Spotlight: Rebecca Halpern, Television Producer
By Landon Funk
A great idea is only as good as the people who bring it to life. It takes a really talented, creative, resourceful team pull it all off. In a world where doing a job fast is more important than doing a job well, Rebecca has been blessed, lucky, whatever-you-want-to-call-it to find partners who value excellence over expedience - whose work is care-full - and who are steadfast in their commitment to making impactful content.
Rebecca constantly insists that she is the one who is privileged to work with a group of creative visionaries. What she doesn't know is that her peers, friends, and family see her as the creative visionary.
A television producer based out of Los Angeles, Rebecca is the definition of sharp. She attended Northwestern University in her hometown of Chicago, Illinois for both her undergraduate and graduate studies. Not only was she a student, but also she was an athlete - a very skilled one at that. She played on the golf team for Northwestern, and I can tell you first hand that she has still got some incredible game - let's just say that she beat me, a fellow DI golfer, by more than ten strokes the first time we played.
Clearly, Rebecca is a force to be reckoned with.
She got her start in the mailroom at the William Morris Agency (now WME). Seeing all aspects of the entertainment industry (the good, the bad and the Weinstein), Rebecca quickly realized that she wanted to do something more creative - to have an agent rather than be one. In 2005, she started working in local news and has been producing documentaries ever since.
As a self-proclaimed "idea person," Rebecca is also a visual learner and thinker. She looks for interesting angles or new ways into old stories. When a new idea pops into her head, she feels a crackling in her brain - like tiny fireworks. Not all ideas are worth pursuing, but she can tell the ideas that have legs from the ones that don't. Everything is easier about them, from fleshing out the concept to writing it up, to setting it up at a production company and ultimately selling it to a network. If she feel like she is having to paddle upstream, then it's not an idea that's worth pursuing.
Rebecca's subjects range from true crime to science, history to arts and culture programming, never working in one genre for too long. A lot of people will develop projects based on network mandates, also known as wishlists that the network issues to help developers create shows that are on-brand for them. But not Rebecca. She was in a pitch once, and the network executive told her and her team that they're not looking for relationship shows, psychic shows, or shows that take place on the coasts, but they had just green-lit a psychic dating show in Miami. The moral of the story? Trust your gut - a good idea is a good idea. People will know it when they see it.
Great ideas can come from anywhere, so it's really important to be open and curious, engaged in the world. Pay attention and connect the dots that no one else sees. It's that simple.
Rebecca helped me connect the dots that I could not see in my own life, and I am forever grateful for her "Big Sister"-ness. She might be a woman filled with ideas, but she is also a trailblazer who takes the time to care for other people. I am proud to call her a friend, confidante, and golf buddy.
If you want to check out Rebecca's latest series, watch ELEMENTAL: HYDROGEN VS. HINDENBURG on Nat Geo. Trust me when I say that you will come away inspired, educated, and wowed by her work.