I began my career in show business as a production assistant working on
small, independent films … locking up a dusty, rattlesnake-infested road at the
Disney ranch, running payroll around Burbank or just helping the ADs on set. I
transitioned to dramatic one-hour television with a job on Baywatch, which
provided me with the opportunities to learn the ins and outs of the budgetary
process, scheduling, business affairs and day-to-day operations of showrunning.
I continued to work my way up on other shows as a co-producer and finally got
promoted to full producer on SAF3, a 20-episode syndicated television drama
I still had gaps in my knowledge about producing a network/studio-based
drama series versus my independent past. More specifically, I needed to know
everything I could about pre-production. As a relatively new a PGA member, I
read in the newsletter about the PGA mentoring program, so I signed up.
The Mentoring Committee arranged a mentorship for me that became a
shadowing opportunity with Harry Bring, co-executive producer on Criminal
Minds. We exchanged a couple of emails followed by a phone call to set
parameters. How much time did I have? What were my interests? What did I want
to learn? I then prepared for our first meeting by doing a little research
about the show, and about Harry’s background, writing down as many questions
that came to mind.
I was allowed to observe the prep of one episode over a six-day
consecutive period at the Criminal Minds soundstage/office complex. Harry and
his assistant Stephie Birkitt were welcoming from the very start. At our first
face-to-face meeting, Harry asked me, "What can I do for you?”
Well, this is what he did for me: I was able to sit in on a variety of
discussions, from concept and art department meetings to video playback &
postproduction sessions, to visual effects and stunt/special effects meetings,
to budget and production meetings. I also was in the scout bus for both
location scouting and technical scouting. I was given copies of the script and
schedules, just as if I were prepping for the show. This particular prep period
proved to have more than its share of production obstacles. I would not have
not it any other way, as it allowed me to see first-hand how various challenges
were met with effective solutions. This mentorship reinforced my belief that,
in a high-pressure situation, a steady hand, mutual respect and above all a
sense of humor beats yelling and screaming any day of the week.
I can only say: Thank you, Harry! You have been a true mentor to me. I
look forward to continuing our relationship and passing on the knowledge you
shared with me to fellow PGA producers.