I’m MPTF. Not literally, mind you, but deep down where it counts, where you think about friends, family, and organizations and institutions that you’re rooted to in meaningful and profound ways. That’s where MPTF is for me. And not because it’s my employer. It was there for me before then, when I was a donor and a board member and then as someone who was very concerned with its direction and stability and chose to jump in to help.
I’ve said some of this before, but it really started for me in three places. First, I was contacted by a guy named Ken Scherer as someone who might be able to help MPTF with some production (film development) and post-production (film-to-video transfer, editorial, color correction) needs on a pro bono basis. At the time I was running CFI, a large, independent film lab in Hollywood (remember what a film lab is?), and was more than glad to help. In the process, I spent some time talking to Ken about MPTF and himself, discovered a lot of mutual interests and a real respect for what he and the Fund were trying to do. (And, incidentally, added a “bestie” to the list.)
Next, I discovered through Ken that one of MPTF’s biggest industry supporters happens to be one of my best industry friends, Gary Martin, former President of Production at Sony, and Gary and I get to talking about why he and his family are so generous to the organization. That discussion was very important to changing my perspective on what MPTF really means to the industry. At this point, I gained an understanding of MPTF from a guy who truly grew up in the industry, who rose from crew to management, and who totally understood and appreciated the real hardships many of our industry members deal with in the crazy freelance employment world of Hollywood.
And then came the capper: My wife Carol and I were invited to attend a special MPTF event, Kevin Spacey and Friends, hosted by Kevin Spacey, in the spacious backyard of supporter Kate Edelman Johnson. This was during Kevin’s “Bobby Darin era” (he was developing the idea for what later became Beyond the Sea) and he did this wonderful night of music and tributes to retired industry members. Some of the presenters that night were Gregory Peck, Jack Lemmon, Helen Hunt and Marisa Tomei, and some of the honorees were actor Hal Riddle, comic/writer Pat McCormick, Director Stanley Kramer and actress Madlyn Rhue. I’ve got to tell you, it was an incredibly moving experience for me and many others in the audience, and a moment when everything Ken and Gary had told me about the Fund totally and absolutely crystallized. At the end of the night, I said to Carol “this is something I need to get more involved in.” And I meant it!
And so it goes. I’m MPTF because no other organization is more tuned in to the needs of people working at every level in our industry. I’m MPTF because for the past 30 years, the span of my professional career in the business, I’ve seen first-hand all of the good and at times life-affirming things MPTF is able to do thanks to the generosity of those who support it. Many years ago, Kirk Douglas said, “Those few who make it in the industry have to support the thousands who need our help” and I truly believe that.
If anyone in this industry thinks he or she has “made it” on their own, I’d say “think again.” Look around and realize all the tens or hundreds who have worked with you; who have been on the set for long hours and at great personal sacrifice on your productions or building the success of your clients; who have toiled in film labs or in sound and picture post-production; who have been in offices maintaining budgets, paying bills, collecting fees, and being financial fiduciaries; who have kept the movie theaters clean and the ambiance inviting for the guests; who have driven software and hardware to achieve new visual effects that no one could possibly imagine previously; who have inked and painted and brought drawings to life in ways that make us laugh and cry.
I’m MPTF because I get that we are family in this industry, in ways that no other industry could really understand, and as family we need to do everything we can to help each and every member. And finally, I’m MPTF because at every MPTF event and in every service we offer, we have more and more industry members volunteering their time and energy to giving back and putting out a helping hand.
As we close 2013, we have accomplished a lot as an organization and I will be happy to talk more about that in a future blog. But most important of all, we have continued to make me and others prouder and prouder to say “I’m MPTF.”
Tell us your story in the comments, and remember to visit the I’m MPTF blog where you can join the “I’m MPTF” movement.