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MENTORING MATTERS - Immersion Learning: The PGA Shadow Program Is Open For Business

Posted By Elisa Rothstein , Friday, June 9, 2017

Like many savvy producers, PGA member Pamela Keller learned that success in Hollywood actually depends on the perfect balance of contacts and experience. Primarily a producer of multi-camera comedy series for Disney, Keller saw the writing on the wall when single-camera comedies began to take over. To stay on top of her professional game in a rapidly changing market, Keller knew she needed to expand her skill set but struggled with how to make the transition. Enter the PGA Shadow Program, under the auspices of the Mentoring Committee and spearheaded by PGA Board Member Carrie Lynn Certa.

“Carrie mentioned it, and I volunteered to be the guinea pig,” says Keller, who submitted an application for the fledgling Shadow Program. “I wanted to connect with a single-camera comedy producer so I could see any differences and just close the gap in my knowledge. I wanted to be able to say, ‘I feel like I have a good handle on how to do this.’”

Keller was also interested in working with a female EP and couldn’t believe her luck when she was paired with Erin O’Malley on the Fox hit, New Girl. “It was beyond my wildest dreams to have a strong woman to shadow on a single-camera comedy for a network,” Keller continues. “I mean, that’s like … jackpot!”

For two weeks, Keller got to be a fly on the wall during prep, shoot and post. “Erin is an Executive Producer, but she also directed simultaneously, and was prepping another New Girl episode and a pilot. I didn’t want to get in her way, so I kind of stood in the back, kept my head down, and I watched. I went to their table read and to their production meetings. I went on scouts, and I went to their shoot. I would sit in video village and talk to the script supervisor. It was like doing total immersion in a different language.”

Keller also had a front row seat to an unexpected show: “It was wonderful to see a strong woman command the respect of everyone—mostly men, some of them her seniors—and do it in a compassionate way. The way she would interact with people was a pleasure to watch. I watched her just kill it.”

Keller’s biggest takeaway from the Shadow experience? “I now feel secure as a professional that I could work on a single-camera comedy, no problem. I mean, I was thinking, ‘It’s a hit show, a network show with adult actors,’ and I guess my perception was that it was going to be a lot more different than it was. The biggest surprise was my personal revelation, like, ‘Oh, I can do this!’”

Thanks to the success of this first Shadow Program experience, other PGA members may soon be discovering they can do it, too. If you’re interested in providing a shadow opportunity to another PGA member, please contact Carrie Lynn Certa at

Tags:  mentoring matters 

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