Life is full of surprises. Oftentimes, all we can do is adapt and embrace the adventure.
Just ask Midge Maisel, the 1950s housewife turned stand-up comedian at the heart of Amazon’s Emmy Award-winning series, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Or, better yet, ask Gettysburg College grad Laura Habecker ’13, who is applying the knowledge and skills she gained on campus to excel as the show’s post-production supervisor.
“My first day was the Season 2, Episode 1 table read. Everyone was heading out that night to Paris for the shoot, so there was a lot of anticipation and excitement,” recalled Habecker.
“I got to the studio and sat down. Then, all of the main actors started walking in: Rachel Brosnahan; Alex Bornstein; Tony Shalhoub; the showrunners, Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino. I was like, ‘Pinch me, is this real?!’ They read through the script, Episode 1 and Episode 2. I had never been part of a table read before—I didn’t even really know they existed—and it was just really cool to see. To be there and watch the script come to life, and then it was even cooler to see the dailies come in and witness those scenes on paper turn into a full episode.”
It was at these early table reads that Habecker gained an insider’s view of just how pivotal adaptability is to the success of the acclaimed series, now in its fifth and final season.
“[The showrunners] Amy and Dan will go so far as to gauge the jokes based off the laughs they get at the table read. Then, it’s a big shuffle. They all run back to the writers’ room and put the finishing touches on the script. A lot of times, the table read happens the day before filming, so the turnaround is pretty quick,” she said.
Adaptability has proven critical to Habecker’s role too. As post-production supervisor, she serves as the bridge between the show and the network.
“The showrunners have a creative vision, and Amazon has a schedule that we need to stick to, so my goal is really to keep everything on track,” said Habecker, who credits the Gettysburg Approach for developing and deepening this enduring skill during her time as a Gettysburg College student.
“I think adaptability is a really important skill that I learned at Gettysburg. On a show like ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,’ things are changing all the time. You have to be ready to go with the flow,” she said. “We have eight to nine episodes, and each episode is in a different stage of production and post-production, so you have to be ready to adapt to what’s happening that day. Things change by the hour, by the minute, by the second when you’re working on a TV show. I have to be prepared for it. That’s one thing that Gettysburg College really taught me is adaptability and it has definitely played a huge part in my job and my everyday life.”
A rising star in the film and television industry
After her graduation from Gettysburg in 2013, Habecker moved to Aspen, Colorado, and worked for an Emmy-nominated television station, Aspen 82. While the job was a big step in her career journey, she always viewed it as a stepping stone toward her future aspirations. With the goal of getting a foot in the door in the New York City film and television industry, she turned to the Gettysburg Network for guidance—which at 32,000 alumni in total is one of the largest alumni networks for any liberal arts and sciences college.
“I actually emailed Gettysburg College and got a list of alums who work in the television and film industry. I emailed a handful of people and I got really nice responses from everyone. I remember a couple of particular alums who were super helpful. They gave me advice and kept me in mind for future projects,” said Habecker.
“Now that I live in New York City, we all get together and help each other out—and if I ever get an email from a Gettysburg student who is interested in film and TV, I’m the first to reply. I’m so excited to hear that they’re interested and I want to help them out. But the same goes for the other Gettysburg alums in the city. We all want to help each other. It’s really neat and I hope the Gettysburg film and TV division grows because it’s great to have other Gettysburgians here in the city.”
Upon moving to New York City in 2014, she worked as a loader and then assistant editor for a variety of reality TV shows, including “Pawn Stars,” “American Restoration,” and “Impractical Jokers,” among others.
Habecker’s big break came in 2018 when she was named the post-production coordinator for the HBO film “Paterno.” The film was directed by Barry Levinson and starred Academy Award-winner Al Pacino, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest actors of all time.
“That was probably the most special experience of my career because I was working in SoHo, out of director Barry Levinson’s loft. To be the post-production coordinator, sitting in the room with Barry and hearing every thought he had about the story, and then cutting this movie and seeing it go from the very first day of production to what it is today was just incredible,” said Habecker.
Gaining A Consequential Education
Gettysburg College promises every student A Consequential Education—one that gives students greater insight into who they are, what they want to accomplish, and how they will define and lead their own consequential lives. For Habecker, she’s seen this promise fulfilled time and time again.
“From the moment that I stepped onto campus, I fell in love with Gettysburg,” said Habecker, a history major, Spanish minor, and active member of the tennis team. “I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do after graduation, so my liberal arts education gave me the opportunity to explore many different classes and really figure out what I loved.”
Her spark for filmmaking was ignited during a semester abroad in Seville, Spain. Habecker brought a video camera everywhere she went, documenting the trip for her classmates during the day and editing the footage late into the night.
By the semester’s end, she presented her friends with a 30-minute documentary of their shared experience. Her talents captivated the room. This project that was “just for fun” proved to be a turning point in the consequential life Habecker was shaping for herself.
“I think that was my ‘aha’ moment. I discovered how much I like telling stories through film,” she reflected.
“In the very far future, a dream of mine would be to write a script and make a movie,” said Habecker. “But in the near future, I’d like to keep perfecting my craft as post-production supervisor and then hopefully become a producer. That’s the next step. So, fingers crossed!”
Like Midge Maisel herself, Habecker has adapted to every twist and turn in her path—all fueled by a belief in herself that’s cultivated by the people around her.
“I remember when I got to Gettysburg for Move-In Day. I was so nervous. I was crying when my parents left, and my dad said to me, ‘In four years, you’re going to be crying because you won’t ever want to leave.’ He was right! At graduation, I was crying and so sad that my four years on campus had gone by so quickly,” Habecker said fondly.
“I didn’t realize how much of an impact Gettysburg would have on my life. I learned so much. Even to this day, whenever I’m wearing a Gettysburg College T-shirt and someone sees it, they say how they went to Gettysburg too, and there’s just an immediate bond. Everyone is super friendly and most of my friends are from my time at Gettysburg. I really credit a lot of my success to Gettysburg. It remains a big part of who I am.”
Learn more about the Gettysburg Approach and how it sets up graduates like Laura Habecker '13 to thrive in a world marked by change and adaptation.
By Mike Baker
Photos by Abbey Frisco and Laura Habecker ’13