Planning a massive event like the Gabby Awards weekend is much more than logistics and schedules. And while this is important– no, it’s actually critical to the success of any event like this– the real difficulty lies in giving the event a heart and a soul. The real difficulty is making the event relevant to our guests and making it matter to the people involved.
Anything I have ever set out to do– especially with the Greek America Foundation– my goal has always been to create a narrative and a story, and to engage people to become emotionally attached to the cause.
Alethea is a third generation Greek American and recent graduate of the prestigious Masters of Fine Arts directing program at UCLA. We supported her short film “The Foreigner” which was her thesis project that she needed to complete in order to graduate.
Steven is an accomplished cinematographer from Greece who has spent the last 15 years shooting features and commercials in London. He recently decided to chase his dreams in Hollywood.
Both of them came together under the Greek America Foundation umbrella to serve the organization and support its mission in a way that was both relevant to them, as well as critical for the organization.
In other words– we didn’t ask two filmmakers to make baklava, or do something unknown or irrelevant to them.
We asked them to create the tribute video to our lifetime achievement winner, Sid Ganis, the former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and prolific producer– something rewarding and relevant to each of them.
By all accounts, the connections made between the Hollywood heavyweight (Sid) and the aspiring dreamers (Alethea and Steven) were solid and lasting. Steven and Alethea both had the wonderful opportunity to meet Sid, members of his family and colleagues– while providing an integral service to the organization.
Sid, on the other hand, found it refreshing and rewarding to meet and work with young and dedicated supporters like Steven and Alethea, as he noted while mentioning them from the stage by name after receiving his award at El Capitan Theater on May 25th.
We could have easily hired a production company to make a 2-minute tribute to our honoree… It would have been a great tribute to a Hollywood legend, indeed. But having Steven and Alethea involved gave the whole experience a heart and soul– something we should all aspire to do in our community to not only give the younger generation an opportunity to showcase their talent, but to make lasting and valuable connections.
We could have done a lot of things easier. But then we’d be just like everyone else hosting basic and bland dinner dances that go unremembered from year to year, instead of the groundbreaking experiences we provide to our supporters.
Furthermore, as my friend Marie Bountrogianni said during her talk at the National Innovation Conference in 2012 in New York City (another great Greek America Foundation event!)… “Vision without implementation is just a hallucination.” Thank you Alethea and Steven for being the implementation that we need to share our vision!