Open Letter to Companies Exhibiting at the NAB Show

(Or any trade show, for that matter.)

Trade shows in all industries are notorious for being a spectacle with every vendor competing with the other to be the loudest, shiniest and sexiest. I’m writing to you — any of you involved in the design, staffing or operation of a booth at the upcoming NAB Show in Las Vegas — to ask you to consider how your conduct can help make the exhibit hall a more inviting and inclusive experience for everyone.

Casual sexism is a huge problem in our industry. Trade shows are merely a symptom of a larger issue (and I invite you to a panel on gender equality on April 13th to learn more about how to begin to change these patterns at the source) but they’re a highly visible symptom. Trade shows are maybe the most face to face interactions your company will have with customers and potential customers all year, and your booth and its workers exemplify are a symbol for your company.

We all know that sex sells. You didn’t invent this concept, and at first glance it’s hard to blame a company for using what is proven, especially in a city known for debauchery and sleaze. It’s just a bit of fun, right? Except it isn’t so much fun to feel like the only way I’m being represented in my industry at a trade show is for decoration. To clarify, I have no problem with so-called “booth babes” themselves. I have a problem with a company feeling that the best way to represent their products is with a bikini show. I urge you to think beyond easy, lowest-common-denominator kinds of marketing and strive for something better. Lots of vendors have figured out how to make their booths engaging without sacrificing inclusiveness.

When you’re deciding who will staff your booth, I strongly urge you to place women and minorities in these positions too. The maleness and whiteness of NAB (and trade shows in general) is so common, it’s almost its own joke. I’ve spoken to people about how they staff their booths, and they’ve told me they didn’t think women would want to work in these positions because trade shows are so male-dominated and Vegas is so icky. This is generally an incorrect assumption. You should find women in your organization and <i them to represent your company at NAB. Just like the way you market your products stands as a symbol for your company, the diversity of your booth can represent what you want your company to be. By putting women and minorities in your booth — on stage running demos, on the floor talking about products — you send a strong message about equality to your customers, other companies, and NAB’s attendees in general. When seeing women on the show floor is more common, casual sexism takes a hit.

And if you’re working inside a booth at NAB this year, I urge you to work extra hard to put your internalized sexism aside. Since women are somewhat rare in the sea of guys (both on the show floor and in the industry), there is a tendency for booth workers to make assumptions when they interaction with a woman: that she’s a journalist, an assistant, someone’s significant other. There are plenty of journalists, assistants, and dragged-along-spouses of all genders on the show floor and it’s great to have so many perspectives, but when your first assumption to every women inside your booth is anything BUT a working professional in some area of post production who is currently seeking to learn more about your products to potentially implement them within her organization, we have a problem.

Nearly every woman I’ve spoken to about attending NAB has experienced a booth worker — a both worker of any gender– making assumptions about them and treating them differently than if they were a man. Some have been malicious, and most have been oblivious internalized sexism taking over in that person’s mind. So I urge you to try very hard to look at your interactions with people objectively. Is there a gender bias that is making your approach different? It should go without saying that jokes at the expense of a person’s gender or appearance have no place in a booth or on a stage, but in a male-dominated Las Vegas environment, good judgement sometimes goes out the window.

Solving sexism at trade shows like NAB is not the solution to sexism in the industry, as I’ve documented before. But with the show coming up and on everyone’s mind, it’s worth this reminder: you’re representing your company on an international stage. Do you want people leaving your booth feeling like they don’t belong in this industry? Or do you want to lead by example by making gender parity a priority for your company?

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Come to my Gender Equality Panel at NAB 2015!

I just realized I haven’t formally invited the entire internet to a panel I’m putting together at this year’s NAB Show. After reading my Sexism in Post article, Adobe reached out to see how they could help the visibility of women in the industry. Long story short, I’ve been working on this for the last two months.

So hear this: if you’ll be coming to Vegas this April, please spend an hour and a half of your time at this discussion. It will be open to anyone holding any NAB badge even though its home is within the Post Production World conference, and I’m thankful to PPW for making arrangements to allow a wider audience into the room. Seating will be limited (as it is at every conference), but please put this on your schedule and make it a priority.

“Working Together to Close the Gender Gap in Post Production”

Monday, April 13th | 5PM – 7PM | Room N252

The first hour(ish) will be a panel discussion. The next hour(ish) will be a mixer and meet-up with drinks and such (thanks to Adobe!) where attendees can meet panelists and other attendees and continue the conversation.

Moderated by Amy DeLouise, the panel features me, Ellen Wixted (Adobe Senior Product Manager), Megan McGough Christian (Production Manager, PBS Frontline), and Siân Fever (UK-based freelance editor).

Just 18% of editors in Hollywood and beyond are women, yet media programs are approximately 50-50 male-female. The visibility of women in producing and coordinating roles is often cited, but there is an undeniable gender gap in technical roles — editing, visual effects, or sound design — and that gap has only widened since the 1970s. By working together to understand the root of these issues and committing to make changes, women and men can make a significant impact that will move our industry forward. This panel will discuss the impact of gender equality in the post workplace, strategies for recognizing and un-learning our own internalized sexism, and how we can all work together to adjust hiring practices and erase gender biases in order to ensure the future of women in all post production roles.

Topics include:
• The gender gap in video post-production – why did it happen and how can we work together to fix it?
• Casual sexism affects everyone in ways they don’t realize and it’s difficult to detect. How can we recognize the patterns and work to eliminate it?
• Committing to hiring and mentorship practices: what can both men and women do to ensure the future of women in post?
• The visibility of women within the industry, and how it affects the next generation
• Discovering your own gender bias – how women can avoid selling themselves short in the workplace, and how men can support them

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Fitness in Post Revisits Sexism in Post

Creative COW recently revisited Sexism in Post through Fitness in Post’s recent podcast featuring me and Siân Fever.

Among the people adding to the conversation is Zack Arnold, editor of shows including Empire, Burn Notice and Glee, and host of the popular Fitness in Post podcast.”Fitness” might make you think of lifting weights or running a mile or following a healthy diet, but just as important as physical exercise is mental wellness, including personal happiness and inclusiveness in the workplace. Zack felt that Kylee’s article was a natural fit for that aspect of Fitness in Post.

Read more and listen to both parts of the episode at Creative COW >>

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Cinematographer-in-Residence: Mandy Walker ASC at UCLA

I interviewed Mandy Walker ASC about being a cinematographer and working with UCLA students as a cinematographer in residence.

“This will be my first time teaching, but I have interns with me on movies and commercials all the time. I think it’s really important to teach the next generation and show what you’ve learned from your own experiences. Now having a class, I’m really excited about it because I can reach so many more people.”

Read the rest at Creative COW >>

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Misery Loves Comedy: How Comedian Kevin Pollak Cut His Documentary in Premiere Pro

I interviewed comedian Kevin Pollak about taking the reigns on the edit for his new documentary, learning to use Premiere Pro after three easy lessons from Rob Legato.

Veteran comedian and actor Kevin Pollak is known for many things: a long career in stand-up comedy, dozens of performances in films like Casino, A Few Good Men, and The Usual Suspects, six years hosting his podcast Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, and a killer Christopher Walken impression (among many others). With his feature film directorial debut Misery Loves Comedy, Pollak adds a new skill to his long resume: editing a film with Adobe Premiere Pro CC.

The documentary starts with a thesis – “do you have to be miserable to be funny?” – and explores the dark side of comedy through archival footage, day in the life sequences, and interviews with over 50 comedians, actors and filmmakers including Jimmy Fallon, Amy Schumer, Judd Apatow, Christopher Guest, Martin Short and Jon Favreau. There is a quantifiable link between creative people and mental illnesses like clinical depression, but why? Who chooses a life of making strangers laugh?

As Pollak told me, “America’s number one fear above death is public speaking. That’s not even getting a laugh, that’s just speaking in public alone! If you add trying to get a laugh – the single most difficult emotion to evoke – now you’re talking about a very special breed of cat.”

Read the rest on Creative COW >>

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Exodus: Gods and Kings — Grading Ridley Scott’s 3D Epic

I interviewed colorist Stephen Nakamura about grading Exodus: Gods and Kings with DaVinci Resolve 11.

Nakamura’s colorist credits are expansive, to say the least. He’s worked with David Fincher, Kathryn Bigelow, Martin Scorcese, Quentin Tarantino – and that’s just the start. His career started out in telecine, doing transfers for Warner Bros. cartoons in the early ’90s, eventually moving onto telecine with other shows, commercials and music videos. In 2002, Technicolor started doing digital intermediates, so Nakamura jumped into grading Panic Room for Fincher and Confessions of a Dangerous Mind for George Clooney.

Read the rest at Creative COW >>

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Why the Academy Awards Matter for Gender Equality in Hollywood

“I hadn’t even heard of that movie until the nominations.”
“Oh, it’s Oscar nominated? I’ll have to see it.”
“I need to see all the best picture nominees before the Oscars are on!”

How many times do you hear these things during awards season? All the time? And then also through the rest of the year? Yeah, me too. Because it turns out that no matter how apathetic you can be toward awards, this is the one award that most people use to judge the worthiness of a film. It makes them seek it out.

That’s the first reason why the Oscars matter. Here is the second reason.

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Editing for Social Impact: How I Saved the San Gabriel Mountains

(You can also read and comment on this at CreativeCOW.net)

(Okay, maybe the headline is a LITTLE strong, but I HELPED.)

In the world of corporate video, the opportunity to make a positive impact on the world didn’t come around often for me. I know that’s not true for many people in the “corporate video” world, which is a general term I could use to mean anything from industrial how-toe or non-profit event highlight reels. But in my little piece of that land, my videos were generally not going to make a change that would last for future generations. At least, not a positive one.

When I started working on the PBS series This American Land, I finally got the opportunity to see what it was like to work on content with consequences in the real world, specifically the natural world and everything in it. The two seasons I’ve spent on it have been focused on the angle of people working toward a greater good to solve an issue — an endangered species, shrinking wild land, or polluted river.

In 2013, I edited a segment about the San Gabriel Mountains in southern California. The San Gabriel Mountains Forever campaign was trying to get the area designated as a national monument so it would be protected from development in the same way other natural lands are in the United States, and with its proximity to Los Angeles, the conservation of the area for providing drinking water and green space is important. It was kind of a tough edit because, to put it delicately, the field producing wasn’t tops. The executive producer (who did not produce the segment) was worried we wouldn’t have what we needed because it was pretty rough, but he gave it to over to me with the hopes I could find the story. We emailed back and forth a couple of times about the mission of the piece and what they hoped to accomplish, and I dug in without a script or guide or notes and came back with a six minute piece called Backyard Wilderness. The EP was so glad I did what I did with it, he gave me the producer credit for the story.

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The Art of Being Industrious: Dody Dorn ACE on Cutting Fury

I talked to editor Dody Dorn on cutting Fury for David Ayers:

Film editor Dody Dorn, ACE, is best known for her work on films like Memento, Kingdom of Heaven, and End of Watch, collaborating with such directors as Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, and David Ayer. Her latest film directed by Ayer, Fury, involved 16 Avids across two continents, with 1.3 million feet of film shot over 69 production days.

Read the rest on CreativeCOW.net >>

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HP Brings Tiny Desktops and Bold Displays to CES 2015

I wrote about HP’s new products at CES 2015:

Ahead of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), HP announced some major updates to its desktops, displays and mobile workstations that enhance the way users interact with their devices. New Zbooks are thin and light (and still powerful), Mini Desktops pack streamable media into a small, energy efficient device, and updated displays feature virtual reality capabilities and curved panels. Media creators should find a lot to like in this new round of products, including support for industry standard software and peripherals with many options for customization.

Read the article on CreativeCOW.net >>

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