The Motion Picture and Television Fund (MPTF) is well-known as a resource for industry members in their time of need. And once a year, at an always well-attended, family-friendly event, industry workers get a chance to show their appreciation.
A Day at the Ranch, a family picnic and fundraiser for the MPTF held Sunday, November 6 at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, brought together entertainment industry workers from across the creative disciplines for an afternoon of good food, picnic games, raffles, and camaraderie. Nearly 600 people attended, according to event organizers, a new record for a single MPTF event in the organization’s 101-year history.
Several IATSE locals, including Local 600, are sponsors of the annual event which originated as A Day at the Races at Santa Anita Racetrack before moving indoors for an afternoon of bowling at A Day at the Lanes and, ultimately, to Malibu.
“I think this one is the best of all,” MPTF President and CEO Bob Beitcher told the crowd. “This is the best version of who we are – a Day at the Ranch.”
“We provide a safety net of services, and this is a great way to raise awareness of what we do,” added MPTF Chief Development Officer Courtney Bailey. “We wish the whole industry would step up like everyone here today has done, which is beautiful.”
In addition to operating a residential community at its campus in Woodland Hills, the MPTF offers a broad range of services including counseling, financial assistance, behavioral health, palliative care and access to other supportive services and community resources.
Despite the organization’s history and the breadth of its services, there are many people within the industry who need to be reminded that the MPTF exists, says Dionisio Tafoya, a scenic artist and member of the Art Directors Guild (IATSE Local 800), another of the event’s sponsors.
“Many years ago, the MPTF helped my family out when we were in financial need and I also talked to one of their counselors,” said Tafoya. “In addition to the event today, I think the MPTF helps keep the whole community connected.”
A Day at the Ranch comes as MPTF – like many other nonprofits – has experienced financial difficulties related to the COVID pandemic. Despite the encouraging news that MPTF exceeded its $250,000 fund-raising goal, the need for support is still substantial.
“One of the things that IATSE and the basic crafts in the entertainment industry is good at is responding to a crisis,” said Mike Miller, IATSE 4th International Vice President/Department Director, Motion Picture & Television Production, “and right now, MPTF – the charity that has been there longer and done more for any of us than anyone in this industry – needs our help.”
The event’s organizing committee includes Local 600 Western Region Director Alex Tonisson and Director of Photography Vanessa Holtgrewe.
“The work that MPTF does in the community, not just for Local 600 members, is amazing,” said Tonisson. “Local 600 supports this event every year and we’re proud to do so again.”
As she enjoyed her lunch at a picnic table with her niece, Local 600 senior publicist Sheryl Main reflected on the industry’s ability to come together in support of an important organization during a time of need.
“We have pretty good lives in this industry, and I think we forget that people struggle,” said Main. “I feel fortunate that we have something like the MPTF that takes care of people who have worked in the industry for so many years. And I am so proud of our industry for showing up and supporting it.”