REEL WOMEN: Mary Langenfeld, Head of Production at STORY

Reel Women

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 started as the receptionist at STORY in April of 1994.  After about six months she started going out on shoots as a video assist operator. She was promoted to business manager after about a year and did that for a few years.

When the staff production manager left Mary moved into that role. She stopped doing video assist and started being the production manager. Mary then became STORY’s Head of Production and has been doing that ever since.

What did you originally want to be when you grow up?
When I was five I wanted to be a go-go dancer, but I don’t think that counts. When I was in high school I decided I wanted to be a psychiatrist. I worked full time and went to school part time, and after getting my bachelor’s in psychology I needed a break from working and going to school. I thought I would go back and get my master’s, but that never happened. After working for a couple of years and not loving any of my jobs, I decided to make a change. I had always loved film, so I sent my resume out to a bunch of film companies and got an interview at STORY. I’ve been there ever since.

How did you get into the film industry?
I gave myself a deadline and said if I did not have a job by May, I would go back to school to study film. I went on an interview with Mark Androw, and he said that furthering your education is always a good option but you could also learn a lot by being on set. He offered me a job as the receptionist at STORY in April of 1994 and I accepted. He knew I was interested in being on set and asked if I wanted to do video assist.  Of course I jumped at that chance and did that for a few years and then moved onto the production side and have been doing it ever since. 

Who were your mentors?
Mark Androw and Cliff Grant are great mentors. They gave me the chance to work on set, and I have learned a great deal from both of them. I have also had the opportunity to work with so many great producers through the years like Marsie Wallach, Rick Rosemeyer, and Diane Jackson. I learned by watching them produce and interact with clients, agency, and crew. They all have been excellent role models.

What is your greatest achievement?
I can’t think of any one achievement, but I have been very fortunate to work with a great group of freelancers over the past 25 years. The projects that we work on are always a team effort. Some of my favorite jobs have been the ones in which there is no budget and people come together to work for a good cause.  We shot a Frosted Flakes job in which we helped get new equipment and fields for youth sports programs. There was another for The Center for Independence Through Conductive Education that we shot for their website. They help children of all ages with disabilities learn how to live independently, 

What is your biggest disappointment?
My biggest disappointment is how the budgets keep getting smaller but the pre-pro books keep getting thicker.

What are your biggest pet peeves? 
People cannot live without their smart phones. I actually really hate the term smart phone. Does it actually have a brain and is it smart?

Everywhere you go people are so focused on their phones that they don’t pay attention to real people and what is going on around them. On the train everyone is staring at their phones. I mean can’t you just relax and chill out for 30 minutes? 


What are your predictions for the film industry over the next decade?
Every aspect of production will be done on a smart phone.

Name a job you had that would surprise people.
I worked as a sales assistant for an insurance broker. I was let go after two weeks. I guess I was not that good at making cold calls.

Who plays you in your life story?
My husband would say Jennifer Connelly (but I think the only similarity is our eyebrows.)

What do you wish you had more time to do?
Sleep. I wish I could get eight hours of sleep every night.

Do you talk to yourself?
Of course!  Doesn’t everyone?

What inspires you to be creative?
I don’t have an artistic or musical bone in my body, but I do wear the most fabulous earrings.