Behind the Lights Student Finds her Calling in Film

Sarah Horton and Sydney May

Second generation OC student Shay Stegmann followed her parents footsteps to Oklahoma City, but her dream of working in film led her down a path she never expected. Seven movies, three short films, and numerous commercials later, a bright light shines on the senior’s future success.

Shay’s parents, Sean (90) and Keithia (Sipes) (89) understand the importance of education. Sean graduated with a BS in Management Information Systems and Keithia with a Bachelor of Computer Science. These successful alumni passed on their technical gene to a child with a flair for creativity. Unsure how that would play out in a career, they entrusted her to OC’s Communication Design program. 

The program allowed Shay to learn about web design, videography, advertising, and more. Her class visited 23 companies! Experiencing different organizations helped Shay identify the best work environment for her. This diverse learning experience helped Shay discover her passion and plot her course.

For the first time in my life, I was with people who were passionate about the exact same things as me.

OC professors alerted Shay to an internship opportunity at a local production company, Producer’s Playhouse. Helping out on a commercial shoot, she met Matt Bauske who invited her to participate in a movie project. Near the end of filming, Shay was promoted from Intern to Best Boy; the second highest position in that department.

“It was so cold,” said Shay. “The days on a movie set are long. I saw the sunrise and the sunset on an eighteen hour shoot. I felt exhausted and satisfied and content because for the first time in my life, I was with people who were passionate about the exact same things as me.”

Matt hired Shay to work full-time on his summer movie filmed in Guthrie, Oklahoma. The ability to use lights to create moods and effects fascinated Shay. Movement of light creates an illusion of fire, a car passing by, or the sense a person is watching television.

“You get to see how to imply things that are not there with light and viewers recognize what it is,” said Shay. “I repeat the same job, but it is always different. I meet and experience different people.”

Sometimes those “different people” are named Russell Westbrook! Working on a late night commercial set involving Nike, a Ferrari, a giant LED monitor and the NBA superstar is just part of the job. Joining behind-the-scenes crew with experience on movies sets like Black Panther have connected Shay with the industry she loves and taught her some insider strategy. Shay met some crew who own equipment and rent it out for productions. When the opportunity arose to purchase her own light, Shay jumped on it. After renting her purchase out only two times, it was paid for and now produces profit. 

“Finally, it’s easy for my parents see my vision. They get excited about what I’m doing and tell their friends. That makes me feel really good. Dad says, ‘Buy more lights,’” said Shay.

After graduation, Shay plans to join the thriving film industry in Atlanta where some of her contacts are ready to help her get established.

Fall 2018

View more stories from the Fall 2018 issue of Vision magazine.