Creativity Is Ageless

This year marks the ten-year anniversary of the first broadcast from MPTF’s in-house television studio. MPTF Studios and Media Center (or Channel 22 as it was originally named) produces content by and for the retired film and television residents at MPTF’s Wasserman Campus, but it has also fostered a vibrant community of collaborators and creatives.

The concept of a television station for residents evolved from the frustration that Oscar-nominated screenwriter and director Mel Shavelson experienced when others in the industry dismissed his desire to continue writing and making films during his golden years.

Shavelson recognized that while he and other retirees may not have the energy for extensive production schedules, those who dedicated their lives to television and film still wanted to create and produce engaging programs.

“Without the philanthropic vision of Mel Shavelson — who didn’t want other residents to feel the frustration of ageism in Hollywood — without him, the ball wouldn’t have started,” stated MPTF Media Director Jennifer Clymer. “MPTF Studios and Media Center has changed the outlook of the people involved. They are no longer in the ‘final stage’ of life. They are bringing value and creativity to their life; there is excitement for what’s happening tomorrow.”

Creativity Is: Collaboration

Residents are the driving force behind the original content created for MPTF Studios and Media Center, from writing original short films to directing, acting, editing and producing. The television studio also gives residents the opportunity to try new crafts: a former locations manager may now pursue a love of writing; a veteran director may decide to finally give acting a try. Ultimately, it provides residents with a voice and an outlet to challenge and express themselves.

Resident Anthony “Tony” Lawrence, a retired writer and producer whose extensive credits include The Twilight Zone, Bonanza, Hawaii Five-O and Elvis, recently added director to his list of talents when Dreamcatchers, the short film he wrote, directed and starred in, was produced by MPTF Studios and Media Center and premiered at the LA Shorts Festival.

The passion and dedication extends to those working behind the scenes, too, as residents continue to redefine, reshape and grow the studio.

“We have a resident who is highly active,” Clymer noted. “Five years ago she came in and said, ‘Who does your programming?’ We are a small staff, so she took on the role of programming and now schedules all programs. She thinks about residents’ birthdays, events and holidays and plans the programming accordingly.”

Another unique component of MPTF Studios and Media Center is the fact that it is intergenerational, powered by creativity and collaboration. High school and college students, current industry professionals, recent industry retirees and residents all come together to develop and produce the content. This creates an environment in which everyone has mutual respect for each other and everyone gains new knowledge.

“Everybody keeps learning,” Clymer stated. “Everyone is working together to make the artistic vision come to life.”

Creativity Is: Connecting

The wide range of content MPTF Studios and Media Center produces throughout the year includes scripted series, short films, poems, biographies and talk shows. “On Campus” features a roving reporter, “Heart of Hollywood” tells the residents’ stories through interviews, “Behind Silver Screen” focuses on crew members and their involvement with MPTF Studios and Media Center, “Community Players” provides residents with information about staff members’ jobs via one-on-one interviews, and a weekly show features a rotating host announcing the week’s events.

In addition to being informative and entertaining, these programs succeed in another mission: encouraging residents to be active and visible participants in front of the camera and in their own lives and to interact with each other.

“Throughout the years, I’ve seen people respond to the socialization that happens when they find out about someone they didn’t know before watching MPTF programming. One of the biggest challenges is that people socially isolate, and [MPTF Studios and Media Center] helps them connect,” noted Clymer. “I know in my heart that when people have something to accomplish, it helps fill their day. That little shift adds big things to a life.”

While the channel itself is only broadcast on the Wasserman Campus, a growing number of programs are available on the studio’s YouTube page, ensuring worldwide distribution and helping to connect residents to an even larger audience and community.

Creativity Is: Generosity

MPTF Studios and Media Center continues to thrive due to the residents’ desire to create as well as countless volunteer hours and donations.

The station initially launched with camera donations from an anonymous donor and in recent years has received equipment donations from NBCUniversal and Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey, as well as editing suite software from Dell so residents can add podcasts to their growing list of creative accomplishments.

“When Channel 22 started, we didn’t know if it would work. But we just shot our 1,724th show last week,” stated Clymer. “We depend on the generosity of volunteers and donations because we can’t keep up with changing technology without their support.”

From an industry veteran’s desire to continue producing creative works to the volunteers who donate their time and industry partners who donate equipment and funds, MPTF Studios and Media Center is truly a life-changing production studio built on passion and a love of creativity.

MPTF Studios and Media Center officially launched with its first broadcast on May 1, 2006. The station was originally named Channel 22 — as that was the location on residents’ televisions — but due to recent changes in digital cable, the channel was moved to 98. For more information or to volunteer, please call 818-876-6388. View programs and other content on our YouTube page.

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