“I arrived in Hollywood during the advent of the personal computer. In that sense, timing drove my career."
Back in the day when you enjoyed an evening of television with your family, did you ever wonder how your favorite shows morphed from ideas to reality, who created them, and how the crew made them work? If not, you do not share the passion for television that sparked Elaine Spooner to pursue a career working in the industry, and to become an experienced entertainment professional with a detailed understanding of television and movie production, Internet content design, client communication and team management. After completing a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree with an emphasis on Computer Science from Boston University, Elaine moved to a booming area with no winters—Los Angeles---where she earned a Certificate in Film Production and Distribution from UCLA Extension. As she captures it, “I arrived in Hollywood almost simultaneously with the personal computer. Every company, including studios, was hiring people proficient in computer use. In that sense, it was timing that drove my career.” Forty years later upon her retirement in 2016, Elaine looked back on an extremely satisfying and challenging career in the entertainment field. She had worked as a writer, website producer, tv production automation expert, IT project manager, and owner of her own company which provided consulting services to interactive media clients. As a writer she developed press releases, articles for websites and newsletters, and conducted research for book proposals. Working as an IT department manager for Universal Television, and an executive producer for the Hollywood Entertainment Corporation, this gifted professional managed and motivated energetic teams who developed TV show systems and consumer websites. The team at Hollywood Entertainment publicized movie and video game content for more than one million monthly site visitors in support of 1800 Hollywood Video and Game Crazy stores. Cenquest, Inc., a developer of online MBA degree programs in Portland, Oregon, hired Elaine to manage the team that produced original video, audio graphics, instructional designs and program code for more than twenty graduate courses. While living in Portland, this tech-savvy woman acted as Speaker Chair for the Board of the Portland Creative Conference, an organization that annually brought together artists of every genre to share their creative experiences. Elaine retired from her position as IT Director for 21st Century Fox where she managed the team responsible for International Television Distribution’s FoxFast site, an online service used by Fox broadcast licensees worldwide to access digital assets for marketing, online screening and broadcast master file delivery. “Working with behind-the-scenes automation for functions like casting, business affairs, show development, script writing, location accounting and post-production was ‘heaven’”, she recalls. “ I worked with people who were the best in their fields, people who were attracted to the spotlight, but did not want it shining directly upon themselves.” When questioned about her most memorable experience, Elaine describes a trip to a TV show on location to install personal computers, a company-sponsored trip to Honolulu to work on the original “Magnum, P.I.” series. There she met Tom Selleck and the wonderful people who put the show together, including producer Charles Floyd Johnson. And she loved being in Hawaii! She also reflected on the personal experience of being one of few women in a male-dominated, highly technical industry. Having once thought that barriers would not be an issue for her, she later realized that on occasion they definitely were. Options for dealing with them included changing jobs or calling on mentors to provide support. It also became her priority to provide opportunities for other women interested in technology. For the past four years our practiced writer has been developing her memoir which was published in May, 2021: Outside the Spotlights: Conversations with Unsung Creators Behind the Screens in Hollywood (//www.elainewritesmedia.com). The book, available on Amazon, profiles 37 creative professionals in both traditional and non-traditional careers with whom she worked. Our author wants her readers to know that although she loved her work, she also loves retirement and the opportunity to explore her many interests, and to “enjoy the moment”. Currently Elaine partners with Dee Sattler to produce the monthly Hotline which we enjoy. Relinquishing her career’s many responsibilities, she remarks, has opened up new avenues of possibility. She may even write a second book. --Interview and article by Lois Miles