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AICE and AMP’s Diversity Mentorship Program 'PrePro' Kicks Off

Designed to expose culturally diverse students to careers in post, the program matches mentees with working professionals

AICE and AMP’s Diversity Mentorship Program 'PrePro' Kicks Off

Imagine being a New York City high school kid with dreams of one day getting involved in the film or video business and getting a chance to visit the offices of The Mill? Or Heard City? Or the sound studios of Yessian? Things like this are actually happening to a group of about 20 students from high schools in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx as part of PrePro, the diversity mentorship program officially launched last year by AICE and AMP, the Association of Music Producers.

Designed to expose culturally diverse students to careers in post production and music and sound, the program matches eligible mentees with working professionals at member companies of the two associations. Mentees are getting hands-on learning opportunities in editing, audio mixing, visual effects, music scoring and related disciplines, and their mentors are sharing up-close looks at the day-to-day operations of professional editing, VFX, audio post house and music studios. (For more on the program, see the article here.) 

An impressive roster of New York post houses and music and sound studios already have senior staffers working directly with PrePro mentees. In addition to those mentioned, this list includes BANG, Big Sky Edit, Blast, Bodega Studios, Butter Music & Sound, COPILOT Music + Sound, Cutters, Exile Editorial, Freefolk, Groove Guild, Human Music and Sound Design, KYLE, Northern Lights, PS 260 and Uppercut. Heard City alone has three mentors in PrePro. The program will roll out later this year to other AICE and AMP chapters nationally.

“There’s been really great ideas flowing around between the mentors in terms of how to make their mentee experiences fulfilling and well-rounded,” says Gloria Pitagorsky, EP and Managing Director at Heard City and President of AICE’s New York Chapter. Pitagorsky, along with Optimus EP Jon Desir in Chicago and AMP President Jason Menkes of COPILOT, have been instrumental in getting the PrePro program off the ground, along Rachelle Madden and Alex Shannon at AICE. “Through PrePro,” Pitagorsky says, “their mentees are getting a chance to see the whole gamut of what post production is all about.”  

She also points out that the PrePro committee – made up of members of both AMP and AICE – is itself a diverse group “that’s passionate about increasing the diversity of our industry. They’re all actively involved in the program and have mentees themselves.”

So far, mentors report that the experience has been overwhelmingly positive. “It’s been very rewarding, both for me personally and the high school student who visits Yessian every week,” says Marlene Bartos, EP and Managing Director of the company’s New York office and former National President of AMP. “She’s getting a chance to meet and talk to industry professionals who themselves have had varied career paths. It’s giving her a better understanding of the scope of the industry, the portability of skills and knowledge and the benefits of building and maintaining a network of colleagues and mentors along the way. And it’s so refreshing to see someone get excited about our industry. I would encourage everyone to take a little time every week to do something like this."

“I’d say that working with our mentee has been as rewarding for us as for her,” adds Freefolk EP Celia Williams. “Sharing with her what we do is a wonderful reminder that we’re all really privileged to work in an incredible industry with such amazingly talented people.”

Pitagorsky notes that in addition to being exposed to the world of post production – gaining experience and building relationships at the same time – mentees are also get-ting valuable life lessons in dealing with the reality of working in professional environments. For example, she’s been coaching her mentee on interview skills. “The fact that she’s getting to experience a workplace that’s part of such a creative industry is a real bonus,” she adds.

“All the kids in PrePro have creative sides to them, they just have no idea how to get into our industry,” Pitagorsky continues. “They have a tremendous hunger for all of this knowledge, that’s apparent from the very start. When partnered with the top talents in our industry, I’m convinced that good things are going to happen. “

For more information on PrePro, contact Alex Shannon at AICE at alex@aice.org.