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MENTORING MATTERS - The Carey Project: When Life Knocks You Sideways, A Great Mentor Helps You Rediscover Your Way

Posted By Carey Lundin, Tuesday, January 2, 2018

For two decades, I’ve been a writer/producer/director in Chicago. My husband, Mark Frazel, and I created documentaries, reality shows, comedic web series, commercials and PSAs. There were few conundrums we couldn’t solve. We could turn out a crackling script, lickety-split and even won a couple dozen awards for our work. But in July of 2016 my ship hit an iceberg. Mark passed away suddenly. In shock, I sold the house and found myself moving to LA to start a new life.

If I ever needed a mentor, it was now. A few close PGA friends suggested I apply for the Guild’s Mentoring Program. The process was pretty painless. I was lucky and got paired with Kia Kiso of Zaza Productions, a producer of content with a heart.

Still very raw and anxious to reboot my life, I shared with Kia how I was attending lots of events, but I didn’t know how to pitch myself; it was exhausting and frightening. It was gradually becoming clear to me how much of my world was built on the strengths of my husband, a tough taskmaster and dependable cheerleader. “Star, Smile, Strong.” He would always quote Broadway Danny Rose before I gave a speech or presentation.

Kia’s first advice: “Success comes from saying no to some things. It’s a balance.”

We began by identifying my goals, and I told her how I wanted to concentrate on writing and directing more comedies as well as a historical environmental drama. Kia had me identify the people I would most like to work with, who share similar interests and who have the ability to get those kinds of projects done. Armed with this info, I would be able to turn a random meeting into an opportunity.

“But how do I meet those people?” I asked her. “And when I meet them, how do I present myself? It’s rare to find a famous producer walking around Chicago … how do I talk to a person at the top of the game in LA? How does someone start to climb that ladder?”

“You need to nurture. You need to nest,” Kia reassured me. “Start by committing to 20 hours of good work a week and work up to 40. Pretend you’re producing The Carey Project.”

It’s been a few months and lots of tears later, but Kia’s guidance has paid of. My newfound confidence helped me land a job writing and directing my first series, The Worst Travel Show, for Facebook Watch and WatchMojo. I have an apartment near the water, which keeps me calm. And to start building a community, I rescued a doggie named Georgie who acts like my bestest buddy.

There’s a long way to go, but The Carey Project is in full swing. I’m truly indebted to Kia’s patience, wisdom and empathy in helping me get this far. 

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