Behind The Scenes
by Alyssa Witt
Week after week, Dawson's Production Team makes sure you can hear and see perfectly. And that is no easy task. All of it with grace.
Sunday morning worship at Dawson is a wonderful time spent together as a church family. We worship through music and prayer, and through studying God’s Word. There is much that goes into a Sunday morning worship service, from Pastor David prayerfully planning his sermon, to the Music & Worship Team preparing to lead the congregation. There are countless others who spend time during the week (and even weeks prior) planning for a Sunday morning at Dawson. But there’s another group whose main responsibility is to facilitate the service in real time. If you've ever wondered about what’s happening behind the scenes, or even if those thoughts have never crossed your mind, you may like to know about the talented team of men and women hard at work ensuring a seamless worship experience from start to finish.
You may never actually see Dawson’s Production Team in action on Sunday mornings. They are a stealthy bunch, made up of both staff members and volunteers. They’re the ones controlling the lighting, sound, and microphones in the Sanctuary. They're the volunteers operating the video cameras and ProPresenter for the screens in the Sanctuary and for livestream. They also record and edit the worship services each week and create the closed captioning text shown with the broadcast the following Sunday on CBS42.
And just when you think they can take a breather, you realize that Sunday mornings and Wednesday night rehearsals aren’t the only times this team is at work. They are there, behind the scenes, making sure that any and all events go off without a hitch: KidLife, Candlelight, Ballet Recitals, Collide Musicals, to name just a few. The Production Team typically arrives hours before each service or event to set the stage, test the lights and cameras, and make sure that the sound quality and volume are perfectly set. Once the event is over, the team members are usually the last to leave as they shut everything down and prepare for what’s next.
Though their hard work is often unseen by others, Dawson’s Production Team is not working for the recognition or praise of others; they are doing it to serve and glorify the Lord. This is affirmed by Dawson’s new Production Manager, Zac Upton. Zac, who joined Dawson’s staff in January of this year, graduated from The University of Montevallo in 2013 with a Bachelor of Music. He served as the Audio Director at First Baptist Church Montgomery for over eight years before coming to Dawson to lead the team.
Zac is passionate about his work and the role that the Production Team plays. “The goal of the Production Team is to provide the highest quality production support for the Sunday services, as well as helping various ministries achieve an elevated production value for their many services and events.” said Zac. He believes that his work is a calling. When he and his wife, Abie, learned about the opportunity at Dawson, they were thrilled that this calling allowed them to return to Birmingham. “Serving in this capacity at such an incredible church, really felt like where the Lord was leading me.” When Zac is not at the church, he and Abie enjoy going to movies and concerts and hanging out with their dog, Stevie.
Zac is not alone. Within the past 18 months, others have also felt called to be a staff member on Dawson’s Production Team. Drew Romanowski, Dawson’s Lead Audio Engineer, was hired in September of 2021. In his role, Drew is mainly responsible for all audio and lighting systems, but he also shares his talents in other ways. Drew helps lead and train the new production associates and interns and helps to prepare them for their next steps in their production career. Drew is originally from Nashville, Tennessee, and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Technology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. (He also officially studied trumpet.) During and after college, Drew worked at a studio in Nashville in the heart of Music Row at Parlor Productions. Drew is a member of the Audio Engineering Society and holds a Pro Tools User Certification. In his spare time, Drew plays multiple instruments with various groups in town. He is also one of three members in a local bluegrass and folk trio, Cawlings, where he sings and plays acoustic guitar. Drew is interested in all kinds of musical genres.
Isaac Graham, as a full-time production associate, assists with audio, lights, cameras, videos, and anything else that is needed. Isaac is originally from Clanton, Alabama, and recently moved to the Birmingham area after finishing his bachelor’s degree in Communications from Jacksonville State University (JSU). Isaac started his career in broadcasting and production at JSU while serving as the Program Director for the campus radio station. He began attending Dawson towards the end of 2020 and was tapped as an intern for the Production Team during the summer of 2021. From there, Isaac moved to a part-time role during his final semester at JSU and became a full time Production Team member in December of 2021.
Wheat Bailey and Craig Cambron are two of Dawson’s newest production associates, with Wheat joining the team earlier this year and Craig arriving in June. Wheat grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee, and is in his final year at Samford University majoring in Worship Leadership. Outside of work, Wheat enjoys photography and exploring the food culture around Birmingham. Craig grew up in Pelham, Alabama, and graduated from Jacksonville State University in 2020 with a Communications degree, focus in Broadcasting. Craig has mostly worked in Sports Radio over the past 4–5 years. Last year he jumped into production in the church setting and has had a passion for it ever since. Craig's role is to help with whatever is needed with audio, video, or lighting. He is also a big sports fanatic and will never shy away from talking football, basketball, or baseball. "I love serving God and am very excited for this new opportunity to use my passion and knowledge to work here at Dawson!”
When B.C. Romano was hired as Dawson's Director of Video Media in June of 2007, George W. Bush was the President, Apple was just days away from launching the eponymous iPhone, and gas was only $2.08 a gallon. Born and raised in Vestavia Hills, B.C. had recently graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in Telecommunication and Film, and he was excited to put his skills to the test each week at Dawson. Not long after coming aboard, he was hired by the Southeastern Conference (SEC) where he has been the Director of Video and Creative Services since 2009. Fifteen years later, many things may have changed, but B.C.’s steadfast dedication to working in the production booth on Sunday mornings never has. You will find him there almost every week with the exception of the first Sunday in December. Though B.C. has different responsibilities during his workweek at the SEC, his main responsibilities at Dawson include producing and editing the weekly TV broadcast for each Sunday service. B.C. is married to Ginny, and they have a daughter, Harper Anne, and a son, Benny.
When you pull back the curtain, it's easy to see how Dawson’s Production Team is using their talents and gifts to serve the Lord. This goes not only for the staff, but also for our dedicated volunteers—several of whom have served faithfully for many years. “Production at Dawson is a ministry in and of itself," said Zac. "Our team’s talent and dedication are apparent every Sunday and also with all that happens throughout the week. They have such an incredible servant’s heart to share the Gospel within the walls of the church and also by breaking through those walls and reaching many others with our livestream and broadcast. On top of that, we have an amazing group of volunteers who are committed, week in and week out. We are truly blessed here at Dawson."
Alyssa Witt is a Mississippi native who landed in Birmingham by way of Samford University. She serves on Dawson's Communications Team as a Media Associate. Alyssa and her husband, Caleb, are expecting their first child in September 2022. She loves ice cream, Lilo & Stitch, and all things 90s. Watch out, she randomly bursts into song at any given moment.