Alumni Profile: Heidi Kindberg Goss on Sustainability in the Motion Picture Industry
Heidi Kindberg Goss is an alumna of the USMA program at AULA and is currently Manager of Sustainability at Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE). She had her first work experiences in the film and television industry as a teenager and worked her way to not only creating her position at SPE but in helping to build and strengthen the employee volunteer “green team” into its current incarnation, the Greener World Group (her first fieldwork project!), which at the time grew to over 1200 employees worldwide. Kindberg Goss has earned herself the distinction at AULA of having attended almost every single (possibly every!) USMA Capstone presentation since she was a graduate student at Antioch. Here she talks about her career path and how maintaining a connection with the Urban Sustainability program helps her stay current with sustainability trends locally and globally.
What is your educational and career background?
I went to undergrad at SDSU, earning a BS in Television and Film, then an MA in Urban Sustainability at Antioch University.
I grew up around the industry, worked on a feature as an assistant one summer during high school and also at The Culver Studios in the Lighting and Grip Department (barcoding each and every piece of equipment!) and at the Commissary. During college I worked at PBS on campus, operating the camera during their telethons and working in master control. After film school, my first job was as a “PA” (lowest possible position!) on sit-coms, then I worked my way up through the production office to Coordinator and Associate Producer on a variety of shows including more tv, docs and educational news (Channel One). After almost a decade I stepped back from freelance production and, while being a “stay-at-home-mom,” self-produced, directed and marketed a mommy & me video, “Yoga Ga,” which earned me an invite to meet Al Gore! Several years later, looking to get back into the workforce, I found a position within Sony Pictures as the Security, Environmental, Health, and Safety department senior coordinator. This – and my fieldwork – led to my current position, Manager, Sustainability.
Tell me about your current work and how it was inspired/ aided by your time at Antioch
After time off, I knew I wanted to stay involved in productions but not have they crazy hours and unpredictable schedule that comes with them. Getting a “regular” job at Sony Pictures fulfilled this personal compromise. Happening around the same time, corporations were beginning to think about sustainability, which was of great interest to me and, fortunately, SPE offers tuition reimbursement which allowed me to attend the USMA program My first fieldwork involved reinvigorating the employee green team (to become the Greener World Group which eventually went from a handful of employees to over 1200 globally); my second was to outline what a sustainable production program would look like, allowing me to marry my experience and my passion. Following graduation, these two areas became my first role description in the newly formed Sustainability Department. My responsibilities have changed a bit over time, but I still oversee all of Sony Pictures’ features (Columbia, Screen Gems and TriStar) and scripted television shows (Sony Pictures Television) in regard to sustainability.
How has attending the Capstone presentations/ maintaining a connection with the USMA program benefitted you in your work?
Attending the Capstone presentations keeps me current in regard to what is happening in the social equity and sustainability world and, importantly, locally. The projects – the issues and solutions they offer – reflect the needs and interests of the students, therefore their communities. This needs to show up in content! Which ties into my key area of interest: on-screen sustainability in the form of behavior and message placement. In another way, two specific examples that turned into work opportunities are graduates Mia Mayweather and Yodit Semu who became a colleague at NBCU and a green steward at Disney, respectively, growing our industry-standard program.