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HPA Board Member Kari Grubin Co-Chairs NAB Virtual Session

By Debra Kaufman

Although coronavirus has shut down most businesses, entertainment industry executive Kari Grubin has had a particularly rewarding month since becoming a member of the HPA board during the HPA Tech Retreat. She is co-chairing the 2020 NAB Express’s curated version of the Show’s Future of Cinema track, produced by SMPTE. This also marks anniversaries for two HPA initiatives she was instrumental in launching: Women in Post, at eight years, and the Young Entertainment Professionals (YEP), which just finished its fourth class.

Grubin’s involvement in HPA began in the organization’s first years. “My earliest inspiration was going to the HPA Tech Retreat all those years,” she recalls. She remembers looking around at the room and counting the same small group of women who were also regular attendees. That’s when her long-term volunteerism, engrained from childhood, kicked in. “I realized that if I wanted change, I had to make it myself,” she says. Co-creating the Women in Post Committee, she says, was her way of giving back to the industry. “It’s been very fruitful and helpful for women to have a place to go and feel heard and recognized,” says Grubin, who co-chairs the WIP committee and is also an active SMPTE member.

The HPA board were very serious about mentoring the next generation of professionals in our industry, says Grubin. The result of that focus is the Young Entertainment Professionals program, which, she says, “has been very successful.” “I’ve always unofficially mentored people,” she adds. “But this was on a bigger scale. It also means a lot to demonstrate giving – to be an example for other people to give.”

Now that Grubin is a member of the HPA board, she will continue to champion and build mentorship opportunities. “It’s not just about people new to the business but for all of us,” she explains.

“I’m excited to be part of the HPA board,” she says. “We are all there on our own volition, and I have so much respect for everyone I am participating with. We have the means to do things beyond ourselves that bring benefit to many, many people.” She pointed to the first virtualized Women in Post webinar, which was very successful, and is interested in seeing what else can be done to leverage online platforms.

Grubin was co-chair, with Sony’s Daniel de la Rosa, of NAB Show 2020’s Future of Cinema track – until the coronavirus pandemic closed the entire show. NAB decided to create NAB Express, a virtualized version of the highlights of NAB 2020. Grubin has put together and will moderate a panel entitled Navigating the New Normal – Business Continuity in the Face of a Global Pandemic. “Some companies have very robust disaster planning, and a lot of that planning has to do with the company’s resources,” she explains. “But no one imagined that this would be the scale that it is.” She pointed to the 2011 tsunami that wiped out Sony’s tape manufacturing plants. “I was at Deluxe at the time,” she recalls, “And we had to deal with that change right away.” With coronavirus, smaller companies haven’t had the luxury of disaster planning. “We wanted to bring in the experts to see what they have to say,” she says. “This is about bringing advice and resources to people.”

The panel was constructed to hear from subject matter experts representing different sectors of the industry. HPA president Seth Hallen will present on what the organization is planning to do to support the community. SMPTE Standards Vice President/Mr. MXF Bruce Devlin, who notes that training and process disruptions are receiving more attention, will address the engineering side. He says he will “talk mostly about how we are seeing different business dynamics, and how SMPTE is responding.” “All these facilities and places like movie theaters are shutting down,” says Grubin. “There are implications in turning everything back on. Bruce will also address the technical side of remote working, including production, post and delivery.” Mobile TV Group chief operating officer Nick Garvin will focus on live events and sports, and talk about the perspective of running a business when every live event has stopped. “If there was a strike, you might have thought about business recovery,” says Grubin. “But what happens when every event is canceled?”

Each panelist will present, and then the presentations will turn into a conversation, says Grubin, for a total of about 30 minutes. “It will be easily digestible,” she says. “We’ll also present information on available resources. Bruce will talk about SMPTE’s resource information and Seth will describe information on the HPA website and in other initiatives.” “Let’s use this as an opportunity to help the people who don’t have resources,” concludes Grubin. “We’ll provide the information attendees can choose to use, and we hope it will spark ideas on how they can help themselves.”


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