Class of 2019
Currently Studying :
"Once you know what it is you want to do, you have to throw yourself fully into that thing. You can only advance your skills if you commit."
– Jonah Camiel, Class of 2019
What is your degree/major and why did you choose it?
My degree is a BFA in Production and Design for Stage and Screen and I hold a concentration in lighting design. I really always knew I wanted to go into some form of technical theatre which I have been involved in in some way since I was 10. You don’t realize how many different specific fields there are in this industry when you are just doing typical high school theater. This major allowed me to keep my options open by getting a well-rounded design degree so that down the road I could move in whatever direction I was interested in. The nice thing about having a design background is that it is really an advantage no matter what field in theater you go into. As a moving light programmer, having an understanding of the lighting design process is crucial.
Can you tell me more about your interest in production, its role in your life, and how you came to work on productions like Miss You Like Hell and Shakespeare in the Park?
I really have always had a strong interest in the entertainment technology field. I am what the industry calls a “gear head.” Meaning one of my favorite parts of working in this industry is getting to play with all the cool toys we have. This is a large part of what led me into the moving light programmer field. It is a really nice combination of design and data management that I find to be a really fun challenge. I was extremely lucky to get where I am today and so early on in my career. I had many of those right time right place moments, which I am very fortunate to have received. Some people are lucky to get even one. I started working as a moving light programmer right away when I started school at Pace. My first show was American Idiot where I was the moving light programmer for lighting designer Zach Blane. Over the next year or so, I started working a little bit outside of school with some of my professors at various small Off-Broadway and regional theaters. I took a little bit of time away from programming as a sophomore to explore some other interests like Production Management. Ultimately, a production management internship I did at The Public Theater during the summer after my sophomore year is what led me back into programming. In the spring of my junior year, I began programming at The Public Theater for Broadway level designers on shows like Kings and Miss You Like Hell. That turned into a full summer at Shakespeare in the Park on shows like Othello, Runaways, and Twelfth Night. Since then I have been lucky enough to begin working on Broadway shows, my first being True West and King Lear.
What is it about Pace or Dyson that made you come here?
Really, it was to be in New York City. There are a lot of amazing design schools out there, but being if you want to work in New York you should probably be in New York. This turned out to be probably one of the single best choices I’ve made in my life so far because without going to school in this city, I never would have been able to be working at the level I am so early in my career.
What have your experiences with your degree program/department(s) been like? Are there any faculty members in particular who have been great mentors?
It took a while to get there, but now that I am working at such a high level, my program has been supportive of me. I have worked with many of my professors over the years and they have helped to get my resume picked up off the pile.
What would you like to do after graduation/what are your career goals?
My dream for when I graduate is for everything to just stay the same. I had set a five-year goal for myself to be working on Broadway within five years of graduating, but I am lucky enough to already have accomplished that goal. Of course I would love to continue to grow and work on bigger and better shows but for the most part I am where I want to be. I am very lucky to have been able to get there so early.
What is the most important advice you can provide to current students?
Take the time you need to figure out exactly what it is you want to do. There are so many industries that have so many little micro industries within them, so it is really important to take the time to explore all those options. I always knew I wanted to be in entertainment technology but it took me a while to figure out what I really wanted to do within that surprisingly broad field. Once you know what it is you want to do, you have to throw yourself fully into that thing. You can only advance your skills if you commit.