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ABOVE & BEYOND - Master Planners: For These Volunteers, Face-to-Face, Hands-on Learning is Key

Posted By Administration, Friday, February 9, 2018

Ian Wagner and Christopher Burke have been working for years to provide small, hands-on classes to PGA members, free of charge. They currently co-chair the Master Class subcommittee for the Guild’s West Coast Education Committee. For their tireless volunteering efforts, we are honored to recognize them here.

People should get involved,” says Ian, “because the Guild feeds off the energy of its members. I really believe that. We all bring different experiences and skill sets, and it’s incredibly important to be able to connect with others who are going through the same challenges.” Prior to focusing his volunteer efforts on the Master Classes, he volunteered at the annual Produced By Conference in many different capacities. He also tries to attend as many Guild events as he possibly can and even produced two short films as part of the PGA’s 2014 Make Your Mark Weekend Shorts Competition. We asked Ian about his most memorable experience as a volunteer. “The first Master Class I worked to put together was about filming with drones,” he recalls. “This was back in 2015 when the rules were still being hashed out at the federal level. The process of creating the panels and bringing everyone together was long and took a lot of hard work, but when the class was finally ready, it was standing-room only and really went off well. We ended up doing another drone panel the next year because the response was so great. That was really satisfying.” When Ian is not volunteering, he runs a small production services company that specializes in short-form content and branded entertainment. 


When Christopher James Burke is not spending his time volunteering for the Guild, he is a jack-of-all trades: he produces, writes, shoots and edits. From documentaries to behind-the-scenes material and sitcoms, he truly does it all. PGA membership has been one of Christopher’s most positive career experiences. Like his partner in crime, Ian, Christopher has written and produced shorts for the Make Your Mark competition for three years running and takes great pride in being part of an organization that recognizes and supports diversity. Christopher tells us, “One of the first volunteering experiences I had was helping to run a Master Class on the Canon C300. It was a relatively small, hands-on class held at Abel Cine in Burbank. The class was filled with various producers from reality shows, scripted TV shows and features. Everyone came together to learn the latest technology in a casual, no-pressure environment. During the short breaks, I noticed how quickly and easily everyone interacted with each other—asking questions, socializing, and sharing information from their various fields. By the end of the two hours, I knew that the class was a huge success, because everyone came away not only with practical knowledge of the camera but also with a deeper sense of shared community.”

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