Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mentoring Ali

At the end of June I received an email from Pam Tozier, the mother of a young, intelligent passionate woman named Ali. Pam has been receiving my email blog posts since I started my blog and she wanted to know if I could meet with Ali and give her some advice about the film industry.

Having a grandmother and mother who were teachers and a sister who is a teacher has impacted the way that I work with others and I try my best to mentor anyone who approaches me with an interest in film.

My response to Pam was, ”I would be happy to talk to Ali anytime.” After exchanging a few emails and having Ali send me an ardent, well written letter about her passion for film and how she created her own film major within the Literary Studies department at Williams College I knew meeting with her would be worth the time and the effort.

We met for an hour and half at a local coffee shop and talked about many different aspects of the film industry. Ali is living in Boston, working two jobs and doing her best to follow her dreams. She ultimately wants to live in Maine and work behind the camera in film production. She knows that working in film production is very difficult and that living in Maine and making a living in film production is almost impossible.

As I listened to Ali talk I kept thinking “She is exactly the type of person that Maine needs.” Her plan is to move to Los Angeles, build relationships within the industry and learn as much as she can. She would love to bring those relationships and her knowledge back to Maine to live and work. I would love to see her achieve that goal.

I have connected Ali with other people that I know in the industry and encouraged her to simply go for it. I’ve found that it is amazing what I few encouraging words and advice can do for someone.

Mentoring can be that simple.

The Maine Film Office and the Maine Film Commission with support of the Maine Office of Business Development, the Maine Film and Video Association and IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts) Local 481 developed a mentoring program titled Maine Media Mentorship (M3) Program. A driving force in creating the program was Randy Visser, a former member of the Maine Film Commission and a founder of the Southern Maine Community College's Communications & New Media Department.

The film office website devotes valuable media space to promoting the program on the home page of their website. When you click the link it simply states that the program has been closed due to budget cuts and they hope to reopen the program in mid 2009. The instructions say to contact Lea Girardin for more information so I sent Lea an email stating,” Can you send me a write up of the program and what your funding needs are? I’d like to bring some attention to it.”

Lea responded by writing that cost for the pilot program was $5,000 and with cuts in staffing and budget within the Film Office they could no longer administer the program.

I asked Lea how the money would be used and she referred me to Randy Visser and stated that the pilot program was set up to mentor 10 people and that each person that applied would also have to pay a $100 application fee to offset the costs of the program.

Randy’s response was “You'll have to talk with Lea about this program. I left the film commission last year and the program was put on hold. Take care.”

Two days later I received an email from Lea saying, “M3 never got beyond the planning stage.”

So we don’t have an official program that can be implemented to mentor bright, creative, passionate young people like Ali. What we do have are people in the industry who are willing to give their time, energy and knowledge to anyone with interest in the media business. I just happen to be one of them.

I am willing to give you or anyone you know any knowledge and encouragement I can. It won’t cost you anything. My only request is that you do the same when someone approaches you and maybe we can all have a positive impact on truly building a media industry in Maine that Ali can come home to.