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YEP Talk: Filling the Pipeline

By Brandie Konopasek, Coordinator, Post Production, Indie Original Films, Netflix

The entertainment industry has seen major technological shifts in the last several years. We are consistently seeing people “step up to the plate” and bring new ideas among all forms of content, some of which could be considered astounding leaps ahead of our time.

That same time period has seen a shift of a different kind as well. Perhaps it was in the wake of the #metoo movement, or simply knowing an overhaul was necessary, but progress has been made toward closing the gender and racial gaps in our industry.

Filling the gap for technology and development is so broad, yet so incredibly crucial to where we are today, that it forces us to think outside of the box. It is easy to say “We are going to fix this problem”, but putting steps in place to actually do so requires an immense amount of time, energy, patience and planning. The positions that tend to be filled from a homogeneous pool require years of training, but not only that, most people may not realize these jobs even exist.

With the surge in streaming, there are so many more features and shows shooting now than ever before, giving us the perfect opportunity to truly invest in the future of this industry.

Netflix is a strong supporter of High School Women In Tech. Our company relies so heavily on the latest technology, workflows, data & analytics and what we call “citizen developers,” that in order to truly diversify the company’s labor force, we needed to make sure people at a young age knew these were career options. High Schools from all over the city (both in LA and Los Gatos), ranging from lower income public and charter schools to wealthy private schools, are invited to attend a night of presentations hosted at Netflix. Interactive sessions found the students collaborating and being given the opportunity to present to groups. Although this was a “Women in Tech” event, we had several male students come out to support their female and non-gender conforming classmates.

We were thrilled to find that many of these schools had STEM or STEAM programs, and with each presentation, the students were given pointers as to which classes to take and groups to join in order to pursue a career in each of the areas shown. For example, we are constantly developing tools to analyze our viewership so we can cater to personal preference, so our data & analytics presentation showed the students real life examples of how we identify what is important and what is not. They were then given a set of preferred classes to take so they could learn the necessary technical skills, as well as our contact information in case they had any more in depth questions that we didn’t have time to answer during the Q&A.

Overall the experience was beyond what any of us expected and has caused us to think on a more global scale for the future. We had so many students walk out asking questions about a career they didn’t know was possible prior to this event. It personally inspired me to expand this type of education through the Young Entertainment Professionals (YEP) program with HPA & SMPTE, so I could begin contributing more actively in their quarterly webinars.

This “overhaul” of our industry may seem daunting, but with groups such as Women In Post and Women in Film, just to name a couple, combined with our first ever female DP Oscar nomination, it is very much a possibility for us to finally bring about the change we are all striving for.

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