86 CS Airman wins AF-level video contest

by Senior Airman Joshua Magbanua
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Lane McCall, 86th Communications Squadron client systems technician, receives his award after winning the Air Force’s We Are Airmen: Recruiting Video Contest at Washington, D.C., Sept. 17. McCall creates multimedia productions as a hobby, and runs a social media page where he publishes his products. — Photo by Andy Morataya

Since he was a teenager, Senior Airman Lane McCall has been taking photos, shooting videos, and editing as a hobby.

“It started in high school when I wanted to share my motocross edits with my friends,” McCall said. “All I had at the time was a cheap standard definition camcorder and a GoPro, but all I cared about was making content. I didn’t have high-quality footage, so I had to be more creative with my editing — which is what separated me from the pack. I was volunteering for every video project I possibly could, eventually leading onto film festivals and job opportunities. I carried a camera everywhere I went,” he added.

Multimedia production quickly became McCall’s passion but finding high-paying jobs without a proper film school degree was difficult. As McCall began looking into schools, one thing became clear: film school was going to be very expensive.

“I was looking for an alternative way to help pay for my school, and the Air Force looked like the best route to go,” he said.

So he knocked on an Air Force recruiter’s door and expressed his desire to work in the public affairs career field.

But the Air Force had other needs, and trained him as a communications Airman instead.

He currently serves in the 86th Communications Squadron as a client systems technician.

“I was a little disappointed I didn’t get the job I wanted,” McCall said. “But information technology and communications isn’t a bad gig. I’ve always shown interest in computers and technology. My career field is not only helpful for daily tasks, but it’s also extremely marketable outside of the Air Force — which is a cool perk.”

Despite serving in a field different from what he originally desired, he continued his passion for photography and filmmaking. He even maintains a YouTube channel where he uploads videos regularly.

A few months ago, the Air Force announced a competition on the Air Force Portal. The task was simple: create a recruiting video less than 60 seconds that is intended to attract future Airmen.

“Hesitantly, I decided to give it a shot,” McCall said. “I dedicated a weekend of scripting, filming, and editing to the project. With the help of my good friend, Staff Sgt. Greg Randle, we finished the project just days before the deadline.”

McCall said it was difficult to determine where his video would stand, since many other Airmen would take a stab at the contest. The Air Force is vast with creative artists, and McCall figured there were other members out there that would give his project a run for its money.

Contrary to what he thought, the odds were in McCall’s favor. A few weeks after he submitted his video package, he received an email stating he was one of the top 10 finalists.

“I thought to myself, ‘I have a chance of winning this and potentially opening up a door leading to a career behind a camera,’” McCall said.

McCall’s leadership was extremely supportive of his project and were excited to send him on a temporary duty assignment to attend the Air Force Association Cyber Conference with high hopes of winning the award.

“Once I got to the event, we were held in a room for all of us to chat about each other’s projects and the types of challenges we faced. All 10 of the finalists including myself received a coin from the Air Education and Training Command commander and command chief,” McCall said.

McCall remembered feeling a little bit tense while waiting to hear who won the contest. But the tension quickly gave way to relief when he was called back up to the stage to receive his award — he won the We Are Airmen: 2018 Recruiting Video Contest.

McCall’s video was posted on the official U.S. Air Force Facebook page, helping it gain over 100,000 views across social media.

“It’s difficult to put the emotions into words when I found out I won,” he said. “I felt like I accomplished something big — something meaningful for the upcoming generation of Airmen. This video will show people how capable and extensive this Air Force is.”

McCall said he learned something that day.

“Sometimes our abilities are overlooked, but there’s always an opportunity to display our talents,” he said. “Hopefully I can begin a new journey and put my skills to good use.”