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‘Concordia Started it All’: Alum finds his way through LA’s movie magic

By Drew Amstutz ’18

The year 2000 marked not only the change of millennia, but also a shift in the field of video production.

For Kenneth Loechner, a 2000 CLHS graduate, the timing couldn’t be better.

“I remember when he hit the green button, and all of us in the dark room watched it happen. We saw it all click and thought, ‘Woah, movie magic!’” said Loechner, who recalls the memories he made at Concordia while being a student in the Martin Fischer Media Arts Center.

What started out as amazement at the ability to change camera angles sparked a passion that led Loechner down the path of becoming a successful film editor.

“The opportunity given to me by Mr. (Will) Neumeyer will set me on the path for my current occupation,” he said of the teacher and the founder of the video program at CLHS.

Neumeyer engaged young Loechner with turn-of-the-millennium technology not seen before in a high school classroom.

Neumeyer’s innovative teaching style drove Loechner to develop a creative work ethic, something that Loechner believes is what gave him the edge when searching for jobs in Los Angeles.

“The money donated, along with of Mr. Neumeyer’s foresight, was able to get us the equipment to be put ahead of the game,” said Loechner.

Loechner enrolled at Ball State University where he pursued a telecommunications major. Due to the hands-on learning that Loechner received in Neumeyer’s classroom, he felt more than prepared for his collegiate level media arts classes, and he often times found himself far ahead of his peers.

“I was able to get ahead of the game while in high school, when things were just on the edge of the digital push,” he said.

Toward the end of his term at Ball State, one of Loechner’s professors suggested that he move to Los Angeles to pursue a production career. He soon applied for an Emmy Scholarship, and eventually made the move to the Pacific with dreams of winning the prestigious award.

Fortunately, he was chosen as the recipient, and his career in Hollywood began.

Right away, he interned under directors during the production of a few TV shows, including The WB’s “Everwood” and Fox’s “The O.C.” Soon, he won his first Emmy for the creation of an anti-smoking PSA. But, to his surprise, Hollywood elites paid little to know attention to his newest achievement. 

“I thought that I would have the red carpet rolled out for me coming back to L.A., but nobody cared. I was young, inexperienced, and I started down at the bottom,” he said.

Loechner said that the only way that he overcame being a production assistant was to rely on his Midwestern work ethic.

“Strong work ethic — which means 13-14 hour work days, a quarter of which might be unpaid — stands out far beyond your peers. Doing this gets you to the next opportunity, which, in turn, gets you on to the next,” he said.

Loechner did, in fact, stand far out from his peers.

“My ambition, expertise, and work ethic allowed me to become an invaluable asset to the company I was at. All of these values go back to my days at Concordia,” he said.

Loechner remembers spending many evenings at work in the media center, sometimes even later than his teacher.

“Mr. Neumeyer would say, ‘Go ahead, stay late if you want, but you have all the equipment in here, so you better shut the door when you’re done!’ This responsibility, of someone trusting me with their keys, allowed me to grow as a young adult,” he said. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him pick up a camera and shoot.”

Neumeyer’s innovative curriculum pushed students to take the initiative of finishing a project on time, no matter how many hours it took.

Loechner not only values the skills he learned at Concordia for his career, but also the faith-based practices that he developed during high school.

“I would be doing an injustice if I did not speak to the faith that I grew while at Concordia. Rev. (Joseph) Gudel worked with me outside of school to help me with the Christian faith that has stuck with me to this day,” he said.

Loechner remembers going as far as to sneak out of lunch period with a packed lunch to study the Bible in his car.

“At that point in time I was deeper in my faith than I ever have been in my life,” he said.

Loechner strongly believes in the importance of Christian education, specifically the life-changing opportunities that are received by students who enroll at Concordia. He believes that graduates of Concordia are given the unique advantage of being able to outperform their millennial peers.

“(They) break the mold by teaching kids the motivation necessary to succeed in life,” he said.