Okay, it’s time to meet one of the minds behind much of FableVision’s creative madness on our project management team: Bill Gonzalez, mustache-io extraordinaire.
Here’s the thing about producers: they have to understand what each member on their team does, and work to those strengths. Bill is no exception.
“Being a producer allows me to learn something new everyday,” he said. “I truly enjoy understanding the nuances of the jobs of our writers, artists and developers and that helps me manage projects in the long run.”
We chatted with Bill about his unique path to FableVision, how he manages so many different projects, and his hobbies outside the Studio.
Let’s talk briefly about the pink elephant in the room: you have a ’stache. It’s great. Anything you want to say about it? Have you ever not had a mustache?
- I’ve had a mustache since age five.
- There is one known image of me on the internet without a mustache that I am still trying to have eliminated.
- Do not be deceived by theBillGonzalez® imposters!
- Mustaches sense danger.
- My wife will divorce me if I cut it off.
You are our first producer featured in the monthly FableFridays, so you get the big question: What does a producer actually do?
A producer manages all the people who do the actual work (writers, artists, developers, etc.) and then we take ALL the credit for a project’s success! (There are no failures at FableVision but of course if there were it would not be the producer’s fault. Wink, wink.) Actually, producers serve as the main point of contact for the client, we create and manage the schedule based on the budget and scope, we gather the teams to brainstorm ideas and solve problems.
It seems like you are managing a ton of projects at one time, how do you keep them all straight?
I’m old school for the most part when it comes to keeping track of things. I have a notebook made of paper that I use to write “to do lists.” I constantly write things down and check them off when they are done (very satisfying tactile event). For my techie side, I use our various management tools like FastTrack (for project scheduling) and Basecamp (for project communication with both the client and the FableVision team). And I could not manage all these projects without the great support from our Associate Producer, Katie Tusch.
But the main thing is that I use a vast array of skills that I have gained over the years in a variety of jobs (actor, videographer, editor, director, producer) that all come to bear on the work I do at FableVision. I’ve morphed from one to the other and I may yet still have one more to come.
You’ve had a strange FableVision journey. When did you first start, leave, and then return? Tell us a bit about this journey.
It was after my second downsizing from a major technology provider that I first connected with FableVision. I love math and card games and was able to score a job dealing blackjack at Foxwoods Casino – admittedly something that I would never have tried but had contemplated doing. At about the same time I landed a freelance project manager gig for Maryland Public Television. I worked at Foxwoods at night and freelanced during the day. It was also at this time that I was completing my PMI certification. This was all very nice but I still needed a fulltime job so I sent an email to FableVision’s executive producer, Karen Bresnahan, after I saw an ad on Craigslist for a producer. Back then, FableVision was located in Watertown in a very cool environment like I was used to at Foxwoods.
After that, I spent a few years working at a company that created strategies, new architecture and design and an integrated CMS for higher education institutions. That company, although Big and Bad, eventually went out of business, but fortunately I had discovered that FableVision had moved to the Boston Children’s Museum. I called Karen and she was kind enough to welcome me back.
What are some of the daily challenges?
My biggest challenge is making sure I spend enough time with all the team members to keep them on track and energized. I’m thinking of installing a numbering system at my desk to manage the line that forms there.
What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on at FableVision? Why?
I really love all the projects that I work on for different reasons but it’s not the actual project that I end up falling in love with, it’s the process. I think most recently one of the most amazing sessions was when one of our senior developers, Matt Bargar, and I brainstormed a solution for an app we’re building for Smithsonian. I was pumped for a week!
You worked for MTV in the 1989-1990, right? Tell us about this time. What did you do? Any crazy stories?
The job was an outgrowth from a stand-up comedy program I was producing in Boston with a college buddy, comedian Mike McDonald. On that program, I met a lot of really great comics that have gone on to do really big things in the world. Mike and I were hired to create interstitial material for the MTV Half Hour Comedy Hour. One of our pieces had a fictitious “800” number – or so we thought. The first time it ran people were actually dialing 1-800-DEAD-PETS. It turned out that was the number for a car dealership in New Jersey and they were not amused. We shot video in a lot of crazy places but the craziest part was being in an edit suite for 10 straight hours with stacks and stacks of videotape. Today the same work could be done in 20 minutes with current technologies.
More about Bill:
You’re our resident brewer. So, tell us what’s your favorite type of beer to brew? Anything new this year?
Brewing beer is both exhilarating and a giant time suck. It’s very satisfying to sip on a bottle or hand out to friends as gifts. The newest brew is an organic ESB. But my favorite style is IPA. Feel free to bring a case by the Studio any Friday at 4:30 p.m.
We know you’re a big Red Sox fan, what are your Boston sports predictions for this year?
In 2013, I had resigned myself to a last place finish for the Red Sox and you know how that turned out. I’ve never been one to predict sports and, to paraphrase Woody Allen, sports are the perfect drama. You don’t know how it’s going to end so I prefer to just let the experience wash over me.
And you garden too? Any tips for folks who might not have embraced their green thumb yet?
There are very few things more satisfying than harvesting your own organic vegetables. You know where it’s been and it will be some of the tastiest food you ever ate. There are no green thumbs, just hard work.