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ABOVE & BEYOND - Volunteer For Your Next Job: PGA Service Can Be A Ticket To Future Employment

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Judy Race has been with the PGA since the merger with AAP in 2001 and has since compiled a vast record as a PGA volunteer. “Over the years, I’ve been a member of the Employment Committee, Mentoring Committee, Events Committee, Constitution Committee, Benefits Committee and Film USA, as well as a Delegate to the AP Council (serving as Vice Chair for four years) and a member of the Board of Governors for nine years. I’ve written articles for Produced By and The Networker (now defunct) and helped design member surveys. Most importantly, I worked diligently as a delegate to keep in touch with members, sending email updates to members and hosting quarterly Petit Salons for production coordinators during my last year on the Board.” She readily admits, “I volunteer for purely selfish reasons—I enjoy meeting people, doing things that are fun and interesting. And, honestly, it helps to get my name out there!” Damn right, it helps; according to Judy, “Most of the film and television jobs I’ve had in the past 15 years are directly or indirectly due to someone I met at the PGA.” Judy worked as a production coordinator and production supervisor for about 20 years. Presently she is working in production finance at Showtime.

Emily Barclay Ford first joined the PGA after participating in the Diversity Committee’s Producing Workshop. “It was a very rewarding experience, and afterwards I decided to join the Diversity Committee and become a mentor myself for a few summers. I then was elected to a seat on the board of the New Media Council. My first year as a delegate, I served as the Co-Secretary. I then ran for Vice Chair and am now serving my second term in that position. I’ve also been actively involved in the Events Committee, working on everything from special events like the Oscar Party to unique panels and gatherings such as a YouTube Space mixer, a women in animation panel and a comic book symposium.” Emily volunteers because, she says, “people often struggle with ‘work/life’ balance. I always joke that it’s more of a ‘work/life/volunteer’ balance. I went to a great high school that had service as a required part of the curriculum. It really instilled in me how important it is to be involved and give back. For me, it’s always about the people you can meet, and the people you can help. And I’ve both gotten jobs out of my involvement in the PGA as well as found great people to hire.” When not volunteering, Emily has been producing in the digital space, but she has always kept a foot in film/TV. Previously a digital executive at Disney Interactive and Maker Studios, she left to return to independent producing and recently completed two independent films with filmmaker husband Kevin Ford. Recently she started a new venture as the head of digital content for Team Downey, Susan and Robert Downey Jr.’s production company.

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THE INVISIBLE OBVIOUS: Celebrity Is The Most Powerful Force In America

Posted By Chris Green, Tuesday, December 13, 2016

In 2004, I was among the millions of people who watched The Apprentice. I watched it avidly. It was a terrific show—the recently-minted reality TV formula, matured and refined until it glowed like chrome. I watched a few more seasons, until the novelty wore off and I started watching something else.
And here we all are, 12 years later.

Credit the victory of Donald Trump to the explanation of your choice: backlash from the left-behind white working class; the dark streak in American life unleashed by the elevation of racist and sexist tropes; the damaged public profile of Hillary Clinton; the self-reinforcing loop of fraudulent news on Facebook.

Those analyses have validity. But I’d like to note another distinction, one that makes this election unique among our presidential contests: One party nominated a public servant, and the other nominated a celebrity.

This is what one of my teachers once called the invisible obvious, a truth so fundamental and widely accepted that it vanishes into the background.

To this point, our need for faith in the essential collective wisdom of voters has required us to downplay some uncomfortable truths about American elections—among them, the extraordinary record of celebrities, particularly in their first races. Figures as diverse as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Franken, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Bono, Bill Bradley and of course Ronald Reagan each began their political careers by besting opponents who identified as public servants, and the complete list of successful celebrity politicians goes on far longer. Over the past 50 years, conventional wisdom naturally came to acknowledge celebrity as an advantage in political races. What Trump has finally revealed is that celebrity is not an advantage—it is arguably the advantage.

It is impossible to give an account of Trump’s rise to power without the critical early role played by The Apprentice and the public affection the series created for him. Let’s remember that the values embodied by Trump’s campaign are not the same as those of The Apprentice, which embraced Trump as a straight-talking, tough-love mentor, with little hint of the depth of xenophobia, misogyny or demagogic mania that welled up through his candidacy. No one involved with the show had any reason to suspect that they were laying the groundwork for a sudden and destabilizing political upheaval. But they were. Our industry did not, by and large, vote for Trump. But it did provide him the means to make himself comfortable in the hearts and homes of a national audience. And 12 years later, I believe that comfort was the essential difference in his election.

We have taught ourselves to view celebrity as something superficial and insubstantial. But all of its disposable guilty-pleasure avatars—supermarket tabloids, Access Hollywood, TMZ, The Celebrity Apprentice, for heaven’s sake—are actually flawless camouflage. They’re the means by which we allow ourselves not to see the invisible obvious, the profound network of projections and connections underlying our relationship with the famous. And in the age of the low-information voter, that mass connection is now revealed as the most powerful force in American life … more so than public trust in institutions, material self-interest or even common standards of decency.

If celebrity is the most valuable quantity in politics, let’s never forget that the path to celebrity essentially flows through two industries—one is our own, and the other is professional sports. In the recent election, celebrity was used to advocate a set of values in broad opposition to the stated ideals of our creative community. It’s on us to use the immense power at our industry’s disposal in support of those ideals—openly and unapologetically making the case for their worth to all of our fellow citizens.

Producers—believe your own thru-lines. With great power comes great responsibility. Our business practically invented that line. We wrapped a great story around it, packaged and sold it to millions. It sold because it’s true. Time to live by it.


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