An Exclusive Interview with The Motion Picture & Television Fund’s Internal TV Station Residents


On April 25, The Motion Picture & Television Fund was recognized with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 2021 Academy Awards. The organization, which supports the entertainment community in times of need, was faced with the difficulty of keeping their LA campus senior residents healthy and physically distant while also finding ways for them to feel connected and pursue creative outlets. 

The facility’s internal TV station, run by the residents themselves, has become a resource for connection, entertainment, and creativity during a time especially isolating for senior citizens. The TV station has created opportunities for the residents to harness their creative talents and learn new skills with the help of Adobe Creative Cloud tools.

A few residents of the LA campus shared their compelling stories about their experiences editing with Adobe Premiere Pro, their career in Hollywood, and the content they’re currently creating. 

The organization also held it’s fifth annual Instant Film Festival, the “pressure cooker of intergenerational creativity” on May 23. MPTF turned to friends at the Editor’s Guild to give them a hand on getting these super-fast films turned around using Adobe Premiere. 

Deppie, Resident

PH: How are you? What does your work currently look like and how have you adapted?

Deppie: We are currently using Zoom to record sessions for some of the programming. One of the residents had an idea for a show where we use videos we find on the web to construct a short video. There was a group that was meeting in the living room for Channel 22 before the pandemic. The four of us would meet with the resident and introduce the piece we wanted to do. We were doing a weekly show and the group is still doing that. I’m on a different project right now.

PH: Can you talk about your experience working in the entertainment industry? 

Deppie: I haven’t worked in the entertainment industry, but I can tell you about my background. I finished a master’s degree in art at Cal State Northridge and started teaching at a couple of junior colleges in the area. My brother moved to Los Angeles. We had always talked about doing something together, so we opened a restaurant. We did that for 13 years until he passed away. That’s when I decided to learn about computers, because I had a little Atari at the restaurant that I used to print menus and do various other things.

PH: What has your experience with the Motion Picture Television Fund been like? As well as the TV station, how did that come about?

Deppie: I was volunteering at the Getty, after I retired from my restaurant and met a gentleman assigned to my shift who had been a director at Warner Brothers. We became friends and he knew I was learning about computers. He had volunteered at MPTF and at the volunteer meetings the woman who was running them, an employee at MPTF, kept asking for someone to come with some computer knowledge to help the resident who was the editor of the Resident Gazette. After 6 months of asking for help, he went to her and said you should have my friend Deppie come and help. Since I wasn’t a part of the industry, which was a requirement to be a volunteer, she asked me if I would consider being a junior volunteer. Nearly a 70-year-old junior volunteer was what I became on campus.

The resident editor of the Gazette asked me to go with her to the first board meeting for Channel 22. Jennifer Clymer, the director/executive producer for MPTF Studios, went around the room as we introduced ourselves.  She heard that I was working with computers and asked me to come and see her and showed her what I could do. I have worked at the channel for 15 plus years.

PH: Can you talk about some of the content you’re creating?

Deppie: The content that I work on varies. Lately I’ve been working on a weekly show produced by one of the residents and four volunteers, sometimes supplemented with an additional resident.  It’s called Wandering the World Wide Web and airs once a week. The content consists of four or five segments of interesting and informative videos found on the web which each of us introduces. I am also working on a show to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Channel 22. Resident producers, actors and channel staff of the various shows created during this fifteen-year period are highlighted.

PH: How did Adobe Premiere Pro help with this type of editing?

Deppie: Premiere Pro is the provided software used at the station for all editing.

PH: How does your love of still photography translate into creating video content? 

Deppie: I have found that my background in photography taught me to pay attention to the entire contents in the frame. I notice details in the background that others may miss. Specifically, when a resident provides stills for a show, Premiere Pro allows me to edit and improve the still from the timeline in Photoshop and return them to the Premiere Pro timeline seamlessly. 

PH: What’s next for you? Anything special on the horizon? 

Deppie: Continuing volunteering at the Media Room and improving my skills using Premiere pro.

 

Marijane, Resident

PH: How are you? What does your work currently look like and how have you adapted?

Marijane: This past summer of 2020, this project that went live for residents to keep them enthusiastic and engaged during the lockdown had spiraled in a good way. From” we’re going to play games and tell stories live every day,” to this amazing, professionally produced content that involves the residents, volunteers, and staff. Jennifer Clymer, the director/executive producer at MPTF Studios, needed help with admin. She brought me in to do paperwork, spreadsheets, thank you notes, and research for all of the interviews she and residents were doing. I used Photoshop to create some of the materials they needed.

PH: What has your journey in the industry looked like?

Marijane: Throughout my career, I have managed standup comedians, I’ve worked for a digital marketing company, I produced a children’s science show, and I worked on sitcoms.

In the last 10 years, I have created informational programming. I’m creating a documentary about the Performing Arts Center in San Luis Obispo. That’s my project right now besides working with MPTF.

PH: What has your experience with the Motion Picture Television Fund been like? How did your work with the marketing department come about?

Marijane: I have been either volunteering or working for the Fund for over 20 years. I started in 1998 producing the MPTF live events. I have watched everything evolve and how the industry has reengaged with the fund.

I live in West Hollywood alone and I was in the middle of a documentary when the lockdown came. There’s no shooting. We did some remote editing but that was challenging since we couldn’t get together. We stopped in about April or May. I had nothing to do. Jen called me in June to help and I said, let’s go!

They’re creating all of this content, hours of content. There are two goals for the content: one is to use it on social media to promote the fund and to promote MPTF Studios and then they also want to capture entire programs and they started a YouTube channel. Those are the goals of the editors who work with MPTF.

PH: Can you talk about some of the content you’re creating?

Marijane: There is a weekly resident of the week award, which I built in Photoshop. It takes me all of three seconds because I have it set up as a template and you just plug in the name and award. I’ve created art cards for videos, so other editors could use those for their videos. 

One of the programs I work on is called, Clymer Conversations, is a half hour to an hour-long interview that features young entertainment industry professionals. Interviews about the industry, about how things are changing, what’s not changing, what they’re working on. It’s a way for the retirement community to get to know those who are following in their footsteps. I edit the content for marketing and this was the first time I learned how to use Premiere Pro, after Jen’s encouragement. I go into Premiere Pro and I lift three sound bites and marketing takes those and uses those on all of the social media platforms. I also tidy up the interview, I fix the beginning, I make sure the title cards or intro is clean and sound is good. I watch the whole show and fix it if needed, make it look tidy. Since all of these interviews are on Zoom, I can move to a one shot so it’s not a two shot the whole time. For the live show it’s a two shot, but when it’s for the MPTF Studios YouTube channel, I can add a little variety and add close ups. I put in the closing credits and make sure it fades out cleanly and export it and post it on the YouTube channel.

PH: How did Adobe Premiere Pro help transform your storytelling?  

Marijane: I use Photoshop almost every day and I use it a lot at MPTF Studios. Jen asked for me to pick up Premiere Pro. She said you love Photoshop, you’ll love Premiere Pro. I opened it up and because editing software is so similar, you import a file, you drag it to the timeline, you squish it and stretch it out, you put in a fade in and a fade out and badaboom it’s a television show. Much like Photoshop, I’m lifting a soundbite out for social media. I am tidying up a 30-minute show at the beginning and end, adding an art card, adding a lower third if it’s needed, taking out technical glitches if possible. I think anyone can learn Premiere Pro, it’s logical.

PH: What’s next for you? Anything special on the horizon? 

Marijane: I am a writer by trade, and I have spent a lot of the pandemic months writing prose, which I have never really had the time to do. From my personal creative outlet, I have been writing short stories and essays. I have enjoyed this tremendously. When you’re working in the entertainment industry, you’re constantly creating content for someone else for a purpose. To sit down and work on something that really has no purpose has been one of the greatest gifts of the pandemic. I have a stack of stories. Maybe one day they’ll be something, but for now they are stories that make me happy.  

The MPTF Studios’ Instant Film Festival was at the end of May. It’s their fifth year. You have four hours to write, produce, shoot and edit a movie. It’s volunteers, residents, some of the staff, college students, industry employees and kids of the employees. The students and residents are teaching each other as they are creating these films together. Storytelling is their business and we are saying it’s still your business. For several years I have been in charge of corralling all of the judges, anyone can be a judge. This year it was online. 

Adele, Resident 

PH: How are you? What does your work currently look like and how have you adapted?

Adele: I have found myself as an on-camera person with Wandering the World Wide Web, a program for the Motion Picture Television Fund and currently waiting to go back in person to start editing again.

PH: Can you talk about your experience working in the Criminal Minds art department? 

Adele: I worked five seasons on Criminal Minds. I was a set dressing buyer, an assistant to the decorator. Set dressing is all of the furniture and drapes and tchotchkes that are in the room where you’re shooting. For example, I know where every single torture chair in Hollywood is and any kind of body part. I know exactly where they are. 

PH: What has your experience with the Motion Picture Television Fund been like? As well as the TV station, how did that come about? 

Adele: I started volunteering at Channel 22 at the Motion Picture Television Fund when I retired, for two reasons: they make movies and I will one day be a resident at the home. I saw it as an opportunity to continue making film and also as a way of building friends for the future. I’m very slowly transitioning into being a resident. It’s very impressive how much the residents love being there. We all love making movies and being around cameras. Now that I’m editing, it’s exciting and kind of addictive. 

The Motion Picture Television Fund is kind of a refuge for me when I need to get out of my house, I’m a widow. Also when my mom was dying, who lived to be 100, I called them and I said, I need to come in and do some filing for you or something, and they said come down and we’ll find something for you to do. People need to have a purpose and feel useful. I’ve noticed after working at Channel 22 and Motion Picture they understand and they allow us to be useful, which is a wonderful thing.

PH: Can you talk about some of the content you’re creating?

Adele: I found myself working on a project with another volunteer, Ray, who I’m working with for Wandering the World Wide Web, on a project called What Makes You Laugh. We shot a bunch of interviews and then we looked for funny pieces to cut in. I was editing that piece and it was so much fun. My experience has been over the last three years working with other volunteers at MPTF that we always have a great time together. When the pandemic hit, we went to a totally Zoom production. So we were doing a 15 minute show every week. Here I am, in my 70s, and still in episodic TV, which kind of was a chuckle for me. 

I also worked on Matt and Maya, which was a wonderful experience. I worked in the art department and I’m really looking forward to getting back to live production and jumping back into it.

PH: How did Adobe Premiere Pro help with this type of editing?

Adele: I have just scratched the surface of Premiere Pro. I haven’t even ventured into all the stuff that you could do with sound. I would compare using Premiere Pro to walking into a room and then you discover a door, and there’s treasures behind that door. And then there’s another door, and there’s more treasures. And the more you understand the program, the more you understand how powerful it is. I didn’t even know how to do transitions and then I Googled how to do it and I found it in the program, and that opened another door. And you find all of these treasures, all these options of transitions, not just one. 

PH: What’s next for you? Anything special on the horizon?

Adele: What’s next for me is to get back in the saddle. As soon as we get close to being able to come back in person and I can be at a computer again, I’ll be back into my notes and back into YouTube video tutorials. I’ll be trying to get myself up to speed and snatch Debbie to get back on the bike again.

When we come back, we have some content that we would love to shoot. There’s one project called, The Death of the Pillsbury Doughboy and another, How To Give Your Cat A Pill. We had this idea that we would involve residents, and a lot of them are actors. We would come up with these little bits. They are pretty short, under five minutes, just little interstitials. We thought it would be so much fun to go around and have the residents participate in these funny things, because we want to make people laugh. That’s something we’re hoping we can do down the road.

Watch highlights from the 2021 Instant Film Festival here. 



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