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Face to face in a Web-centric world

Why groups like LAPPG are more relevant than ever

By Wendy Woodhall

I’m always appreciative and humbled when, after spending a 10-hour day in a dark room dealing with a producer’s demands, crashing systems and updating software, folks are motivated enough to drive across town through horrible LA traffic to join us for a night of learning, networking and camaraderie.

In 2008, when we started the Los Angeles Post Production Group (LAPPG), a user group/professional organization, we took a leap of faith that people in the post industry wanted to have a social experience with others engaging in similar work. We were right.

What began as a small monthly gathering held in the lobby of our studio — Allied Post Audio, which I co-own with my husband Woody Woodhall — quickly became a bona fide group requiring a larger venue. Over the next six years we moved to various locations in and around the West Side of Los Angeles and our meetings are filled with a perfect mixture of new faces and old pros.

I think the success of the LAPPG and groups like ours is as much a testament to the nature of the Internet as to human nature. It’s always amazing when someone walks in who has driven two hours from San Diego to attend one of our meetings, smack in the middle of the week at 7pm. Often it’s the isolated work that contributes to the desire to come out and be around others, especially like-minded people, and it becomes a welcome diversion from a stressful day.

There really is something for almost anyone at the meetings. In addition to the importance of connecting with others, the LAPPG provides members with the opportunity to share their own insights and job leads, to ask questions and to generously offer the hard won knowledge they’ve acquired to others in the industry. People are extremely open with sharing what they know, and I’m always thrilled when I see a prominent editor strike up a conversation with a student or newbie sitting nearby and see an exchange of cards at the end of the night.

In the post landscape, the online world and the real world both offer post pros valuable resources, but the opportunity to actually look into someone’s eyes, to shake their hand and to find a personal commonality is priceless. I know for me, I would be way more willing to recommend someone I have met in person for a job than someone out in cyberspace.

As the worlds of production and post evolve and become closer and closer, we’ve noticed that in the last two years a large amount of directors and producers have taken an active interest in the post process. For every four to five post professionals that join the group, we get one producer or director. This helps make the discussions and questions even more valuable for our presenters when we can bring in the production side.

Guest Hosts and Panels
In addition to networking and making connections, the LAPPG and groups like ours allow professionals to stay on top of the latest trends, techniques and technologies in this ever-evolving post landscape. For example, this past October, one of our partners, HP, arranged for part of David Fincher’s post team from Gone Girl to come and share the unique workflow they employed on this huge motion picture.

From the Gone Girl event: Tyler Nelson, Woody Woodhall, Jeff Brue and Wendy Woodhall.

From the Gone Girl event: Tyler Nelson, Woody Woodhall, Jeff Brue and Wendy Woodhall.

April’s meeting will be hosted by Modern Family’s Tony Orcena, who will be discussing the workflow and challenges of shooting the all Apple-shot episode called “Connection Lost.”

The group’s mission of building a community and bringing to our members a monthly opportunity for learning, networking and creating a supportive environment has always been what drives me to find interesting presenters, products and projects to showcase each month.

We have also been able to expand the group from hosting our monthly meetings and created some additional events that have ranged from small workshops to large panels on various subjects of interest, such as filmmaking in LA, film financing and audio production and post production. These events are branded as “LAPPG Presents” and are held at various times throughout the year.

My dream has always been to create a community where people give what they can, take what they need and leave the group just a little better than the way they found it. No doubt, I feel that our community is doing that.

Wendy Woodhall is executive director of the Los Angeles Post Production Group. https://www.facebook.com/LosAngelesPostProductionGroup (@LosAngelesPost). She is also owner and director of operations of Santa Monica’s Allied Post Audio, which she co-owns with her husband Woody Woodhall.

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