This month’s Q&A trains the spotlight on Pat Mills, our Web-Site Tour Guide and Customer Advocate who has received many accolades from her customers.  This is a candid, unedited* version of an interview with Pat.


Q&A:  Please tell us a little about your background.

PM:  Let’s see.  My name is Patrice, but only my mother calls me by that name – sometimes.  I come from a family that has been involved in the entertainment biz for several generations.  My grandfather was a well-know actor, my father is a movie producer and my mother is a singer – maybe you heard her latest CD?  My great-great grandfather – or, is it great-great-great? – traveled the Old West selling odds and ends and put on a show that grew into a big circus.  He met my great-great grandmother in a saloon and she was a ..., er – nevermind.

Q&A:  So, why aren’t you in the biz too?

PM:  Well, I have been.  I worked for Sony as a researcher on “Jeopardy!” – they sure don’t pay much.  I had a stint at Disney as an assistant to “The Man”.  My dad helped me get a job as a PA on one shoot and later as an AD on another.  I even got to assist in post on ADR.  After that, I ...

Q&A:  PA, AD, ...?

PM:  Sorry.  That’s Production Assistant, sometimes called go-fer.  Assistant Director, Automatic Dialogue Replacement.  Post production starts when the shooting is over and the editing begins in earnest.  Did I get them all?...  And, please call me Pat, PM means Production Manager, or usually Unit Production Manager – UPM – in the biz.  Or, Program or Project Manager in Help Team parlance...
Back to my story:  When Jeffrey left Disney, I worked as one of his assistants at DreamWorks for a while, then I went to work for  Entertainment Partners.

† — DreamWorks SKG 1994 was split in late 2004 into DreamWorks Studios (Spielberg; Geffen left @ end of 2008) & DreamWorks Animation (Katzenberg).
DreamWorks Studios became DreamWorks Pictures 2016 (Amblin Partners) and DreamWorks Animation was acquired 2016 by Comcast.

Q&A:  Who’s Jeffrey?

PM [laughing]:  I guess you haven’t been around the biz much!  Anyway, when I went to work for , that’s where I got my calling.  I had a chance to work as a Casting Director.

Q&A [miffed]:  I thought Entertainment Partners was a payroll company for the biz?  How could you be a Casting Director?  See!  I do know something about the biz.

PM [smiling]:    Central Casting 1925 is owned by Entertainment Partners.  That role gave me the opportunity to help a lot of people.  I also became familiar with new imaging technology introduced by Software Power.

† — is an employer-of-record for entertainment biz workers with more employees than any other company in the State of California.

Q&A:  What was that?

PM:  The pictures and profiles of all the registrants looking for jobs as “background actors” * – previously known as “extras” – in movies or TV are entered in the computer so we could look them up instantly when they called or texted their availability for gigs, often in response to Central Casting Directors' 24 X 7 online job posts.  If we decided that they fit the bill, we could book them for gigs within the next day or so.  With the added communication channels, the background can be not just booked more frequently the same day or even the same hour, but experience the joy of actual last-minute gigs!  Yes!

* — AKA:  “Background talent”, “background performers”, “background artists”, “background cast members” or simply “background”

Q&A:  Why did you need their pictures to get them work?

PM:  As casting directors, we had to decide quickly while they were on the phone or as text messages arrived whether they were suitable.  Their appearance was usually key to making the match.  We even have pictures of their tattoos, costumes, cars, pets and other novel items that would enhance their chances of landing gigs.

Q&A:  How did you get involved with Help Team ?

PM:  People were always asking me how to use these computers and other questions about taking the registrants’ pictures and I took it upon myself to help them.  Pretty soon, I was the local guru on anything technical.

Q&A:  Didn’t they have technicians and trainers for that?

PM:  Ha!  Yes, but nobody could understand what the techs were saying and didn’t like their attitudes either.  The trainers never understood that we were all much too busy to spend time in formal training.  When they held a class, only one Director showed up – me!  That's when I had a heart-to-heart discussion with the trainer.

Q&A:  Why did you go to work for Help Team ?

PM:  When they first approached me because of my volunteer experience helping people with the Software Power technology, I wasn’t all that excited – sorry boss!  Then, I got to thinking.  I really like helping people.  I mean, I really like people.  Help Team gives me a chance to do that every day.

Q&A:  I would think that it’s a stressful job...

PM:  You’re right.  Sometimes I go home after a bad day and feel like crying.

Q&A:  Really?!  Then, why don’t you quit?

PM:  I’ve thought about it, but then I remember why I like this job so much.

Q&A:  Why’s that?

PM:  I think of how I’ve helped thirty, forty or even more, sometimes much more, people get through their day.  It makes it all worthwhile.

Q&A [sniff]:  Touching...  Why do they call you Customer Advocates?

PM:  I don’t know exactly where it came from.  I do know that we are supposed to put our customers’ interests first.  We are supposed to stand up for them.  We help them navigate through the bureaucracy to make sure they get what they want.

Q&A:  Bureaucracy?

PM:  We identify with our customers.  I know what it’s like to not be able to get help when you need it, in the way you need it and with some courtesy.  Most people are contacting us because of some problem – or problems – and we advocate our customers’ needs.


Q&A:  Let’s move on to some other areas of your life.  What else do you do?

PM:  Job related or hobbies?

Q&A:  Either – both.

PM:  I like to attend the HDI local chapter meetings.  That’s Help Desk Institute.  It gives me a chance to network with other people in the support business and I get to learn how other people do it.  Besides, support people tend to be highly extroverted.  You know, people people – like me.  Okay, party animals!

I like to go horseback riding with some friends from church.  I also like to visit the malls, rarely alone.  Of course, I get in some time on Facebook and Twitter with my other friends.  And, I like talking on the telephone to my out-of-town family and friends.  Friendly me...

Q&A:  After working on the phone all day, you spend your spare time – on the phone?!

PM:  Can’t help it.  I should have been born with a phone stuck to my ear.  Actually, I’m not on the phone all day – Help Team won’t allow it.

Q&A:  Won't allow you?

PM:  Phone effectiveness drops off after a few hours and we have other valuable services we can provide only through contacting our customers in person.  This is part of our proactive service.  We get rewards for innovative service, but I'd do it anyway...

[half smile]  By the way, you’re still addressing me as “PM”?

Q&A:  As you should know, once a person in a script is identified, that identification is never changed. 


↓  Fade to proactive service  ↓