Everyday Icons: The Film PR Powerhouse

Get to know film PR powerhouse Amy McGee and find out her ultimate career pinch-me moment! (Hint: Chevy Chase was involved!)
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Get to know film PR powerhouse Amy McGee and find out her ultimate career pinch-me moment! (Hint: Chevy Chase was involved!)
amy-mcgee-woodnote-photography

Image Credit: Woodnote Photography

Amy McGee is a jetsetter. Her various careers in the film industry have taken her all over the world (hello, Cannes!). But while she’s traveled far and wide for work, her professional trajectory has never been straight and narrow (and we love her for it). She has hit detours and roadblocks and sometimes over-corrected the wheel, but the one thing that never waned was her commitment to follow her passions. Today Amy shares how she discovered her ideal path, took many leaps of faith, and most recently landed a gig as the Senior Director of Marketing and Publicity for Los Angeles based ZEFR.

Do tell us, what is an average day in the life of Amy McGee like?

I'm the Senior Director of PR, Marketing and Events at ZEFR (formerly Movieclips.com) so every day is different. But most mornings start with coffee at Abbot's Habit, and then I'm lucky in that I live in Venice and work on Abbot Kinney so I can walk or ride my bike to work if I don't have offsite meetings. I love YAS yoga in Venice (I like 1 hour classes) and I've become recently obsessed with Soul Cycle. If I don't have an evening event for work, then I like to meet friends at Venice Ale House, Venice Beach Wines, The Other Room or Oscar's Cerveteca.

You have held some impressive job titles working at the Cannes Film Festival and Sundance! Did you always feel a pull to work in the creative film industry? What has your creative path looked like thus far - how has it winded and twisted and turned into today?

Yes! I've always loved film and the arts, although it definitely took me awhile to find my niche professionally. After college, I lived in Chicago and worked at a bunch of PR agencies. I loved the people but never really connected with the work. Then I tried law school for a year and hated it. But then I found my way to doing PR in-house for the Adler Planetarium and loved being part of the arts community. Meanwhile, I was on the junior board of the Chicago Film Festival because I had always loved film. Through that experience I made some connections with Sundance. So I worked seasonally for the Sundance Film Festival for a couple of years, and then was offered a full-time job working at Sundance in their LA office. At the time, it was the perfect alignment of my PR experience and my passion for film.

And since 2010, I’ve produced a panel series for the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival as a pro-bono freelance project. And my current job at ZEFR and Movieclips.com keeps me connected to the film industry in an even newer way.

Are there particular challenges you've had to overcome in your career? How have these moments shaped your current perspective and life philosophy?

Oh, absolutely. Quitting well-paying PR agency jobs to move across the country to work for a film non-profit was terrifying. And then leaving Sundance to work in entertainment+ technology – leaving a job I loved but had plateaued in was also scary, but felt right. I’m learning to try and move towards the things that move me.

Clementine Daily is a space for women who believe in embracing simple pleasures, setting realistic expectations and bettering their lives to better the lives around them. In your eyes, how do you fit in with that mission?

That’s a tall order! Living in Southern California is a great place to embrace simple pleasures - I'm lucky that I get to spend a lot of time outside. In the summers I'll sometimes work at a peach stand at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market called Summer Harvest which I love. The Farmers Markets here are amazing, and really make you appreciate the community and Earth. Also my company, ZEFR, is part of Silicon Beach - so it's a tech company with a Southern California vibe. People work really hard, but also make time for the beach, and their general creative lives.

You had to make a move from Chicago to Los Angeles while working with Sundance. Was it difficult for you to take root elsewhere, and if so, how did you adjust? Are you inspired in your current home?

Well, to be fair I lept to California after a bad break-up so I didn’t analyze the decision too much at the time. But moving to a new place where I’d never even visited and had no friends was definitely a little scary in hindsight. But now I love my current home and I’ve found a lot of lovely friends and like-minded people. I live in a tiny little dollhouse in Venice. An itty bitty beach bungalow - all hardwood floors and natural light and sea breezes.

Any pinch-me moments in your career?

Oh yes! My very first red carpet ever I got to escort Chevy Chase (who I love) down the press line, which was awesome. Seeing the premiere of Drive at the Cannes Film Festival felt like a moment. Getting to launch a new product with ZEFR at Cannes Lions this year felt really smart and important. And producing my first short film (Remember Alice Bell by Nathan Parker) was really cool.

As a woman working in the media, how do you advise we be good stewards of entertainment consumption? Are there personal boundaries you set for you and your own family?

Well I don't own a TV so I watch TV online or at my friends' that have cable - I love the Mindy Show, New Girl, Girls, and Game of Thrones. When I have a TV I get way too sucked in – I have very little willpower against trashy TV. I like to listen to NPR in the mornings getting ready, and I'm crazy for Spotify - I like to rock out at home when I'm getting ready to go out. I read a ton of magazines- that's a vice for sure. And I devour weird indie movies.

How do you separate your work life from your home life? Do they coexist?

I really really try to not bring work home too much on the weekends. Although when I take on fun freelance projects (like the panel series for the American Pavilion at Cannes or producing a short film) then it's a choice to give up my free time for a while. But that's in exchange for making my life a little juicier. I also try to travel as much as I can, and then I can really unplug.

Top 5 favorite films: GO!

Amelie (all-time favorite), Y Tu Mama Tambien, About a Boy, American Pie, Secretary (and an honorable mention to Swimming Pool, The Social Network and Dirty Dancing)...so many more!!!

What is your personal motto or mantra?

I'm in love with a girl who's in love with the world.

What are five everyday items you can't bear to live without?

Cafe au lait, yoga mat, nighttime eye mask, sunglasses, argan oil.

p.s. Have a multi-faceted modern woman you admire? Tweet us your "Everyday Icon" - we'd love to meet her!