Q&A — Kellie McKeown, McKeown Consulting

HOLLYWOOD, CALIF.—Shortly before the start of the SMPTE 2015 Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition, Digital Video spoke with Kellie McKeown about her upcoming session “Thought-Provoking Ideas for Increasing Diversity in Motion Picture and Television Engineering.” Aimée Ricca from SMPTE joined the conversation.

DIGITAL VIDEO: How would you assess the current state of diversity within motion picture and television engineering?

 Kellie McKeown
KELLIE MCKEOWN: I think diversity within entertainment engineering is on par with diversity in other engineering fields. Women and minorities are significantly under-represented compared to the diversity of our society in general.

DIGITAL VIDEO: What needs to change in order to encourage more women and minorities to pursue engineering careers?

MCKEOWN: The common perception that engineering is geeky and boring should be replaced with reality. Engineering is creative, challenging, interesting and exciting. In engineering, we get to solve difficult problems that have never been solved before. It is exhilarating and rewarding.

DIGITAL VIDEO: What initiatives has SMPTE launched to increase diversity? What outreach efforts have been made? Are there mentoring programs in place?

AIMÉE RICCA: HPA has created Women in Post to provide leadership and visibility opportunities for women working in post production at all levels, in motion pictures, television, commercials and other media. It is a community for women to network, learn and share information and ideas in a friendly, welcoming environment. For the past several years SMPTE, in conjunction with HPA’s Women in Post, we have hosted a Women in Technology Luncheon at the Annual Conference. This year, we were lucky enough to have Cheryl Boone Isaacs, President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as our speaker. We’ve also added Kellie's diversity panel to the SMPTE 2015 technical conference. Of course, with the SMPTE-HPA Student Film Festival this year, we saw a number of submissions from all over the world, many from diverse ethnic groups and women. With the SMPTE-HPA partnership now being official, both organizations intend to work together to expand these efforts globally.

DIGITAL VIDEO: What changes have you seen as initiatives are starting to yield results?

 Aimée Ricca
RICCA: I think that the combined efforts of SMPTE, with HPA, are having the best results and certainly our student initiatives are attracting diverse groups of young people.

DIGITAL VIDEO: In speaking with the participants in your session on "Thought-Provoking Ideas for Increasing Diversity in Motion Picture and Television Engineering," what have you learned from interacting with the speakers?

There are not many women in entertainment engineering, but the women who are in the field are incredibly talented and accomplished, and are passionate about opening the field further to more women and minorities.

DIGITAL VIDEO: What would you tell someone who was a woman or a minority or both who is considering a career in television or motion picture engineering?

Don't let entertainment engineering scare you. Once you're in it, it's a blast like nothing else. It's fun and rewarding to work with a team of engineers and others to enrich our collective society through amazing movies and television.

After managing spaceflight hardware development for NASA, Kellie McKeown transitioned to television broadcast where she successfully managed software and hardware development projects and organizations. She began McKeown Consulting in 1998. Her forté is guiding software vendors to evolve their engineering organizations, procedures and processes to successfully deliver to large broadcast clients, as well as win-win client relationship management.

Aimée Ricca leads all marketing and communication for the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers (SMPTE) and is an associate producer for the SMPTE documentary "Moving Images." She began her career in music management. She later went on to Clearview Cinemas/Cablevision, where she was one of the pioneers of alternative content at the exhibitor level. Ricca joined SMPTE in 2012 and is a member of the American Film Institute (AFI), Tribeca Film Institute, International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), National Assn of Record Industry Professionals (NARIP), and American Marketing Association (AMA).