News, Notes & Commentary on the world of HRTS

The HRTS/JHRTS Mentorship Program

As the great sages Lennon & McCartney once said: you get by with a little help from your friends. Hollywood is a relationship business so what you know and who you know are both very important. The HRTS/JHRTS Mentorship Program offers opportunities to learn while also making connections. I recently interviewed six Mentors and Mentees with some final words from Executive Director, Dave Ferrara.


Ian Moffitt

IAN MOFFITT - HRTS MENTOR
Q: who were your mentors and what are some of the things you learned from them?
-one of my very first bosses, Rupert Dilnott Cooper at Carlton international in London 15 years ago, who I still speak to on a regular basis, always said he was looking to build a team of people who were incapable of making enemies. Doesn't mean you always have to be super nice to everyone, but it is a great skill to come out of some of the more difficult situations gainful employment throws at one and preserve the relationships involved. We also used to joke about the question we all get in interviews – "what do you see as your weaknesses" – so we discussed at length the search for the acceptable weakness e.g. "I don't suffer fools gladly", "I work too hard" etc. always taking new submissions for that one.

Q: why did you become a mentor?
-I just enjoy talking about the industry, always have done, and although it is a cliché a mentor system is very much a two-way street with knowledge and new "learnings" going in both directions.

Q: as a mentor, what have you gained by participating in the program?
-it's a good opportunity to talk about big picture stuff with people that may have a new perspective, and often times, a bit like therapy I guess, just talking through things often throws up solutions and new ideas.

Q: what would you say to someone who is considering becoming a mentor?
-make time to do it. The JHRTS team is such a well-oiled machine, they have their vetting process finely tuned
so you can be sure you will be in conversation with a future captain of industry in no time.


Rob Golenberg

ROB GOLENBERG - HRTS MENTOR
Q: who were your mentors and what are some of the things you learned from them?
-I really wish I had a mentor. I had some great agents I worked with early on who really taught me about the industry, but because I took a bit of an unconventional agency route I didn't have that guy or gal who took me under their wing, gave me business, etc. I say unconventional as instead of starting on a desk and getting promoted to coordinator, etc, I started as a coordinator and spent only a short time on a desk. One person in particular who I will always remember being so helpful to me in my career was Don Walerstein, an entertainment attorney who has a fantastic TV business. He taught me so much about the TV business, and never asked for anything in return. We have very little business together but he has always been there for me during the different stages of my career.

Q: why did you become a mentor?
-I became a mentor because I think so many people are given really bad advice and when they do move up in the industry, they develop really bad habits as a result. I really want to help people matriculate within the business. All of my former assistants have gone on to great careers and that makes me feel great.

Q: as a mentor, what have you gained by participating in the program?
-it is interesting being paired up with someone who is not necessarily in my specific end of the business. I have mentored an agent's assistant in the Reality area, the producing area and most recently someone who is on the production side. I really want my mentees to learn from mistakes I have made.

Q: what would you say to someone who is considering becoming a mentor?
-I would say that you have to do it because you really want to help someone else. It is not charity work by any means, but you really have to be able to open up, leave your ego at home and tell that person what it is really like working in the entertainment field, the good and the bad, and hope they can learn from your past.


Zig Gauthier

Zig Gauthier

ZIG GAUTHIER - HRTS MENTOR
Q: who were your mentors and what are some of the things you learned from them?
-my mentors are agent Pierre Brogan and producer Jon Kroll. They have each played an invaluable role in my career advancement, and supported me when I needed quality advice or a valued perspective. Together, they taught me the importance of shaping a career strategy and maximizing each opportunity along the way. Most importantly, during occasional periods of career junctures in which there was a challenging choice to make, I was able to have candid, confidential conversations and get invaluable input that helped me through those decisions.

Q: why did you become a mentor?
-growing up in a small, rural town in the mountains of northern California, there were very few opportunities, connections or paths to provide access to a professional and competitive industry such as entertainment. As I began building my career, I realized how much I truly enjoyed the ability to reach out to individuals from various socio-economic and culturally diverse backgrounds in order to provide them with an opportunity to get into entertainment and build a successful career. Now, the opportunity to mentor an individual and contribute to their success and happiness in any minor capacity is very meaningful. I am very proud and humbled to have supervised more than 600 interns in my career, and hopefully challenged and touched them in some lasting way, whether personally or professionally.

Q: as a mentor, what have you gained by participating in the program?
-the most amazing feeling is the opportunity to impact someone in a way that helps bring them closer to their own dreams and goals. There are some things of far more importance than making great television or films, and impacting people's lives on an individual level is thrilling and meaningful. I enjoy this feeling more than selling a show or making great television.

Q: what would you say to someone who is considering becoming a mentor?
-the choice to become a mentor is a commitment that one should feel passionate about. The HRTS/JHRTS Mentoring Program is a tremendous opportunity to give back and provide wisdom and guidance to individuals that want it.


Rachel Polan

Rachel Polan

RACHEL POLAN - JHRTS MENTEE/PROGRAM CO-CHAIR
Q: how has the mentor program helped you?
-I was lucky enough to receive a wonderful mentor who has been an immense help for me. I am at the point in my career when I’m ready to make that next step from assistant to the next level, and it has been really great to hear input from someone outside of your immediate company.

Q: how do you match mentor and mentee?
-mentees are assigned based on their career goals, or someone who holds a position that they are most interested in.

Q: how many people are currently in the program?
-we have 58 mentors, each with a mentee… one or two of them have more than one mentee.

Q: who are some of your current mentor-mentee pairings?
-I’m currently paired with Craig Erwich.

Q: what would you say to someone who is considering becoming a mentor?
-I would say absolutely do it! It’s a wonderful way to give back to members of our community. All of us were in one way or another in need of some advice throughout our careers.


Amanda Bowman

Amanda Bowman

AMANDA BOWMAN - JHRTS MENTEE/PROGRAM CO-CHAIR
Q: how has the mentor program helped you?
-I’ve found the mentorship program incredibly beneficial as I’ve moved up from my position of Assistant to Coordinator of Development and Programming at ABC Family. I’ve been able to rely on my mentors for their insight when it came to an idea that I had that didn’t have a traditional structure attached to it. Speaking with Chris Mack (my mentor) he was able to give me advice on how he helped launch the writers program over at the WB. Thanks to his advice I prepped my pitch and got my extremely passionate team at ABC Family on board. We’re all now bubbling over at the excitement at this project and Chris helped me get it there.

Q: how do you match mentor and mentee?
-I first looked at each and every mentor that volunteered and made note of their skills, their background, and where they are in their career today and then I looked at the applicants for the program. I wanted to make sure that we continued the high quality of the program started by my predecessors. Their intention was to get mentors on board that would help high level assistants get that extra bit of guidance that will eventually help them get over that incredibly tough hurdle from assistant to executive. The leap is a long one and at times it seems an impossibility. For those assistants who have been working at the same job for 2-5 years, you need someone to guide you as to how you can make those next pivotal steps in your career.

When interviewing the mentees I asked my fellow board members to consider personality along with the individual’s career goals and aspirations. Professionalism, attention to detail on their application, and an eager and open attitude were characteristics we all were looking for. Many were interested in TV development and we only had so many mentors that worked in development, so we made sure to get a full scope of what interests the applicants had to see who of our mentors they may relate to. Each one of our mentors has incredibly valuable experience and just because a mentee may not be focused on, just for instance, reality development at this point in their career, doesn’t mean that the mentee won’t be running reality for a production company one day. If there is one thing I’ve learned in this business is that the best executives are ones that take what opportunity is provided to them, evolve, and find out how each and every experience can benefit their company in the long run. The mentees that are currently enrolled in our mentorship program fit our requirements to a T. I felt grateful to meet some really incredible mentors and mentees just in the process of applications and furthered my relationships with them thanks to this program. One mentee in particular, RD Delgado, I found incredibly impressive and am looking forward to seeing his meteoric rise in Hollywood. The night of the mentor/mentee mixer I was incredibly grateful to hear so many positive experiences that came out of this program and am so thankful to all that participated.

Q: how many people are currently in the program?
-58 Mentors and Mentees.

Q: who are some of your current mentor-mentee pairings?
-Joey Chavez and Julie Katchen, Sonja Wright and Lisa Katz, Melanie Frankle and Alicia Nunez, Nikki Toscano and Lei David Chen, Barry Kotler and Daniel Wade Hampton just to name a few.

Q: what would you say to someone who is considering becoming a mentor?
-I’d ask for them to remember the time when that jump from Assistant to Executive seemed to be a nearly impossible feat. We all were there and it’s hard to forget that time. I’d also remind them that at times we think that we have no wisdom to impart but that could not be further from the truth. We live and breathe our work every day so rarely do we realize how much we know and what an impact we could make on the younger generation. The wonderful thing about Hollywood is so many people come out here to have their dreams come true but when the battle of upward mobility is raging on and it seems like you may be losing, you begin to forget why you came here in the first place. But with one meeting with a mentee, you’ll help remind them of why they took on this challenging career and in the process, probably remind yourself why you did as well.


Dave Ferrara

Dave Ferrara

DAVE FERRARA - HRTS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Q: who were your mentors and what are some of the things you learned from them?
-it’s interesting. When I look at my somewhat circuitous career path I have had many important influences. I look back to my early days in sales in the computer industry and realize just how big an impact a couple of my sales managers had. Arlington Glaze (yes, that’s his real name!) and Glen Deal (again, his real name)…wherever you are, thank you! I think everyone should spend some time in a sales job. 25 years later the sales clichés still ring in my head and they apply in so many different parts of life. “Salesmanship begins when the customer says no.” “It’s always some or more…none is not a choice.” “If you don’t ask, they won’t buy.” The adages go on and on but truer words have never been spoken. It’s been my experience that everything in life is some kind of negotiation, and having some basic sales skills and experience in your toolkit is never a bad thing!

Later on…and it’s kind of ironic, but I worked for a concert promoter whose mantra was “don’t sweat the small stuff…and it’s all small stuff.” I thought that was such a great concept, and I have tried to keep that in mind as my producing career has gone forward. It’s worked well for me so far! The irony is that I learned how important that was by watching him NOT heed his own words. He was so stressed out on a daily basis that he developed heart problems and ultimately had to leave the business… (not to worry, he survived and is living happily on a golf course now!) But the point is…when you stop enjoying your work…it becomes WORK and the fun and creativity go out the window. Don’t be that guy.

Q: what would you say to someone who is considering becoming a mentor?
-I know it sounds cliché, but giving back is just so rewarding, it’s amazing that more people don’t do it. It’s never a bad thing to re-visit all the wisdom you have stored away over your career and the best way to do that is to share it with someone else. I’ve also found that one of the biggest impediments to people becoming a mentor is that it can be a challenge to start the process. Identifying a good mentee, planning how you are going to mentor, etc. That’s where the HRTS/JHRTS Mentor Program comes in. All it takes is the desire to give back to the industry. We solicit and vet potential mentees and try our best to align a mentor’s skills and experience with a mentee’s desired career goals to insure that no one is wasting anyone’s valuable time. We even kick off the program with a mixer to allow mentors to meet their mentees in an informal setting to start the relationship on a positive note. From that point, the relationships develop organically and typically last much longer that the program’s six month cycle.

Q: as the HRTS celebrates its 65th Anniversary this year, how does the mentoring program align with the organization’s mission?
-when the idea of a formal mentoring program was pitched to me several years back, I saw it as an opportunity to further enhance our organization’s primary goal, which is to provide the industry’s premier information and networking forum. HRTS is fortunate to represent the best and brightest of our industry. With that comes just an amazing knowledgebase. Through our luncheons, our junior programs of panels and roundtables, our mentoring program and our new Academic Memberships, we’re positioning HRTS as the ultimate resource to develop and train current and future industry leaders to be effective and successful in our business. At the end of the day, that’s exactly why we are here.

Q: where can someone go to find out more info on the mentoring program?
-potential JHRTS mentees can access information on our website under the JHRTS tab. Interested HRTS mentors can simply go to our site and click on the membership tab to find info, or email me directly and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and get you added to the next cycle of the program. I truly believe that we all want (and need) to share the incredible knowledge and skill sets we’ve developed over the years. The HRTS/JHRTS Mentoring Program is an already-paved route that we can utilize to share our experience and help mold the next generation of industry leaders. I hope that all of our amazing HRTS members will choose to participate at some point in this program and I look forward to hearing about your experiences and successes as an HRTS Mentor.


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