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A Conversation with Seth Hallen on COVID-19’s Impact on the Industry and HPA

Seth Hallen

In this turbulent time, it is more important than ever to lean into community, partnership, and trusted resources. We asked Seth Hallen, HPA president, to share his thoughts on the industry, the HPA, and this moment in time.

The board released a statement on March 17 addressing the impact of COVID-19 and its tightening grip on our industry. Why did you feel it was necessary to comment and what were you hoping to accomplish?

We quickly noticed there were several companies out there who were proactively responding to the crisis to support greater collaboration across the supply chain in post production, especially enabling remote collaboration and various related technologies.  We want to express our support for those companies exhibiting that kind of collaboration and interaction, which is so important at this unprecedented moment in time. The HPA is so proud to be a part of a community that comes together in a constructive way during this current crisis in our industry.

It’s important to communicate that the HPA is as committed as ever to bringing value to our community through knowledge sharing, education and virtual networking during this time. We will continue to do our part to help folks face this challenge.

How is the HPA continuing to work during this time?

The HPA, like so many other companies, is operating remotely. Staff are working from home and connected, and volunteers, committees and leadership are connecting remotely. In other words, all functions of the HPA are continuing. Committees are meeting, virtual events are being planned, and board meetings continue as usual.  We are trying to maintain business as usual in a new and different time, and we are continually adapting to the current changes and demands of our members and wider community.

HPA programming continues. The next HPA NET event is a trip behind the scenes of the HPA Tech Retreat Supersession’s The Lost Lederhosen, which is extremely relevant today because of its use of an almost entirely cloud-based production and post production workflow. That cloud based approach was the way the project was envisioned before the current crisis, and now more than ever the knowledge gained from The Lost Lederhosen is relevant and important, as it informs the production and post community engaging in enabling similar remote collaboration workflows in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Our virtual event on April 2 will allow a few of the key participants to share the rich information and experiences from that project with a virtual audience.

In the coming weeks we will be releasing videos of a few of the HPA Tech Retreat sessions for those at home who want to catch up on what they missed in Palm Springs last month.  Also in the coming weeks, informative and networking-oriented virtual events are planned for WIP and YEP, including moving forward with connecting members of this year’s HPA Young Entertainment Professionals with their mentors for support during these trying times.

Does HPA have a role to play in this moment in history?

The HPA is and always has been the connective tissue within our industry. It has been a platform for volunteer based leadership, collaboration and education. And now, more than ever, the community is depending on the HPA to continue to play that role.

This is a very unsettling and unnerving time for professionals across the media and entertainment industry, and the HPA has an ability to keep people together and communicating.  Connecting the community with information and education is an important role for us to play. A lot of people are not working, and there is anxiety and worry about the current and future outcomes, but there will be a time when we’re back in action, and we will see new opportunities on the horizon when we’re on the other side of this.  We’ll keep sharing and connecting, and we will learn from each other.

What recent work/technological advances will be particularly useful during this time?

For several years now, there has been a technological trend toward enabling remote collaboration and the ongoing development of various technologies that are required to support it. The current crisis is accelerating this pre-existing trend and there will be even more advanced and matured solutions for remote and cloud-based collaborative production workflows as the lights come back on in our industry.

Do you have any words of advice for newcomers to the industry and/or people who are not able to work remotely during this time?

Please know the HPA understands how unsettling this time is. Many of us can’t get back to work. An entire industry and our personal and business lives have been disrupted. But there will be an end to this crisis, and we’ll all be back to work again soon. In the midst of a crisis it can be hard to keep your vision focused past the horizon, and while this is an unprecedented series of events, we will survive.

While you are not in the office or a facility, and are wondering about your next step, I urge you to take advantage of all that the HPA and our partner organization SMPTE have to offer in terms of virtual events, webinars, and podcasts, most of which will be free to attend through this time. Find important topics that are relevant for your careers, study up on them and keep your tools sharp.  Stay connected with your professional community on LinkedIn and other relevant platforms. Use this time to learn and make yourself even more valuable, and feel free to reach out to us at the HPA if we can help in any way.  We are here for you.

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