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FIRST PERSON - A Commitment Beyond The Camera: A Producer Uses His Vision To Empower Inner-City Kids

Posted By Vince Allen, Friday, October 11, 2019

The World of Production Is a World of Transferable Skills

No matter what kind of entertainment content we produce, situations that need problem solving always arise. Years of experience in this industry have taught me to expect the unexpected. A producer’s job is to make sure all the pieces of a project come together. The road to the finished product, however, is seldom easy. Not only have I gained experience with budgeting, casting, financing, scheduling, location scouting and various elements that go into preproduction, but I have also been thrown into situations that require skills beyond the entertainment medium. I have learned the true value of kindness and persistence in everything I do. I’ve found that projecting an aura of patience and understanding is the best answer to dealing with uncomfortable situations. Some people may not seem deserving of this kindness, but at the end of the day, we have to realize that we are all equal. There are so many experiences and lessons to be gained from living the life of a producer.

 

There Is Always More to Learn

My journey in self-growth and knowledge does not end with production. I continually educate myself in things that I’m passionate about. To have passion toward something is one of the greatest advantages a person can have. “It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live,” is a quote by Mae Jemison that I think expresses my philosophy well. If there is something I am interested in, I will make it a point to learn more about it so I can make it a part of my life. A willingness to learn new things can open up a world of opportunities. First, you are preparing yourself to gain more skill than you had prior. Second, you become more aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Third, to realize you have passion is an incredible gift because you have a drive that many people struggle to gain.

 

My Commitment Beyond Producing

Eight years ago, I helped initiate Engage the Vision (EngageTheVision.org)—a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization of which I am the president. Engage the Vision (ETV) is a mentorship program for elementary students in low-income minority neighborhoods. The program was started in Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in South Central Los Angeles. I, along with a few others, walked into MLK to talk with the principal about the school’s needs and how we could help. We discovered that many young boys in the school did not have positive male role models present in their lives. This sparked the creation of ETV and its Young Kings program. Our mission is to encourage and empower youth through consistent, weekly mentoring; educate and liberate inner-city boys, girls and their families to reach their highest potential; and build strong, effective, self-sufficient and safe communities where everyone is uplifted. We have recently expanded our program to include female students—our Young Queens. Engage the Vision elevates students toward positive future growth by providing the groundwork for maintaining balanced relationships, establishing effective decision-making skills and living a healthier lifestyle. We have created this organization with love, and we aim to provide an environment that teaches its Young Kings and Queens to love, respect and lift each other up toward success.


Finding Balance

Engage the Vision has been a life-changing experience, and I have loved every second of it. There is no greater joy than seeing the appreciation our kids have for the program. It is always heartwarming to hear how ETV has provided an environment of safety, happiness and excitement for our Kings and Queens. I would not trade the time I have committed to ETV for anything, but I do admit that finding a balance between this organization and my career as a producer can be challenging at times. I have placed my whole heart in both my work and Engage the Vision. It can be difficult to give both equal time and attention. When I feel my heart is torn, I remind myself that all I can do is my best. Giving my energy to my career and the nonprofit is what brings me joy in life.

 

Letting Go

For anyone interested in joining the entertainment industry, it’s important to remember that the world of production can be stressful, intense and fast-paced. It is valuable to go in with this understanding, to keep a thick skin and always remember to have fun in everything you do. Do not take anything too personally. Because tensions can run high in the midst of production, let curt direction and sometimes rude conversation roll off your back, because at the end of the day you will discover that none of it was meant to come off that way. Take the opportunity to work with your peers and also give opportunities to those who are deserving but may not have the connections that you do. You do not always have to work with big names because you think it looks more impressive. What is impressive is gaining new understandings from people in the same position as you that you can use to excel in the future. Lastly, make sure to treat everyone you encounter with kindness, patience and respect. I have found this advice never fails—whether you’re working in a paid profession or volunteering your time.

 

If you’re involved in a fascinating project outside your usual work demands, please let us know. We’d like to highlight your accomplishment. Just send an email about your passion, side job or venture with the topic “First Person” to producedbymag@producersguild.org.

 

 

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