Elections right around the corner: Feb. 20
by Richard J. Schneider
So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh;
So long, it's been good to know yuh.
This dusty old dust is a-gettin' my home,
And I got to be driftin' along. --Woody Guthrie
Well, the dust really is not swallowing the Colorado Film and Video Association. But a few of its board members have “got to be driftin' along,” chased away not by swirling tides of dust, but rather with a sense of accomplishment, the desire to turn the reins over the new blood, and with an optimistic view at the road ahead.
Annual elections are right around the corner: Wednesday, February 20th 6-9 p.m. at the Breckenridge Brewery, 2220 Blake Street. That's the Breckenridge Brewery – as in BEER, the second major food group. Yes, it is a schmoozer too, along with the elections.
With staggered terms, not all members are leaving the CFVA board, but a few are, having done their bit for the cause – well done bits, at that!
Four board members are leaving: CFVA president Kevin Kerndt, Mitch Dickman. John Hardy, and Keleigh Asbury. We cajoled them to sharing their thoughts and feelings about serving on this all-volunteer board of our industry's only statewide professional association,
Upon reflection, and pondering a request to list his top three accomplishments on the board, outgoing president Kerndt, replied in his characteristically humble mode. “Besides rebuilding the website,” Kevin said. “Setting up CFVA for a long term future in a way that nobody could ever take the power away from the organization.” So that was number one: CFVA's control over its fiscal and website destiny. Number two: “Growing the committees and getting more people involved.” And number three: “Building a closer relationship with the film office,” although he admits more work in that area probably needs to be done.
Wait a minute!
What did he say before he slid into the number one accomplishment? Something along the lines of “Besides rebuilding the website”? No small item, that. Building on former president Bob Berg's work, Kevin dove in, redesigned the website, based largely on membership feedback about what it wanted, then built much of the new thing, launched a new email blast system, retooled the eBulletin (and spent a lot of time editing and publishing it) – to list only a few sub-items in that throw-away phrase, “besides rebuilding the website...” A tremendous amount of work went into it. So for Kevin, that would be four top accomplishments. Yes, many others performed some heavy lifting in the CFVA website redux, but Kevin was its heart and soul.
While those are some of the more tangible and easy to see accomplishments, like any successful tenure, there are the intangible improvements as well. Kevin seems pleased with an industry movement away from secreting its work for fear of losing it to sunshining it and celebrating it – really letting the world know Colorado is far more than a square on the map. “If we are fighting over a few scraps of work, we are not being too effective,” he said. “We need to celebrate the work we are bringing in from out of state.” He feels “honored” to have served as CFVA president, “frustrating at times but at other times very satisfying. “I've enjoyed working with so many people and meeting so many people. I feel I’ve really grown in this position. I definitely have enjoyed it. I feel that CFVA has gone as far as I can take and it's time to pass the torch and allow this organization to grow into the future. As for the future, he is “still going to be involved,” but now it's time to help my own company. I’m getting some new opportunities that I want to pursue.”
Mitch, who co-chaired the membership committee with John Hardy, quickly singled out three key accomplishments, two relating to membership and one to the now unstoppable annual State of the State town hall meeting.
When Mitch joined the board, membership categories were a tangle of different classes covering student, individual, corporate, and trustee memberships ranging up to a thousand bucks or so. The board, at the membership committee's encouragement, streamlined the membership classifications to a simple 3-tier system: $25 student, $50 individual, and $250 corporate. “I think our membership appreciated that,” Mitch says. “We went from two corporate memberships to 40, and individual memberships grew more than 100.” Those numbers translate back to broader community involvement in the production industry, and increase dollars for benefits and programs turned back to the membership.
He is especially proud of his work with other board members in helping launch three key events: the State of the State, the town hall meeting at (the old) Lighting Services Industries sound stage (R.I.P.) where the final push for increase in state production incentives was covered along with a number of other items, “and the corporate brunch where we all sat around the table, broke bread, and got to know each other.” Tied to all of these communication events was the membership survey, something Mitch viewed as critical for the CFVA because it enabled “the membership to speak their voice on what they liked and didn’t like.”
Looking down the road, Mitch sees the CFVA “on a good track. With its history of thirty years and the energy of new people on the board, it is headed in the right direction and in right hands.”
Businessman that he is, John (CFVA's treasurer) shot straight to the bottom line: “From Day One, our thought process was – let's get a survey out and find out what the base of members like, don’t like what's working and what's not working,” he said. “I think that was a smart move, and now it's an annual thing, so we can understand the needs and wants of the members.”
He said he was surprised at the first survey in 2011. A lot of members were asking about health benefits. “That is easier said than done,” he recalled. “We were fortunate to find a local brokerage that could do something custom for CFVA members. We believe that’s been a success. I now have my benefits through CFVA.”
John credits Keleigh with significantly increasing the quality of member events sponsored by the CFVA. Like his membership committee co-chair, John points to the streamlining of the membership categories, which he says “made it easier to sign up and increased membership.”
He said activities of CFVA's political action committee, chaired by Leslie Allen, have been “tremendous,” and singled out their leadership in helping increase the state's production incentive as an “important” event for the overall health of the industry.
“High Noon Entertainment (where John is Sr. Veep for Finance) has been involved with CFVA for a long time and has regularly had someone from the company on its Board,” John said. “When I was asked by Duke Hartman, COO of High Noon, to consider running for the CFVA Board in January 2011, I was very eager to do so. CFVA is a very important organization to the film and television industry in Colorado and needs the entire community to be a part of it. I am proud to have been part of this organization as a Board member these past two years and look forward to continuing to be involved as a member going forward.
And where is CFVA headed? “In the right direction,” he said.
If there is one way to describe Keleigh’s three top objectives and accomplishments, it might go something like this: Events, Events, Events.
“When I first came onto the board, members wanted more programs and events,” Keleigh said. “There were the monthly schmoozers … gatherings at a local bar. It was great, but that was the only thing we were offering to our members.” As chair of the CFVA Events Committee, she worked closely with the Membership Committee. “We used information from membership surveys,” she said. “Members wanted more educational, outreach, and entertainment events.” The results are obvious: a huge bump in corporate membership, and solid increase in individual memberships, and a shoulder-to-shoulder packed Chop House Caboose at the 2012 CFVA Holiday Party.
Like other board members, Keleigh worked hard to expand participation on the standing CFVA committees. “It took a lot of leg work to build the committee,” she said. “We pushed hard to have committees that are really based on members, not just on board members, so the board wasn’t doing all of the work.” As a non-film industry person who admits feeling, at times, a bit of an “outsider,” she worked to include more “non-film industry” creatives in CFVA membership and activities. “I wanted to bring in more people who work in the new media industry,” said Keleigh, who is a career advisor with the Art Institute of Colorado. And now we are bumping into more graphic designers, animators, game designers, even caterers, at CFVA events.
But she singled out listening to the membership as a key factor in what the CFVA board has to continue to keep the organization vibrant, growing, and relevant. “The surveys have really been helpful,” Keleigh said. “We were engaging members so they could tell us what they need and what we should do,” pointing out that membership survey feedback is “critical” to the CFVA as it moves forward.
So these four are driftin' along, emerging from the dust of a rebuilt CFVA and a restructure state film incentive, and a production industry that is showing a few more sparks of life than had only a few years back. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. New blood and new energy will join the board in just a few weeks, and it can only be good for the industry.
So long, it's been good to know yuh.
Richard J. Schneider created, wrote and produced more corporate videos than he cares to recall. He now writes novels.