Katy Finch, "Made in NY" PA Training Program
March 1, 2012 - As the program director of the “Made in NY” Production Training Program, Katy Finch has helped change the lives of the hundreds of diverse men and women, offering them access to jobs in the local entertainment industry. The program, which was developed in partnership between the Mayor's Office of Media & Entertainment and Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, was first established in 2006.
Describe your role at Brooklyn Workforce Innovations.
I lead a team of people that recruits, selects, trains and connects to production jobs people who don’t have access to the traditional entry points into the industry. I create the curriculum for the PA training. I schedule the guest instructors, field trips, the day to day classes and class locations, and I teach the introductory skills segments. In a sense I AD the class.
What goes into a cycle of the “Made in NY” PA Training Program?
We recruit for approximately six to eight weeks for each class, which means holding weekly open houses, reviewing applications and conducting first and second interviews. Then the candidates are invited for a day of tryouts, which involves some classroom time and also some field work. Those who get through all of that are offered a spot in our class. We typically accept seven to eight percent of those who apply; last year we received 800 applications and enrolled 67 people.
The training lasts four and a half weeks. The first week focuses on basic PA and workplace readiness skills; the second week is focused on set PA skills like walkie drills, trucks, G&E equipment, talent and locations paperwork and problem solving on set. The third week we focus on production office skills and resumes, and we visit some sets and stages. The fourth week students are placed on week-long internships, and then they return to the classroom for two days to update their resumes and cover letters, practice interviewing, and then they have graduation.
Then the work really begins. Our office also serves as a hub for productions to hire trained production staff. Our phone is on 24/7, and we continually work with television shows, commercials and film productions to help match their needs with the skills and experiences we know exist in our ever-growing pool of training graduates.
What are some of your most memorable moments from the program?
Bumping into alumni when passing productions on the streets of New York, seeing past students’ names in the credits on some of my favorite movies and TV shows and having wonderful guest speakers visit us such as David Picker and Michael Pinkney.
What would you like productions filming in the City to know about the program? How can they get involved?
Our graduates are rigorously selected and screened. All of the training is done by people who have worked and continue to work in the business. We do not train budding filmmakers, or give people passes because they need a break. We graduate people who have been trained to be fifteen minutes early, always have a pad and a pen, to never sit down and that there’s always something to do. If someone does not live up to that standard, we will stop recommending them until they are able to gain references from other supervisors.
As I mentioned, we have a 24 hour cell phone because we want producers and ADs to call us when it’s 5am and their camera truck PA just cancelled and they need someone to pick up the truck in 45 minutes. I like to think of us as the emergency PA help line, and I hope people utilize our service in that way as well as for dayplayers and staff PAs.
Because we have been training people for six years, many of our grads from the first couple of years are now working on the camera department, grip & electric, as POCs, APs, ADs, art department coordinators, wardrobe coordinators, (and more). We currently have eight graduates in production unions, and I expect that number to grow exponentially over the years.
Passing on our contact info and encouraging people to call us when they are looking for good PAs is the best way to support us. I know that a recommendation from a trusted colleague is the key to getting someone new an opportunity.
What’s next for BWI?
We have a new program called NYDrives at BWI that accepts people as young as 18, which provides job readiness skills and also free driving lessons – we know this to be a huge need among the people we train. The goal is to get young people driver’s licenses. Graduates of NYDrives are then eligible to apply for our PA Program because we require a license.
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Thomas O'Donnell, Local 817
Katy Finch, Brooklyn Workforce Innovations
Meredith Conti, Grand Central Terminal
Gino Lucci, Picture Cars East
Habibah Ali-Love, OFTB
McCord Fitzsimmons, Former OFTB Intern
Lis Pearson, New York Public Library
Veronica Miles, EcoSet
Lisa Rubin, Hudson River Park Trust
Mari Jo Winkler, PGA Green
Michael Super, Coney Island, Parks and Recreational Manager
Caroline Stephenson, NYC Economic Development Corporation
Lisa Lucas, Tribeca Film Institute
Harriet Taub, Material for the Arts
David Moy, OFTB
Fred Cerullo, Grand Central Partnership
Marge Feinberg, DOE
Nate Grove, Marinas
Frank Gribbon, FDNY
Jeffrey Sangrund, Brooklyn Bridge Park
Javonne Parker, Staten Island Ferry
Justin Green, Build It Green! NYC
Tom Ross, "Law & Order: Criminal Intent"
Eric Peterson, Randall's Island
Connie Fitzgerald, Department of Environmental Protection
2009 Joey Violante, Technicolor
Stephanie Argamaso, OFTB
Vito Turso, DSNY
Elizabeth Rapuano, Governor's Island
Estelle Cooper, Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Alvah Holmes, Former MOFTB Intern
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Eva Radke, Film Biz Recycling
Karen Meyerhoff, Guggenheim
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Celina Sze, OFTB
Sharon Jensen, The Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts
Terence Gray, New York Television Festival
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Tom Maiorano, Brooklyn Navy Yard
Joan Cooney, South Street Seaport
Jeannine Marotta, Staten Island Economic Development Corporation
Brooke Smy, Tishman Speyer
Elliott Kerman, Tax Credit Accountant
Matthew Kania, Assistant Location Manager
Lieutenant Joe Lassen, Movie/TV Unit
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Ivory Henderson-Robb, Department of Transportation
Jack Powers, New York City Economic Development Corporation
Robin Forst, Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center
Kitty Preston, CUNY Locations
Liz Carollo, Greenmarket
Donna Masly, Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation
Sean Jones, New York City Department of Corrections
Sheila Greene, NYCHA
Ralph Musolino, Parks and Recreation
Rick Cotton, NBC Universal
Joe Fontao, Location Manager
Gretchen McGowan, HDNet Films/Open City Films
Tim Tompkins, Times Square Alliance
Erika Feldman, Theatre Row
Vin Lenza, Staten Island Development Corporation
Tristan Assent, "Made in NY" PA
Denise Motta, New York City Economic Development Corporation
Terry Lawler, New York Women in Film and Television
Monty Ross, 40 Acres and a Mule
2005 Pat White, Local 764
Michelle Byrd, Independent Feature Project
Matt Miller, AICP
Kyle McCarthy, MTA Metro-North
Jeannette Pinero, Department of Correction
Bambi Brook, Dawn Animal Agency
Andy Nagy, NYCHA
Juan Rosario, HPD
James J. Claffey, Jr., IATSE Local One
Mac Brown, Producer
Cheryl Hodge, VTU
Llewellyn Wells, Executive Producer
Lawrence Major, Parks and Recreation
Ken Konfong, Economic Development Corporation
Whoopi Goldberg, Actress/Producer
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Thomas O'Donnell Sr., Local 817
Drew Jiritano, Special Effects Coordinator
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