Lights. Camera. Action. That’s the way it all goes down on game night for Heather Gaskins, a member of the event productions crew at Staples Center and Nokia Theatre/LA Live in downtown Los Angeles.
Gaskins is part of a hotshot programming team that makes all that glitter at the famed arena where the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Kings call home, turn to gold.
A detronics operator, Gaskins and her buddies at Staples Center and Nokia Theatre/LA Live make sure all the lighting, sound, video and camera equipment are all working on point during an event. Gaskins’ job is to help put it all together at the place Kobe Bryant and Blake Griffin call home.
She helps set the stage for celebrities like Beyonce and The Jacksons to strut their stuff like it’s nobody’s business.
When people come to Staples Center or Nokia Theatre/LA Live the expectancy of seeing the bright lights, hearing the audio sound working is usually taken for granted. All of those pre-game video clips, the lighting on stage of a concert go relatively unnoticed by the event-paying customer.
That’s because they’re too busy trying to watch the show. If all go according to plan it will be just another routine night of success for Gaskins and her programming partners. That’s the way it supposed to be.
While the fans whoop and holler about a Chris Paul crossover dribble or cheering and standing on their feet while taking in “The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour 2013” concert, Gaskins and pals are feverishly working behind the scenes so those folks can get the most out of their getaway experience.
Much like the way the high-profile entertainers Gaskins help shine the spotlight on, her pre-event rituals of arduous work takes place hours before the limelight of showtime comes on. A typical day for Gaskins starts off with her playing the role of Supermom to son Shane before she leaves for the arena.
Then it’s getting focused on the task she has to make happen that evening. Whether it’s directing a production or help producing a show. A movie producer with two films (Restraining Order, The Lying Truth), under belt, Gaskins is about as laser-locked into what she does as much as a professional basketball player preparing to take to the court or a celebrity tuning up for a performance.
Gaskins had originally intended on making it a career as an actress. That changed. Gaskins discovered it was more fun to call the shots from behind the camera. From video shoots to working on movies, Gaskins became well-acclimated in event presentation.
“I loved working on film shoots and video shoots in whatever capacity,” Gaskins said. “I found out I liked it better behind the camera. I like seeing the finished product. I like it when people come up and say, ‘I really like your work. I like the way you put that story together.'”
Gaskins considers herself fortunate to be able to make that career switch and succeed in her latter interest.
“I really am blessed with the type of work I do because it’s fun, it’s entertaining,” Gaskins said. “You get to meet a lot of different people and the stresses are such that it is worth going through it.”
That doesn’t mean there are not challenges that she has to contend with. To deal with that, Gaskins simply falls back on her faith in God to get her through any difficult period she encounters.
“It’s a constant faith walk because it can be a fickle industry,” Gaskins said. “There’s a lot of judgment in the industry. People make decisions about your ability to do things which may not be correct. Sometimes you bear the brunt of that judgment…I have definitely seen God’s hands on my life.”
Gaskins’ life was certainly in God’s hands a few years back. A day before the 2008 presidential election, Gaskins was left devastated by an automobile accident that could have very easily killed her.
She suffered a broken pelvis. Several bones in her back were broken. Emergency workers had to use the “Jaws of Life” to pry Gaskins out of her car. Gaskins lost her ability to walk for nearly a week after being hospitalized. She spent several months confined to her home because of the injuries she suffered in the accident.
Once she was cleared by doctors to enjoy some sense of normalcy where she could once again go outside and smell the roses, Gaskins got a good sense of what she had been through.
“I just realized how precious my life is,” said Gaskins. “When I got back to the place of lifting my foot up and putting my socks on…there was a time I couldn’t do this. Life is very precious. When I was in the hospital I didn’t realize how terrible the accident was because I didn’t see anything. Days later, my family didn’t even want me to see the pictures, and when I saw them, I went ‘Oh, my God.'”
As she maneuvers about on her continuous journey of making daily event productions come alive with sight and sound, Gaskins is not lost to the fact at just how fleeting life can be. Her near-fatal accident served notice of that.
“It was a revelation of how good God is,” said Gaskins. “It becomes real to you.”