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MENTORING MATTERS - "Get A Job"?: Finding the Right Kind of Tough Love

Posted By Emily Barclay Ford, Monday, August 15, 2016

”You should just get a job. It’s too hard to be an independent producer anymore,” stated the respected industry executive I recently met at a digital salon. I laughed it off, trying to explain what I’ve been working on, but she didn’t pull any punches. "Just get a job in digital.” I didn’t have time to explain that I left an executive job in digital to return to independent producing a couple of years ago. I know she thought her frank ‘tough love’ was doing me a favor. But later that night I thought more about this brief encounter with a woman whose name I’d heard around Hollywood for years—and how I felt that she had just discouraged me from being a producer.

Her candor got me reflecting on my recent time in the PGA mentoring program. Many years earlier I had left a long career as an independent producer to become an executive at Disney Interactive and then Maker Studios. In the independent world, I was at the forefront of the digital revolution while also producing indie films and some television; however, I had found myself always helping to bring other people’s dreams to light. I missed creating and producing projects. And like so many, I really wanted to work in long-form narrative storytelling, my original goal that I’d sometimes lost sight of.

I signed up for the PGA mentoring program because I thought it might be a good reboot. I had recently optioned a book that I was adapting for the screen, and soon I was paired with Paula Mazur, who has an amazing reputation for producing exceptional adaptations.

Paula didn’t get into the nitty-gritty about my particular project. Instead, she took a step back and gave me the kind of ‘tough love’ that I actually needed—in a nutshell: "Just do it.” Declare yourself an independent producer. Establish your entity, set up your office, develop a slate of a few solid projects and plow ahead. But you have to be committed and determined and tell the universe that you are a producer.

Upon meeting Paula I knew that I had found the best of both worlds in a mentor. She was down-to-earth and funny, someone I could call a friend. But she’s also a savvy businesswoman that I admired and respected. Her confidence in me and enthusiasm for what I wanted to do was the spark of encouragement I needed at just the right moment.

In the time since meeting Paula, I dove in and took her advice and have made two beautiful feature films, both in post-production now. I’ve also been able to continue to work in the digital space, carving out a niche consulting as digital creators are beginning to explore long-form narrative content.

Thank you to the PGA and to Paula Mazur for giving me a mentor at just the right time. Hopefully we can continue to encourage and support producers as this shifting paradigm evolves, so that we can have meaningful careers and not merely have to tell our successors to "just get a job.”

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David Logan says...
Posted Monday, September 12, 2016
As someone that just left a full-time agency job with benefits to become an independent producer for games, this is inspiring :). Nothing is more satisfying than creating your own projects.
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