Hollywood's Army of Craftspeople Take on COVID-19: 'We're the MacGyvers of This Industry'
The glorified version of a nation at war evokes people coming together, contributing to something larger than themselves, and collectively willing a victory in pursuit of a worthy cause.
Though the coronavirus is no traditional enemy, this feels like war. The battles rage in hospital rooms, biomedical labs and ICUs. The heroic soldiers don scrubs and wield microscopes. Meanwhile, the cloistered public tries to keep calm and carry on.
On the home front, one inspiring community is assembling its creative might, which has fallen into disuse amid the Hollywood shutdown, and joining the fight.
"We're the MacGyvers of this industry," said Nickolaus Brown, President of the Motion Picture Costumers Local #705, whose website reads: "If we can't buy it, we build it."
Now, working alongside the Costume Designers Guild #892 (CDG), Affiliated Property Craftpersons #44, and a host of theatrical groups, these "fabric nerds obsessed with creating the exact shade" just might save your life.
"We have a huge army of costumers and volunteers who've stepped up to the plate," Brown told dot.LA. They are coordinating to make masks, gowns and booties for delivery to the front lines.
"It started organically," said Salvador Perez, President of CDG.
Like virtually everyone in the motion picture industry, costumers and set designers cannot work due to social distancing. As infection counts climbed and news of shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) began to surface, people wanted to help.
"Members started reaching out to me about these desperate pleas for PPE for medical professionals," recalls Brown. Though it surely feels longer, that started in the middle of last week. "I put a post on Facebook, a call to arms." Following an email solicitation to the #705 membership, about 130 people had enlisted.
As for #892, "it was just going to be 10 or 12 of us doing this," said Perez. "Now we have signed up about 100 people."
The participating unions, which also include Locals #80 and #768, began working independently. CDG received help from some of its suppliers, including Jo-Ann Fabrics and Michaels. Western Costume and Kagan Trim sent rolls of elastic to #705. In true MacGyver style, two CDG members watched a do-it-yourself YouTube video on mask design then improved the process and sent out guidelines to members.
"Everybody knew they had to act," said Brown.
IATSE, the umbrella guild comprised of numerous local affiliates, caught wind of the groundswell and got involved. Things began to streamline and scale.
"Their arms have a much greater reach to reach out to the governor's office or mayor's office and to have substantive conversations about what people need in the field," said Brown.
Now there are daily conference calls, where representatives from the locals and the west coast office of IATSE coordinate.
As the union offices procure supplies, they will divide the fabric, thread and elastic into kits. These will either be delivered to the members who've signed up, or picked up by members in staggered shifts. Completed masks will be dropped off at the CDG office in Burbank, before being delivered to hospitals.
Maintaining social distancing adds to the challenge, but the process has been designed accordingly. "We're trying to protect our members, but still help," said Perez.
Each kit, said Brown, will yield 24 masks. The first batch out of #705 will be 32 kits, meaning 768 masks, which should be completed and ready for delivery by early next week. Perez expects CDG members to make about 50 each on a similarly ambitious timeline.
"Mind you, we're the people that make the Batsuit," he crowed.
Based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, the costumers learned over the weekend that without the proper supplies they could not make PPE of the quality required for high-risk situations like surgery. So, the first shipment is bound for lower-risk workers, like those in grocery stores, senior homes, homeless care facilities and auxiliary health practices like physical therapy.
But, said Perez, "we have a contract with 3M and we're trying to get them to give us the filter fabric" that's needed to make the higher-quality masks.
Still, noted Brown, supplying PPE for lower-risk situations could be extremely useful, since it theoretically should keep the higher-quality masks available for use in higher-risk situations.
As the costumer effort progresses and continues to streamline, more participants will likely volunteer. More requests will come in for supplies. And more things will be made. According to Brown, Local #44, which makes props and designs sets, "is working on making face shields."
Beyond helping others, the work is also helping the costumers.
"People at this time need a way to focus on contributing and to have a purpose in this really difficult time," said Brown. "They are champing at the bit to feel like they're doing something. Having this project has given a lot of people a purpose."
Sam Blake is dot.LA's entertainment and media reporter. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake
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This year's Montgomery Summit – held online this year for the first time - features Eric Yuan, CEO & founder of Zoom, author Deepak Chopra, Darius Adamczyk, CEO of Honeywell, and Jim Whitehurst, president of IBM.
There will be about 100 hours of content available exclusive to those who have paid and registered, but, for the first time, 12 hours of plenary sessions will be free for anyone to stream on YouTube, opening panels to a much bigger audience around the world.
Glitches: Audio Static Disrupts Cox Enterprise CEO Presentation<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyNzA5NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0Njc4ODg0N30.OV2CZArAK9yqIGnWH-nXXxc0N2nCrGGLXrWs69bc9NI/img.jpg?width=980" id="3acea" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d8b74c54ebe5ce35c30a305ae267ca0e" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="audio glitch" /><p>The Montgomery Summit, one of Southern California's most anticipated tech conferences, got a reminder on Thursday that going virtual isn't as simple as it sounds.<br></p><p>The audio for the fireside chat with Cox Enterprises CEO Alex Taylor went dead after 15 minutes into a half-hour presentation. Technicians attempted to deal with a loud static noise that interrupted the interview. </p><p>Several attendees commented on a message board that the static interference was so loud that the conversation was inaudible. Another poster noted that Apple earbuds worn by Tom Giles, Bloomberg executive editor of technology, could have been the culprit. </p><p>After the audio was turned off after about 15 minutes into the Taylor chat, operators of the website broadcasting the summit posted a note on the session.<br></p><p>"Due to an audio malfunction, we will share the interview between Alex Taylor and Tom Giles on The Montgomery Summit YouTube page after the conference," the statement read.</p><p>Before the audio went silent, Taylor had been discussing a broad number of topics, including Cox's move into cable – its biggest revenue generator – automotive services, and the importance of newspapers, although Cox has shed all of its paper properties.</p><p>"I still believe that a newspaper, for whatever the political slant of its editorial pages, is the best source of actual facts, because you have so many levels of editorial judgment going on in that process, and it's hard to get inaccuracies," Taylor observed.<br><br></p>
'We Got Punched in the Face': How Peek.com Is Recovering From COVID<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTcxNDQwOS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NTI4NjUzOH0.XuzYY7jAwV4rQc_ObMwwFF4Hsvk7NHfVYzjp_R3fh5c/image.png?width=980" id="366bd" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="bc34510f11fedc568b2f3a0282e60daa" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Peek.com" data-width="4254" data-height="2572" /><p>Ruzwana Bashir, co-founder and CEO of Peek.com, got off to a good start with her trip-booking company, which is backed by heavyweights Eric Schmidt of Google and Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Square.<br></p><p>A year ago, <a href="https://www.peek.com/" target="_blank">Peek.com</a> was flying high with $1 billion in bookings. The service lets travelers and locals find and book activities online of via cell phones, including tours, wine tastings, kayaking, helicopter tours, ziplining, horseback riding and lessons of all sorts.</p><p>Then COVID-19 hit. Stay-at-home restrictions were imposed throughout the world and domestic travel came to a virtual halt as people sought safety from the pandemic. </p><p>"We got punched in the face," Bashir said. "It was a pretty scary time... We did a small layoff. We laid off 30% of our team."</p><p>Based in San Francisco, the eight-year-old company has raised roughly $50 million in venture capital funding. But it wasn't certain it would get through the hard times. </p><p>Then the summer came, and Peek began seeing a surge in bookings. People were tired of staying indoors and wanted to get out, Bashir explained. </p><p>"We are the backbone of these businesses," she added. "It took a level head to get through this, make tough changes. It took a lot of resilience and persistence to get through this."</p><p>With the federal government now saying that it could vaccinate all adults by the end of May, Peek.com's Bashir is beginning to see a resurgence in business bookings again this summer. "When we look at the travel space, there is a need," she said. "Campgrounds and RV parks are now even coming in and saying they need our software."<br></p>
'We've Got to Be Paranoid': Zoom's Founder Offers Leadership Advice to Startup Execs<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTcxNDM3Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTQ5OTI1M30.3GsIC3GPY-2Qn2GBCtr81eUjNruMYLLaklIhuEpzX-0/image.jpg?width=980" id="49051" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6b3b6efcc95600111dbe331ed6b5dd6c" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Zoom CEO Eric Yuan" data-width="5184" data-height="3888" />macbook pro displaying group of peoplePhoto by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash<p>Eric Yuan, president and chairman of Silicon Valley-based Zoom Video Communications, took a break Wednesday from his company's highly touted video conferencing business to deliver some nut-and-bolt tips on executive success and leadership. <br></p> <p>Answering questions from former Cisco chief John Chambers, who now runs San Jose-based JC2 Ventures, Yuan noted that his bedside reading has yielded profound success and helped him develop as a leader. </p> <p>He cited two management and self-help books as key.</p> <p>They are "Crossing the Chasm," a marketing book written by Geoffrey A. Moore that focuses on the specifics of marketing high tech products during the early start up period; and "Speed of Trust," written by Stephen M.R. Covey that serves as "a guide to business leaders, public figures and their organizations towards unprecedented productivity and satisfaction. </p> <p>"I read Geoff's book twice," said Yuan, who agreed with Chambers' suggestion that anyone in a startup role should read the book.</p><p>But "Speed of Trust," said Yuan, gives startups like Zoom a strong foundation to build on. "At Zoom, a lot of [our employees] work from home, so how do you build trust? It's really hard."</p> <p>In building a business, founders need to think about the company's "value," he said, as a key facet.</p> <p>"It's hard to build trust. You need social interaction, but you do that with eye contact. Video is really hard."<br></p><p>Yuan said that building a company takes a lot of time speaking with customers, because they could change their buying decisions quickly. "We've got to be paranoid."</p><p>Yuan, who moved from China to the Silicon Valley in the late 1990s, founded Zoom in 2011.</p><p>Prior to Zoom, Yuan was corporate vice president of engineering at Cisco, where he was responsible for Cisco's collaboration software development. He was also one of the founding engineers and vice president of engineering at Webex, a video conferencing application. </p> <p>"My story is pretty straightforward," Yuan said.</p> <p>Yuan made his comments on the first day of the virtually held Montgomery Summit, one of Southern California's largest gatherings of tech investors and executives of the year. </p> <p>San Jose-based Zoom, which just two days ago reported profits and revenues for its January quarter that beat Wall Street estimates, raised 2022 guidance to $3.77 billion in revenue, up from $3.53 billion. </p> <p>Zoom became a household name as the COVID-19 pandemic forced lockdowns across the globe. A steep rise in coronavirus cases during and after the holidays intensified business restrictions and forced many workplaces to reconsider reopening in 2021.</p>
Honeywell CEO Bullish on 2021, M&A Not Slowing Down<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzI4MTA2Mi9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2ODUxMzk1MH0.D3aVw0A_tttZp6_fQxFhVLomTqGDCBILq1Fku7XmJY0/img.png?width=980" id="9ad63" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dea83eb2bcb0047df52851a0beef9994" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Germ" />
Honeywell inked a deal to produce Long Beach-based Dimer's GermFalcon last year.<p>The pandemic limited some of Honeywell's typical tire-kicking while cutting deals, but the global conglomerate still saw a flurry of recent acquisitions and its CEO Darius Adamczykis is optimistic about a resurgent economy in 2021.</p><p>"2021 will be a transitional year, and 2020 was a crisis year," he said. </p><p>Among the deals made last year, <a href="https://dot.la/germfalcon-honeywell-2646167596.html" target="_self">Honeywell inked a licensing partnership</a> with Long Beach-based Dimer to produce a UV-C light machine, the GermFalcon, that sanitizes airplane cabinets.</p><hr><p>"Conditions generally are positive," said Adamczyk, noting that the uptick in "normal" business is expected to swing back noticeably in the second half of the year, coincidentally timed to when Honeywell is expected to open a new corporate headquarters in North Carolina.</p><p>Adamczyk said one of his bigger concerns is whether there will be "enough capacity to handle the surge" in growth.</p><p>Notably, the $145-billion market-capitalization corporation has made a handful of acquisitions at a time when COVID-19 has limited some of the typical due diligence processes. In fact, M&A activity slowed somewhat last year – though not for Honeywell.</p><p>"Acquisitions are more difficult in this environment," he said. "You can't go to facilities and meet with people."</p><p>In the case of its Sparta Systems acquisition last month, said Adamczyk, "We knew so much about it. We did a comprehensive due diligence, but we had comfort in buying it."</p><p>In December, Honeywell agreed to pay $1.3 billion for New Jersey-based Sparta, an industrial software provider that specializes in life sciences. The deal was the largest acquisition engineered by Adamczyk since he took the helm nearly four years ago. The deal strengthens Honeywell's leadership in industrial automation, digital transformation solutions and enterprise performance management software.</p><p>Roughly a week before this deal, Honeywell acquired Sine Group, an Adelaide, Australia-based technology and "software as a service" – or SaaS company -- that provides visitor management, workplace and supply chain solutions that are readily accessible with mobile devices. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.</p><p>The company also snapped up several smaller companies last year, including the unit of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/terminal/QI8V0D3MSFLS" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ballard Power Systems</a> that makes fuel cells for drones. </p><p>"We are building organically, and building inorganically as well," Adamczyk said. "The more digital you are, the better you weather the storm."</p><p>Another long-term concern: "What I miss is the water cooler conversation."<br><br>Adamczyk said that Honeywell is trying to reach out with connectivity. "It's really important to stay connected." </p>
Cybersecurity Spending Is Likely to Grow Amid High-Profile Hacks: Snyk CEO<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTcxMjg3Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNzgyODEwMX0.onsCbjDpuU5RbpO8tfVjAJ456AHRfh1nWoRkAV9LYGY/image.jpg?width=980" id="67dcc" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c5219474e2736ac7ac2bbb4fd6aa5787" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="5760" data-height="3840" />
SnykPhoto by Markus Spiske on Unsplash<p>The headline-grabbing security breaches uncovered in the past year will likely lead to an acceleration of cybersecurity spending, said Peter McKay, CEO of London-based developer security company Snyk.</p><p>The lifecycle in cybersecurity spending is at a very early stage, McKay observed during the first day of the virtually held Montgomery Summit, one of Southern California's largest gatherings of tech investors and executives.<br></p><hr><p>"We are maybe two outs in the (bottom of the) second inning," he said. "We are very early on. If talking security, and not thinking shifting left into security development, we'll walk away and come back to talk in six months. We know where they are in their journey," said McKay of the value of waiting for clients to catch up.</p><p>McKay cited two high-profile breaches as the catalyst for more cybersecurity spending: Austin-based SolarWinds, which develops security software to monitor databases, and China's Mintegral, which develops mobile operations system applications offered in the Apple app store.<br></p><p>In the Mintegral case, Snyk researchers identified malicious behavior in a software development kit that was present in more than 1,200 iOS mobile operation system applications offered in the Apple App Store.<br></p><p>Snyk estimated that the Mintegral attack – dubbed "SourMint" involved the 1,200 iOS apps that it estimates are downloaded about 300 million times every month. The concern was that the IOS software could harvest URLs accessed through the kit and steal highly sensitive information.</p><p>"Once we understood the exposure, we talked to Apple," McKay said. "We automate as much as you can to fix vulnerabilities."</p><p>In the other case, SolarWinds provides software to monitor many features of on-premises infrastructure, including network performance, log files, configuration data, storage and servers. SolarWinds sends out regular updates and patches. Hackers were able to infiltrate the update and "trojanize" the software — meaning when customers installed the updates, the malware just went along for the ride.</p><p>"This was a paradigm-shifting event," MacKay said. "It brought a lot of attention of building security features into the lifecycle and supply chain."</p><p>Snyk's work in the security developer field has been an evolutionary one since it was founded in 2015. Two years ago, SNYK began with technology companies, then financial ones, and then health care and the media fields.</p><p>"What you are seeing now are airline or packaging companies, or very low-tech companies, which are in the process of doing a transformation of their business in a secure way. We are bringing best practices to help them make this transformation."</p>
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The line between tech and entertainment companies has never been thinner; the top Hollywood players are becoming software behemoths, the major tech firms are tripling down on their content investments, and a number of startups are finding new ways to blend the two worlds. From the very heart of this convergence between tech, media and entertainment in Los Angeles,
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At Intersect, a diverse group of leaders -- including top executives, entrepreneurs, and investors -- will come together for a day of sharing ideas, shifting perspectives, and and building community. For those hoping to win in the next era of tech, media, and entertainment. This is a can't-miss event. #dotlaintersect
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