Alumni ProfileAndrew Perez '07
Sports central

Perez

In the space of a year and a half, Andrew Perez ’07 found himself at the 2008 World Series, last January’s College Bowl Championship game, the 2009 Super Bowl and the NBA finals. At the Super Bowl he watched the winning catch from 15 feet away. And he hasn’t paid a dime for a ticket. In fact, he’s been paid for the privilege.

“I’m the envy of all my friends,” Perez said with a smile.

Perez is a freelance sports cameraman based in Orlando, Fla. He had an internship in that city with Sun Sports (now a subsidiary of Fox Sports) during his junior year at Calvin and after graduation went back to bolster and work the connections he’d made.

“In this business, it’s all about who you know,” Perez said. “All sports cameramen are freelancers. I’m part of a core of guys, and we all try to keep each other working. So ESPN calls me and says, ‘We’re doing a game in Orlando and need four cameramen besides yourself. Do you know anybody?’ I tell them about the four guys in my circle. Those four do the same for me if they get a call.”

Neither Perez nor his friends started out behind the camera. “Every cameraman starts out as a ‘utility,’” he explained. “That’s the guy who goes in and wires the arena or the stadium and then during the game goes along behind the camera guy, making sure nobody trips on a cable and that everything’s connected properly. Once a company knows you’re a good utility, they’ll give you a chance at camera.”

Perez gets lots of chances these days. He was the youngest camera operator or utility by 10 years at the NBA finals. Besides the big championship series, he shoots regular season baseball, football, basketball and hockey games, mostly for Florida teams. He also covers all total non-stop action (TNA) wrestling matches for Spike TV.

A lot of offers come because producers have found Perez dependable. But, he said, his experience as a high school athlete—he played five sports—has also made him especially marketable. “I know likely situations and tendencies, what might come next in a game, and that helps me, because a cameraman has to be three steps ahead of what’s going on all the time, so he can anticipate where to be with the camera.”

PerezOf course experience behind the camera helps, where, Perez said, camera operators develop a kind of sixth sense. “You’re so in tune with what’s going on in the game that time slows down. In baseball, for example, a pitcher can be throwing a hundred miles an hour, but when I’m looking through the camera I can actually see the rotation of the seams on the ball. Or in basketball, because I can see whether the ball is rotating back to front or side to side, I can tell how it will bounce on the basket, so I can follow it with the camera.”

Through the lens, the action may appear slow, but the pace of the work is anything but relaxing—which is just fine with Perez, a self-described “adrenaline junkie.” “The thing I like most about the work is that I never know what’s going to happen while I’m working, and I don’t know what I’ll be doing tomorrow, either. That keeps it fresh and entertaining and fun.”