Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2020 Reel Women During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready.
Mary graduated from The School of The Art Institute in Chicago with a BFA and teaching certificate. She started her advertising career as an account person servicing both retail and B2B accounts.
Her post production career began on the music side of the business. She started a music company with two musicians, Steve Shafer and Ira Antelis, who created original music. She was the VP/Director of Client Relations, had all client contact, did all bidding, actualizing, SAG/ AFTRA and AFM contracts and talent sessions payments, payroll, accounting, and new business.
Moving forward, Mary became the Executive Producer for Avenue Edit, a 15-million-dollar post production company with 80 employees, 18 of whom were creative editors. She was also the Executive Producer for Somersault—the motion graphics, 3D, and design division
In 2008, she founded The Colonie, a WBENC and WOSB Certified Company, with two editor partners, Bob Ackerman and Brian Sepanik. She is Partner/Executive Producer and managing member of the company. She created and grew a new Social Media Division with the talent of her employees and is part of the creative development team, serving agencies and direct to client.
While at Avenue Edit, Mary began her involvement with AICE. She sat on the local AICE board for 13 years, was the Vice President for ten years and treasurer for one year. She also sat on the AICE International board for six years. Currently she sits on the local AICP board as treasurer and sits on national Post-Production Council.
What did you originally want to be when you grow up?
I wanted to be a doctor or a cleaning woman. No joke! As a kid I wanted to clean the Lincoln Tunnel.
How did you get into the film industry?
When I was at school at SAIC here in Chicago, I knew I would not survive as a starving artist. Oddly, advertising seemed to be where an artist could use their training and make a living. I spent 4 years as an account person learning the business and 6 years on the music side before I moved into the film/post production side.
Who were your mentors?
My mentors were the women in my family. My paternal grandmother, born in 1898, was a psychiatrist, pediatrician and concert pianist. She had three children and was phased by nothing, or so it seemed. My maternal grandmother immigrated from Spain. Was a seamstress and hat maker as a teenager. Her husband, also from Spain, unfortunately died when she was 24, my mother was 6 years old. She took over and successfully ran his business in NYC for many years. Both women were incredibly motivated and able to achieve what they needed and wanted to. Boundaries and limits did not seem to be in their vocabulary.
What is your greatest achievement?
Aside from my kids, still being viable in today’s advertising climate while maintaining most of my sanity. I think that’s an achievement.
What is your biggest disappointment?
I’m not sure I have any huge disappointments other than not being able to spend more time with my kids as they were growing up. I think we are a product of our experiences. Who we are is a result of them and how we navigate them.
ALSO READ: MORE REEL WOMEN
What are your biggest pet peeves?
Lack of honesty. I can deal with anything as long as I know the truth.
What are your predictions for the film industry over the next decade?
I think incredible content will continue to be created and streamed. The advertising industry will continue to change and evolve with both agencies and suppliers vying for their position within the market. I believe clients will discover great suppliers partnering with them to create great content and ads. I hope that all parties involved discover each other’s value and how to best move forward as partners, not foes, and create great work.
Name a job you had that would surprise people.
I was a substitute shop teacher at Francis Parker School.
Who plays you in your life story?
Meryl. Just kidding I can’t imagine anyone wanting to play my life story, but if I had to pick, I think Katharine Hepburn. Strong, silent with an opinion.
What do you wish you had more time to do?
I wish I had more time to spend with my family. Time flies by so quickly. I’d like to spend time with them while they still think I’m interesting,
Do you talk to yourself?
Not out loud….
What inspires you to be creative?
My dad taught me to see the beauty in everything; nature, shadow, light, humans, ordinary tasks I think inspiration comes from life and how you choose to live it and see it.