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James A. (Sandy) Thailing

I’m 44 years old with two children in high school and a one year old at home. Hello to new beginnings! On my first birthday my family watched Neil Armstrong touch down from Apollo 11. It was a moon shot. In some respects, my story is a moon shot too.

My dad was an executive managing accountant for one of the big three accounting firms in the northeast. He wasn’t a filmmaker or musician, but he did own a Canon AE-1 35mm still camera which I played with when I was around 11 years. I got a Minolta Maxxum 7000 for my 13th birthday and shot throughout Europe when I was 16. I added a Minolta Maxxum 9000 and autowinder with a 300mm 2.8 telephoto when I was 20 and honed my skills in media at the University of Incarnate Word as Editor in Chief of the school newspaper. I graduated with a BA in Communication Arts, splitting emphasis in video production and journalism, and a Speech minor.

Not knowing if I wanted to pursue photojournalism or broadcast video production, I published my first work while interning with the San Antonio Express News as a still photographer; then worked into motion video while freelancing as an ENG camera operator for Court TV and others. Broadcast and corporate television began to take root when I relocated to Dallas, Texas. I edited on the Avid Media Composer and produced the syndicated TV series “The Computer Man” for a company that developed in-flight programming for United Airlines, also called Bunting’s Window to the World of Computers. I later went on to freelance adding other credits to the list such as Coca-Cola, BET, ESPN and Texas Instruments.

I went on staff with The People’s Network when my son was born. This was a network-marketing firm with a 24hr satellite channel on the Primestar system. I took a dilapidated office space and turned it into a studio to maintain a weekly news program of which I DP’ed and produced over 60 episodes. From there I moved to Kansas City, MO to support and be near the kids. I just had a newborn daughter, and began work as Director in Charge of Production at TIMM Communications.

At TIMM, I maintained a video production department which developed content in MPEG1 format for a nationwide multimedia kiosk system called DRIVERNet, which provided marketing, recruiting and back-office solutions for the trucking industry. Following DRIVERNet’s inability to seek additional funding after the dot-com bubble burst, I again went freelance. It was at this point that I shot and edited for Saving Grace Productions at Church of the Resurrection providing sermon illustrations for Adam Hamilton.

I remarried, and built capital campaign videos for Resurrections newly built 3500 seat sanctuary. Soon after I was feeling a need to work in High Definition. So I traveled throughout the US freelance producing marketing DVD’s and high-end profiles for the likes of Papered Chef, Avon, Market America, and Reliv, all through a company out of Dallas, TX called VideoPlus. These were shot on the Panasonic Varicam and cut on Final Cut Pro. I also shot and edited for Garmin International, Sprint, Bark Productions, ESPN-HD, and the Discovery Channel, filming sequences for a documentary on immigration.

In early 2008 I was asked to sit on a church committee at Hillcrest Covenant Church as they developed a plan for a multi-site church, and a video-led venue in south Jounson County. I agreed, and began to build a tech ministry duplicating the same approach from Church of the Resurection modeled under Connie Stella. The ministry originally had 5 AV team members when I started. But grew to close to 60 today: kids to adults.

This team runs our multi-site, streamed media message each Sunday. They set up church in a middle school, and we feed the sermon message online and through low cost dedicated server. It’s a fully switched 4 camera HD control room with two graphics stations maintaining about 10-15 person, volunteer crew every week. We call it High-K Media. And it’s become one of the most progressive ministries this 50 year old congregation has seen.

You ask, where’s the moon shot? Well, in my mind it’s the convergence of ministry and technology, of course! How the electronic tools of today enhance the ancient words of yesterday. I never thought I would get so much joy from building people up to follow Jesus while working behind the scenes. It’s this passion to create and to help others see their potential in a life in Christ that is so gratifying. How cool is it, to work in this field! It may not look like that much of a moon shot, but to me and those who know my journey, it definitely is!