When Pam Gaudiano MA ’97 hired fellow Suffolk alumna Lauren Noyes BA ’10 as an intern at WGBH, Boston’s public television station, in 2009, she had no idea just five years later they would win an Emmy together for their work on the documentary American Experience: JFK.
The pair accepted the Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special award at the Creative Arts Emmys in Los Angeles in August, but their journey began years earlier.
An Internship Paves the Way
When Gaudiano was looking for interns to work on documentaries with her at WGBH, she knew she could look to her alma mater for talented, dedicated candidates. As it happens, both Gaudiano and Noyes count Jerry Glendye, Suffolk’s TV studio manager, and Jason Carter, the media lab director at Suffolk, as mentors and friends.
Glendye and Carter put Gaudiano in touch with Noyes. “Pam hired me as an intern, and the rest is history,” Noyes said. “I worked really hard and was hired full-time with American Experience almost two weeks after the internship ended.”
American Experience, PBS’s documentary program about important events and people in American history, has been called “peerless” by the Wall Street Journal and is the most-watched history series on television. Noyes is a production coordinator for the program, which involves all types of tasks—from marketing and promotion to research to packaging the films for on-air broadcast and home video distribution.
Gaudiano is an associate producer at WGBH working on projects from Frontline to a vocal competition show about local Massachusetts choirs to American Experience, which brought the former intern and supervisor back together as coworkers.
Creating a Documentary
The idea for a JFK documentary arose in late 2013, about a year before the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination, and throughout the year-long creative process the film stretched from the planned two hours to four hours to adequately cover all of the significant events of Kennedy’s life and presidency. Most American Experience documentaries are produced by outside filmmakers and the WGBH staff prepares it for broadcast, but this film was different. “With JFK, we wanted to experiment and see if we could bring a show in house and use the staff members here to create a film,” Noyes said.
Noyes, production assistant/associate producer on the film, worked tirelessly to collect photographs and videos from the JFK Library and other sources to complement the script and vision of the director. Gaudiano had the essential task of licensing all the material in the four-hour film. Every second of footage that the viewer sees in the final product must be purchased and approved through a legal process, which Gaudiano helmed with Noyes’ assistance.
“This was the first full-length documentary that Lauren worked on, but she was already a pro,” Gaudiano said. “I was very impressed, especially with the stressful deadline we were working under.”
Noyes was grateful to have Gaudiano’s guidance once again: “We were in a mad rush to finish for the 50th anniversary of the assassination, and it was either going to air in November  or never,” Noyes said. “Pam was such a huge help and guided me during my first time through this process.”
Not only did they finish the documentary in time, but it premiered to critical acclaim and earned the Emmy nomination. The nomination and eventual victory were a surprise for the entire production team. “It was a great thing just to get the nomination,” Gaudiano said. “To know that people in our industry recognize the work we do and to know that it was worthy of a nomination was incredible.” They weren’t expecting a victory in their category, which also included an Oscar-nominated documentary. “So, when they announced our names, it was such a wonderful moment with our team,” Noyes said.
Both Gaudiano and Noyes credit the team effort by the American Experience staff for their documentary’s success, and that team environment was something they appreciated during their years at Suffolk as well. Both cited the support system and great mentors at Suffolk for helping them at the start of their careers, and they maintain those connections to this day. Gaudiano will be back on campus as a lecturer next semester, teaching an undergraduate documentary film course—and maybe forming Suffolk connections that will lead to more Emmy wins in the future.