Cycle 32 celebrates the beginning of their new careers in the film and TV industry. Photo courtesy of MOME.
September 3, 2013 - A special kind of celebration took place recently at the Brooklyn Navy Yard offices of non-profit Brooklyn Workforce Innovations: the graduation of the newest group of graduates of the “Made in NY” Production Assistant Training Program. The office was decorated with balloons, congratulatory banners, goal setting posters and the smiling faces of the 13 participants from Cycle 32 who had just completed four intense weeks of training to become production assistants, the entry-level position on film and television productions.
Family and friends of the participants were seated around the room on August 9 along with BWI staff, instructors and representatives of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, which partnered with BWI in 2006 to create the program, to join in on the festivities. Each graduation is “produced” by the cycle participants so its ceremony reflects the personalities of its members and the essence of the group. This time was no different: the theme of the afternoon speeches reflected the variety of personalities within the cycle.
Program director Anna Novick remarked how “each cycle is different and what I really like about this cycle is your sense of humor.” She also announced that Cycle 32 brings the total of “Made in NY” graduates to 439.
Marketing director Mara Prater spoke of the highly competitive selection process which saw more than 300 applicants. “Dedication, resilience and personality got you in the room today,” she told the graduates. “You are unique. Your personality brought you here today.”
“You guys have a spirit and positivity that’s contagious,” said media associate Ariana McClean.
Certificates were presented to the graduates by Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment field representative Hugo Pazmino, himself a graduate of Cycle 9. After completing the program, Pazmino spent five years working in the locations department of various television shows and films. “You’ve come a very long way,” he told the graduates. “It’s not going to be easy, but you have the tools to make your mark. This program develops your character and helps you see what you’re made of. It will all be worth it in the end.”
Several graduates had learned of the program through the City’s recent marketing campaign, seen in subways and on bus shelters, featuring graduates and the phrase “Do you have what it takes to join the production crew?” Other members of Cycle 32 were encouraged to apply through friends who had completed the program in past cycles or people from their community.
As each graduate accepted their certificate, they had a moment to address the crowd. Almost all thanked BWI staff and especially family members for their support during the training. Nigel McKain thanked his fellow cycle-mates. “You gave me a hard time, kept me on point and taught me not to take anything personal,” he said.
Myrtle McElroy told the audience that “this is a life-changing experience. We started off as strangers and now they’re like family to me.”
Graduate Kevin Padilla moved from California to New York City one year ago. When asked what brought him to NYC, Padilla replied, “This is the only place in America where dreams can be realized. The only limitations are within yourself.”
Padilla shared that the most memorable part of the training was a “lockup” in Brooklyn where trainees were tasked with asking pedestrians to pause while their mock film was shooting. He credits his instructors Anna Novick and Jason Rody, the training coordinator, with teaching him the skills to get through the industry successfully.
The “Made in NY” Production Assistant Training Program offers a free, full-time, month-long course to New York residents lacking opportunities in the film and television industry. For details and program requirements, click here.
The 13 New Yorkers presented with “Made in NY” certificates are Esteban Aparicio, Toni Calix, Mattlee Davis, Andrea Gees, Myrtle McElroy, Ellijah Mussig, Nigel McKain, Rasean “Fresh” Romero, James Santos, Reymundo Solano, Krystal Stone, Cameron White and Kevin Padilla.
- Jennifer Lenihan