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HPA Builds for the Future: Recognizing the Next Generation of Media and Entertainment Leaders

BY: Mark Chiolis – HPA Board Member

A multi-tiered approach is underway at HPA to encourage, honor, and mentor our future leaders.

Following my fellow HPA Board member, Loren Nielsen’s great column last month on HPA’s initiative of Building for the Future, I’d like to continue with that theme, a topic of great importance for the HPA and many in our industry today.

My career in media and entertainment began when my parents’ reel to reel tape recorder broke and I decided that at the age of 10 I could take it apart and get it working once again. That way, we could continue to have the magic of recording voice and music within the family. After having enjoyed a number of positions within the industry over the course of almost 5 decades, my career has covered engineering, operations, production and post production, on-air talent, management, sales, business development and much more. I look back and wonder where the next generations of these individuals will come from as there are no longer any reel to reel recorders to break and that need to be fixed.

I had the honor of being invited to join the HPA Board over a decade ago, a time when the major focus of the organization was post production and the main event was the Tech Retreat. The term “post production” has evolved into many areas these days and the business of post-production is all encompassing. Meanwhile, the Tech Retreat continues to grow and is one of the top technical and networking gatherings in all of our industry, something I’m proud to be a part of. Being a “newbie” to the organization I wanted to help “make a difference” but at the time I didn’t quite know how, as the Tech Retreat was -and is – in great hands and running like a well-oiled watch. I approached a couple of other Board members and we kicked around some different ideas over a period of six months or so. I think it may have been during, or after, one of those famous Nola’s “networking” sessions, that fellow Board member Carolyn Giardina and I decided that the time was right for a new major undertaking for the HPA, that the Tech Retreat wasn’t enough work for a small “hands-on” Board of Directors.

Carolyn and I had the bright idea of starting an awards show to honor the creative side of the industry and celebrate those hard working individuals and companies that are the heart and soul of our membership. The dedication and perseverance of these individuals provide us with some of the highest quality commercial, television, and theatrical material the world over. After presenting our idea to the Board, they decided to humor us and provided a little seed funding to get things moving forward. We were off and running. Thanks to the great work of all of those committee members in the first few years and especially to Seth Hallen who stepped in and was able to co-chair the event with Carolyn, year one was very successful.

Over the years the HPA Awards have continued to build and evolve into the powerhouse event that it is today having honored so many, including many legends of our industry. We are looking forward to honoring others as there are so many that need to be recognized for the achievements they have contributed to our industry.

By now you’re wondering what the HPA Awards has to do with helping recognize, advance, and encourage the future leaders of our industry. What better organization and event to help make this a reality then this already established and popular awards gala, where yesterday’s, today’s, and tomorrow’s future leaders celebrate the best in the business. The HPA Awards honor accomplishment, but it’s also about learning and reaching new heights as we move forward into an ever changing, unknown, and sometimes a bit of a scary environment. The Awards is the perfect place to honor the emerging talents of our community.

As we dove into planning how to honor the young members of our community, HPA’s Women in Post were in the midst of launching Young Entertainment Professionals (YEP.) As Loren mentioned in her column last month, YEP will nurture, mentor, and help to advance the next generation of talented young men and women who are interested in the endless challenges presented in today’s world of media and entertainment. The timing was perfect to build a full mentorship presence in the HPA. Women in Post will be unveiling key elements and ways to enter candidates for YEP over the coming weeks, and the HPA Awards honor will be part of their efforts.

Like HPA has always done, we’re working together to build a platform to encourage the next generation of the HPA. As part of the YEP program the HPA Awards will select one or more individuals, 21-29 years old, to receive the HPA Emerging Leader Recognition at the HPA Awards on November 17th. Honorees will have their bio published in the awards program and we will give them a spotlight moment. This is both a great honor and some big expectations to live up to, especially considering those in the room and the accomplishments they have given to our industry.

This is a very challenging time for future generations in any industry, and even more so in Media and Entertainment. It’s never been an easy business, but today, so many great people are chasing their dreams at a time almost defined by its changes, and it is difficult for anyone to reach their dreams. HPA, through YEP and the HPA Awards is dedicated to being a support for these dreamers. We need them!

If you’re reading this Newsline, and you’re in the HPA, you already have an idea about the great industry in which we work together. While the challenges are large, the rewards provide those who are in it for the long haul a lifetime of opportunities unlike any other career choice. The kinship of others who are dedicated to the same goals and the satisfaction of knowing that what you are doing is watched, appreciated, and supported by millions of viewers around the globe on a daily basis. You have the opportunity to be a part of the “established” media, to join one of the newer companies creating pathways to the future or even to go “off-roading” and make a new path and lead the next generation to places not even dreamed of in today’s world.

Over the next few weeks, HPA corporate member companies will be receiving information about how they can encourage the Young Entertainment Professionals that you have been working with and mentoring. I encourage you to support these initiatives. Could it be any better than for you to attend the HPA Awards in November and to stand up and applaud one of your nominees as they walk on stage and accept one of the coveted and very limited HPA Emerging Leaders Recognitions.

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