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A YEP’s Perspective on the HPA Tech Retreat

By Benjamin Noble

Waking early in the morning, rushing off to grab some quick breakfast, dressing semi-formally and finally… unplugging and plugging back in the WiFi router. This was the common routine every morning of the 2021 HPA Tech Retreat. Instead of Palm Springs, the comfort of my own apartment (and the ever-present noisy ambience of West Hollywood) was the only physical space I physically interacted with. Still, this did not erase the trove of presentations, discussions, and educational topics discussed at the retreat.

The temptation I had to use multiple devices to access all the events was tempting enough, lest I feel I miss out on a question or thought from one of the speakers. This fear of missing anything, of course, was quickly diminished when HPA confirmed that all presentations would be available forever. I watched presentations such as Bobbleheads: The Movie, an animated feature that had to adapt to cloud based/virtual pipeline halfway through production, to Mark Schubin discussing virtual/VR opera performances in the pandemic with Kamala Sankaram, Eric Einhorn, and Cerise Lim Jacobs. The trove of content leaves a lot to be explored and seen, even after the Tech Retreat is over.

One constant which could not be ignored was that, despite this close interaction and digital discussions (courtesy of several round tables), we all adapted to the new way of the world. As I sat and discussed with people based both in LA and throughout the world, the recurring theme, inter-played with new technological developments and achievements, was how we were able to adjust to a virtual, working remotely world.

The struggles were a common source of relatability. But no matter what, a common thread always emerged: adaptability, troubleshooting, and progress.

Like others in my YEP class, who’ve only just embarked on our professional career path, the sudden changes that COVID brought felt as if everything was uprooted, pulled back down, and packed back into the earth, all over the course of one year. All this to say that this whirlwind experience, and recent HPA Tech Retreat, serves as a reminder of the ingenuity of talent in our industry, and the determination to, in the famous words that once lined the London Streets, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

With a huge trove of wonderful presentations that I still need to dive into, I look forward to the future in the film and television industry, and to one day, fingers crossed, eventually make the trek to Palm Springs.

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