UN