We had the good fortune of connecting with Tamara McDaniel and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tamara, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
When I first started the PIFMG – I essentially wanted to put a group together that might include directors who might hire me for acting or voice over work. But then I had my first meeting and I discovered all these things that were needed in the film community, not the least of which was a way to reach out for help from other film folks easily when you’re in a pinch, and so I went about trying to create that.
It started out just as my meet up group but then I realized I probably should also start an actual company so I can work through that as projects came to the group.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
When I first started the Phoenix Independent Film Makers Group – PIFMG – I wanted to grow the membership because more folks meant more experience and more opportunities to get work and to be able to offer our services to outside people wanting us to produce content. After exhausting the yellow pages and whatever online information there was about folks in the film industry here in Phoenix, I got some cards made and handed them out on every set I was on, In addition, I began doing these 48 hour challenges. You have to write, film and edit a short film and turn it in within 48 hours. It’s in a word – challenging. I would announce to the PIFMG we were doing one and I would go and find the most experienced people I could to come and work with us on them. I met so many great folks that way and these exercises will really test your professionalism, creativity and stamina. Because I had never worked on any type of set but professional ones, that’s how I ran the challenges too. I didn’t even know there was another way to do it. Needless to say I met a lot of people very quickly and that is what got me so many contacts and relationships so quickly. I just went after my idea of getting to know and work with as many folks as I could in this area in every possible way there was to do that. Something I like to say about PIFMG film makers is that we are the fixers – we adapt, we improvise, we overcome!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Well a week is hardly enough time, but for sure we’d go to the zoo – then down to the titan missile museum and biosphere and maybe Bisbee. From there we’d need to go up to the Grand Canyon, making sure to visit Prescott and Jerome, and Sedona on the way there or back. There’s so much to see here, of course, I’d have to convince them to come back.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Well there are a bunch of people but just for the very start – I’d say Paula Merrill.
She was a commercial producer that i worked under when I was first starting and she really took me under her wing and showed me the ropes. She showed me what it was to be a good producer and how you did that. The next person would be the first producer who ever hired me to produce something, Allan Nadohl and he took a chance on me when I had my group for just 2 weeks and really no experience yet in producing at all. Since then there have been many people from the ones who taught me various aspects of the film business to the ones who took a chance on a newbie and hired me for jobs that I had to grow into quickly. I also was lucky enough to have a few bigger producers like John J Kelly, Grant Cramer, Michael Feifer and Tray Goodman, to name a few, who have been there as mentors and friends and just willing to talk to me and have helped me on many levels. I guess the biggest thanks has to go to my group members. At just over 3K we are the biggest film group in AZ and I really think of them as my film family. They answer the call not just for me, but for each other all the time.