"Made in NY" Graduates: Climbing the Ladder

Each month we showcase an individual who participated in the "Made in NY" PA Training Program. Click here for information on the free, month-long program developed in conjunction with Brooklyn Workforce Innovations and designed to create job opportunities for New Yorkers, connect New Yorkers with employers in the industry, and educate production assistants on how to work collaboratively with the communities in which they shoot.

timoteo valerio
Timoteo Valerio

July 13, 2015 - This month we look at a quartet of “Made in NY” graduates who are making great strides in their careers in the entertainment industry. Following completion of their training with the “Made in NY” Production Assistant Training Program, which was developed in partnership between the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and Brooklyn Workforce Innovations, these New Yorkers have been working behind the scenes on films and TV shows in New York City and are now making their working their way up the career ladder.

Timoteo Valerio, a resident of Astoria, Queens, served in the military in the United States Marine Corps for five and a half years. After an honorable discharge, he returned to New York and eventually applied to the “Made in NY” PA Training Program. “I have always loved sports, movies, and TV shows…that was where I wanted a career,” he said.

Following graduation in June 2014, Valerio worked on a number of TV shows, including The Good Wife, The Affair, and Mr. Robot, working as a production assistant and then a grip operator, and now he’s driving tractor trailers. Earlier this year, he received his commercial driver’s license through a special partnership created by MOME and the Theatrical Teamsters Local 817 in which the Teamsters sent two graduates from the “Made in NY” PA Training Program to commercial driving school in order to receive their commercial driver’s licenses and get added to the Teamsters’ referral list in time for the TV pilot season.

“Even more jobs have opened up and have allowed me to be associated with the Teamsters,” he said. “It’s been a dream.”

jimmy gonzalez
Jimmy Gonzalez

Jimmy Gonzalez was the other “Made in NY” graduate sent to commercial driving school by the Teamsters to receive his license. The Lower East Side resident became a “Made in NY” PA in February 2014, after working in retail but knowing he could do more. “I’ve always been a creative person since I was kid,” he remembered. “One day I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be cool to create a movie and see it come to life?”

Following work on projects like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Freeheld, his career got a boost when he earned his commercial driver’s license and was added to the Theatrical Teamster’s referral list.

“I’m happier,” he said. “I’m doing something I love. I don’t know many people who are.”

richard pena
Richard Pena

Richard Pena, a native of Brooklyn, has seen his career prospects grow since graduating from the “Made in NY” PA Training Program in April 2013. During the training, he developed an appreciation for all the work that goes into making films and TV shows, which helped him when he landed jobs on a variety of productions, including Elementary, Power, and The Blacklist. He’s currently working on a VH1 film called The Breaks.

Now Pena is looking forward to transitioning to the camera department, having recently passed the Local 600 exam. “So many doors have just opened for me,” he said.

annabel caicedo
Annabel Caicedo

Anabel Caicedo was working in retail without a clear plan in life until she decided to learn how to drive through BWI’s NY Drives, which helps New Yorkers get their driver’s licenses. License in hand, she became a “Made in NY” PA, finishing her training in May 2013. After a struggle to find work for a couple of months, a fellow “Made in NY” graduate hired her for a gig on Royal Pains which led to work on the film Annie. A crew member there suggested she intern at Arri, a camera rental house. The internship turned into a job where she now works as a prep tech, and she’s also worked in the camera department on reality shows, shorts films, and a commercial.

Having recently passed the Local 600 exam as well, she’s excited about what the future holds. “I can get to work with and learn from the best cinematographers and camera assistants,” she said. “My life has changed for the better.”

Interested in learning more about the “Made in NY” PA Training Program? Click here.

Read more about previous "Made in NY" PAs of the Month here.