By Barry Goch
As an instructor, I try to bridge the gap between the technology of yesterday, today and tomorrow. So much of what I do as an industry pro depends on knowing and respecting the past while keeping an eye on the future. I see a digital divide as I guide my students into the world of contemporary post production. For example, it helps them to know the origins of terms like bin, trim and splice.
So when I had the opportunity to learn more about the Entertainment Industry Professionals Mentoring Alliance (EIPMA), I was intrigued. It’s an organization that wants to pay it forward by providing mentors to students and educational institutions. I’m proud to say that I am one of the first beneficiaries. When I was looking for a guest speaker for my UCLA post production class, EIPMA came through in a heartbeat.
I’m happy this organization exists and I want to spread the word to other educators, institutions and facilities. Let’s find out more from EIPMA president Bernard Weiser, who is also VP of the Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE).
What inspired you to start the Entertainment Industry Professionals Mentoring Alliance?
The beginning idea for EIPMA started with the Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE). The MPSE is a craft society for sound editors and I am vice president. Its main purpose is to bring attention to the craft of sound editing and what sound editors do — both technically and creatively.
A longtime board member and treasurer of the MPSE, Paul Rodriguez, passed away about a year and half ago. We very much looked upon him as a sound ambassador — he went to many events, including NAB, each year, speaking about sound editorial. (You can see him chatting with us and sharing his wisdom during NAB 2017) The MPSE wanted to honor him and came up with the idea of a mentoring program in his name, since he had given so many editors their start in our industry. MPSE President Tom McCarthy began talking about it, and a lot of other organizations started to hear about the idea and said, “You know, we’ve been trying to put a mentorship program together. We’d like to be involved in this.”
How long did it take to get it going?
Literally, in two or three days, this had grown far bigger than the MPSE, far bigger than anything that was imagined. After a month or two of discussion about this, and given my background as an instructor at the UCLA Film School, I was voted president of what is now called EIPMA. In addition to the MPSE, we have many industry organizations involved as members — American Cinema Editors (ACE), Audio Engineering Society, Cinema Audio Society (CAS), Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE), The Recording Academy (Grammy’s), SMPTE and SoundGirls.org (a group of women that does field reporting). All are founding members with more industry organizations poised to come aboard.
It sounds like you have a lot of momentum already for a brand-new organization, and there’s definitely a need for it. There’s definitely a lack of hand-off from the old-school ways to the new-school ways.
We realized that many top industry and veteran professionals have a feeling of wanting to give back. But also, what all of us would see are changes in the industry that create a gap. New people coming in are basically fresh out of school or from some other background, and there’s no real apprenticeship program anymore. So they come in and start working and they really don’t have a background for professional workflows, protocols, and just the way that industry professional life works. Professors and educators see the need for this as well, and that is the core of what we are doing as an organization, to be a conduit between those two points.
How do you envision the rollout of mentoring programs?
We start out with Q&As, setting up a panel especially for high schools that will show the different crafts that are out there. Around the high school level, you have a lot of kids that might be talented and looking toward the craft of storytelling through videos and such, but they just don’t know all of the different fields that are out there. They know there’s writing and there’s directing, but they really don’t know the depths of the different crafts. A Q&A can start to show that, and they can ask professionals how they got started and learn a more detailed perspective of those crafts.
Then, we move to the college level, where these are people who probably are majoring in cinema studies, film studies, television or broadcast, and they have more of a commitment toward what’s going on. So we will do Q&As in the different crafts for them too, but start to proceed a little bit further — and that’s where group mentoring can happen. Also, we can send individual professionals in as a guest lecturers to help cross that divide within the classroom. We look upon it as an aid to the educators, and the way we see this working, in fact, is having educators invite us in so we can help support education from a “real-world” perspective.
Then the third part is graduate and post-graduate students, or what we call “pre-industry individuals,” such as people coming out of the military, which I am very familiar with. One of my first jobs was doing films for the military for three years. There’s great talent in the military. They come out and have no idea where to go or how to pursue a career in entertainment; I really feel we have a role to fill in that area as well. In this third category, we’d start with many of the events I mentioned earlier, but also include one-on-one mentoring, helping people with their own projects, getting them seen, helping them with areas of filmmaking that could be their strength to help them keep going. That’s where job fairs and new contacts leading them toward internships and a much higher level of advice can come into play.
We also want to offer shadowing possibilities for late-college-level, close-to-graduation, college-level and the graduate students. They could come for a couple of days and follow someone skilled in a craft to see what goes on during the day.
L-R, front: At Notre Dame High School are EIPMA board members MPSE/music editor Steven A. Saltzman, MPSE/sound supervisor Christopher B. Reeves, ACE/picture editor Molly Shock and Sound Girls/mastering engineer Jett Galindo.
I have my own experience with the organization. Having Mark Lanza, MPSE, from EIPMA as a guest speaker in my UCLA Extension post production class was magical.
Yeah, by the way, Mark, who is also on the EIPMA board, is one of our first mentors/lecturers. It’s a perfect example. In fact, on May 3, we had a Q&A at Notre Dame High School in the San Fernando Valley, with panelists representing picture editing, sound design/editing, music editing and live field recording.
How is the EIPMA addressing the diversity issue in the industry?
EIPMA recognizes that diversity is an important step in fixing serious issues that have existed for so long in our business. When one sees what diversity has to offer the entertainment industry creatively, I for one fall in love with filmmaking all over again. I see it directly in the students at UCLA who come from around the world, bringing their different cultures, varying social, economic and ethnic backgrounds all into their stories and into their films. And, at the end of the day, this is what it’s all about — storytelling. Diversity opens a huge door to a wide world of fresh stories and with it, the next generation of incredibly talented filmmakers
Where are you in terms of rolling this out, and how can the readers of postPerspective connect with the organization?
What we’re doing this summer is building our database. We have our website, which is EIPMA.org. We invite educators, potential mentors, volunteers, interested businesses, students and individuals interested in the program to come and register their information, and especially their emails, so we can contact them as the program goes forward. In late September, we will have an introductory event at Sony Picture Studios in Culver City. Sound Girls is putting together an event that will happen in a few weeks as well.
Bernard Weiser mingling with educators and Avid folks during Avid’s Learning Program reception during NAB.
Tell us about the connection with Avid.
Avid is the only manufacturer involved with us as a member organization and has representatives on our board. At NAB, during Avid Connect weekend, there was a meet and greet with educators from around the world. I gave a talk about what we’re doing. Avid CEO Jeff Rosica fell in love with what we were doing. The next day I met with Avid executives from back east, and we had 100% of their support.
Avid talks about its connection with education. It’s not just making sales. They really want to support the educators and help develop the next generation of filmmakers. They know what that means business-wise but also, they’re also very supportive in doing the right thing. We are thrilled by Avid’s support and commitment.
Main Image: Mark Lanza, MPSE, is on the EIPMA board talking to Barry Goch’s UCLA Extension class.
Barry Goch is a finishing artist at LA’s The Foundation as well as a UCLA Extension Instructor, Post Production. You can follow him on Twitter at @Gochya