Jonathan Handel, Entertainment/Technology Attorney & Labor Reporter, TroyGould and The Hollywood Reporter
Paulina Borowski, Post Production Intern/USC Student, Blumhouse Productions
Trevor Horton, Editor, Website
Madeline Leach, Cinematographer, Website
Sadie Groom, Managing Director, Bubble and Squeak Agency
Larry Jordan: Tonight on the Buzz, we look at the challenges facing young people, just entering the media industry. What first got them interested in media and what excites them about their careers.
Larry Jordan: We start with Paulina Borowski; she’s a junior at the USC Film School and an Intern at Blumhouse Productions. Tonight, she talks about why she wants to work in media, her interest in post-production and her advice for other students who want to enter the industry.
Larry Jordan: Next, Trevor Horton is a Freelance Editor, who says he fell into the industry. He talks about how he decided the course of his career; the challenges of being a young editor and his goals for the future.
Larry Jordan: Next, Madeline Leach graduated last year with an MFA from the USC Film School. Tonight, Madeline talks about her love of cinematography; the importance of mentors and how she’s using them to build her career.
Larry Jordan: Next, Sadie Groom is the Managing Director of the UK based Bubble Agency. They’re a PR firm with 20 years’ experience in the industry. Tonight, Sadie showcases their Rise mentoring program for women in media.
Larry Jordan: All this, plus Jonathan Handel returns with an update on Hollywood Labor. The Buzz starts now.
Male Voiceover: Since the dawn of digital filmmaking. Authoritative: One show serves a worldwide network of media professions. Current: Uniting industry experts. Production: Filmmakers. Post-production: And content creators around the planet. Distribution: From the media capital of the world, in Los Angeles, California, the Digital Production Buzz goes live now.
Larry Jordan: Welcome to the Digital Production Buzz; the world’s longest running podcast for the creative content industry; covering media production, post-production and marketing around the world. Hi, my name is Larry Jordan.
Larry Jordan: One of the advances of teaching is that I get to meet a wide variety of talented young people from all over the world; so tonight, we thought it would be interesting to chat with folks who are just entering the industry. Paulina is still in school; Maddie graduated last year and Trevor has about four years of industry experience.
Larry Jordan: I’ve had the pleasure of working with Paulina and Trevor, but never heard their story of what got them interested in media in the first place. One point that became clear, in talking with all of them, was the importance of mentors. The Bubble Agency started a mentoring program two years ago, when the UK had expanded to Asia last year and to the US this year. Mentoring is a great way to give back and I think you’ll enjoy Sadie’s comments about their program.
Larry Jordan: By the way, if you enjoy the Buzz, please give us a positive rating and a review in the iTunes store. We appreciate your support, to help us grow our audience.
Larry Jordan: James DeRuvo returns next week; so in his place, I’m delighted to welcome back Jonathan Handel. Jonathan is an Entertainment and Technology Attorney of Counsel, at TroyGould in Los Angeles. He’s also the contributing Editor on Entertainment Labor issues for the Hollywood Reporter and, best of all, it is great to have him back on the Buzz. Hello Jonathan. Welcome back, we’ve missed you.
Jonathan Handel: Well, I’ve missed you guys as well and it’s a pleasure to be back.
Larry Jordan: The last time you were on the show, which was earlier last year, we were deep into the MeToo Campaign and the controversy over the Harvey Weinstein crisis. How would you describe the temperature of the industry today?
Jonathan Handel: As regards MeToo, we’re sort of in a consolidation phase. On the one hand, there may be some difficulties in the Weinstein prosecution itself; at least one of the charges was dropped and we don’t know where that’s going. We could be in for a surprise on that, or maybe not. But I think the industry is beginning to adjust to a new normal, a new reality that is one that involves more gender equity and racial equity as well and that, of course, is a welcome development.
Larry Jordan: We’re taping this on Tuesday, a couple of days before the show itself and the Oscars were announced this morning; yet, there were no women directors announced. Looks like we still have a ways to go.
Jonathan Handel: We do, we do, there’s no doubt about that and, sometimes it’s two steps forward, one step back. Sometimes, unfortunately, it’s one step forward and two steps back. Studies that the Director’s Guild has done bear this out. There’s no doubt that the opportunities for women directors and directors of color are not what they should be.
Jonathan Handel: But the Director’s Guild studies also do show, finally in the last year or so, some change and some progress that we weren’t seeing previously; so, although it is Oscars so male on the directing side, let’s keep our fingers crossed on that.
Larry Jordan: Based upon what I’m reading, especially the articles that you’re putting together Jonathan, 2019 is going to be a watershed year, in a variety of ways and one of them is the impact of new streaming services, which are going to be debuting this year. What do you see their impact on the industry?
Jonathan Handel: It’s going to be tectonic. I mean, first of all Netflix continues to move forward; there is reporting today that Netflix is in negotiations with the MPAA; the Trade Association of the six major studios; soon to be five studios with the Disney acquisition of Fox; that Netflix is in negotiations to join the MPAA.
Jonathan Handel: It would be the first time that a company that’s not per se a traditional studio would be a member. That really, along with Netflix’s, I think, 15 Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture, Roma, really underscores the effect that Netflix is having on the industry.
Jonathan Handel: They’re producing almost as much content, it seems, as the entire rest of the industry put together; certainly the majors in both film and television. But we’re going to see new competitors for Netflix arising; the studios are finally starting to respond. We’re going to see Disney’s streaming service debuting this year; Warners has announced a service that I believe will debut this year; I’m not 100% sure of that and we expect that an Apple service will debut this year as well.
Jonathan Handel: Meanwhile, Comcast has announced sort of a hybrid service; I’m not sure if that’s to be debut this year or next, but soon is no doubt the answer; that will be ad supported and free if you have a cable subscription. Or you pay for it as a subscription service in the same vein as Netflix and get it without commercials. That may pose an interesting challenge to the Guilds in terms of, how to categorize that service for purposes of residuals shifting to the Guild lends for a moment.
Jonathan Handel: One of the things that’s difficult for the unions is that, the contracts, particularly the residuals portions of their contracts, are built on assumptions that are shifting out from under their feet; in terms of the discreet differences between different media and the way media are categorized. Because the residuals formulas depend very critically on what medium something’s made for and what it’s being reused in. But when the definitions of media start to blur, overlap and shift, that presents challenges.
Larry Jordan: Well the Guilds brings us, I think, to another core issue that’s going to be happening this year, which is negotiations. Two come to mind; one is SAG-AFTRA and the other’s DGA. What’s happening with SAG-AFTRA in the commercials contract?
Jonathan Handel: Commercials contract expires March 31st and so, negotiations are expected to begin next month, February and technology is the watchword there. The ad industry is under a lot of pressure; the fact that people are watching Netflix these days, which they’re willing to pay for, ten now, 12, 13 bucks a month; they’ve just raised their prices, there’s no ads on Netflix.
Jonathan Handel: When there’s no ads on a large portion of the media that people are watching, that creates difficulties because SAG-AFTRA really rest on three pillars; for the actors anyways; film, television and commercials and commercials are equally large, if not larger than each of the other two pillars and so, anything that affects the health of the ad industry affects SAG-AFTRA.
Jonathan Handel: The other challenge for the union is that, there’s a significant non-union contingent. A lot of companies shoot commercial non-union and members, in some cases, violate the working rules; the rules of SAG-AFTRA, Global Rule One and will work on a non-union shoot in violation of those rules.
Jonathan Handel: Just this weekend, there was a Cadillac commercial being shot out in the high desert, 140 miles from Los Angeles and SAG-AFTRA reps traveled in the pre-dawn hours to document that shoot and to identify SAG-AFTRA members who were working on that shoot in violation of the rules. Those members now, probably, are going to be facing discipline.
Larry Jordan: What about the DGA negotiations?
Jonathan Handel: Well the DGA likes to negotiate early and their contract doesn’t expire until the middle of 2020; we’re talking TV theatrical now. Same for SAG-AFTRA and the Writers’ Guild. But the DGA, if history is a guide, is likely to begin negotiations and finish negotiations in December of this year; so that’s looking ahead towards the end of the year a little bit. But there again, we will see residual at the forefront and a variety of other issues, again, very much related to the changing industry background.
Larry Jordan: Jonathan, 2019 is going to be an exciting year. For people that want to follow your reporting, where can they go?
Jonathan Handel: Thrlabor, The Hollywood Reporter Labor.com for my Labor coverage and they can also find me at Jhandel.com.
Larry Jordan: Those websites are Thrlabor.com and Jhandel.com and, Jonathan Handel is the voice you’ve been listening to. Jonathan, thanks for joining us today.
Jonathan Handel: Larry, thanks very much.
Larry Jordan: Here’s another website I want to introduce you to, doddleNEWS.com. doddleNEWS gives you a portal into the broadcast, video and film industries. It’s a leading online resource, presenting news, reviews and products for the film and video industry. DoddleNEWS also offers a resource guide and crew management platform, specifically designed for production. These digital call sheets, along with their app, directory and premium listings, provide in-depth organizational tools for busy production professions.
Larry Jordan: DoddleNEWS is a part of the Thalo Arts community; a worldwide community of artists, filmmakers and storytellers. From photography, to filmmaking; performing arts to fine arts and everything in between, Thalo is filled with the resources you need to succeed. Whether you want the latest industry news, need to network with other creative professionals, or require state of the art online tools to manage your next project, there’s only one place to go, doddleNEWS.com.
Larry Jordan: Paulina Borowski is a junior studying Business Administration; with an emphasis in Cinematic Arts, at the University of Southern California. To gain job experience, she’s also interning at Blumhouse Productions. Hello Paulina, welcome.
Paulina Borowski: Hi, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: It is my pleasure. Tonight, we’re exploring why young people are entering the industry and how they view their careers. What first attracted you to working in media?
Paulina Borowski: It was actually a summer camp that I went to, the summer after Seventh Grade. My family called it a nerd camp, because you couldn’t actually get in unless you made these certain test scores; but once you got into the nerd camp, you got to pick any subject that you were able to study for three weeks.
Paulina Borowski: I saw a class that was titled Video Production and, to me, that sounded pretty interesting; so I signed up for it and then I was taking a really intensive three week course in video production. It was like seven hours a day or something insane like that and I just really fell in love with the medium.
Larry Jordan: What part of media are you interested in? I mean, you’re studying business Administration; are you looking to run a media company, or production, or post, or be a producer or what?
Paulina Borowski: I am looking to become what’s called a Post-Production Supervisor; which is basically like a producer over the realm of post-production and it’s kind of funny, because I didn’t even know that that role existed until about a year ago; when I was trying to decide whether I wanted to be a producer and live the production crazy lifestyle, or whether I wanted to kind of settle down and do post-production. And then I discovered that there was such a thing as a Post-Production Producer, essentially.
Paulina Borowski: So, as soon as I found out that that existed, I was like, that is exactly what I want to do; because I am absolutely fascinated with post-production and everything about it and I love the idea of being able to manage it and coordinate it and be the person that’s moving all of those pieces around and making everything happen in post-production.
Larry Jordan: So where does Business Administration fit in?
Paulina Borowski: In my major, I actually have to take a whole business course; so I’m taking accounting classes, I’m taking finance classes and economics and management and all of those things and I think that those things really give me a nice edge in the film industry. Because a lot of people that are entering the film industry are strictly creative; whereas my major is really equipping me to be able to understand and interpret and handle the business side of the industry; which I think is really important.
Paulina Borowski: Because it’s an industry that, of course, is filled with creative people and it couldn’t happen without the creative people; but it also couldn’t happen with only creative people and so I think that, there is a large demand for business minded people, who also understand the creativity that goes in and are not strictly business oriented; but kind of, are existing at that intersection between business and creativity. That’s where I want to be, is at that intersection; being able to kind of communicate to both sides, almost as, like, a translator.
Larry Jordan: You’re a full-time student, why the interest, or even the time for interning?
Paulina Borowski: Oh, I think interning is absolutely very important. I made my class schedules so that I am taking classes all day Monday and all day Wednesday; so that leaves my Tuesdays and Thursdays open and it’s not very easy to make your class schedule that way; but, if you make a couple of concessions, it’s possible. I basically go to school all day Monday and Wednesday, which leaves me open to get some intern experience Tuesday and Thursday.
Paulina Borowski: I think that that’s just really important, because those are the places where you’re going to really learn about the industry that you’re wanting to go into and that’s the places where, even more importantly, you’re going to meet the people that are going to propel you forward and that are going to help you and that, hopefully in the future, you can also help them in return.
Larry Jordan: You’re interning at Blumhouse Productions. What are you doing for them?
Paulina Borowski: I am actually the only Post-Production Intern at Blumhouse Productions; so I am kind of just in the post-production department there. They have an in-house kind of editorial. I am mainly, right now, helping out the Post-Production PAs in whatever they need and it also gives me access to be able to talk to all of the people there and just be, you know, working right next to the Editor in the next room and being able to ask them questions, or talk to the Assistant Editors and just really get a feel for how the whole system operates; in a place like Blumhouse, that it is cranking out movies that are doing well and that are in the theaters; rather than a smaller place, that is just making short-form content.
Larry Jordan: Where do mentors fit into your plans?
Paulina Borowski: Mentors are very important. Larry Jordan, I would say, is one of my mentors; l or at least I claim him to be. I don’t know if he claims me as a mentee. But, mentors are very important because they’re always there where you can reach out, ask questions, really just get advice on things to do. Like, right before I started my internship, I remember emailing you and saying, ‘Okay, like, what do I do? I don’t want to mess up. Tell me exactly how to do on my very first day? Like, what can I say, what can I not say?’ You were like, ‘Okay, chill out, just don’t do anything stupid.’
Paulina Borowski: I think that it’s just important to have that kind of person to support you and to kind of guide you in the right direction. Because your mentors know who you are and they know your unique skill set, they can connect you with people that make sense for you specifically.
Larry Jordan: Just for the record, I’m delighted to be able to help. As someone who’s just entering the industry, what challenges do you face?
Paulina Borowski: I think that the challenges that I face are difficult but also easily overcome. I think that, one of the main challenges is not knowing anybody. I came to Los Angeles as a small town girl from Texas and I had zero connections in the film industry and the more people told me that it’s all about who you know, the more discouraged I got for a while. Because I was like, okay, I don’t know anyone; there’s no way that I can ever succeed in this industry.
Paulina Borowski: But really, that’s the kind of challenge where people work it up to be something that’s really difficult to overcome, but it’s really not. If you put yourself out there, you be a genuine person and you just be humble and you make friends everywhere you go, your network exponentially expands very quickly. I think that, not knowing anybody is definitely a challenge, but it’s something that can be overcome if you work at it.
Paulina Borowski: The same thing with the challenge of not knowing technical skills. I originally wanted to start out in post-production, but I didn’t know everything there was to know about editorial and I think that my original idea was that I had to know everything before I started to pursue that path.
Paulina Borowski: The truth of the matter is, you learn as you go; so really, the only thing to do is to just start. Just do something, do a project; you do it completely wrong; you take the wrong way; you take the hard way and then, later, when you realize an easier way, you say, ‘Oh wow, that would have made my life a lot easier if I had known that last month. But, you know what, it’s fine, I know it now.’ So you keep going forward and you keep learning.
Paulina Borowski: I think that, as a young person, there’s these challenges of not knowing people and not knowing technical skills; but both of those things can be definitely overcome, if you just put your mind to it.
Larry Jordan: Imagine yourself three years ago, as you were just about ready to plunge into this new activity of getting involved with media. What advice would you give any other young person at the same point in their life?
Paulina Borowski: I think that, when I’ve listened to other people give advice to young people, they always say, ‘Do everything in the world.’ They’re like, ‘Oh, every single project that comes your way, do it’ and all these things and I remember always listening to that and being like, ‘Okay, I can’t do everything in the world.’ But honestly, I guess my advice would be to just do what you can; put yourself out there, be a good human and I think that the people that you meet and the things that you do will help you a lot more than you expect down the road.
Paulina Borowski: I would say, make sure not to hole yourself up in a basement and just stare at your computer screen all day, learning all of the technological skills; because, I think that, in this industry, the people are really what are going to matter in the long run and the relationships that you make are going to be so much more valuable to you than the technical skills that you can acquire by yourself in your basement. But I think that, focusing too much on hard skills and not focusing enough on soft skills will end up not being so great for you in the long run.
Larry Jordan: Paulina Borowski is a junior studying Business Administration, with an emphasis on Cinematic Arts and, Paulina, I wish you great success; not just short-term, but in your career as well. Thanks for joining us today.
Paulina Borowski: Thanks so much Larry.
Larry Jordan: Trevor Horton is a Freelance Editor based in LA, who has been in the industry for four years. He’s worked with Documentary Filmmaker, Brian J. Terwilliger as well as on special features for Living In The Age Of Airplanes and edited the Season Five YouTube series Late Bloomer, with Host Producer Kaye Kittrell. Hello Trevor, welcome.
Trevor Horton: Hey Larry.
Larry Jordan: What first got you thinking you wanted to be an Editor:
Trevor Horton: Honestly, in the beginning, I never had any interest in this industry whatsoever; it was just something that I never really thought about. You know, my Dad, he runs the Los Angeles Creative Pro User Group and it’s kind of been the background of my life for quite a long time. But I’ve been very passionate about the gaming industry for many years; ever since I was a kid, I’ve been playing games. Then when I went to Santa Monica City College, they had a program there for game design and I was very adamant pursuing that career.
Trevor Horton: I did that for a few years and, in the middle of that, my Dad was kind of pushing me a bit to try other types of classes; just to see if there was anything else I was interested in. I did sound design; I did the gaming stuff; I did, you know, graphic design; but I also took some video editing courses. Again, at that time, I really just didn’t have any interest in it; but I just said, okay, you know what, I’m just going to try it and just see how I feel about it.
Trevor Horton: Within the first project, I think it was like a Honda motorcycle commercial that my teacher had us cut, I was hooked; I mean this was something that was an incredibly satisfying experience to kind of start from clips and, you know, throw them down into a timeline and make something that you feel good about.
Trevor Horton: The challenging thing with the game development world is that it takes quite a long time to kind of get to that satisfying point in making something; but with video editing, you know, you can make something relatively quickly and be satisfied with it. It really kind of sunk its claws into me right from the beginning; within, you know, the first project that I did.
Trevor Horton: What really kind of motivated me to actually pursue a career in this industry was, during my Dad’s Creative Pro User Group meeting with Arthur Schmidt, who was editing Bob Zemeckis’ films for many years; so he did, you know, Castaway and Back to the Future and all these incredible film, my Dad reached out to me and said, ‘Hey, do you want to do kind of a tribute reel to this guy, kind of an introduction, to show all of his work to the crowd?’ At that time, I had no idea what I was going to do; it was quite a terrifying thing. I had no idea even why he asked me, because I was so inexperienced with editing.
Trevor Horton: But I did it and I got incredible feedback from people and they loved it and it was just such a gratifying experience and it was incredible. I knew, at that point, you know, I think I’m actually really good at this and, you know, I can pursue a career in this. That was kind of the tipping point for me to pursue a career.
Larry Jordan: Well, now you’ve been doing it for a few years, how do you view your career? Is it something that you’re planning, or does it just evolve?
Trevor Horton: Yes, I think it is something that just kind of evolves. For me I do my best with networking and just trying to meet people. I don’t really have like a solid plan right now, I’m doing my best to just say yes to opportunities that come my way. A lot of that comes from networking, that’s one of the most important pieces of advice I can actually give someone is to just network like crazy; because I’ve made quite a few friends in this industry and a lot of the opportunities that came my way are from those friends.
Trevor Horton: I don’t have a very specific, clear goal right now; I think I’m just kind of trying to do as much as I can to just kind of find my path, I guess, whether I want to actually work in film, or television, or even the trailer road; I’m actually kind of quite interested in that, I’m just kind of finding my way right now.
Larry Jordan: Do you have a mentor?
Trevor Horton: I don’t, no, honestly. It was funny, because I was actually just thinking about that. I think my mentors, really, are just, you know, people that give me advice. I would just say it’s a culmination of just, you know, all the advice I’ve been given is kind of that mentor for me.
Larry Jordan: As you look back on it, what would you have done differently to prepare yourself for your career? Or, would you have done the same thing?
Trevor Horton: Oh that’s a good question. I don’t know if I would have done anything differently. I try not to think about things like that; you know, they turned out the way they turned out and I can’t go back and change anything. I guess, maybe, if I did have a chance to go back, I’d probably maybe work a little bit harder. But, honestly, I’m pretty satisfied where I’m at right now; so, yes, I don’t think I’d want to go back and really change anything.
Larry Jordan: The industry changes so quickly; what do you do to stay current?
Trevor Horton: I just try to embrace the changes; because I think it’s something that I’ve kind of noticed from afar, is that a lot of people get very frustrated about, you know, certain changes. You know, obviously in particular with Final Cut X that, you know, came out in 2011; that was a very scary time for a lot of people and, for me, at that time, that was kind of the beginning for me.
Trevor Horton: But it’s funny because, you know, the first class that I took for editing, it was using Final Cut 7 and, at that time, Final Cut X just came out and I kind of rebelled a little bit at that time, because I knew Apple said that they’re not going to support Final Cut 7 anymore. When we were working in class on Final Cut 7, I would basically take the work home and do it in Final Cut X.
Trevor Horton: I kind of come from a different perspective than a lot of people; I actually learned how to edit mostly in Final Cut X. When I look at, you know, traditional track based editors, I kind of see it a bit as kind of backwards thinking. Obviously, that’s my opinion; a lot of people are going to disagree with me. I try to network with people; just have good discussions with people on trends that they’re seeing and going to, you know, conventions like NAB; going to User Group meetings like the Creative Pro User Group in LA. It’s just a combination of things; all the information just kind of comes at me; so I just try to digest it the best way I can.
Larry Jordan: What advice would you give to a young person starting out in the industry?
Trevor Horton: The first piece of advice would be, networking. It truly is one of the most important aspects of this industry; it really comes down to who you know. I kind of knew that in the beginning; this was something that my Dad just hammered into my brain. Even when I was pursuing, you know, the gaming industry, it really, really is so important to know people. Because, you could be the most talented editor in this industry; but, if you don’t know anybody, then it’s not really worth much.
Trevor Horton: Also, I guess another thing is, when you do finally get a job or an opportunity to work in this industry, don’t be afraid to ask tons of questions. This is something that I had trouble with in the beginning; I’d be really afraid to ask questions, because I always assumed they were stupid and it was a reflection of my inexperience and people would kind of question my ability to do things.
Trevor Horton: But this is actually a piece of advice that you gave me quite a few years ago. I remember, when I first worked with you, I was asking you tons of questions and I actually apologized; I said, ‘I’m sorry for asking so many questions.’ But you said, ‘Don’t apologize, if you weren’t asking me so many questions, then I’d be concerned.’
Trevor Horton: I was quite pleased to know that someone, you know, with your experience, was happy to answer as many questions as I had and it really is important to ask as many questions as you can; just so you have a full understanding of whatever you’re doing, or working on.
Larry Jordan: For people that want to hire you for their next editing gig, how can they get a hold of you?
Trevor Horton: You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, email@example.com and, Trevor, thanks for joining us today.
Trevor Horton: Appreciate it Larry, thank you.
Larry Jordan: Madeline Leach is a Cinematographer based in Los Angeles and a recent MFA Graduate of USC’s Film TV Production Program. She won USC’s First Look Faculty Awards for Outstanding Cinematography and is a recipient of the Sun Cinematography Award for her achievement in cinematography; which earned her a mentorship from Cinematographer Nancy Schreiber. Hello Maddie, welcome.
Madeline Leach: Hi, thanks for having me.
Larry Jordan: It’s my pleasure. Tonight, we’re exploring why young people are entering the industry and how they view their careers. What first attracted you to cinematography?
Madeline Leach: I actually started with photography, like, a long time ago, when I was in Middle School. I always loved photography; I went to college for photography and I picked up a film minor when I was in college and then, I kind of found out that cinematography was a job that I could do and I could combine both things that I really loved to do and be really collaborative. That’s when I started just directly trying to be a cinematographer.
Larry Jordan: You attended, as you mentioned, a USC Film School. Was Film School helpful or, in hindsight, should you have done something different?
Madeline Leach: After I graduated my Undergrad, I worked for a year in New York and then I worked as like an Office PA for Showtime and then I went to Film School for three years. I definitely would say that, just through the people I’ve met and people I’ve worked with, I think it was fantastic; I would 100% recommend it to anyone.
Madeline Leach: I think, probably from a DPs standpoint, I think it was really great; because, I got to shoot everything I could as a DP. Like, I would do camera assisting work, but I mainly was shooting as a DP and so I kind of learned to hone in my voice early; which I think was super important for me.
Larry Jordan: You’ve already mentioned that you really appreciated going to Film School; what other education or training is helpful for someone who wants to be a cinematographer? What do you need to know?
Madeline Leach: I’d say, honestly, I think the best thing for me was just working on set. I worked on set, like, all years through Film School and then my mentor, Nancy Schreiber, was such a big help. She’s hired me on so much stuff and it’s been amazing; because she’s really taken me under her wing and, just being on set and seeing how things work and seeing how other people work has been super helpful to me.
Larry Jordan: What’s one of the main thing’s she’s taught you?
Madeline Leach: I have never seen someone work so hard, like on set ever and I think that, it’s just astounding. Like, I aspire to be like that; because she just is the biggest hustler I’ve ever seen and the way that she lights and just the way that she carries herself on set is just very impressive. It’s amazing that she’s had such a long career as a woman and I really look up to her; so I feel very blessed that she’s, you know, someone that I can call my mentor.
Larry Jordan: Where do you find yourself spending your time when you’re not on set? Exploring technology, or exploring your craft?
Madeline Leach: When I’m not on set, you know, it’s either prepping for a new project, or getting ready to hopefully interview for a potential project, I do take, obviously, like, camera assisting jobs and things like that; so I can see how other people are working and, you know, just to stay afloat financially. I watch a lot of TV too; I watch a lot of TV and movies. I’m doing research.
Larry Jordan: Yes, we know that phrase very well. But it sounds like you’re using your on the job work as a way to explore both your craft and your technology; rather than doing something outside of the set. Is that a true statement?
Madeline Leach: For me, the way I learn the best about new technology would be, I always rent something I’ve never used before every time I shoot. Whether I’m gaffing, or I’m DPing, I’m always renting a new type of technology, or a new type of light or something; so, every time I get experience with something new and it’s like, every time I made sure I’m doing something just a little different. That way, I can kind of see what tools I like and what new stuff I like.
Larry Jordan: Your mentor is Nancy Schreiber, a Cinematographer we’ve talked to often here on the Buzz. What’s the benefit of having a mentor?
Madeline Leach: She’s amazing, I love her. She has helped me so much. She’s taken me to, like, events and networking things; but, besides that, I mean, she takes me on set and she really lets me ask her questions and lets me see how she works and she actually gives me substantial jobs on set too. I’m not just like, you know, following her around, it’s like she actually lets me get a lot of hands on experience in commercial and things like that; which I don’t think I would have had access to otherwise. It’s pretty amazing.
Larry Jordan: You mentioned that one of your goals is to keep paying the rent. As someone who’s just entering the industry, what challenges do you face?
Madeline Leach: I think, obviously like steady work. It’s pretty hard to get steady work, but I think that, for me, I’m lucky because I can be a camera assistant and I can be a gaffer and I can do all this stuff on the side; while I’m kind of studying what I want to do. That helps me a lot. I’m trying to think of other challenges. Erratic scheduling; I’m starting to learn how to get, like, overnight shoots down and that kind of stuff.
Madeline Leach: Sometimes it’s hard for people to take me seriously, I guess, a little bit, because I am just starting out; but I think, once people do take a chance of me, they realize that, I work hard and, for the most part, I know what I’m doing.
Larry Jordan: One of the challenges of cinematography is that you’re also managing a fairly large crew; if I understand correctly. How do you deal with managing people who are older than yourself?
Madeline Leach: I think that it’s kind of what I’ve always grown up and been taught. I’m always respectful and, you know, I’m always kind and I’m always very thankful that anyone who’s working for me is working for me and, you know, I think that just, if you treat people well and you’re a pleasant person to work with, that’s kind of what I normally strive for. I always want to have fun on set, because I’m not a brain surgeon.
Larry Jordan: How do you view your career? Is your career something that you’re planning, or does it just evolve?
Madeline Leach: I don’t think I could have planned anything; I mean, I think that, it’s kind of funny. I applied to Graduate School when I wasn’t working in New York and, then, I forgot I even applied to be honest. I got in and I was like, okay, well I’m moving to LA. Some things have fallen into place and, you know, some things I haven’t planned for much. Obviously I have goals for myself, but some projects just fall in my lap and some projects I have to kind of gun for a little bit more.
Larry Jordan: With one of the goals getting steady work, what do you find is most helpful in moving your career ahead?
Madeline Leach: As long as I keep evolving, I’m pushing myself to learn new things and, you know, recently I’ve become much better at handling 60mm film and just having all different things that make me more appealing to hire, I think. Just meeting people and working with people and, you know, as much as you can network.
Larry Jordan: What advice do you have for other young filmmakers, looking to make a career in the industry?
Madeline Leach: Getting on set as much as you can. A lot of people I know started out volunteering for Film School sets; because they always need people and it’s a great way to meet people and to network and, from there, kind of see how things are run and how you want to work. Just getting on set really was crucial for me.
Larry Jordan: For people that want to hire you to get on their set for the next project, where can they go on the web?
Madeline Leach: My website is mnleach.com
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, mnleach.com and, Maddie Leach is the voice you’ve been listening to; a Cinematographer. Maddie, thanks for joining us today.
Madeline Leach: Thank you so much for having me.
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Larry Jordan: Sadie Groom is the Managing Director of the Bubble Agency. This is a global PR and Marketing and Events Agency based in London and they’ve been in business more than 20 years. Hello Sadie, welcome back.
Sadie Groom: Hi Larry, thanks for having me back.
Larry Jordan: To get us started, how would you describe Bubble?
Sadie Groom: Bubble started in 1999; I used to work for a very well-known company called Avid and I wanted to create a PR and Marketing Agency that was a little bit different. That was Bubble and we’ve been around now for 19 whole years. We offer PR, Marketing, Events organization services and we have offices in London, the US and the Middle East.
Larry Jordan: Tonight, we’ve been learning about how young people view the media industry and how they’re planning their careers. One of the things that caught my attention is your mentoring program. Tell me about it.
Sadie Groom: So this is a scheme that I launched for an association that I actually launched called Rise; which is for women in broadcast. Rise caters for women in the non-craft roles in our sector; so we see that as sales, marketing, operations, engineering and business. There wasn’t a group for those types of women, so I launched one when I saw that.
Sadie Groom: As part of that, one of the things, through the conversations I was having, that really came out was, the lack of women entering our sector; secondly, the amount of women entering the sector and then leaving it for more exciting sectors, let’s say and thirdly, seeing women just not being about to rise up to the top, within the industry that we work in.
Larry Jordan: Why did you have the focus on non-craft positions and what does non-craft mean?
Sadie Groom: There’s already a very, very good association out in the world called Women in Film and TV. They focus on what we would call craft roles; so that’s production, directing, scriptwriting, editing, audio editing, being a dubbing mixer, whatever that is and Women in Film and TV really cater for them. They’re a very well established association. But I was on the Board of Women in Film and TV for many years and, when I would say I was going to IBC and NAB, it wouldn’t matter to them because it just wasn’t on their radar. That’s why we created Rise, which was for women in non-craft roles.
Sadie Groom: You know, this is the people like me, the PR agencies; the people that are in sales roles; the engineers; the Head of Operations at the broadcasters and just people that are non-craft. But we don’t turn away the craft people if they want to get involved.
Larry Jordan: What does the program involve?
Sadie Groom: The Rise Mentoring Program has three main strands. Firstly, they have their meet ups with their mentors; we ask the mentors to commit to two hours per month, for spending time with their mentee and that can be done, hopefully face to face, but if not over the phone, or Zoom or something like that. That’s the first strand.
Sadie Groom: The second strand is, your time with your fellow mentees, we organize monthly meet ups and, in those sessions, they do two things. Firstly, they talk about their weeks and their months and what’s going on in their lives and what they need help with.
Sadie Groom: You know, there’s 20 women in this group, so it’s quite a lively conversation, as you can probably imagine. But, secondly and very importantly for me, every mentee has to present on their part of the industry; so, what that means is, firstly, all the other mentees get to learn about a different part of the sector, that they probably didn’t know about; but secondly, they get experience in presenting.
Sadie Groom: If, you know, women want to not even rise up in their career, but at some point you’re going to have to present and that doesn’t mean to a room of 500 people, it could just mean having to stand up in a meeting, internally, and say this is my job and this is what I do. That’s the second strand.
Sadie Groom: The third strand is, we organize lots of external events as well and we’ve had a stylist come in; interview training; confidence training; we’ve had guests speakers, so men and women who we see have done something amazing with their career and want to share that with a group of women. Then we organize events at IBC and NAB as well and also at some of the other smaller trade shows too.
Larry Jordan: What are your goals for the program?
Sadie Groom: My longest ever term goal is that the program doesn’t have to exist, if I’m totally honest. But, you know, I think people need to be mentored. Mentoring is so important, whether you’re male or female and I think, you know, the long term goal would be that, we wouldn’t necessarily have to focus on gender diversity.
Sadie Groom: Short term goals are really to improve the confidence of women in our sector; keep women that we might have lost to the Facebooks and Googles and companies that have free pick and mix and free lunch. You know, keep them in our broadcast sector. Also, just to see these women rise up for their career and have the confidence to know when they can ask for more money, or ask for a promotion and also, you know, to help them get promoted as well.
Sadie Groom: As women, we’re not very good at putting our hands up for speaking opportunities at conferences and things and, what I’ve found from the mentoring program that happened last year, was just the amount of women that I now have who will say, ‘Yes, I’ll speak at that event for you, yes, I’ll do that; I’ll go on this radio show,’ whatever that is.
Sadie Groom: Just to see more women in our sector would be amazing and then to educate the rest of the manufacturers as well. One of the surveys that we did showed the lack of photography on the manufacturers’ websites that had images of female users of their equipment. You know, we really want to work with the sector to say, ‘Look, just have a look at your website and the promotions that you’re putting out,’ you know, ‘Do you have a female dubbing mixer or, you know, somebody in an AB truck that’s female on your imagery?’
Sadie Groom: I mean, it’s a Geena Davis quote but, you know, “You can only be it if you can say it.”
Larry Jordan: How do you pick your mentors?
Sadie Groom: With very careful considerations. Firstly, they have to be willing and able and have the time; they can be male or female, we don’t mind. We do ask the mentors if they would prefer a female and that’s just because, some of the mentees, one of their challenges might be being a mother and so, therefore, having a male mentor might not work with them. But, you know, they have to be established in the industry, to be able to know people. The mentors have to be willing to share. We’re not asking them to open up their black book, but they’re going to have to be willing to share.
Sadie Groom: We match them carefully. For example, my mentee last year was a Head of Marketing and I work in Marketing; so, you know, that’s got an obvious link. But there are others where, they might be looking for a change. We had a girl on the scheme last year, she was an Audio Engineer and she was actually looking more on the video side and so we matched her with somebody who had more of that video experience and that just enabled her to make that decision and work through that with her.
Larry Jordan: How are you funding the program?
Sadie Groom: We are very lucky to have some sponsorship from some great manufacturers and companies in our industry. Avid are our platinum sponsor; Clear-Com and NEP are gold sponsors; Pixelogic and the DPP are our silver sponsors and we are desperately looking for more. Mainly manufacturers and associations we’re speaking to but, you know, anybody can get involved at any level.
Sadie Groom: We’re all doing this on a voluntary basis; so, you know, even sometimes, even somebody being able to provide us with meeting rooms is fantastic; because that’s all stuff that we’d have to pay for.
Larry Jordan: You’re showcasing this program this Spring at NAB; what are you doing?
Sadie Groom: We are having a Rise event; so Rise was formed two years ago and we’ve had events at IBC; we also launched Rise APAC at Broadcast Asia in June last year and we want to launch Rise to the US market at NAB. We’ll be holding a drinks event, along with a couple of the other women’s groups.
Sadie Groom: What we’ve found out is, there’s actually quite a few of these groups popping up and what Rise really wants to do is, enable them to go through the process as well, but not have 20 different women’s groups drinks, over the time in the show. Just because, there wouldn’t be time. Our goal is then, to be able to launch a mentoring program in the US.
Larry Jordan: For women that would like to participate in this program, where do they sign up and when do applications open?
Sadie Groom: Applications will be opening up in February of this year. There will be applications on the website from then. The best place to check us out is probably at Twitter; because we’ll be doing a lot of social media around that and our handle is @Rise_WIB. That’s probably the best place, but it will be around February time and you’ll be seeing and hearing lots of noise about it.
Larry Jordan: For people that want to learn more about the Rise Mentoring Program and Bubble in general, where can they go on the web?
Sadie Groom: They can go to risewib.com, or they can go to bubbleagency.com.
Larry Jordan: Those two websites are risewib.com and bubbleagency.com and Sadie Groom is the Managing Director of the Bubble Agency. Sadie, thanks for joining us today.
Sadie Groom: Thanks so much Larry.
Larry Jordan: You know, I was just thinking, one of the things I enjoy most about teaching is helping students navigate the transition from school to the working world. Every student I’ve ever talked with is concerned about how they will do on the outside; whether they know enough; whether they will fit and how they’ll find work. What they don’t realize is, that the rest of us are trying to answer those same questions; we just hide our confusion better.
Larry Jordan: One of the best ways we can help is by being mentors. When I was young, I didn’t realize what a mentor was and, because of it, my career went off the rails for a while. Being a mentor doesn’t require a lot; just spending a few hours a month good listening and sharing your experiences. Students don’t want or need us to run their life; but there is so much they don’t know. They really need to ask questions of someone they can trust.
Larry Jordan: As I get older, I’ve come to realize that teaching others doesn’t diminish what I know; it simply passes on my experience to the next generation and, like we did when we were young, what they do with that knowledge is up to them. Just something I’m thinking about.
Larry Jordan: I want to thank our guests this week, Jonathan Handel with the Hollywood Reporter; Film Student Paulina Borowski; Editor Trevor Horton; Cinematographer Madeline Leach and Sadie Groom with the Bubble Agency.
Larry Jordan: There’s a lot of history in our industry and it’s all posted to our website at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Here you’ll find thousands of interviews all online and all available to you today. Remember to sign up for our free weekly show newsletter that comes out every Saturday morning.
Larry Jordan: Talk with us on Twitter @DPBuZZ and Facebook at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Our theme music is composed by Nathan Dugi-Turner; with additional music provided by smartsound.com. Our Producer is Debbie Price. My name is Larry Jordan and thanks for listening to the Digital Production Buzz.