Why We're All Showfolk
Ned McNeilage is an MPTF supporter and filmmaker who documented the lives of seven MPTF residents in the short documentary, Showfolk.
What do the L.A. Shorts Fest, Palm Springs International Shortfest, AFI Docs Festival, Rhode Island International Film Festival, and the Heartland Film Festival all have in common? They’re all film festivals where Showfolk, a short documentary by Ned McNeilage, has won awards-- awards that also honor the history and legacy of MPTF and its residents.
Ned’s film, which was released in 2014, was primarily filmed on The Wasserman Campus with production support from MPTF’s Jen Clymer and the Channel 22 team and takes a look at the lives of seven MPTF residents and their histories in the entertainment industry. The documentary uncovers an interesting theme in these seven histories: at one point or another, each of the entertainment industry veterans had to take a chance and roll the dice on their careers—and by extension, their futures.
This all rings especially true for Ned, whose story seems to parallel the people he filmed. “I spent many years in marketing, including five years working as a creative director at CAA,” says Ned. Then one day, as he was volunteering with residents by playing bingo in the country house, he was inspired to change his own journey’s course through the industry. “I was very inspired by the residents at MPTF, and to hear all the risks and chances they’d taken in their lives,” says Ned, “that got me excited and that’s how I pitched the film. I wanted to take a chance.”
And it paid off. Ned premiered the film at the Tribeca film festival in 2014, where it was nominated for best short documentary. Since then he went across the country, and Showfolk won many awards. Of course, to Ned, all of this is about more than accolades.
“I filmed on campus on and off for six or seven months,” he says. “I wish I could have filmed them all. I went from knowing a little about MPTF to being an adamant supporter —the experience here has taught me so much,” he says. “And it all started with a simple bingo game. It’s kind of crazy.”
Ned still consults with CAA but took time off to properly tour Showfolk on the festival circuit. “There’s a great value in following what you love,” he says. “So many people I met on The Wasserman Campus did what they loved, and it’s incredible to see how happy and full of life they still are.”
“I filmed seven people,” he says, “but I’ve met dozens of other amazing people and I’ve been left with the faith that this industry really does look after the folks within it. There’s still so much to show.”
Ned continued showing his film at festivals across the country, and doing so he embraced the lesson that he learned from a group of residents he met while playing bingo three years ago: the entertainment industry can be a volatile place, but it also rewards those who are willing to risk everything on their dreams.
You can keep up with Ned and Showfolk by following the documentary on Facebook and Twitter.
About MPTF: For over 95 years, MPTF (Motion Picture & Television Fund) has served as a safety net for entertainment industry members. As a charitable organization, MPTF provides programs and services essential to the well-being of individuals, their families and the industry community at large, and is a recognized leader in Senior Care and Palliative Care services. MPTF is supported by the generosity of fellow entertainment workers, and corporate donors united by a common thread of Hollywood Helping Hollywood – “We Take Care of Our Own”. For more information visit www.MPTF.com and donate at www.mptf.com/donate.