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HPA’s 2022 Growth to Fuel a Strong 2023

By Debra Kaufman

One month into 2023, HPA is already fully engaged in evolving its programs and initiatives to meet the community’s interests and needs. President Seth Hallen points to unprecedented growth in 2022 as foundational to HPA’s current dynamism. Last year’s growth would have been hard to predict in 2021 when the world was in the grip of COVID-19 and most face-to-face activity was on hold. “We looked for a way to keep the HPA community together in a dark time and the community responded with tremendous support for what we were trying to do,” says Hallen. “In retrospect, one of the most important things we did was to create and deliver the virtual Tech Retreat Event in 2021.  It really kept the community together during a time when that was most needed.”

That led to last year, when the HPA community’s pent-up demand to meet in person resulted in the biggest attendance ever at the Tech Retreat and the 17th HPA Awards. “We didn’t spare any effort, money or energy to make sure that people were going to be as safe as possible at these events,” Hallen says. “At the HPA Tech Retreat, we created the bubble to make sure everyone was tested and masked. At the Awards, testing and masking was mandatory. Secondly, we wanted to make sure that people felt safe. We recognized those two factors had to work together.” The result, he adds, was “no known COVID exposures” at either event. Growth at the 2022 HPA Awards also included the number of submissions. “In previous years, we would typically receive about 300 submissions, and in 2022, we broke 400 for the first time,” says Hallen. “We had the most engineering excellence and creative submissions, ever. That’s a testament to the value of this award.”

Throughout 2022, HPA programs Women in Post (WIP), Networking Education Technology (NET) and the Young Entertainment Professionals (YEP) were busy. There was a slate of events that included NET conversations with the post teams from “Ted Lasso” and a joint WIP-SMPTE event featuring the “Woman King” cinematographer Polly Morgan, ASC, BSC and its director, Gina Prince-Bythewood.   “The events were all very successful,” says Hallen. “The committees behind these initiatives are active and passionate and they bring incomparable value to our audience.” He added that there is still conversation on the balance of in-person and remote events and what best serves the HPA community going forward.

HPA Tech Retreat 2023 is set to be another groundbreaking event. “The 500 rooms at the Westin sold out months before we normally do,” says Hallen. “We had more submissions for Mark Schubin’s main program than ever before. Mark called it an embarrassment of riches. We’re thrilled that the community understands the value in the event.” He hints that more exciting announcements are coming.

Hallen reveals that the NET program in 2023 is also on track to be powerful. Pointing to the 2022 case study on popular Apple TV+ show “Ted Lasso,” he adds that, “we’re going to continue to do these case study luncheons that focus on unique and interesting workflows.”

HPA’s Young Entertainment Professional identifies, nurtures and supports a talented group of the up and coming professionals. YEP is about to unveil its 2023 class. “We’re heartened by the caliber of every group of new YEPs,” says Hallen. “This year, there’s another group of truly impressive future leaders.” He noted that the YEP program leadership, which started off in the hands of board members, has now shifted to graduates of the YEP program. “It’s been taken over by the people it’s intended for,” he says. “And they are full of great ideas.”

“HPA is intent on deepening the value of the organization to its members with highly engaging events, non-marketing-centric education (which is a very rare commodity) and mentorship,” says Hallen. The HPA Board has always been deeply involved in the vision for HPA and, in 2023, new members will be added. Most recently announced is new Board member Bettina Fisher, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ senior director of early career talent development.

“HPA will always be focused on powerful networking,” Hallen says. “The Board and HPA staff are reviewing every committee, event and membership offering to make sure we are powering value.” Another focus in 2023 will be strengthening the committees and the dedicated group of active volunteers. “We continue to enroll volunteer leaders,” says Hallen. “It’s always been run by people with terrible cases of volunteer-itis.” He jokes that, “Leon [Silverman] infected me years ago,” and stressed that, “we still need new, fresh and diverse voices with numerous interests in our community.” “HPA participation is not exclusive at all,” he added. “You don’t have to be invited to participate – just raise your hand and join.”

Hallen continues, “with regard to diversity, there will also be more to come from HPA in 2023, and that focus will be woven into everything we do. Our board members are focused on continuing to foster and support diversity, equity and inclusion across the organization, its events and its community,” he says.

The overall goal for the new year, says Hallen is, “continuing to remain relevant and focusing on what the community needs.”

“As the industry and HPA continues to evolve so rapidly, we’re examining how HPA can continue to play a leading role in bringing value to the community,” he concludes. “We want to make sure everyone has a seat at the table.”

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