Where are you currently employed?
Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging.
I am a Scanning Operator on a broad range of titles.
Describe Your Job.
I scan film for various reasons: preservation, visual effects, digital intermediate and mastering.
How did you first become interested in this line of work?
I’ve always been interested in the TV/film industry. At age four, I was mesmerized by television and went on to get a Bachelor of Arts degree in Television Production from Columbia College in Chicago.
Who gave you your first break?
Right out of college, I was hired at WFBN-TV, a small UHF station in Joliet, Illinois. They aired old reruns of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Perry Mason and the like.
What was your first union job?
For my first union job, I was hired by Jan Yarbrough and Elizabeth (Tig) McKenzie at Warner Bros. Video Operations as a Quality Control Operator.
Do you have an industry mentor?
Steve Overton. He was our shop steward when I started at WBVO and helped train me in the job I do today.
Which of your credits or projects have made you the most proud and why?
Working with Warner Bros. animation. My first client session was setting up a Bugs Bunny cartoon for review. Needless to say, I was a little nervous. However, my client Rick Gehr came in, looked at the element and said, “If the scan looks this good, we’re in great shape.” He made me feel very proud of the work that I had done.
What was your biggest challenge in your job (or on a particular project) and how did you overcome/solve it?
I guess the biggest challenge would be the economy and loss of jobs. With more automation and outsourcing, several of my union brothers and sisters have lost their jobs. It’s difficult to see your friends out there looking for work, knowing it could be you at any given point in time. I don’t really have a solution for this, but I try to look on the more positive side of things, especially when it’s something that is out of my control. If I end up in the lay-off pool, I imagine putting my house up for rent and maybe backpacking through Europe. Make lemonade (or maybe lemon bars) out of lemons — yum.
What was the most fun you’ve had at work?
I work with nitrate film, which is highly flammable, and we needed to be trained in fire safety. The Warner fire department came out and taught a class on how to properly use fire extinguishers. We got to wear the full gear and actually extinguish fires. It was very informative and very fun.
On this same note, a few years before, I had joined the search and rescue team at WB. We learned to use the fire hose, which is much more powerful than you think. For our final exam, there was a mock disaster, where we got to go below one of the sound stages (so cool) to search for victims.
Jobwise, what do you hope to be doing five years from now?
I hope to still be working with film. It’s a beautiful medium and, in my opinion, still the best format for archiving our visual treasures.
What are your outside activities, hobbies, passions?
I have recently discovered boogie boarding. I love to kayak, swim and any water-related sport, really. Traveling, light hiking, growing vegetables in my garden, cooking and baking are a few other activities that I enjoy.
Favorite movie(s)? Why?
First and foremost, I would have to say The Wizard of Oz. I mentioned earlier being mesmerized by TV and this is one of the films that caught my attention at that young age. When it comes to movies, I’m a kid at heart so I’d have to include the original Parent Trap (the girls camping brings back so many wonderful childhood memories), Finding Nemo (I love the ocean), Up (amazing storytelling, especially in the first few minutes), Iron Giant, The Trouble with Angels, Alaska and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. All in all, family fun movies. There are so many more, but I have to stop somewhere.
Favorite TV program(s)? Why?
The Andy Griffith Show — heart-warming stories of life lessons. The Twilight Zone — amazing writing. The Big Bang Theory — fun comedy with a fantastic cast and they shoot right next door to my building at work. Last, but not least, Police Woman. When I was younger, while vacationing in California, I saw a segment of this show being shot. At that moment ,I knew I wanted to work at the Burbank Studios (now Warner Bros.) lot.
What advice would you offer to someone interested in pursuing your line of work?
I asked this question to some of my co-workers and one said, “Move to India,” another said, “Bone up on your computer skills” — both very good points — but I would have to say, “Be creative when trying to get into this business as well as trying to advance in it.” For example, I worked for one company that had shelves full of tape elements that needed to be fixed. No one wanted to take care of the fixes because it was tedious, time-consuming work. So I took it upon myself to spend a couple of hours a day working on clearing that shelf. My tape skills improved and management was happy to finally get those jobs off the books. When it was time for promotion, I moved up.
Was there ever a circumstance when you had to rely on the Guild for help or assistance?
Yes. Initially when I joined IATSE, I was under Local 700, the Editors Guild. I had to transfer locals because, in my first union job, the facility was classified under local 695. Boom operator was the closest pay scale to what I did, so that is what I became, even though I’ve never operated a boom in my life. It does sound like a fascinating job and I would imagine it would be a great upper-body workout. Eventually, our facility did change to Local 700 and we were automatically switched to the editors Guild. And that’s why I’m still classified as a Sound Technician.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your fellow Guild members, some words of encouragement?
Build a strong network of friends. Get to know your fellow Guild members, and take the time to have a meal together or share a piece of pie. Our time here is short. I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful group of co-workers that I call friends. We laugh together, cry together, socialize together and problem-solve together. Our goal is the same: to bring great quality entertainment to the world.
-- Compiled by Edward Landler
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