September 18, 2017

Fourth Consecutive Starkie Awarded the PGA’s Debra Hill Fellowship

The Producers Guild of America’s decision to award the Debra Hill Fellowship to Montserrat Gomez Garcia, a 2017 graduate of the Peter Stark Producing Program, means that she is the fourth consecutive, and fifth overall, Stark graduate to receive of the prestigious award. The Starkie sweep makes the School of Cinematic Arts the only school to boast such a track record. The fellowship was established in 2005 following the passing of pioneering producer Debra Hill, who was committed to mentoring next-generation producers. 

Montserrat Gomez Garcia had a career in television and digital media in Mexico before moving to the U.S., and the Fellowship will allow her to further develop her Stark thesis film, a comedy feature inspired both by her father’s raising a family in 1990s Mexico and her own experience as an immigrant in the U.S. 

Garcia hailed both the Stark Program and the Debra Hill Fellowship for a commitment to diversity. “As I begin my career as a producer, I am confronted by the fact that there are still very few women, let alone women of color, occupying decision-making positions in the industry,” said Garcia, adding that she has been inspired by the stories of Debra Hill and by other trailblazers she has met through the fellowship, including fellow Starkies like Oscar–nominated producer Stacey Sher (Erin Brockovich, Django Unchained). “Being surrounded by such kind and successful women was incredibly heartwarming and encouraging.”

The other Starkies who have won the Fellowship are Diego Najera Martinez (2016), Monique Keller (2015), Ashleigh Phillips Foster (2014) and Eleonore Dailly (2007). Foster credits Stark Division Chair Larry Turman and the values he instills in his graduates as a major reason why so many Starkies have won the Hill Fellowship. She said, “I’ve found repeatedly that true producers are the most determined, inspiring, and generous people I’ve encountered in the film industry. I think the Stark Program is a huge part of keeping the legacy of what it really means to be a producer alive. That’s in large part to Larry Turman and the force of character and spirit with which he guides the Stark Program.” Foster said the fellowship serves as a great way for the PGA to draw in new generations of aspiring producers.  “It was wonderful to feel the support of the larger community of producers and how much encouragement there is for new generations.”