By Melanie Marchena
Kris Rinas is currently wrapping up his first year at AU as director of studio and technical operations and professor of cinema and media arts. In 1996, Rinas began his cinema and media arts career as a teenager with a news station in California. After moving to Indiana, he continued his career at Grace Church in Noblesville where he had responsibilities in technical directing, training and managing audio, video and lighting equipment. After 13 years at Grace Church, Rinas came to AU.
Where did you go to school?
I graduated from California State University Bakersfield. I worked full-time at the TV Station while being a full-time student. I spent many days in the TV truck writing papers and finishing homework between live shots.
What inspired you to go into the news industry?
When I was younger, I always enjoyed watching the news, especially the weather. I would pretend to be a weathercaster at home in front of a make-believe weather map. The last few months of my senior year in high school, I needed to find a job. I had some experience with audio and video and decided to apply at the local TV stations—and I got the job. From there, I spent my free time hanging out and traveling with the reporters and photographers learning how to become a good journalist. It was basically 12-16 hours days drinking from the firehose.
Why did you choose to leave the church you worked at for 13 years and come to AU?
The church grew over those 13 years from single-campus to multi-campus. As that happened, the existing single-campus organizational structure became stretched as we determined the best way to manage the goals and growth of the organization with the influx of people needed to serve the congregation. After a few years of a hybrid staff organization, we realized the need to completely reorganize the operations, and, in that process, the role I held was eliminated and broken up into other positions. I really enjoyed my time there, but it also gave me the opportunity to try something new and different.
What has it been like to be a new professor during the COVID-19 pandemic?
It has been very fun and interesting. I started last spring semester figuring out how to teach and communicate to university students in a way that is understandable. I made some mistakes and about the time I felt like I was getting the hang of things, we went virtual. This was like starting over again from scratch, because most of my classes are hands on. I had to realize I needed to let some of those experiences go; they simply were not possible with the need to be virtual or to keep socially distanced.
What has been the toughest part?
The toughest part has been grading assignments and planning projects and events for our cinema and media arts practicum course. This course produces Andersonian Video and Raven Watch. I think last semester I had changed the class schedule three or four times before we met on the first day and then it changed again a couple times within the first two weeks.
What has been the easiest part?
The support of the AU community. My colleagues in the cinema and media arts program were always available to answer questions and provide advice and wisdom. It made my six days of class preparation before my very first classes a seamless and stressless experience.
What is your favorite memory at AU so far?
Working with cinema and media arts students and School of Music, Theatre and Dance students to produce live concerts, “Spoon River” and the musical “See Me.” It is always exciting to see what a group of people can accomplish when we come together to achieve a common goal.
What is your favorite aspect of AU that you haven’t gotten to experience from other jobs?
Watching students grow and “get it”—creating content that is new and unique and seeing the potential they have to impact those around them or maybe even the world.
What is your favorite type of videography?
I enjoy capturing images that evoke emotion and tell a story without a word being said. I also like the excitement that comes along with a live event and enjoy directing multi-camera productions.
What advice would you give a student trying to follow the same career path as you?
Remember your experience here at AU is not an extension of high school. You have chosen to be here—make the most of it. I know some classes may be completely boring to you, but try to make the most of them. As a journalist, the more you know, the more you can relate to people and the better reporter you will be. Knowing how to connect with people is a huge part of the job and the “boring” class may be the exact thing you need to get the scoop. Journalism can be very fun and rewarding—you get to experience things many people will never be able to because of the position. You also need to have thick skin; some people will hate you as a journalist because of your profession. You also need to know you are only as good as your last assignment. You have to continually strive to be better than your last piece. And when you fail—which you will—you have to quickly get past the failure and learn from it, because the next story is not going to wait for you.