Ian Thomas, King of the Equipment Room

By Zachary Lubin

Ian Thomas is hard at work in the FSSA film department equipment room.

The equipment room, smells of mist, leather and old technology. There is film equipment everywhere, equipment on the ground, equipment on the walls, equipment on the table. No matter what time of day, one is almost sure to see a tall hunched over young man sitting on a stool in the middle of it all.

This man is Ian Thomas and he is the king of the equipment room.

The equipment room is an offshoot of the film room at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA). When one walks into the room they will see the equipment room through the window. To enter the room, one has to go into the film room, walk forward and take a sharp left turn. The room is where all of the film equipment is stored, to be taken out when it is needed for any waiting film majors. Ian Thomas is the one person, including the film teachers themselves, who spends the most time in the room. 

Ian considers the equipment room a home away from home. Ian said that he’s spent upwards of 60 hours in the equipment room in the past six weeks alone. Ian currently comes in the morning and spends both first and second period in the room.

“I’m there as sort of a teacher’s assistant,” he says. Ian works for junior and senior film teacher Mr. Spagnuoli every morning to make sure that everything is in order for the incoming film classes. It is not uncommon to walk into the film room for a third film period class and see Ian Thomas there with one AirPod, quickly, gracefully and efficiently setting up pamphlets for peer feedback.

It is evident why Mr. Spagnuoli chose Ian to be the one to help out in the morning. Ian has a great work ethic, and no first or second period. Two very important qualities that Mr. Spagnuoli would want in his helpers. 

Ian is also an equipment monitor, one of three in the school, which means that he also spends, an hour in there after school, every Tuesday and Thursday.

“During equipment monitoring, its my responsibility to make sure all equipment comes back safely from the film majors, and not broken and not lost. And upon its return, to put it back into an elaborate system that we have,” Ian said. “Also as equipment monitors, our job is to keep the equipment room tidy and organized. And to help anyone who may need equipment to shoot, its our job to pack it and ship it out to them.”

Ian takes his job very seriously and does not like it when people come in and mess around. It is also not uncommon to see him rushing in and out of the equipment room bringing in and out equipment.

Ian feels a real connection to the space.

“In a strange way I am spiritually connected, every time I take out equipment put away equipment I always have this weird emotional response where I feel sad to part with the equipment I’ve made memories with, it’s such a weird thing, but it’s like the thing you see in all those movies, where the people are connected to the trees and the nature and the outdoors. I always thought that was ridiculous, but I get where they’re coming from, kind of, not really, but in terms of me to the equipment room, I feel like I’ve spent enough time in there that it’s gonna be very hard to part with it and the end of senior year,” he adds.

Ian is a senior and is thinking about the prospect of having to leave the equipment room at the end of the year and pass it onto whoever comes next.

“I’m also sort of excited to see the next generation of equipment monitors. I feel like Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope, my story’s over, I’ve had my fair share of adventures, and now it’s time for a new generation to inherit the lightsaber.”

It has always been comforting to know that whatever happens in this world that Ian Thomas will always have his quaint corner of the school, where he can be in real control. You can come visit Ian Thomas in the equipment room in the morning, he has been and will always be there. He will listen to your problems, have a smile on his face, and he will always be there to help take out any film equipment you might need.