"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

Produced BY: Mentoring Matters by Kia Kiso


Mentoring Matters - Developing A Career: Learning To Identify The Story You Want And Go After It

By Kia Kiso,

I have more than 90 credits as an AC/Loader, Telecine Colorist and VFX Coordinator, but eight years ago I heeded my lifelong calling to produce. Since then I have shepherded award-winning videos, promos for CBS and launched two feature documentaries on Netflix. In 2013 I joined the PGA because I knew of its many benefits, and I wanted to be part of a community of like-minded creatives. Currently I have focused on building my production company to develop fictional content, with an aim at creating compelling and unique stories in order to make the world a better place. 

When I applied to the 2016 PGA Mentoring Program, I had just walked away from the option on a book into which I had put a lot of time and resources. I was disappointed and wished I could have saved the project. The experience led me to realize that development was an aspect of producing I was less familiar with. I was looking for expert advice on how to assess opportunities, set up a project for success, handle relationships with authors, lawyers and talent, and run a production company.

Thankfully the PGA Mentoring Program paired me with producer Ken Atchity. I was thrilled to be matched with Ken for a lot of reasons, among them his industry experience and teaching background. However I admit, I was especially attracted to his philosophy—“I believe in the power of stories to change the world.”

Our first connection was an in-person, 90-minute meeting, in which he gave me feedback on a particular project of mine. Ken had some great advice about pitching—if a project tackles potentially controversial or delicate issues, Ken advised weaving some well-researched statistics or facts into the pitch to send the message that the material wouldn’t suggest a problem for the network and lead to a premature no. He wrapped up the meeting saying I could contact him about the project at any time, even after the mentorship ends. Very generous. Since that first meeting, we’ve had a pivotal phone conversation during which he suggested I was in a great position to go after an option I was very excited about, helping me to design a strategy on how to move forward quickly—starting with enhancing my relationship with the rights owner. He’s been ready to answer any questions by email. Even as recently as this morning, we were in touch to discuss a lunch I was preparing for with a writer who wanted to work with me.  

Ken has been wonderful. He celebrates my triumphs and brainstorms solutions to my challenges. I am very grateful for his willingness to participate in the Mentoring Program and to the Producers Guild for providing it

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