Senior Producer Beth Santarpio took a risk early on in her career to find what she truly wanted to do professionally. Upon graduating from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Science in Communication, Beth drove to Los Angeles with no job or housing lined up in search of a meaningful job.
“The desire for a fun job wasn’t a new revelation upon graduation, but rather one that had been evolving for quite some time,” says Beth. “I knew that I wanted to do something that would be impactful to people, and it was Jerry Bruckheimer who ultimately inspired me to go against the grain and pursue something in the media arena. There’s something unforgettable about reaching and resonating with an audience and having them affected by your work.”
After working for Disney Character Voices and Buena Vista Games in LA, Beth moved to Boston and worked as a producer for a game developer for a few years before ultimately joining the FableVision team. As Senior Producer for FableVision Studios, Beth manages a number of multi-faceted creative and technical projects. A seasoned media producer, Beth expertly balances product quality and client service in her all of her work with FableVision partners.
Beth’s path to FableVision shows the importance of taking risks and adapting to change in the pursuit of her passions. A skillful and accomplished producer, Beth has a lot of advice for up-and-coming professionals interested in entering the media and edtech fields. So let’s dive in and learn more about how Beth came to FableVision and how she creates a supportive and creative team dynamic!
You’re a new FableVisionary. Welcome aboard! What brought you to FableVision and what are you most looking forward to?
I actually encountered FableVision a couple of times in different capacities throughout my professional career. I was first introduced to FableVision by a business colleague a long time ago when I moved to Boston. Then, a handful of years later, I worked with FableVision as a client during my time at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. As a result, several months ago, when I began to reevaluate what I wanted to do professionally, FableVision immediately came to mind. One thing led to another, and here I am! I’m excited by the diversity and purpose of our projects and the amazingly talented team of people I get to work with on those projects.
What advice do you have for budding producers?
Be confident, be humble, and work your butt off.
As a senior in college, I interned at the Miami-Dade Film Office and worked 40+ hours a week at a local advertising agency, handling South Florida film marketing and PR for Buena Vista, Paramount, and MGM. After graduation, a great student resume put me on the short list at a few go-to temp agencies in LA. One of my first jobs was with Disney Character Voices as Production Coordinator. To say I loved it was an understatement. I learned every inch of the department and even designed an online production management system (that was innovative back then!) for them. After about 6 weeks, though, the position I was trying to fill was temporarily given back to a former employee. I was devastated. However, I trudged forward and paid some dues, putting in a week at Hollywood Records and a week at Def Jam Records (both in Finance) before getting the call that Disney wanted me back! And that’s how it all started.
How do you create a supportive environment where everyone feels they can share ideas?
I really encourage my team(s) to be as involved as possible from the launch of a project. This gets everyone invested from the beginning and helps to establish a good foundation for the inevitable production tensions. I also communicate with my team regularly and try to create a dynamic where they feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, even when there are disagreements. Although the producer is in charge of keeping the team on course to meet the client’s objectives, the process won’t run smoothly if operated like a dictatorship. My role as producer is to provide information, resources, support, and guidance, as well as to empower my talented team members to do what they do best.
How do you balance the creative and production processes?
I tend to share a lot of the big picture thinking behind any particular project. There are often a lot of competing objectives on a project, and I feel like everyone has a much smoother time tackling the “what” when they’re informed of the “why.” When working with tremendously passionate people, it’s natural to get attached to your own part of the process and lose sight of how it fits into the larger goals, especially in the context of change. Change is inevitable in production, as are creative differences and sacrifices. Production is as much managing the human element as it is dollars and deadlines. There’s an art to it all; every day and every project brings new opportunities to learn from and build upon.
What team dynamic do you feel is most important for a production team?
There’s never just one, or a couple of things, that make or break a great team. Personally, I’m big on accountability. Early on in my career I was told: “As the producer, it’s always your fault.” This sounds harsh, but it taught me that, to be a successful leader, you can’t defer blame or make excuses. You have to own it and move on. Getting bogged down in mistakes or setbacks doesn’t benefit anyone. There’s a tremendous amount of respect that comes from accepting responsibility and maintaining the focus and determination needed to reach a successful outcome.
It looks like you’re a Disney veteran. What were some of your most magical moments as a Disney employee?
Every moment was magical, of course! I had an amazing role with Disney Character Voices for a number of years. I’m grateful for the time I spent there because we really were like family. The hours were long, but we all truly loved what we did, so we couldn’t imagine it any other way. It was an incredible time in the company too. From attending VIP Walt Disney World press events, to being on board the maiden voyage of the Disney Wonder to roaming New Orleans with the Fab Five, I don’t even know where to begin!
We heard that you’re a “tinkerer.” What project(s) are you currently working on and how does making in your spare time relate to your professional life?
My chickens are my latest personal passion. I love animals, but I never thought I’d be a chicken whisperer. When my flock grew from six girls to twelve, I decided I would design and build a larger coop out of primarily salvaged materials. Let’s just say that it’s coming along at its own pace. It’s kind of an enigma really, to thrive and enjoy working in a deadline-induced panic professionally, but to have personal projects that seem to get caught in the perpetual hamster wheel.
Rumor has it you and your husband enjoy the outdoors. What are your favorite activities?
We’re a couple of adrenaline junkies. At various times in our lives, we’ve been avid motorcyclists, motocrossers, and snowmobilers. These days, mountain biking is something we enjoy and can do as a family. Even our German shepherd gets in on the action!
More About Beth:
Favorite Disney character? Scuttle from The Little Mermaid.
Cubs or Red Sox? Bruins.
Sweet or salty? Sweet.
Favorite season? Fall.
Favorite animated movie or TV show? I love SO many of them, but I will always have a soft spot for The Little Mermaid.
Which has the worst winters: Boston or Chicago? Chicago, no doubt!
Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? “It’s always your fault.”
Favorite vacation spot? Disney!
Favorite place to mountain bike? I’ll try any location as long as the odds are decent that I won’t break something!