In a small Colorado town, music blares from the large speakers overtaking the natural masterpiece. The sound echoes through the starry night as rocky red patterns decorate the venue. Thousands of people are grooving, and one Castleton alumnus sits right up front in the best seat on the rocks.
Matt Woodward sings along and vibes with one of his high school favorites, Wu Tang Clan, performing just a couple feet in front of him.
“You kinda get a moment to pause and be like, ‘Damn, I’m really experiencing this all right now, and like this is in front of me,” he said with shock.
Soon after, it’s back to work for Woodward.
Through his headset, he hears his queue, and Woodward’s focus shifts quickly.
“You kind of snap back in when you hear your camera position being called,” he said.
Woodward has been working at the famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado as a camera operator and support technician since late April of this year. He summed up his job in one word.
“It’s basically like you’re seeing a free concert with like the best seat in the house and you’re getting paid for it,” he said.
Woodward graduated from Castleton in 2016. He initially focused closely on his music career, going by the name WDY and creating psychedelic pop and experimental hip-hop music. He played many shows in 2016, booking gigs around Vermont.
At one point, WDY opened for Waka Flaka Flame at Higher Ground.
“I started just kinda messing around in my dorm room in Ellis Hall … I’d always wanted to make music,” he said. “I’ve been doing it ever since 2011 at Castleton and just kept going.”
He also had a radio show on Castleton’s WIUV radio at the time, serving as a DJ and playing his electro music.
As Woodward made money through his music production, gigs, and working as a newscast director for local news channels 22 and 44, Vermont affiliates of ABC and Fox News, the Red Rocks opportunity came in late February of 2019. He knew he had the necessary experience, and he went for it.
“I just flew out here that next week and spent a ton of money and I got the job somehow. There was like a two- or three-stage process, and there was a bunch of people being turned away,” Woodward said. “I somehow got the job. I gave my two weeks and just sent it out here. I didn’t have a lot of money and had to get another job at a golf course to sorta make ends meet.”
However, Woodward didn’t need to stay at the golf course for long. In June, he landed another job as a technical director at Weather Nation, a national weather news source. There, he sets up the studio and cameras and works on the switcher.
His role as camera operator and support technician at Red Rocks involves many different tasks. Sometimes Woodward is making sure the lighting on the camera is all set, while other times he’s operating the cameras that show live footage on the big screen.
With his video production knowledge from his classes at Castleton and his experiences in front of a crowd performing his music, Woodward was not too worried about his new job.
“If I had no stage experience, I probably would’ve been scared to do the front-of-stage camera-op because it’s intense,” he said. “But like having been in front of a crowd, it prepared me. It wasn’t too bad.”
One of the instances that Woodward was working the front-of-stage cameras was for the Wu Tang Clan show.
“I’ve been listening to Wu Tang Clan since high school and all the sudden RZA and Raekwon and Ghostface Killah are right in front of me. It’s crazy,” he said.
Woodward has seen other big-name bands too, such as Anderson Paak, Billie Eilish and Sublime.
But on his second day working at Red Rocks, he was operating the camera for Twiddle, the jam band from Vermont who formed at Castleton. All the way out in Colorado was a band from Castleton and a camera operator from Castleton.
“That was kinda wild,” he said. “I kinda like partied with those guys. All of the sudden I’m working their show at Red Rocks.”
Woodward even had the opportunity to meet Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his girlfriend, former NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, as they were in the crowd at one of the shows.
According to Woodward, he approached Rodgers after one of the sets asking for a picture with him. Rodgers said no at first because he and Patrick were about to use the bathroom and leave soon after.
Woodward figured he wouldn’t get another photo opportunity, yet later on, when he was leaving the control room, Rodgers spotted him and asked if he had gotten the picture yet.
“He was like the coolest guy ever. I couldn’t really believe it,” Woodward said.
Moving forward, Woodward hopes to continue to expand on what he is already doing. He wants to continue to make music and perform for others, but he also intends to start a multimedia production company where he would work with bands and music festivals to create content.
“It doesn’t really matter where you went to school or where you come from,” Woodward said. “It’s good to just like have the experience and actually put in the work. You can really do like anything.”