Years before she helped produce the Emmy Award-winning HBO documentary “The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling” with Apatow Productions, Amanda Glaze experienced the spotlight on a smaller stage, taking on the title role in Los Altos Youth Theatre’s “Anne of Green Gables.”

While working on “Zen Diaries,” Glaze’s role included researching and obtaining archival footage for the documentary about the late comedian. The process was different from her previous experience on feature films such as “Trainwreck” and “The Big Sick.”

“It was extraordinary to realize how many of the comedy greats Garry had either worked with or mentored during his lifetime,” the Los Altos native said. “Many of them spoke to us for the documentary, and they had fascinating stories to tell about Garry as well as about their own experiences coming up in and working in the comedy and entertainment world.”

Nominated in three categories, “Zen Diaries” won the award for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special last September. Glaze said the win was “unexpected,” as she was “just thrilled” that the documentary was nominated.

“I was really proud of the work the team did for this documentary, but I didn’t expect we’d win,” she said. “But I was really glad Garry Shandling had been recognized in that way. He made such an incredible contribution to the world of TV, and it just felt right that the Emmys would honor a documentary about his life.”

The Los Altos High School graduate (Class of 2004), who also participated in the Broken Box Theater Company, attended UCLA, focusing on theater directing. Glaze said she learned in college that the best way to direct something is to produce it – a lesson that motivated her to direct and produce plays that her friends wrote.

After UCLA, she worked as an assistant at a film production company and worked with director Robert Rodriguez on “Spy Kids 4” – her first big-budget production. However, Glaze emphasizes that much of her experience in film came in the form of nontraditional work.

“It’s hard to say what my first producing job was, because like most things in the film, theater or the arts industry in general, the first time you do something, it’s usually for free,” she said. “And being an assistant in the film industry is far from glamorous, but you do learn a lot.”

Since joining Apatow Productions – run by writer, director and producer Judd Apatow in Los Angeles – Glaze has worked on several hit movies and the popular HBO series “Girls.” Her role as producer varies throughout the process of writing, filming and editing.

For students interested in a future job in film production, Glaze suggested they create self-made films and submit original material to local film festivals. In college, students can become production assistants or intern at an agency for additional experience, she added.

“Zen Diaries” is available on iTunes and HBO.