LYNETTE HOWELL TAYLOR’S STAR IS RISING p. 58 PRODUCEDBY JUNE | JULy 2018
PRODUCEDBY THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF THE PRODUCERS GUILD OF AMERICA // JUNE | JULY 2018
CHARLES D. KING
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volume XIV number 3
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OUTSTANDING D R A M A S E R I E S
THE COVER: CHARLES D. KING
44 THE COVER: CHARLES D. KING
20 FROM THE PRESIDENTS
The producer of Fences and Mudbound isn’t looking to join your club. (But maybe you could join his...)
58 N ATURAL BORN PRODUCER Indie veteran Lynette Howell Taylor takes aim at the heart of Hollywood.
69 SOCIAL NETWORKING A producer’s guide to social media success
86 FULL SPECTRUM Exceptional Minds creates vital opportunities for a unique set of students.
94 FAQ: THE PRODUCERS MARK
Moving the needle
97 HERE’S TO YOUR HEALTH 27
ON THE SCENE
PGA goes to Cannes
Learning to ride the wave
ABOVE & BEYOND Signing off
76 SCARING IS CARING Jack Davis and Crypt TV connect the millennials with their monsters.
Four years later
Fests that pass the tests
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VICE PRESIDENTS, TELEVISION Tim Gibbons Jason Katims VICE PRESIDENT, NEW MEDIA John Canning VICE PRESIDENT, AP COUNCIL Carrie Lynn Certa VICE PRESIDENTS, PGA EAST William Horberg Kay Rothman TREASURER Christina Lee Storm SECRETARY OF RECORD Gale Anne Hurd PRESIDENTS EMERITI Mark Gordon Hawk Koch NATIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR/COO Vance Van Petten ASSOCIATE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR/COO Susan Sprung REPRESENTATIVES, PGA NORTHWEST Darla K. Anderson Sophia Kim NATIONAL BOARD Bonnie Arnold James P. Axiotis Gail Berman Gary Bryman Caitlin Burns Yolanda T. Cochran Karen Covell Donna Gigliotti Richard Gladstein Gary Goetzman John Hadity Jennifer A. Haire
OF DIRECTORS Marshall Herskovitz Lynn Hylden Pamela Keller Rosemary Lombard Kiran Malhotra Kate McCallum Chris Moore Bruna Papandrea Jethro Rothe-Kushel Charles Roven Peter Saraf Jillian Stein
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O U T S TA N D I N G C O M E DY S E R I E S
THE BEST SHOW ” OF THE YEAR.
FROM THE PRESIDENTS
FOUR YEARS LATER
his is the final column we will be contributing to Produced By as PGA Presidents. As is often the case with such transitions, the conclusion of our two terms has been an occasion for reflection. There is, of course, a measure of pride in where the Guild is today when compared with its circumstances four years ago. For one, we’re 2,125 members stronger today than we were in 2014. While we’re pleased with that number, it’s only the most basic yardstick of the organization’s success. The PGA may have grown bigger, but we’re more gratified by the ways in which it’s grown better—particularly in terms of the quality of the relationships we’ve observed between its members. When we chaired our first meetings as Presidents, the Guild had recently scored a monumental victory in the form of the adoption of the Producers Mark. From the outside, we appeared to be riding high, but internally we were suffering from some deep and unacknowledged divisions. The determination to face those divisions head-on was the first, and in many ways the biggest, challenge of our presidency. And while we take pride in our conviction that the PGA was, at heart, “One Guild,” the real work of coming together was undertaken by our colleagues, the members of all three councils who reached out to one another, built bridges and forged connections, and in so doing made our “One Guild” slogan into a reality. We saw the same dynamic in action last fall, when what we now know as the #MeToo movement awakened so many to the widespread practices of discrimination and unprofessional conduct that had undermined the integrity of our working
environments. We will never forget the passion and determination demonstrated by our fellow PGA members as those weeks unfolded, and it became clear that a massive shift in our cultural norms was happening before our eyes. While we were vitally involved in the work of our Guild’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Task Force, we were reminded time and again how much of the work of leadership is a matter of listening rather than speaking, of supporting an emergent collective response rather than imposing an agenda. In responding to the crisis, our colleagues, both on the National Board and within the Guild at large, rose to the occasion, and as a result our Guild’s Anti-Sexual Harassment Guidelines remains one of the industry’s defining statements in support of a more just and equitable entertainment business. There are other achievements of which we’re proud, such as the Guild’s increased financial stability and the continued growth of the PGA East, including the election of Bill Horberg and Kay Rothman as Chairs, the hiring of Michelle Byrd as Managing Director and the taking flight of the PGA’s newest region, PGA Capital in Washington, DC. A critical mass of members has rallied around the PGA’s efforts towards inclusion and diversity. We’re fortunate to be succeeded by two spectacularly talented producers in Lucy Fisher and Gail Berman, who will lead a
group of officers and Board members filled with new voices and fresh perspectives. We close our presidency certain of the PGA’s continued success, because that success was never about us, but a product of the unique perspectives and passions that have come together to build a Guild that is far greater than the sum of its more than 8,500 parts. It has been one of the great privileges of our careers to have served the Producers Guild in its highest office. We thank each of you for contributing to that journey and for standing as a testament to the power of One Guild.
FROM THE PRESIDENTS
EACH YEAR, PRODUCED BY INVITES THREE DEPARTING BOARD MEMBERS TO REFLECT ON THEIR SERVICE. WE’RE PROUD TO INTRODUCE YOU TO… TIM GIBBONS PRODUCERS COUNCIL The PGA is an amazing organization. If you join but do nothing in the PGA, you still get a great set of tools — from the magazine to the weekly emails, to networking and educational opportunities. Becoming more involved in the PGA and giving back to our community brought me so much more personal investment that it’s almost hard to quantify. I learned long ago that the PGA is really what you make of it. If you get involved, you’ll find fantastic opportunities for growth, camaraderie and fellowship. The more you get involved, from volunteering for committees to serving on one of the council Boards, the more you will get out of it. I know, as getting involved in the PGA was one of the smartest moves I ever made in my career. The PGA, as a networking, educational and career opportunity, works… and can work for you. You may not be a natural-born “joiner”, but don’t let that stop you. Networking is one of the biggest aspects to getting ahead in this business, and there is literally nowhere better to network with people. I’ve been intimately involved in the PGA for almost two decades and I cannot stress how much I’ve gained from meeting all the people involved, at every level, from volunteers, to Board members to the amazing staff. I’ve seen this group grow from 1,200 to over 8,500 members and I have nothing but high hopes that we continue this drive to add many more members. More members equals a bigger voice in the industry, and we’ve usually been at the forefront of changes and growth. As I prepare to exit from the National Board of Directors, I look back at the amazing achievements we’ve accomplished so far — and I look forward to all of us achieving so much more.
PAMELA KELLER AP COUNCIL I’m terming out after 6 years of service, and I’ve got something to confess—I feel shy around big groups, or with people I don’t know very well. The way I handle it is I push those feelings out of the way, and I volunteer, for anything or for anyone that needs my help. I crack a few jokes, and the jitters dissipate. For those members serving on the Board for the first time, maybe my “secret” tactic may help you if you’re feeling uncertain in your surroundings. Support your Chair and Vice Chairs, volunteer at recruitment events, and come to as many meetings as you can. The more involved you are in the Guild, the more in touch you are with the needs of your fellow members. Interacting with members inspired me to produce a pair of workshops last summer, one targeted to the women of the PGA and one targeted to the men, tackling issues such as gender parity, unconscious bias and sexual harassment––topics that weren’t necessarily in the forefront of popular discussion. Two months later, the Weinstein New Yorker article broke, followed by Time’s Up, and the growth of #MeToo, and now these issues are part of everyday discussion. New delegates––if you are passionate about something, and are sure of the benefits for the members, then enlist the help of your Chair and your Board, move forward with your ideas, and make a positive impact.
CAITLIN BURNS NEW MEDIA COUNCIL It’s hard to believe that 6 years have passed since I first joined the Board of the New Media Council, but looking back at projects, events and initiatives that have happened since then, it could easily be twice that. Serving with so many phenomenal producers on the New Media Council Board of Delegates and in the last year, with the other members of the National Board of Directors has been an incredible opportunity to learn how different producers take on challenges. Helping launch PGA WIN, connecting the Produced By conferences with new media talent, working with other committees and councils—each one created new chances to become a better producer. Whether it’s the organization of our events or conferences, coordinating peer education to help working producers tackle new skills, or ensuring that there are ample opportunities for members to network, mingle and come up with new ideas together –– getting a glimpse into one another’s best practices is more than ample reward for the hours dedicated as a Board member. My advice for members is that the Guild is an amazing platform for you to pursue your interests. If you’re curious about a topic, propose an event—but be willing to do some of the legwork. If you’re concerned about a specific issue, bring it up to your council’s Board of Delegates and help develop a solution. The biggest opportunity is the chance to work with one another in practice. We’re all here to tackle the questions and issues we can’t solve on our own. Working together, we can produce real results. I can’t wait to see what members come up with next, and I’m always happy to help.
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MOVING THE NEEDLE The PGA’s Master Workshop develops top-shelf inclusive projects. The rest is up to you. | Written By Sasheen Artis
hen Julie Janata asked me to coAn incredible turnout for the PGA Power of Diversity Master Workshop All-Alums chair the PGA’s Power of Diversity Mixer at Palihouse in West Hollywood Master Workshop with her, I didn’t know what to expect. I had been a mentor and member of the Workshop’s selection committee for a number of years, so I figured actually running the program couldn’t be that different. It was simply a new position that I could hopefully master. Easy Peasy. During my orientation, I learned about the Workshop’s successes and challenges, its scores of alumni and PGA-member mentors and the need for the Workshop to “elevate” its profile, especially since it’s now competing with top-tier programs like Film Independent and Sundance Labs. Six hours later (yes, six hours), I realized that co-chairing the Workshop wasn’t something I could do in my “spare time.” It was truly going to be a full-time commitment, not just to the Producers Guild, but to the thousands of diverse creative voices calling out for an opportunity to be heard and to see their work produced. The Workshop affects careers, livelihoods, families. This is real. It turns out, running a comprehensive eight-week education and mentoring program is only half the battle. The Workshop doesn’t operate in a vacuum. In order to actually move the needle on inclusive hiring and business practices, we need producers and executives who are willing to hire folks that don’t necessarily look (or think) like them and to greenlight projects that appeal to more diverse audiences. This is where you come in. You are a producer who understands that there’s money to be made in this space and who actively searches for diverse content. You are an executive who hires diverse development and marketing teams so that more diverse projects get greenlit. You are an executive who hires more diverse managers and agents who think out of the box so that these fresh creative voices can get representation and advice that truly helps propel their careers. You are a distributor who understands that diverse content can sell internationally. The bottom line is: YOU are the agent of change. Let’s make it happen. Look at your upcoming slate and make the commitment to add diverse content and hire diverse teams. Then reach out to us at the PGA Power of Diversity Master Workshop. We have commercially viable projects that may be just what you’re looking for. Need a female-driven actioner with a kick-ass Asian lead? An African-American family drama set in the fashion world steeped in sex and intrigue? An inspirational biopic about a man’s quest to overcome his addiction? We have all of these projects and more. Come meet our Workshop alumni and mentors, all diverse content creators and producers. Build relationships and discover the story that’s right for you. Together we can move the needle on creating diverse projects. Easy Peasy. Sasheen Artis is a writer/producer and is currently serving her second year as Co-Chair of the PGA Power of Diversity Master Workshop. The 2018 Workshop launched May 14 and runs through July 18. For more information and to get involved, visit pgadiversity.org or email Julie or Sasheen at email@example.com.
F O R YO U R E M M Y C O N S I D E R AT I O N O U T S TA N D I N G C O M E DY S E R I E S ®
“THE BEST SHOW ON TV”
PHOTOGRAPHY BY @FILM FRANCE (LEFT) AND DIANA ZOLLICOFER (RIGHT)
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DIANA ZOLLICOFER (LEFT) AND @FILM FRANCE (RIGHT)
PHOTOGRAPHY BY @FILM FRANCE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DIANA ZOLLICOFER
ON THE SCENE
PGA/FILM FRANCE/UPC NETWORKING COCKTAIL RECEPTION, FILM FRANCE TERRACE, CANNES FILM FESTIVAL, MAY 13 The PGA International Committee, Film France and The Union des Producteurs de Cinéma held their 8th annual networking cocktail event during the 71st edition of he Cannes Film Festival. Thanks to a private contribution from co-sponsor Ms. Regina Di Santo, along with production software company Set Keeper, the event drew an international crowd of over 250 filmmakers and producers, extending its reputation as one of the bestattended annual events for the trio of organizations involved. Collaborating with our French affiliates has proven to be a resounding success, with plans to expand and improve the event even more next year.
Indian filmmaker Manoj Annadurai (middle) chats with a pair of guests at the reception.
From left, PGA International Committee rep Kayvan Mashayekh, financial co-sponsor Regina DiSanto, Film France’s Calvin Walker
From left, producer and actress Diana Zollicofer, reception guest, filmmaker Manoj Annadurai
Tunisian International Studios exec Alexander Naas (left) enjoys the reception with a guest.
Frederic Goldsmith of UPC delivers opening remarks, soon to be followed by PGA International Committee Chair Stu Levy (right)
Festival-goers pack the event.
F O R Y O U R E M M Y C O N S I D E R AT I O N O U T S TA N D I N G D R A M A S E R I E S Â®
A NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES
ON THE SCENE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY CARRIE LYNN CERTA
Diversity Committee Chairs Sasheen Artis (center left) and Deborah Calla (center right) chat with members.
Chairs Morenike Evans (left) and Chris Pack (right) recruit new members for the PGA Employment Committee.
Education Committee Chair Rebecca Graham Forde (left) recruits some new faces.
Chairs Karen Covell (center) and Joe Morabito (right) share what the Events Committee is up to.
PGA WEST COMMITTEE OPEN HOUSE, MONK SPACE, MAY 2 PGA members gathered at Monk Space in Koreatown for a night of food, fun and learning at the PGA West Committee Open House. Open House producers Lauren Ellis and Vicente Williams introduced a new twist on the event, having committee chairs meet with small groups of members for eight minutes, speed-networking style. An hour of fun and information culminated with members signing up for committees and then being treated to fresh tacos, drinks … and more networking!
“CONTENT WITHOUT BORDERS” PANEL, HONG KONG FILMART, MARCH 19
PHOTOGRAPHY BY HKTDC
The PGA China Task Force and the American Consulate General Commercial Services of Guangzhou hosted a panel at the 22nd Hong Kong FILMART. The panel, “Content Without Borders: the New Landscape of Digital Production and Distribution,” featured Jennifer Batty, Chief Content Officer of HOOQ, Tom Jacobson, CEO of the Jacobson Company, Jia Yao, General Manager of the Beijing Wenxin Huace Culture & Technology Company, and Michael Uslan, producer of the Batman franchise. PGA member Maria Lo Orzel, producer at Studio Strada, served as moderator. Co-sponsored by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, UNIFI Asia and Beijing StarsFund, the panel played to a capacity crowd, while the post-panel reception hosted more than 200 attendees to great success.
A capacity crowd listens attentively.
PGA member Maria Lo Orzel (right) moderates the panel, including (from left) Jennifer Batty of HOOQ, Tom Jacobson of the Jacobson Company, Jia Yao of the Beijing Wenxin Huace Culture & Technology Company, and producer and PGA member Michael Uslan.
Producers Council delegate candidate Tonya Lewis Lee (center) chats with member John Peterman (right) at the reception.
PGA East Board of Representatives candidates (from left) Matteo Stanzani, Mimi Valdés and Chris Licht
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TYLER WARREN
ON THE SCENE
PGA EAST “MEET THE CANDIDATES” MIXER, LIGHT IRON, MAY 3 PGA East members gathered at Light Iron for an evening of networking with the PGA East candidates for national offices, council Boards of Delegates and the PGA East Board of Representatives. Council Board of Delegates candidates in attendance included Tonya Lewis Lee and Anne Carey (for the Producers Council) and Brian Batka, Rosemary Lombard and Jackie Stolfi (for the AP Council). Attending candidates for the PGA East Board of Representatives included Mimi Valdés, who is running for Vice Chair of the PGA East, as well as incumbent Vice Chair Donna Gigliotti and incumbent Chair Kay Rothman.
PGA President Gary Lucchesi (back to camera) shares his perspective with Workshop participants.
DIVERSITY MASTER WORKSHOP OPENING SESSION, PGA OFFICES, MAY 14
Master Workshop Class of 2018 participants with Co-Chairs Julie Janata (front left) & Sasheen Artis (front right)
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JULIE JANATA
The Power of Diversity Master Workshop kicked off its eight-week summer session with special guest speaker, PGA President Gary Lucchesi. Workshop Co-Chairs Julie Janata and Sasheen Artis welcomed 11 participants and introduced the class to the PGA’s Associate National Executive Director/COO, Susan Sprung.
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M E N TOR I NG M AT T E R S
LEARNING TO RIDE THE WAVE Keep the focus on what’s in your control, not what’s beyond it Written by Colin Lawrence
wo years ago I took the leap from a staff position as a producer in Home Entertainment and Creative Marketing at New Wave Entertainment and decided to solely pursue writing, producing and directing scripted content. It was terrifying to toss out my safety net, but that’s what I was forced to do. Within two months, I landed work producing four commercials and one feature. But that wasn’t enough. I felt aimless, without a clear path toward my goals. That’s what led me to the PGA Mentoring Program. The program connected me with the incomparable Steven Wolfe— an indie film legend. He’s the producer of 500 Days of Summer (one of my all-time favorites) and the upcoming Valley Girl. We set a date and met for an early breakfast at Cafe Solar De Cahuenga. I did everything I could not to talk his ear off, something I‘d challenge myself to do whenever we met. I remember being surprised at how easily we connected. We got together at coffee shops every few months, chatting about everything from current projects to my aspirations of writing and directing. For the most part we had big-picture discussions. Steven would either confirm my career plans or politely nudge me to change course. Throughout the six-month mentorship, Steven put me to task. He suggested I work on 10 questions that defined my career goals. We’d discuss as many questions as we could squeeze into each meeting. With his guidance, I’ve been able to define a clear path forward in the independent feature world. But by far, the most important lesson I’ve learned during my mentorship is to “ride the wave.” This business has a mind of its own and there’s only so much you can do to control it. Using his advice as a cornerstone, in the past year and a half I’ve produced three independent features with two more coming up next quarter. I’ve been hired to write another two scripts, while directing second unit on a couple of other films and writing another two scripts on spec. I’ve even been given my first opportunity to direct a feature, a thriller filming in Oklahoma later this year. With Steven’s words as my compass, I attack every opportunity with vigor, passion and an insatiable appetite to learn. When my mentorship period came to an end, Steven left the door open to continue our conversations. I can’t thank Steven enough for the time he’s shared and offered to continue sharing. I’m beyond grateful to have such a generous PGA mentor and to be a member of such an amazing community of producers. I say this without an ounce of hyperbole: the PGA and the PGA Mentoring Program set me on the path to my dreams. ¢
“With Steven’s words as my compass, I attack every opportunity with vigor, passion and an insatiable appetite to learn.”
A B O V E & B E YON D
SIGNING OFF saluting a landmark cohort of pga leaders
A LESLEY CHILCOTT
s a means of giving more members more opportunities to serve the PGA in a leadership capacity, the PGA this year instituted term limits for its committee chairs. While we’re excited to welcome the incoming chairs, we will miss the dedication and commitment of our departing leaders, all of whom have given years of outstanding service to their fellow members. ¢
STACY HOPE HERMAN
Community Action Barbara DeFina Diversity (West) Deborah Calla Charles Howard Diversity (East) Christina De Haven Dilly Housain Yvonne Russo Rachel Watanabe-Batton Diversity Workshop Julie Janata
Documentary & Non-Fiction (West) Lesley Chilcott Documentary & Non-Fiction (East) Shirley Escott Lynn Hughes Employment (West) Kia Kiso Eve Watterson Employment (East) Rhonda Vinson
Events (East) Stacy Hope Herman Green Lydia Dean Pilcher Mari-Jo Winkler Independent Film Producers (West) Dan Lupovitz Marshall Persinger Independent Film Producers (East) Sarah Green
International Bill Stuart Stu Levy Mentoring (East) Wendy Neuss Volga Calderon Women’s Impact Network Lydia Dean Pilcher (National) Joyce Pierpoline (East) Rachel Watanabe-Batton (East)
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An expectant crowd packs the Carnegie Institute for the Environmental Film Festival in Washington DC.
FESTS THAT PASS THE TESTS Film festivals are now walking and talking green Written by Katie Carpenter
roducers who travel to film festivals to screen their work or see the films of others might have noticed lately that many festivals have been “greening up.” They’re using and displaying compostable paper products, offering hybrid courtesy cars, switching on LED lighting and more. Some are now going the extra distance to enable larger discussions about the potential of film and television to address environmental issues, especially climate change, and filmmakers are walking the walk. The Chelsea Film Festival in New York City celebrated Climate Day with a series of panels on climate change awareness and innovative ideas to confront the challenge. One panel was focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts of film and TV production. As a Co-chair of the PGA Green Committee, I was invited to join the panel to report on the growth of the Green Production
Guide and the expanded use of its Green Vendor Directory, Green Guidelines and the Carbon Calculator customized for film. Panelist Ken Ebie from the New York City Mayor’s Office of Motion Picture Entertainment reinforced that these tools and guidelines are spreading through the film community, and New York is encouraging all productions to use them. Another panelist Matt Reid, director of A Plastic Ocean, reminded us that greening a film set is more than just recycling—it’s also important to focus on lighting, transportation, batteries and even catering opportunities to reduce impact on the environment. And plastic bottles are definitely forbidden on Matt’s sets. Actress and indie director Alysia Reiner counted the number of green strategies used on her last movie, and she was excited how everyone in the cast and crew got on board. “The film and TV industry has a bigger responsibility to do this than most,” says Reiner. “Our messaging potential is greater than almost
PHOTOGRAPH BY KATIE CARPENTER
PHOTOGRAPH BY PETER O’ BRIEN
From left, Vulcan Productions director of engagement & impact Ted Richane, EarthX Film President Michael Cain and PGA Green’s Katie Carpenter at EarthX 2018
anyone’s. We can tell the world.” “Our web site is supported by seven movie studios,” I noted during the panel, to a gratifying burst of applause. “We should give them a shout-out because they have been pioneers. They are Warner Bros, SONY, FOX, Amblin, Paramount, Disney— and just recently, Amazon Studios joined as well. If you are working on a movie with one of these studios now, please give them some love for their support of the Green Production Guide.” We also talked about a few examples of TV productions using the Green Production Guide tools. Warner Bros. recently built large LED installations on their stages for Pretty Little Liars and The Mentalist, which proved to be 85% more energy efficient than conventional lighting. A new series now shooting green is Billions— and in New York City, people were psyched to hear about that. Ebie gave props to the production of Madame Secretary, whose green efforts were monitored and supported by the Mayor’s Office and CBS Television. “You want to get the message around — do something radically green, in film or TV.” By way of example, I held up a recent headline from a local paper: “FOX’S ‘SALEM’ DONATES MORE THAN $200,000 IN SET MATERIALS TOWARD THE CONSTRUCTION OF NEW LOUSIANA AQUARIUM” “And Sony produced Spider-Man to such a green degree that it came to be known around town as “Eco-Spidey,” I continued. This emphasis at festivals on facilitating more green discussions between the screenings appears to be contagious. I attended the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and they gave a lot of airtime to environmental issues. They even program a category of films called REEL NATURE, which this year included seven excellent films. The programmers gave the environmental films extra Q&A time, bigger theaters and additional screenings the last weekend, promoted energetically by festival staff. Other films and talks covered topics like understanding great white sharks, returning golf courses to native wetlands and
a very emotional portrait of rescued wolves, all of which got people talking, both inside the theater and out. In March, the DC Environmental Film Festival brought over 100 films to 27,000 attendees in the nation’s capital. In addition to films and panels covering the front lines of climate change, dirty water, disappearing forests and more, they honored ocean heroine Dr. Sylvia Earle and gathered a huge crowd to talk about conservation of marine creatures and their habitats. The most provocative films in the DC lineup gave rise to energetic and sometimes heated discussions. Those screenings included The Game Changers by the director of The Cove and Water Warriors about a Canadian community’s fight against the oil and gas industry. Over Earth Day weekend, the EarthX Film Festival set the bar higher than ever. Dazzling Dallas with films from across the political spectrum, artistic director David Holbrooke curated the lineup with films and filmmakers guaranteed to provoke discussion. Holbrooke said, “In these crazy times, I believe documentaries are the most disruptive and effective way to positively impact how people think and act, especially when it comes to the environment. Smart, powerful storytelling is crucial to a livable future on this earth.” EarthX was founded by philanthropist developer Trammell Crow, effectively to serve as a meeting place for people from across the political spectrum to hear each others’ ideas about our environmental future. The films raised the issues, while the discussions helped people talk through the solutions from multiple perspectives. EarthX also hosted an EarthX Solar Forum and an EarthX Ocean Expo featuring the slogan, “No Blue, No Green.” All political persuasions could be found in the room, and the conversation was lively. To take the green talk farther, EarthX offered electric bikes to test-drive and native gardening workshops for relaxation between movies. They also drafted a pledge to sign, unusual for a film festival, worded as to be congenial to filmmakers and developers alike, from right and left: “Our climate, weather and air quality are all connected. Anything we can do to change the quality of the air we breathe changes weather and climate locally and around the world. Pledge today to help reduce air pollution and keep our climate healthy for future generations.” EarthX was the first film festival I know of to offer an “Impact Award” to recognize effectiveness in a conservation cause-related film. I think we can now appreciate what these film festival directors are doing to reinforce these messages and raise awareness about shared concerns. They know that film festivals, like films, could be doomed if we don’t look after these places—on land and on sea—that we all love. Support your local film festival! Katie Carpenter is Co-Chair of the Producers Guild Green Committee. Please get involved at www.greenproductionguide.com. Katie’s film “Chasing the Thunder” won the new Impact Award at EarthX.
C O M I N G ATTRACTIONS
SCRIPTED TV JOB FORUM JUNE 16 PHOTOGRAPHED BY APRIL CHANG
The PGA West Employment Committee is pleased to bring back one of its most popular events, a morning of speed networking with employers looking to meet qualified and available PGA professionals with scripted TV experience in PGA job categories. RSVP and event details are available through the PGA website.
MASTER CLASS: BALANCING LIFE AS A PRODUCER JUNE 28
PHOTOGRAPHED BY SAI KONKALA
A seasoned television producer on such shows as Survivor and Sarah Palin’s Alaska shares how she came to recognize the importance of self-care, body and soul. In the long and hectic hours of the producing team’s daily life, it’s easy to leave nothing for oneself. This Master Class touches on such topics as meditation, revisiting your core values, taking time for yourself amid the crazy life on set and how to establish goals for the next three years (and achieve them)! Come learn a variety of tips and tricks in this participatory seminar.
STORYTELLING WITH STOCK MEDIA JULY 21
SEMINAR: NEW TAX LAWS AUGUST 11 The recently passed tax legislation feels like it’s turned Hollywood upside down, with new laws that now tilt toward companies rather than employees. This session will discuss the essential steps producers need to take in order to retain their revenues and stay within the law.
INVISION FOR PRODUCERS GUILD/AP IMAGES
The sourcing and licensing of archival media as a powerful storytelling tool is crucial for many narrative and documentary projects. Often producers are challenged with accessing material, which can prove very difficult and time consuming, and the licensing process becomes nearly impossible due (primarily) to budget constraints. This event will showcase several documentary producers who will speak about their experiences and the unique solutions created for their projects. The panel will walk through the step-bystep process of sourcing and licensing archival media and discuss new advancements available to filmmakers. (Rescheduled from May 12.)
Top: PGA members get to know each other at a speed networking event. Middle: Matthew Ostrom of Magilla Entertainment meets with PGA members at the Non-Fiction Job Forum. Above: PBNY attendees network between sessions. Below: Guests enjoy the PGA East Nominees Celebration at The Players club.
NON-FICTION JOB FORUM JUNE 25 The PGA East’s Employment Committee will host the 2018 Non-Fiction Job Forum at LMHQ. Ten of the busiest production employers in New York will meet with members in small groups to hear their “elevator pitches” and ask questions. At the end of the night, employers will leave with a catalog of potential hires for their upcoming staffing needs. Join us for one of the PGA East’s most popular events! PGA MEMBERS: For more information or to RSVP for events, please consult producersguild.org.
PHOTOGRAPH BY OWEN HOFFMANN/PMC
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CHARLES D. CHARLES D. KING ISN’T LOOKING TO JOIN YOUR CLUB. (BUT MAYBE YOU COULD JOIN HIS…)
s anyone who’s worked in this business for more than 15 minutes can tell you: It’s a different world out there. The equity money isn’t where we thought it was. The technology can do things we only dreamed of 10 years ago. In fact, 10 years ago, the dominant player backing new and original content barely existed as a distribution platform. The audience doesn’t look like we thought it did, and the creators producing the most exciting content definitely don’t look like we thought they would. Near the center of this shifting landscape stands Charles D. King, himself both a symptom and an agent of these changes. But before he was an agent of change, he was simply an agent, working for 15 years at WMA/WME, ultimately earning distinction as the first African American to be named as a partner in the venerable company’s history. As a talent rep, King built a thriving career out of working with filmmakers of color, among them Ryan Coogler, Tim Story, Rick Famuyiwa, Lee Daniels and M. Night Shyamalan, fighting to help them seize their chances in a Hollywood that was characteristically averse to those who looked, spoke and thought differently than the dominant industry culture. But for King, agency work, however rewarding, was always a stepping stone to something larger—ambitions toward a career as a producer of content and media, a mogul in the mold of David Geffen or Barry Diller. Those ambitions took a massive leap forward in 2015 with the founding of King’s company, Macro, and the succeeding few years have helped establish his reputation as a savvy and judicious champion
of the kinds of stories and storytellers for whom he once drafted deal memos. First came a pair of collaborations with longtime personal hero Denzel Washington, serving as a backer and executive producer on the searching character study Roman J. Israel, Esq., directed by Dan Gilroy, and the long-in-gestation adaptation of August Wilson’s stage classic Fences, directed by Washington himself and nominated for four Academy Awards, winning one for Viola Davis’ performance. Even more triumphant was Mudbound, which King put together as one of the lead producers on a substantial team of collaborators. The first film to carry King’s name as “Produced by,” Mudbound proved to be the biggest sale at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and ultimately scored an historic quartet of Oscar nominations for writer/director Dee Rees, director of photography Rachel Morrison, and cast member and songwriter Mary J. Blige. Releasing this summer is King’s second film as producer, Sorry To Bother You, a wildly imaginative satire from hip-hop trailblazer turned first-time writer/ director Boots Riley. As his company name—and the interview that follows— suggest, Charles D. King has an intuitive grasp of the bigpicture changes taking place in the entertainment business. For nearly 20 years, he’s worked to give talented outsiders the access and support that, once upon a time, only Hollywood insiders enjoyed. If King and Macro can deliver on their substantial ambitions, in a few years we’ll be looking at an industry in which there are no true outsiders and no true insiders—just supremely talented artists telling the best stories they can.
KING Interview by Chris green
GROOMING: DEBRA DENSON; STYLING: ANDREW WEITZ FOR THE WEITZ EFFECT
Photographed by Robert Ector Photography
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COVER FEATURE: CHARLES D. KING
THERE’S PLENTY TO TALK ABOUT IN YOUR CAREER, BUT I’D LIKE TO GET A SENSE OF HOW YOU FOUND YOUR WAY TO HOLLYWOOD. I grew up in Decatur, the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. As a kid growing up, I would watch movies and television pretty voraciously. I went to Vanderbilt University, where my focus was initially business, and I was a political science major. One summer, I started doing some things creatively, really just as a way to make some money … some commercials, some print work and some modeling. From that, I began to help friends get into the business, and I discovered that I had a knack for identifying talent in others. Somewhere along the line someone suggested, “Look. You’re at Vanderbilt. You’re studying political science. You obviously have an interest in entertainment. You should think about entertainment law.” I had really no idea what an entertainment lawyer did, but I did recall the show L.A. Law and the character played by Blair Underwood, who was the one African American on the show and who was so charismatic and intelligent. I really liked that character. So I had that model in my mind. I graduated, worked in the corporate world for a couple years, then went to law school with a focus on entertainment law. Around that time, I read this book called Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun? by Reginald Lewis. That’s really where the idea formed that one day, I could perhaps start a media company that would focus on telling these stories that would reflect who I was and would reflect the community. I wanted kids and people around the world to have that same kind of “aha” aspirational moment that I had when I saw L.A. Law because, frankly, I didn’t have enough of those stories and images of people that looked like me. At that point I was considering my entry point into the industry. Someone suggested I look at the talent agency world. I did the research and learned about these titans, like Barry Diller, David Geffen, Bernie Brillstein … these iconic figures who
built these amazing companies and careers and studios all at one point were agents. So I thought that the agency world would be an ideal space for me to cut my teeth, to build the relationships and connect with artists, to understand the landscape and then ultimately go on to build something. It’s the epicenter of the industry. So I moved to LA. I went into the belly of the beast and went to WMA (now WME) and had an amazing career working with some of the most compelling and inspiring artists across every sector. After 15 years, I felt as though I had done everything that I set out to do in that world—having created new deal models for filmmakers, actors, musicians and media titans. It was time for me to forge ahead and really build out this vision that I had since before I even moved to town. So three years ago, I launched Macro and we’ve been having a great journey ever since.
SO IN REPRESENTING ALL THESE CREATIVE FIGURES, IT PUT YOU ACROSS THE TABLE, IN MANY WAYS, FROM PRODUCERS. WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE OF PRODUCERS AND CONTENT CREATORS FROM THAT VANTAGE? AND HOW DID THAT INFORM YOUR PATH AS YOU CROSSED THE LINE OVER TO THE SIDE OF GENERATING THE CONTENT AS OPPOSED TO REPRESENTING THE ARTISTS? That’s a very good question. I represented filmmakers, writers, directors and a lot of producers too. The best ones, for me as an agent, were the ones who just made things happen, right? They did whatever it took, driving things forward by identifying ideas but also by building out a team and connecting the dots. I never really thought about it until you asked this question, how much I learned from so many of those people about what worked, what didn’t work; when to push, when to lay back; how to coalition-build with the filmmaker and align the right elements to support the filmmaker and the right crew; knowing which distribution
or studio partner would be the best fit for certain types of vehicles; how to navigate the landscape and be amenable to deal structures with talent. It’s like you’re putting together whole companies, teams of hundreds of people, all to work together toward a common goal, and you’re doing it over and over.
GOING BACK OVER ALL THE PRODUCERS THAT YOU WORKED WITH, ARE THERE PARTICULAR INSTANCES THAT STAND OUT IN YOUR MIND AS TIMES WHERE YOU ARRIVED AT SOME DEGREE OF INSIGHT INTO WHAT THE JOB WAS, AT ITS BEST? There was one movie where I had more than one client involved with the production. It started out as a smaller independent movie, but the vision and scope of this movie continued to expand and grow. It wasn’t a massive $100 million movie or anything like that, but it went from being a tiny, micro-budget project to more of a low-to-mid-size film. But the producer on it was someone who had made many movies that were much larger in scope, an incredibly accomplished producer who was already at the top of their game. Now this was one of the most challenging films that I was involved in. I still joke with friends about this one particular film, that I had hair before that movie. [Laughs] But I’ll tell you this: The producer, athough they went through lots of ups and downs through it—and there were some moments of yelling and things like that—the thing that really struck me through all of that was how committed that producer was, from the time it was a micro-budget movie all the way to the mid-size range that it ended up in. Even though they had produced these massive blockbusters, they were just as committed to this film as to anything else that they had worked on or could be working on. The amount of energy and time they committed was absolutely extraordinary. It made a huge impression upon me, how when you believe in a story and you’re passionate, then it doesn’t matter what your producer fee
COVER FEATURE: CHARLES D. KING
is or what the economics of it are. You’re going to pour all of your heart and energy into every one of those things that you’re working on. In the same category is a producer who I represented along with a talented filmmaker on a number of projects. They were literally my first call every single day. And getting into my office somewhere between 7 a.m and 8 a.m., before the workday even started, they were literally the first person calling me every single day—“So, what are you doing?” I admit, I didn’t expect that kind of tenacity every day. They were just a force of nature. No matter what, they just made things happen. It got to the point that there was a moment where they weren’t calling every day and I was honestly a little worried … “What’s going on?!” It turns out, they had gotten married and they had calmed down for a second. And then all of the sudden they were calling again, “Yeah, I’m back in action now.” We had a great experience and those projects all moved forward. Really great producers—they put in the work, they work their asses off, they will projects into existence. I could probably give you a hundred more examples, but those are the first two that jumped out at me.
SO NOW YOU ARE ONE OF THOSE FOLKS. HOW DID YOU TAKE THE LEAP AND START PUTTING TOGETHER THOSE FIRST PRODUCTIONS? When I was agent, I represented Kenny Leon, who directed Fences on Broadway. I was fortunate to be at the opening night when Denzel Washington and Viola Davis were starring. I was just so blown away by their performances and the emotion of those characters. I knew that Fences was in development for years at Paramount. Over my last couple of years at WME, as I was charting my path to go and launch this company, I began to create a grid of projects that I would be interested in if they ever moved forward and if there were an opportunity to get involved. Fences was one of those projects that
we were tracking. I also had a tremendous respect for Denzel, who has, throughout my life, been my favorite actor, hands down. I’m a connoisseur of his entire body of work and what he represents. But for years I also had a great experience as an agent interfacing with [producer] Todd Black. So when I found out that this was moving forward and there could possibly be an opportunity to partner, it checked every box of what we were looking to do as a company: supporting the vision of a brilliant filmmaker and artist like Denzel, working with one of the great actresses of their generation in Viola and working alongside a masterful and thoughtful producer like Todd Black. We were not day-to-day on the physical production side of things. They already had their cast, obviously. We were probably a little more involved when it got to some of the efforts around the marketing of the film and social media strategy and things like that. But it was a team and a vision that we were thrilled to be a part of as executive producers and financiers.
I WONDER IF YOU COULD CONTRAST THAT WITH SOMETHING LIKE MUDBOUND . DENZEL AND TODD HAVE BEEN MAKING MOVIES FOR A LONG TIME, AND FENCES IS A CLASSIC OF THE AMERICAN STAGE. BUT DEE REES IS A YOUNGER, LESS TESTED FILMMAKER, AND NOT AS MANY PEOPLE ARE AS FAMILIAR WITH THE SOURCE MATERIAL. WHAT WAS YOUR ROLE AS A PRODUCER IN THAT SCENARIO? So this is one where you know how they say, “It takes a village?” Mudbound truly took an entire village of mission-aligned producers, who all brought their own skills to the table and who all worked together as a team to move this forward. But the unifier was really a commitment to supporting the vision of a brilliant filmmaker like Dee Rees. Five months into launching Macro, my friend and former colleague Cassian Elwes had lunch with
me and he said, “Hey, I have this script, Mudbound, and it’s the best thing that I’ve read in the last few years. It feels like it would be a great fit for your company and your mission and what you’re looking to build. And if you respond to it, we should do this together.” Now I’ve got to give Cassian credit. This was before we even announced who our investors were and what our financing was like. But he, as a smart producer, knowing the landscape of this town, understood that I have credibility in terms of the relationships and my understanding of marketing, and my ability to galvanize creative contributors even though I had not physically produced a movie yet. My colleague, Poppy Hanks, read the script first and told me, “Charles, this is amazing.” I read it, and I agreed. Dee needed the right opportunity to be supported in her vision. She’s very selective. She had passed on so many things for years and really only focused on making films that she was deeply passionate about. And when she shared her vision for Mudbound with us, again, it checked so many boxes and had a universal theme. It was a story about a time and an era that we hadn’t seen before. From there, Cassian and Macro partnered with the other producers who had developed it, Sally Jo Effenson and her son, Carl. We had a group that had developed it, who got the story to a certain point. They brought it to Cassian, who helped with his understanding of how to package. Cassian brought it to Macro. A few months before, it was a dormant script that no one paid attention to. All of a sudden, it was on fire. We had talent at the highest levels interested in being a part of it. That’s a big part of what producers do, galvanizing the community. Cassian was strong on financial structures. We were bringing the equit, along with a market understanding and talent relationships as well. My colleague Kim Roth, who used to run production at Imagine, joined right around the same time. It was Cassian and Kim and myself really engaging the talent, putting the cast together with Dee. We
COURTESY OF THE COLLINS JACKSON AGENCY
COVER FEATURE: CHARLES D. KING
had two other great producers who also came in as co-financiers, who weighed in a lot as well. But each one of us knew our strengths and where we should play, working almost like linemen in front of this quarterback, Dee, who was throwing touchdowns every day on set. You look at all the historic nominations around that movie, with Dee being the first African-American woman to get nominated for an Academy Award for an adapted screenplay, Rachel Morrison being the first female DP nominated in the history of the Academy and Mary J. Blige being the first artist to get nominations in a movie for both a song and a performance. To be frank with you, those things happened with the support of a company like Macro with an African-American financier who, alongside our co-financier, ultimately drove most of those decisions of who should be hired. We supported our
Producer Charles D. King and Mudbound writer/director Dee Rees at the PGA’s Produced By: New York conference in October, 2017
filmmaker with who she wanted to bring on, in every case. I know for a fact that the average studio wouldn’t have given her that kind of support. But in our case, we ended up with a product and an opportunity and a historic win that we are all proud of. Almost every one of our department heads was a woman, and we made a tremendous film. Hopefully more people will take note and will take similar strides.
IT SEEMS CRAZY, THAT THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY SEEMS TO BE WAKING UP TO THE FACT THAT THERE’S THIS GIANT, UNTAPPED TALENT POOL JUST WAITING TO SHOW WHAT THEY CAN DO. WHAT TOOK EVERYONE SO
LONG TO RECOGNIZE THAT? To be honest with you, I can’t speak to why other people make these decisions, except to think that people are just used to working with who they know and who they think they’re going to be most comfortable with, instead of asking “Who’s the best person?” Right? That’s the only way I look at it, whether we’re building our team at Macro or when we’re putting together a project. We didn’t have an inclusion rider in front of us when we were looking at who we were going to bring in. I know it was important for Dee, it was important for us, but we didn’t sign anything to that effect. But obviously we are going to be a part of supporting every single one of the initiatives about more inclusion in our space. We’re going to be driving it and
COVER FEATURE: CHARLES D. KING
hopefully in front of it. But it’s just smart business. You want the best people. You want to have a lot of different voices as part of your production. It’s going to make the product better, and it’s going to make your company better.
WE’VE WORKED IN THE BUSINESS LONG ENOUGH TO SEE A FEW CYCLES IN WHICH IDEALS OF DIVERSITY, FRANKLY, HAVE GONE IN AND OUT OF FASHION. BUT SOMETHING FEELS DIFFERENT THIS TIME. I feel like the wider range of opportunities we’re seeing in both film and television is really a part of the digital revolution. The streaming platforms have created tremendous opportunities, both in terms of longer features as well as scripted shows. But it’s also about the falling cost of digital cameras and the tools available to young storytellers, like crowdfunding and wider access to independent capital for emerging filmmakers whose talent and gifts are evident. Access to opportunity is less organized and no longer defined by the same group of gatekeepers. What I think we’re going to see, along with the shift in demographics, is the growth of what I will call the “new majority.” You have organizations like Macro that are African-American owned, that are financing and telling stories. You have others like Franklin Leonard and the fund that he launched recently. You’ve got other producers who are thinking more entrepreneurially, who are not looking to say, “Hey, please let me be in your club,” but who will participate in the larger ecosystem. You’re going to have groups of people who are smart, who want to work with artists and who want to tell stories for an audience that is thirsty to see a wide range of offerings that are more reflective of their experience. They’re going to build market share and create value and not be concerned about whether they’re in someone else’s club or not. They can create their own club. They can create their own studio in the way people have like Tyler
Perry back in Atlanta or Robert Rodriguez had with his compound in Texas or the way George Lucas built his studio in San Francisco. I believe we’ll see people from diverse backgrounds doing more of those. And to the degree that the industry’s larger institutions don’t recognize and understand that this audience is there, they’ll lose market share and they’ll lose relevance. Some of them clearly do get it, like ABC. Look at the success of all their shows. Look at what happened with Disney with the success of Black Panther, bringing in all these new audiences into the Marvel universe. I’ve seen the trailers
and the commercials for the new Avengers—they have Black Panther characters out in front of them. If you’re telling me that they aren’t smart enough to know that they have a chance to keep the same Avengers audience while also bringing in new people, you must be kidding me. Marvel is brilliant to be doing that. If other places want to sit back and keep making movies for who they think the audience was 40 years ago, they’re going to get acquired or they’ll die. That’s what’s going to happen. I think that forward-leaning producers are going to understand how to tell stories for the world, not for what they think their buddies in the halls of Hollywood want to see.
MAKING YOUR OWN CLUB, THAT’S A REALLY USEFUL SHORTHAND FOR UNDERSTANDING THE TRANSFORMATION THAT’S GOING ON.
YOU WANT TO HAVE A LOT OF DIFFERENT VOICES AS PART OF YOUR PRODUCTION. IT’S GOING TO MAKE THE PRODUCT BETTER, AND IT’S GOING TO MAKE YOUR COMPANY BETTER.”
Maybe they can come join my club. [laughs] I don’t mind going to your place either.
IN TERMS OF BEING PART OF THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION, WELL … NETFLIX DISTRIBUTED MUDBOUND , AFTER ALL. THE COMPANY IS CLEARLY A KEY DRIVER OF CHANGES WE’RE SEEING. AS SOMEBODY WHO’S WORKED VERY SUCCESSFULLY WITH THE COMPANY, WHAT SHOULD YOUR FELLOW PRODUCERS KNOW ABOUT NETFLIX? First of all, I have to say that on Mudbound, Netflix was an absolutely incredible partner. The passion and the energy that they exhibited from the moment they saw Mudbound galvanized the rest of the team. They came in and acquired the film out of Sundance, making it the biggest sale at the festival that year. The entire organization backed up everything that they said they were going to do, and then some. They over-indexed on everything that they said they would and took it to another 10 festivals ... what
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COVER FEATURE: CHARLES D. KING
That’s why we’re producing and financing stories on all platforms: film, television and even shorter-form digital. You want to create content where all of these audiences are. For other producers in our space, if they want to maintain relevance and market share and business, they also need to be aware of those things. Otherwise they’re going to limit the possibilities and all of the cool things and fun content that they could produce over time.
COULD YOU TALK A LITTLE MORE ABOUT YOUR APPROACH TO SHORT-FORM WORK? TO DATE, MACRO HAS MOSTLY GAINED NOTICE FOR ITS FEATURE FILMS. HOW ARE YOU LOOKING TO CRACK THE “TELEVISION-PLUS” SIDE OF THE EQUATION? We believe that there’s all kinds of quality storytelling on the digital platforms. Our initial slate was focused on premium short-form content that, if you looked at it, you’d think, “Wow, this could pass for an independent feature. This could stand next to something you would see on a streaming platform or a premium cable network.” It’s just in a shorter form, more episodic. We’ve had great success upstreaming a nice amount of that first group of projects on our initial slate. As we go forward I believe we’ll be looking at Gente-fied and I Turn My Camera On as good examples of shows that we created as short-form content that have now been upstreamed in those areas and brands we want to work with. But we’re also beginning to think about even shorter forms of content. Those kinds of content might not usually be considered “premium,” but they’ll be pieces of storytelling shared via social that still connect to and unify the premium content we’re creating. How do you connect the pieces and begin to create a consumer-facing connectivity to an audience over time, whether or not that content appears on others’ platforms or one day, maybe our own? Right now, that’s how we’re doing it. Obviously it’s a space that’s going
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they did on the marketing campaign, what they did on the awards campaign, how they made sure it was seen around the world. They did share a nice amount of data with us. Would it be great to have the full algorithm and sit there and digest everything it could tell us? Yes. Of course we would all love to see that. But hey, we also want to know the formula for Coca-Cola, right? This proprietary approach obviously works for them as a company. Everyone would love to have more of that data. But I’d say that in our case, I was very happy. They were the ideal partner for that show. All around the world, people know what this film is. This movie was seen in 180 countries and it will continue to be seen. It had cultural relevance. So Netflix was an incredible partner. Still, as we think about going forward, we want options. We still want to work with studios. We still believe that there’s a huge marketplace for theatrical features and that shared moviegoing experience in the theater, whether it’s a period drama or a love story or a comedy. Then there are some films that might be great to see at home on your television through Netflix or watch them on a tablet. We still believe that there’s a great independent film marketplace where you can make movies outside of the system and then you can decide if you want to have a theatrical release or you want to have a streaming service acquire it for their platform. So we, as a company, are playing ball in all of these arenas. We’re mindful of where the business is going. Obviously there’s a different kind of pressure on theatrically released movies. But then that’s where as producers, as well as financiers, we have to be smart and thoughtful about movies that we’re financing, how we’re making them, how they’re being marketed, who the best distribution partners are and what is the best way to not only create a great product, but what are the best ways to monetize this great product that we’re hopefully making? We will continue to seek other new players, and if tech companies want to create great content, we’ll get involved.
Charles D. King (right) with cast member Denzel Washington at the premiere for Roman J. Israel, Esq. in New York
through a lot of change, but we ought to be nimble enough to adjust as new models come together and entrepreneurial enough to try different things. But it’s also a way to incubate great new voices, as well as an arena where you can work with established filmmakers who want to just experiment and do some new things.
SPEAKING OF NEW THINGS, I CAN’T LET YOU GO WITHOUT ASKING ABOUT SORRY TO BOTHER YOU . FOR A PRODUCER WHO’S BUILT HIS EARLY REP ON THESE ALMOST LITERARY DRAMAS, THIS MOVIE SEEMS WILDLY DIFFERENT. It is wildly different. I’ve been fortunate to do a lot of work with Sundance. I had a lot of great experiences with the festival when I was an agent, supporting so many filmmakers that I worked with from Craig Brewer to Rick Famuwiya, Justin Simien, Dee Rees and lots of others through the years. I’ve been a mentor in a number of
COVER FEATURE: CHARLES D. KING
“WHEN YOU BELIEVE IN A STORY, IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT THE ECONOMICS OF IT ARE. YOU’RE GOING TO POUR ALL OF YOUR HEART AND ENERGY INTO EVERY ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT YOU’RE WORKING ON.”
From left, Mudbound executive producer Cassian Elwes, cast member and songwriter Mary J. Blige, Macro president of production Kim Roth, producer Charles D. King
You does ... to make people a little uncomfortable with the movie. It’s funny and it’s out there. It’s unique. That makes some people uncomfortable. But I think uncomfortable is good. It gets people outside of their comfort zone, thinking about things and waking them up. This is a film that so many people respond to, and it speaks to the audience that we’re talking about. It’s incumbent upon producers to think about and listen
to the marketplace, to understand the wide range of audiences that are out there for such stories. And it was important for us to work with a brilliant auteur like Boots, who is willing to take chances, to push boundaries and tell the kind of stories that haven’t been told before. That’s a part of our mission. I can 100%, for a fact, tell you you’ve never seen a story like Sorry To Bother You before. I can’t wait for the world to see this.
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the labs. I met [writer/director] Boots Riley at the first lab that I was a part of, and then he was at a second one and a third one. I kept seeing him there, and I was really impressed by his vision for what he wanted to do with the script. When he would pitch the story, I could see his energy as an artist and where he was coming from, both as a musician and now transitioning into a filmmaker. It was bold, and it was audacious, and it was unique and refreshing. For me, it was about helping him channel that into a budget and a framework that I thought would make sense and then making sure he was equipped with the experience and tools to make the transition. Between all of those labs, he spent a good year or so working on the script and the budget. The other key element was partnering with great people. We’re a company that’s very collaborative. Nina Yang Bongioviis a producer who I have the utmost respect for. We had a lot of success together when she produced Fruitvale Station with Ryan Coogler when I was one of his agents, and then I gave her the Dope script and we worked together again where I was the agent and she was the producer, partnering up with Rick Famuyiwa, and she did a great job making that film. So we were looking to find something else that we could work on together. She had also met Boots at those labs. I told her, “Hey, if you ever get the budget and the range, I would love to do this with you.” And so they got it to that place and then I said, “Let’s do this together.” She, along with the other producers, drove a lot of the production. We got very involved in casting and galvanizing the town and packaging the movie. On set, Nina and her team led a lot of it. We came back in for a lot of the post process and determining who could best distribute and market the film-we were heavily involved in all of that. So once again, it was a great team scenario, which is always our choice as a company. It was great to tell a story like Mudbound. It was great to tell a story like Fences. But it was important to us to tell a more contemporary story, to push the genre boundary, the way Sorry To Bother
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Indie veteran Lynette Howell Taylor takes aim at the heart of Hollywood Written By Katie Grant photographed By Kremer johnson photography
he truth is I feel like I’ve been producing since I was five, or maybe three. My mother was the one who always said to me, ‘When you were in preschool, you were the one telling everybody where they should play and organizing everybody. So in some ways, it’s just kind of in your nature.’” Lynette Howell Taylor sinks into the oversized denim-covered easy chair in the white brick-walled conference room at 51 Entertainment (her latest production company)—no makeup, a long sweater coat, hair down, bottle of water in hand. Everything about Howell Taylor—her attitude, her environment, her willingness to share—seems easy. There is no artifice here—not in the room and not in this very successful indie-turned-Hollywood producer who already has over 30 credits to her roster before hitting 40, including indie hits Half Nelson, Blue Valentine and Captain Fantastic. This fall marks her biggest credit to date, Bradley Cooper’s remake of A Star Is Born, starring Cooper and Lady Gaga. Howell Taylor, of course, backs up her mom, “You recognize that there is a confidence in your ability,” she says. “You’re not afraid of being in charge. You’re not afraid of making decisions on behalf of yourself and other people, and I think that’s something that you can certainly learn, but it’s also something that a lot of people are just kind of born with.” Howell Taylor’s love of story began in Liverpool, England where she grew up in a blended family of five kids and her working-class parents. If her head wasn’t buried in a book, escaping into the worlds of The Lord of the Rings or Sweet Valley High, she was performing with her brothers and sisters in the backyard—and by age 11, charging for tickets. She spent her formative years acting in musicals with a youth theatre and might have become an actor if she hadn’t been rejected from the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts’ acting program. The head of the drama program passed her application on to the head of the Music, Theatre and Entertainment Management program, and she was promptly accepted. In retrospect, it was a fortunate turn of events. “Oh my god,” she declares with palpable relief, “thank god [producing] is what I’m doing and not the
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NATURAL BORN PRODUCER
mentors that just helped me,” she adds. The musical she went to work on was financed and produced by the company East of Doheny, which eventually provided her ticket to LA. She arrived in Southern California and was overseeing the various shows the company produced in the West End and on Broadway, loving every minute. “I was working in musical theater. I was working for a producer, and it was awesome.” The jump from theatre production to film was prompted by watching every hour of the behind-the-scenes footage for Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, the book she regularly escaped into as a kid. “The reason I got into the movies was pure escapism,” she admits. “I was just fascinated by how that
[film] came to be,” she continues, “and how as a storyteller, you could make that. I was obsessed. ‘Wow, how did they do this?’ I love big fantasy, I love Star Wars, and I’m a big science fiction fan. I love the escapism of it, the notion that stories can take you to this other place.” Howell Taylor has made all kinds of movies and considers herself “platform agnostic,” but when asked about the common thread among her varied credits, she has a ready answer. “That’s easy. It’s character. Genre to me is irrelevant. We all want to feel like we care about the people
Producer Lynette Howell Taylor (left of center) consults with director Matt Ross (seated) while on location for Captain Fantastic.
PHOTOGRAPH BY REGAN MACSTRAVIC
other … I just didn’t enjoy performing as much as I enjoyed the other side. It’s a very entrepreneurial program. And to me, that’s the cornerstone of producing—figuring out how to manage not only yourself but also a business and other people and situations and projects. I really learned the foundation of those skills while I was at that university.” After receiving her diploma from Sir Paul McCartney himself, founder of the school, she worked for an agent and then a casting director in London. But casting fell flat for her, and she was itching to get into production, specifically musicals. So that casting director put a call in to a producer and got her a job as an assistant. “I was so lucky that I had these incredible
NATURAL BORN PRODUCER
understanding of their budget, walking them through decisions that will directly affect their vision or sharing her knowledge and experience to let them “be the best that they can be” without overwhelming their creative voice. She calls to mind a “visionary Sherpa,”someone who easily carries your heavy load and tends to your every need but is unflinchingly honest about the rough terrain you are about to enter. She especially loves working with first-time filmmakers and directors, like Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (On the Ice), Brie Larson (Unicorn Store) and of course, Bradley Cooper. Howell Taylor was brought on relatively late in the game for A Star is Born, joining the already robust team of
producers that included Bill Gerber and Cooper himself. That kind of collaboration is what brings her the greatest joy. “[Bradley] and I had worked together on The Place Beyond the Pines and he called me out of the blue. There [were] a lot of great, competent producers on the movie, but there was a lot to do, and Bradley wanted to bring me on … to really have a voice creatively. So I was deeply involved in the script development work with everyone else.” Asked what makes a story good enough to remake, she answers, “I mean, love is timeless. It’s a love story and, as Bradley says, ‘What better way to express love than through music?’ Because you can’t hide in music, and I think it’s,
Lynette Howell Taylor reviews footage with director Derek Cianfrance (center) and cast member Bradley Cooper (right) on the set of The Place Beyond the Pines.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ATSUSHI NISHIJIMA
that we’re watching. It’s not just about the plot or the events or the story. It’s about human nature and the specificity that defines us and makes each individual character who they are. So I’m always drawn to the projects that have strong characters. The plot is so secondary.” Guided by that conviction, Howell Taylor has assiduously sought out collaborators who can match and extend her passion. “For me, producing is the practical application of making somebody else’s vision a reality. I’ve always seen that as my role, an enabler of someone else’s idea … I can love a script, I can love the story, but if I’m not excited by the filmmaker, then it’s not for me, it’s not the right project, and I’m not the right person. But it’s incredibly exciting to me to find a short, meet the filmmaker and [go on] to help them become the filmmaker that they are destined to be.” She helps a burgeoning filmmaker achieve that vision by instilling a realistic
NATURAL BORN PRODUCER
like anything, specificity of character [that makes] any story fresh. “And that, to me, is what this new incarnation is,” she continues. “I think it has enough about it that the fans of the original will feel that we’ve paid homage to those films. But [Bradley’s] done his own version.” We discussed how A Star Is Born shot at live concerts like Coachella, Stagecoach and Glastonbury to capture the true crowd feel and avoid prerecorded singing per Lady Gaga’s suggestion. Howell Taylor reports, “It was complicated. It was a lot of coordination and a lot of relationships. But that’s why it took a lot of us to make that movie. “Bradley was the true leader of all of us,” she elaborates. “He had very clear vision for what he wanted to do, but more than anything, such a deep passion for the material and a commitment to excellence. When you work with somebody who is committed to that level of quality, it makes everybody rise to the occasion.” With this current studio piece under her belt and Oscar buzz starting already, will Howell Taylor ever return to the indie fold? “Yes,” she answers. “The primary reason I will always do indies is because that’s where you discover new voices.” Those new voices, however, still come at a price when talking financing. She contends, whether she’s working with an unknown filmmaker or big names in the business, the fight to finance remains the same. “I’m still dealing with the same issues I was dealing with when I started. I’ve made a lot of movies where no one wants to finance them before they’re made: Half Nelson, Blue Valentine, Captain Fantastic. People that do want to make them, want to make them for a lot less than what they need to be made for. I am forever trying to figure out how to deal with that gap, between financial safety and what the movie needs to be.” She’s constantly trying to get the script that’s on the page made for the budget it demands. The usual objections—it’s too risky; can we change the cast?; and can we do it for this budget number instead?—haven’t changed. “[Like in 2010] … when no one wanted to buy Blue Valentine, and then it ends up getting distributed and it gets
NATURAL BORN PRODUCER
And what I realized was that every single interaction I had on that day helped me. So when I stepped in front of the camera, I was able to do what I was there to do. “It really made me appreciate what kind of conditions you need to provide for your actors,” she continues, “in order for them to do what ultimately is the most important thing. You can prep your movies every which way but, at the end of the day, if your actors don’t have a space to work within that allows them to do their best, it’s literally all for nothing. Getting to know the other side of that was the most incredible experience, and I’m so grateful to Derek for giving me that.” Howell Taylor also feels fortunate to be in a position where she can consciously choose content that’s more representative of the diversity of her audience. I asked her if she sees a creative cost to that choice. “I don’t think that there’s a cost to doing it at all,” she answers. “I think that the cost, if anything, is just the continuing effort to educate the industry that there’s a benefit to it. But it doesn’t feel like a cost, it feels like a responsibility.” And she is determined to carry that responsibility to her crew. “In front of camera,
I’ve always had a pretty good commitment to inclusivity and diversity. But she admits, “Definitely behind the camera, I have not had the same level of representation. So I have a deep commitment to the projects that I’m producing, moving forward, to making sure I improve that. But there’s no cost to it. There’s only opportunity.” What’s next on her plate? Howell Taylor is moving into heavy development. She plans to “really focus more on optioning books, optioning articles and working with artists earlier on [in the process].” Perhaps that will help her fulfill her wish “to contribute positively to the content that [my daughter] watches.” She sees everything her kids watch and doesn’t worry about the strong protagonists available to her son, but her young daughter, although a tomboy and fierce soccer player, is already obsessed with princesses. Howell Taylor aims to solidify the notion that “she can do and be anything.” It’s a notion she’s clearly taken to heart when she reflects, “I think if I hadn’t gone into the arts, I would have tried to be an astronaut.” Let’s be glad she stayed here on earth and managed to find another way to reach the stars.
Howell Taylor with director Matt Ross on the set of Captain Fantastic
PHOTOGRAPH BY REGAN MACSTRAVIC
nominated for all these awards, suddenly, everybody loves it. So then you go into all these meetings with financiers and studios and they’re like, ‘We really want to make a Blue Valentine.’” Howell Taylor learned about financing from the other side of the table at East of Doheny, who were financiers as well as producers. She found “being the first stop” for investors a fascinating role, learning the best ways to approach people for money, and more importantly, the best ways not to. “Ultimately,” she reflects, “I realized that every company and every individual that decides to finance something has their own reasons for doing it. And you have to figure out what their reasons are—you can’t talk them into your reasons for why they should do it. Learning that lesson early on was really the foundation for me figuring out how to go and find partners for the movies I want to work on.” Working on a film, for Howell Taylor, even meant venturing to the other side of the camera on one occasion. The experience only reinforced her deep love and respect for actors, when she was tapped to play a role in The Place Beyond the Pines for Derek Cianfrance. (Sadly for her fans, her character ultimately didn’t end up in the film.) “Derek is so committed to truth and his actors really embodying their characters,” she observes. “He wants to do whatever he can to make those experiences in front of the camera as honest as possible. Even if he has a script, he loves to improvise. So he asked me if I would play a role that was in support of Bradley’s character … just to provide more color.” Howell Taylor said yes and approached the challenge with total focus, leading the improvised scene with Cooper and Emory Cohen. “It wasn’t scripted, and I was fucking terrified,” she admits. “So I said, ‘Okay, I cannot be a producer today.’” Howell Taylor was picked up by a teamster to get to set, sat in hair and makeup, was fitted in wardrobe and was greeted by the first PA, who walked her to set like any other cast member. “I rode through the full process and I’m terrified the whole time.
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A PRODUCERâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S GUIDE TO SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS
WRITTEN BY ZAC MILLER
IT’S THAT TIME AGAINthe Produced By conference is upon us. That means it’s time to shine those shoes, strengthen that handshake, order more business cards, and get ready to network. But while you’re focusing your attention on the colleagues you run in to at the conference, what about all the producers who can’t attend? What are you doing to reach them? Let’s face it, not every producer is adept at social media. We all understand the importance of traditional networking, but somehow social media networking seems less crucial. That’s because social media savvy doesn’t come naturally to many of us, myself included. The various platforms can seem tricky to navigate and rife with pitfalls. I’m 31, which technically makes me a millennial. I’m told that I’m supposed to eat, sleep and breathe social media, but more often than not it feels like a digital pit into which I pour time and energy with little to show for it. That changed last year when I launched my own branded entertainment production company and suddenly found myself producing social media video. Once I began working with brands on their social media messaging, I quickly realized that my own lackluster social media presence was a potential liability and needed some serious work. Social media is an incredibly powerful tool that I was underutilizing because I simply wasn’t interested in it. Not only was I missing an opportunity by neglecting my personal social media brand, but I was potentially doing professional damage by not presenting a cohesive, professional social media appearance. So, I did what any good producer would do when faced with a problem that falls outside of my expertise—I found people who know more about this than I do and I asked for help. After seeking the advice of friends, colleagues and experts, I’ve developed the following social media strategy guide.
DEFINE A GOAL The first thing most social media pros will tell you is that you need to define a clear and realistic social media objective. This objective shouldn’t be “to get to a million followers.” That’s not a useful goal, because simply having a lot of followers doesn’t necessarily result in tangible, real-world success. Although having a large following never hurts, we live in a world rampant with bots and purchased “influence.” There is a huge difference between followers and engaged, meaningful supporters. A good initial goal should be to focus on locating and engaging the right community of people online. You wouldn’t try to network with every human you run into at the Produced By Conference, right? Of course not—you want to have rewarding conversations with the people you find interesting and who share your sensibility and passion. Whom you target on social media depends on your professional goals. Begin by considering your current in-person networking strategy and identifying your target social circles. You may be an indie producer whose biggest hurdle is securing funding for your films or a television producer who is always on the lookout for fresh writing talent. Ask
DEFINE A GOAL
PICK THE RIGHT PLATFORM
yourself, what new connections do I hope to make and what type of content speaks to those audiences? What groups of people do I want to engage professionally? What are my current professional challenges and who can help me overcome them? If you approach these questions methodically and strategically, not only will you find a meaningful audience, but you will discover other like-minded producers with whom you can engage and grow your network.
PICK THE RIGHT PLATFORM
LEARN THE RULES
CRAFT A STRATEGY THAT FITS YOU
Congratulations. You’ve defined your target audience and you have a goal! Now you need to identify the best social media platform based on where your audience congregates. You can’t jump in to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, Linkedin, and G+ all at once and expect to be successful. Social media requires too much time, and we’re all too busy to be everywhere at once. It’s better to commit to one or two social media platforms and do them really well. I personally find Instagram to be the best platform for me because it’s filled with people sharing inspiring visual work. If you feel drawn to a particular social platform, chances are it’s the right one for you. Jane Owen is a successful publicist who helps her clients manage their social media presence. She works with clients on every platform, but she’s tactical about her personal social media use. Rather than expend endless time and energy curating a presence everywhere, she focuses on Instagram and Facebook. Jane warned me that it’s better to have nothing on social media than an account that is done badly or that looks and feels unprofessional. So keep those inappropriate hot tub pics off of your professional accounts.
LEARN THE RULES Once you find the best platform for you, it’s time to start firing off those hot political takes, right? Maybe. But first, consider the advice John Heinsen gave me. Heinsen runs Bunnygraph Entertainment and is the former Chair of the PGA’s New Media Council. He suggested I think of each social media platform as a different casino game in Las Vegas. If you were going to strike up a conversation with the players at the nickel slot machines, would you approach them the same way you approach the players at the high stakes poker tables? Heinsen explained that before you can be successful at any social platform, you need to learn the rules of that platform. “Every social platform has a different language and a rhythm to it,” he reminds me, “so you can’t just take the same photo and slap it everywhere.” A post that works well on Instagram may not work as well on Twitter or Facebook because the language and expectations of those social platforms are different. Learning the rules means knowing how often and what type of content you should post. It means learning how to tone your posts to fit the culture of that specific platform. It informs the length of each post and how you engage others. A good way to begin learning the rules is to identify the people you admire and analyze what they’re doing. Understanding the rules positions you to succeed within the social media community you’ve chosen. If you don’t bother to learn
ZAMBARLOUKOS, BSC, GSC Using the world’s largest LED Enhanced Environment for Murder on the Orient Express
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the rules (or brazenly ignore them), you risk alienating your audience and losing important followers. Heinsen uses the term “rhythm,” and that’s a great way to think of it—if your rhythm is off, nobody will want to listen.
CRAFT A STRATEGY THAT FITS YOU
“THERE’S NOTHING THAT MAKES YOU SPECIAL BY JUST BEING A PRODUCER. WHAT MAKES YOU SPECIAL IS HOW YOU DO THE JOB, HOW YOU TREAT THE PEOPLE YOU’RE AROUND AND YOUR POINT OF VIEW.”
Different producers take different approaches to social media, but as long as you’re authentic and consistent, any strategy can be successful. Deniese Davis is a PGA member, producer at Issa Rae Productions and the COO of Color Creative, which she founded with Rae. She’s not focused on gaining the most followers or promoting her shows; rather she successfully curates an authentic, thoughtful and highly personal collection of images and videos. Davis doesn’t post more than a few times a month, but her Instagram strategy allows for infrequent posting. She told me, “I want to have a diverse gallery of photos and videos of what’s going on in my life and make that interesting.” Davis puts her own spin on the content she posts and avoids sharing anything that isn’t unique, especially interesting or meaningful or to her. “If I’m in a group photo that 20 other people are also posting,” she smiles, “I’m going to be the one who doesn’t post it.” Davis wants her followers to get a genuine understanding of her personality. The result is powerful, and anyone who follows her Instagram account will be able to get a true feeling for who she is and her sensibility as a producer. Mike Pecci is a director, producer and a partner at McFarland & Pecci, a thriving full-service production company in Boston. His approach to Instagram is completely different than Davis’. Pecci is constantly promoting his films by posting everything from behind-the-scenes photos and movie posters to stylized pictures of his
food. His approach works because it expresses his personality and provides an exclusive picture of his life and work. He posts at least once every day and does everything he can to engage his followers, including running contests where they have the chance to gain special access to his films and win swag. This amount of engagement takes a lot of time and effort, but his followers are true fans and have helped Pecci gain tangible results. “I have a better chance of having more of a say about what happens with my stuff if I have an audience behind me,” he observes. “I can turn to a distributor and say, ‘I have a couple thousand people in Germany who want to see this film,’ and I know that because they tell me they want to see it.” It’s easy to get frustrated with social media because it’s timeconsuming, feels like a numbers game, and its professional payoffs often appear intangible. Both Davis and Pecci are successfully leveraging social media to extend their professional reach, by staying true to themselves and strategic about their social media presence. You can do the same as long as you stay constant, sincere and smart about how you’re representing yourself online. At the end of the day, social media is about being genuine and sharing something meaningful with the world. Something Pecci said really stuck with me. He told me, “There’s nothing that makes you special by just being a producer. What makes you special is how you do the job, how you treat the people you’re around and your point of view. In a world where everything is being “algorithm-ed” at us, and everything is being selected for us, it’s still really nice to get a human point of view. I think that the unsuccessful stories are the ones that feel like an algorithm.” I think he’s got the right idea.
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SCARING is Caring
Jack Davis and Crypt TV Connect the MillenNial Masses with Their Monsters Written by Kevin Perry photographed by kremer johnson photography
F O R YO U R E M M Y C O N S I D E R AT I O N O U T S TA N D I N G D R A M A S E R I E S ®
“ONE OF THE GREAT DRAMA SERIES
IN TELEVISION HISTORY”
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The horror-going experience is a macabre blend of intimacy and community. WE HUDDLE IN THE DARK, COWERING FROM GHOULS AND GORE, AND WE ARE SIMULTANEOUSLY TOGETHER AND ALONE. THIS DYNAMIC IS AKIN TO THE LURE OF SOCIAL MEDIA. WE CONSUME IT EN MASSE, BUT IT IS INTENSELY PERSONAL (AND OCCASIONALLY FRIGHTENING), LIKE A PIXELATED PUPPET MASTER, TWISTING US TO HIS DIGITAL WHIMS… Meet Jack Davis, the 26-year-old CEO of Crypt TV. “I started Crypt not long after I graduated college,” he recounts. “I’m from Los Angeles, so I feel like I have entertainment in my blood more than I care to admit. I grew up in LA around this whole crazy world.” In fact, Jack is the son of producer John Davis, who is credited with hits as disparate in time and tone as 1987’s Predator and 2017’s Ferdinand. But Jack looked beyond his family ties when cinching together the hottest online horror brand in town. “I had this friendship with Eli Roth and called him up and said, ‘Nobody is doing this genre, for this medium. Maybe we should try it.’” That’s when Crypt TV was born in blood and brash ideas. “I think the connectivity Eli brings to the company is the perspective of a filmmaker,” assesses Davis. “He has said to me on many occasions, ‘I wish I had something like Crypt when I was 25. How much could that have advanced my career?’ Getting that shot. We try to give filmmakers a shot.” And it was a mighty inaugural blast. Roth and Davis enlisted hordes of ravenous horror fans to contribute to 6-Second Scare, a user-generated contest that played out on Vine in October of 2014. “The test went past our wildest expectations,” beams Davis. “Over 15,000 submissions, Eli ended up on Good Morning America to talk about the contest, and the content was great! Really exciting!” Jack Davis has enthusiasm that can’t be contained in six-second clips. His boundless ambition and social media acumen soon caught the attention of the two-time Oscar nominee who puts the house in horror powerhouse. “During that time, Jason Blum saw what we were doing. Jason and Eli had a friendship, and he agreed to come on and be our first investor and strategic partner.” Davis marvels at
the chaotic chronology of the ensuing events, noting that Blum “invested in Crypt in March of 2015, and we officially launched in April of 2015.” The schedule was as torturous as a Crypt TV death scene, but Jason Blum is impressed by his protégé, declaring that Davis has “delivered on everything he’s said, and that is very rare in anyone, especially when you’re young. So I feel very lucky to be in business with him … he’s definitely one of the most talented people I’ve encountered.” Blum specifically praises Crypt’s data-driven digital approach. “Production on TV or movies takes so long; it’s much slower and much less reactive. So I think Jack has really taken advantage of the technology behind Crypt to inform the storytelling.” Over the next three years, Davis wielded his tech prowess to transform a startup creepshow into a social media juggernaut. “We have over seven million fans on Facebook.” He says it without an ounce of braggadocio, but rather with an eye for metrics. “There’s something so powerful about reaching that young consumer on their phone. You get so much data from that, so many analytics from that. We have a frictionless relationship with our audience. That allows us to move fast, to grow our IP fast, to constantly be serving the audience and listening to them.” When Davis discusses market research, it goes far beyond likes and shares. “We have sentiment scores around each character. How does the average length of a comment increase over an episode? When are people tuning in? When are they tuning out? The data is impacting those creative decisions.” His rat-a-tat delivery is a dizzying mix of revelry and reverence. “If you’re all data and don’t respect the creative process of the filmmakers, you’re going to lose. But if you don’t listen to the data and make this stuff for the
SCARING IS CARING
audience based on what they’ve already told you, through either their comments or when they tune out or their viewing duration, then that’s not good either. It’s really a marriage.” The spiritual spouse to Davis’ beloved data is creativity, and one of the most successful directors collaborating with Crypt TV is Landon Stahmer. When asked about his CEO’s affinity for audience trends, Stahmer praises, “Jack is such a good learner. He’s bold at swinging at things and he’s really, really quick to learn. I think that’s amazing, and it really trickles down in their company … Crypt is really smart. They’ve really been watching what the fans want and how they’re reacting. Engagement is huge. It’s one thing to get views, but engagement is another aspect of that. Comments and likes and shares—those are the things that tell a company like Crypt, or creators out there, that this is something that’s viable and moving towards something bigger.” “Bigger” is an epic understatement when you consider that Davis is modeling his company after the most successful entertainment franchise of our generation. “We want to be the next Marvel for monsters. Marvel for monsters.” He repeats the mantra like Jimmy Two-Times from Goodfellas before resuming his analytical assault. “What makes Marvel so amazing is the love people have for these characters, but also their staying power. People are really interested in their stories over decades.” So how does Davis plan to go toeto-severed-toe with the big screen phenomenon that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe? When asked directly, he invokes the almighty nondisclosure agreement. “That’s a story for a later day. I will tell you that we have a guided universe document here that only three people have ever looked at or read or seen. But we have a plan for all of this. You’re gonna see the Crypt monster universe start to come together in future seasons of our shows this summer.” But while the major studios are clamoring for screen counts and IMAX
space this blockbuster season, Davis is setting his sights on the precious real estate in your hands. “People always think about scary movies being in the theater, and it’s a shared experience and you’re in the dark and you feel safe, but you can feel suspended reality enough to enjoy the scares. But most Crypt fans are watching this stuff in a solo experience; they’re watching it on the phone. The part of the experience that makes it shared is the comments section, the fact that there’s a whole community of Crypt fans that self-identify and self-aggregate. Scary is the genre that people can rally and unite around.”
reality starlet who conducts woman-onthe-street experiments across multiple platforms, interacting with unwitting victims in the real world. “The impetus with Giggles is creating a character born through social media—something that’s authentic, true and nascent to the way people enjoy content now: very accessible, do-it-yourself posting.” By terrorizing the Insta-landscape, Giggles carves a new set of monster motifs into Davis’ wheelhouse. “Giggles is all about self-empowerment. Her slogan is born a clown, as in I was born this way, I’m proud of it, I don’t feel pressure to conform to typical beauty standards.”
“AT THE END OF THE DAY, WE’RE GONNA BE MORE LOYAL TO WHAT THE CRYPT FAN WANTS THAN TO WHAT WE WANT, PERSONALLY.“ Beneath the blood-soaked umbrella that Davis designates as scary, he deconstructs a multi-tiered breakdown of subgenres, starting with two major Crypt TV classifications. “I look at the company as scripted and non-scripted. They’re obviously totally different business models, totally different feels of what you’re trying to create.” On the non-scripted side of the sword, Crypt’s marquee monster is Giggles the grotesque clown princess. She’s a
This launches Davis into a gleeful diatribe, cataloguing Crypt TV’s greatest hits and their even greater themes. “The Birch is about bullying; and the response to it. Birch has over 30 million views on the internet, we won a Webby for Best Drama, people have had full tattoos of the Birch on their back. The amount of fan art we get from The Birch is insane; people are obsessed with Birch. Yes, the monster is awesome and visual, but guess what? It’s a deep story about something meaningful.”
SCARING IS CARING
Mobilize your crew.
PHOTOGRAPH BY LARA SOLANKI
SCARING IS CARING
Jack Davis chills with two of Crypt TV’s signature characters, Taylor of Sunny Family Cult and Giggles the Clown.
Gaining momentum, Davis dons metaphorical rose-colored glasses when describing Crypt’s popular killer-cabal series. “Sunny Family Cult is about a young girl coming of age and trying to accept whether or not she wants to join the family business while also dealing with the difficulties of school. It’s just that the family business happens to be a murderous cult.” Now reaching a crescendo, Davis becomes reflective. “Look-See is about grief and letting go. So it’s all about these deep themes, and scary just gives you the unique permission structure to tell these stories.” One of the prime beneficiaries of Crypt’s liberating creative license is Look-See director Landon Stahmer. “The Look-See is a representation of attachment to the past. He’s made up of pieces of his victims. The past doesn’t really need to see or smell or
hear; it just consumes us when we focus too much on it.” Summoning his feral philosopher within, Stahmer continues, “The word monster comes from a Latin word that means to warn and advise. I think that it’s a pretty therapeutic way to explore some things about life.” But the Crypt TV generation doesn’t merely watch monsters; they become them. Davis and his tech team are creating Augmented Reality (AR) experiences that literally put users behind the mask. “How accessible the monster is matters—what will allow the viewer to put themselves in the story and really engage with it?” ponders Davis. “Can it become a mask? These are the questions we ask ourselves when we’re in the greenlighting process, when we’re in the development process. Can this grow into a mask? Is this a powerful visual? That will help us get
shots on goal. We’re gonna have hits and misses like anyone else, but our cost structure allows us to take risks and the data gives us a chance to have a higher hit rate than the average folk.” Translation: stay scrappy, stay cheap, stay millennial. It’s a fiendishly effective formula, according to indie horror maestro Blum. “Horror always skews younger. We like it for the same reason why we like rollercoasters and jumping out of airplanes, because it gets your adrenaline up. People like that because it makes them feel alive.” Blum asserts, “Crypt is catching younger people the way that they consume content and putting horror on their mobile devices. For that reason it makes a ton of sense.” And it potentially makes a ton of dollars. Crypt TV is dominating the digital airwaves, constantly blurring the line between social and media. As Davis surmises, “You follow your friends on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. Quite often we make it seem like our lives are a little bigger than they are, a little better than they are, a little happier than they are.” So, if real people are living a fantasy on social media, wonders Davis, then why can’t a fantasy invade reality? “Authenticity is so important on the internet and authenticity is so important in building a brand people connect to directly … We ultimately have to build an authentic brand for that Crypt fan, because that is how we grow the fastest, and that’s also how we can die the fastest.” Never one to succumb to fatalism, Davis perseveres. “We try to put into the culture of the company: don’t think that you know better than the audience.” Humbled and harkened by his data, Davis concludes, “At the end of the day, we’re gonna be more loyal to what the Crypt fan wants than to what we want, personally.” So, when the fans say jump, Crypt TV says how violently? Or, as Jack Davis puts it, “Listen, the writing is on the wall for big, macro changes that are happening via the consumer, and I live by the creed that the consumer is never wrong.”
FULL SPECTRUM Exceptional Minds creates vital opportunities for a unique set of students Written by Deborah Calla
PHOTOGRAPH BY TODD DAVIS
bout a year ago, I was invited by Susan Zwerman, a visual effects producer, PGA member and a DGA Frank Capra Achievement Award recipient, to come and visit Exceptional Minds, a school and studio dedicated to teaching visual effects and animation to young adults on the autism spectrum. As an activist for the employment and depiction of people with disabilities in media, I jumped at the opportunity. Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. The term “spectrum” reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths found among the autistic population. The Center for Disease Control estimates autism’s prevalence as 1
in 68 children in the United States alone, including 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls. I met Zwerman at the school’s boardroom where she shared the history and mission of Exceptional Minds. As I was guided from room to room and felt the amazing pride the students, artists and staff took in the work they were doing, I was blown away. I got to watch clips of finished work for big-budget Hollywood films and TV series such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Spider Man: Homecoming, Game of Thrones, and Prison Break being done by young adults on the autism spectrum. Sensing my wonder, Zwerman explained that a laser-like focus comes in handy when you need to adjust individual frames of a movie. “They’re really into details,” she tells me. “They zoom in, and they really want to fix it to the nth degree.” I wanted to know more. Based in Sherman Oaks, Exceptional Minds is the world’s only vocational school
and studio that gives people on the autism spectrum an opportunity to learn animation and visual effects and work on a range of post-production jobs from rotoscoping, to green screen work, to 2D animation. “If you want to know what’s on their minds, just look at their computer screens” says technical director Josh Dagg, who has supervised student artists’ work for feature films like the Golden Globe winner American Hustle. The training program lasts three years and is taught by instructors and teachers who work in the industry and who have received training from behaviorists on staff in working with people with autism. Once the students graduate, they are eligible to join the studio and start earning a paycheck. Exceptional Minds also tries, whenever possible, to place those graduates who demonstrate the desire and ability to succeed as full-time employees into major post-production positions at
Exceptional Minds Studio Executive Producer Susan Zwerman (front, right) with Marvel Studios Head of Physical Production Victoria Alonso (center) and (from left) Exceptional Minds Studio supervisor Immanuel Morris, Exceptional Minds graduates Eli Katz, Lloyd Hackl, Patrick Brady and Christopher Chapman.
“I HAVE SEEN HOW DIVERSITY OF THOUGHT MAY BE THE MOST MEANINGFUL FORM OF DIVERSITY THAT OUR SOCIETY NEEDS TO RECOGNIZE AND FOSTER AND INCLUDE.” tion whose minds are wired and think differently, and who have meaningful contributions to make to society and to our industry.” Once the school was up and running, it became clear that it wasn’t enough for these young adults simply to learn skills and occupy themselves. A job, and the attendant sense of responsibility and accomplishment, had to be the next step for Exceptional Minds. Bennett convinced her best friend, Susan Zwerman, to leave her successful career in VFX and help set up the studio. For Zwerman, it was a no-brainer. She had watched Noah grow up and felt committed to giving him and others like him a chance. Zwerman accepted the challenge and took on the task of producing, scheduling and budgeting work to come into the studio. “For me, personally,” she says, “this has been a spiritual journey. I have had such a good career in the industry, and this is my way of giving back.” Zwerman used her industry connections to get the studios to come and see the work that was being done at Exceptional Minds. Fox was the first to sign up, followed by Marvel Studios. Today the program has become so popular that they now have three potential students vying for every
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF EXCEPTIONAL MINDS
Hollywood companies such as Marvel Studios. Tony Saturno, a 2017 graduate of Exceptional Minds, has worked on The Good Doctor, Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther. He says he became interested in learning about visual effects after watching the first Iron Man. “I came from Maryland just to attend Exceptional Minds,” he shares. “Just that has given me a great deal of independence.” Exceptional Minds was born out of a sense of necessity. A group of parents with kids on the autism spectrum wanted to see their children grow up to be independent and active members of society. But as they looked around for their children’s futures, the stats were abysmal: 90% of adults with autism were and are unemployed or under-employed and an estimated 50,000 teens with autism become adults and lose school-based autism services each year. Yudi Bennett was one of those parents. She was a successful assistant director having to face raising her son Noah, who is on the autism spectrum, alone after her husband passed away. Thinking back on how well Noah had done in an after-school digital program, Bennett started to conceive of what a school that would teach animation and special effects to young people on the autism spectrum would look like. Exceptional Minds was launched in 2011 with nine students, software donated by Adobe and a fierce belief that as a society we can do better to create opportunity for others who are different. “I have seen how diversity of thought may be the most meaningful form of diversity that our society needs to recognize and foster and include,” notes PGA East Chair William Horberg, whose own child is on the autism spectrum. “There is a growing popula-
single spot in the school. People travel from as far as South America and Asia to come learn. Their summer session draws about 160 students for two-week classes. “Yudi Bennett is a pioneer and a hero,” says Horberg, “for the work she does at Exceptional Minds to create awareness and opportunities for employment in media for these young people. I wish there were a thousand more like her!” Unfortunately, there aren’t. As we reassess the nature of equality in employment and the portrayal of minority groups in the entertainment industry, people with disabilities—who today make up the largest minority in the country—are often left out of the conversation. Janet Grillo, Chair of the Education Committee for PGA East, is on point, observing, “Children with autism become adults with lifelong challenges, as well as aptitudes which are uniquely suited to aspects of our industry.” So why can’t we fight for the inclusion of people with disabilities and offer best practices with the same fervor we are now doing for women, people of color and LGBQT? The answers vary, but in truth, they don’t matter anywhere near as much as the simple recognition of the value that people with disabilities bring to the fabric of our society and the contributions they can make. John V. Chapman, the father of an Exceptional Minds student, poignantly states, “For the first time in our 22 years with Christopher, we have found a place where people care deeply about him and understand his plight, where people believe in his abilities and can help our beautiful son do more with life than bag groceries at Vons or stock shelves at Sears.” As a society we have moral responsibilities. As artists we must reflect our society. And as an industry, we have the opportunity to tap into a market with $200 billion in buying power. People with disabilities want to be productive members of our society. Our
PHOTOGRAPH BY ADRIEN DELSTANCHE
“WE HAVE THE CHANCE TO CREATE OPPORTUNITY, BY TELLING STORIES BY, ABOUT AND WITH PEOPLE ON THE SPECTRUM—AND BY OFFERING THEM A PLACE ON OUR SETS, IN OUR PRODUCTION HOUSES, IN OUR COMMUNITY AND IN OUR HEARTS.” community must step up and support programs like Exceptional Minds that teach, employ and serve as a bridge for this unique group. “As working producers,” observes Grillo, “we have the chance to create opportunity, by telling stories by, about and with people on the spectrum— and by offering them a place on our
sets,iourproduction houses, in our community and in our hearts.” Deborah Calla is the Co-chair of the PGA Diversity Committee and the Chair of the Media Access Awards, which celebrates people in the entertainment industry who advance the portrayal and employment of people with disabilities.
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MARKING TIME The Producers Guild proudly salutes the following whose credits have been certified with the Producers Mark. This list includes films released in April and May. Certification via the Producers Mark indicates that a producer undertook a major portion of the producing duties on the motion picture.
AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR Kevin Feige, p.g.a.
BEIRUT Mike Weber, p.g.a. Shivani Rawat, p.g.a. & Monica Levinson, p.g.a.
BLOCKERS Evan Goldberg, p.g.a. James Weaver, p.g.a.
BREAKING IN Will Packer, p.g.a. James Lopez, p.g.a. Craig Perry, p.g.a.
CHAPPAQUIDDICK Mark Ciardi, p.g.a. Campbell McInnes, p.g.a.
CLASS RANK Shaun Sanghani, p.g.a. Sandy Stern, p.g.a.
DEADPOOL 2 Simon Kinberg, p.g.a. Ryan Reynolds, p.g.a.
DISOBEDIENCE Frida Torresblanco, p.g.a. Ed Guiney, p.g.a. Rachel Weisz, p.g.a.
LIFE OF THE PARTY Melissa McCarthy, p.g.a. Ben Falcone, p.g.a. Chris Henchy, p.g.a.
OVERBOARD Eugenio Derbez, p.g.a. Benjamin Odell, p.g.a. Bob Fisher, p.g.a.
A QUIET PLACE Michael Bay, p.g.a. Andrew Form, p.g.a. Brad Fuller, p.g.a.
RAMPAGE Beau Flynn, p.g.a. John Rickard, p.g.a.
RAY MEETS HELEN Steven J. Wolfe, p.g.a. Etchie Stroh, p.g.a.
THE SEAGULL Tom Hulce, p.g.a. Leslie Urdang, p.g.a.
SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY Kathleen Kennedy, p.g.a. Allison Shearmur, p.g.a. Simon Emanuel, p.g.a.
TRAFFIK FEAR, LOVE, AND AGORAPHOBIA Markus Linecker, p.g.a. Dustin Coffey, p.g.a. Alex Dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Lerma, p.g.a.
To apply for producers mark certification, visit us online at producersguildawards.com.
Christine Vachon, p.g.a. David Hinojosa, p.g.a. Frank Murray, p.g.a.
Deon Taylor, p.g.a. Roxanne Avent, p.g.a.
TULLY Mason Novick, p.g.a. Helen Estabrook, p.g.a. Jason Reitman, p.g.a. Aaron Gilbert, p.g.a.
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FAQ: THE PRODUCERS MARK those three little letters have a lot backing them up.
WHEN I SEE P.G.A. AFTER A PRODUCER’S NAME IN A MOVIE’S CREDITS, WHAT DOES IT MEAN? It means that according to the rules of the Producers Guild’s certification process, that producer performed a major portion of the producing functions on that particular motion picture.
DOES THE P.G.A. AFTER THE PRODUCER’S NAME MEAN THAT THE PRODUCER IS A MEMBER OF THE PRODUCERS GUILD? NO. A producer does not need to be a member of the PGA to receive the “p.g.a.” designation after their name. In many cases, the sets of initials you see in movie credits (such as A.S.C. and A.C.E.) indicate membership in an organization. The Producers Mark is different. It’s a certification mark; its purpose is to designate that the producer has met an officially recognized standard of performance on that film.
IF A PRODUCER DOESN’T RECEIVE THE P.G.A. MARK FROM THE PRODUCERS GUILD, WHAT HAPPENS TO THEIR PRODUCING CREDIT? Nothing. The Producers Mark doesn’t control or affect the “Produced by” credit in any way, nor does it invalidate that credit by its absence.
WHAT IMPACT DOES THE P.G.A. MARK HAVE ON AWARDS? Determinations for the Producers Mark and for producer award eligibility are determined at the same time and via the
same process. In addition to the PGA, AMPAS, HFPA and BAFTA all rely on the PGA process to guide their decisionmaking. However the final selection of nominees is always at the discretion of the organization giving the award. Overwhelmingly, these organizations concur with the PGA determinations, but occasionally, the decisions diverge.
WHAT’S THE PROCESS? The process is initiated by the copyright owner of the film. After the postproduction process has commenced, but 4-6 weeks before credits are locked, the owner submits a film for consideration via ProducersGuildAwards.com. Within 2-3 weeks, the PGA sends out eligibility forms to every producer credited as “Produced By” or “Producer” on the film and sends confidential verification forms to a wide variety of third parties associated with the production of the film: the director(s), writer(s), department heads, company executives and key crew members. Once forms have been returned, the PGA convenes a panel of arbiters, each of them active and experienced producers with numerous (and recent) credits, typically in the genre or category of the film under consideration. (i.e., If the film is a major studio tentpole, we try to utilize arbiters with considerable experience in making those big-budget studio pictures. If the film is a smaller indie movie, we rely on producers familiar with that type of production, etc.) An initial arbitration panel typically has three arbiters, though in rare circumstances two are used. The arbiters review all materials
returned to the PGA by the producers and third parties, with all personal names and company names redacted, so that arbiters can arrive at a judgment based on the testimony provided rather than the name recognition and perceived reputation of the producers. Following the determination, the PGA staff informs the producers of the decision. Producers who object to the decision have five days to notify the Guild of an intent to appeal. After giving producers the opportunity to add to or clarify their testimony, the PGA will convene a new panel of arbiters. All appellate panels consist of three producers. If the initial decision was unanimous, the appellate panel will consist of one producer from the original panel and two new producers; if the initial decision was not unanimous, the appellate panel will consist of three new producers. The decision of the appellate panel is final.
SO WHEN ARBITERS ARE LOOKING AT THESE FORMS, WHAT ARE THEY SEEING? The eligibility form filled out by producers asks them to indicate their level of responsibility for a variety of producing functions spanning development, preproduction, physical production and post-production. The form also includes a free-response section for the producer to more fully elaborate on the specifics of the production and their role on the film. The verification forms filled out by third parties typically ask the respondent questions related to the nature of their collaboration with the credited producers.
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(For instance, the verification form for editors asks the editor to designate which producer(s) consulted with the editor regarding dailies, gave notes on cuts or participated in screenings.)
WHO SELECTS WHICH ARBITERS VET THE CREDITS OF WHICH MOTION PICTURES? That determination is made by the PGA’s Director of Legal Affairs and Arbitrations in consultation with the National Executive Director.
WHAT IF THE PGA SELECTS AN ARBITER WHO (UNBEKNOWNST TO THEM) IS BIASED AGAINST A GIVEN PRODUCER OR FILM? The Guild takes proactive measures to prevent that from happening. Prior to convening the panel, the PGA provides all producers with a list of potential arbiters. Producers are free to strike any arbiter for any reason. Such arbiters will not be empaneled for that particular film. Furthermore, all arbiters are asked to affirmatively state that they have no interests in the films to be arbitrated that might result in a biased judgment. Even if all of those hurdles are cleared, an arbiter will be removed from the process if they or the PGA administrator feels that bias is affecting their judgment.
WHY CAN’T THE PGA BE MORE TRANSPARENT ABOUT THE PROCESS? We maintain the strictest confidentiality around the identities of the producers, third parties and arbiters involved because such confidence is the only
p.g.a. way we can hope to get accurate and truthful information. Many producers are powerful figures in this industry and this might put pressure on third parties and arbiters to achieve a desired decision. Keeping those identities confidential is the only way to maintain the integrity of the process.
ONCE A PRODUCER’S CREDIT IS CERTIFIED WITH THE P.G.A. MARK, IS THAT CERTIFICATION APPLIED PERMANENTLY TO ALL OF THE PRODUCER’S FILMS? No. A Producers Mark appended to a producing credit applies to that film only. It represents the nature of the work performed on that film alone and does not “carry over” to future productions.
WHY DO SOME FILMS CARRY THE P.G.A. MARK, BUT NOT OTHERS? The Producers Mark is voluntary. Each of the major studios—Universal, Disney, Warner Bros., Sony, Paramount and Fox—has signed a contractual agreement to submit their films to the Guild for credit certification, as have Lionsgate, DreamWorks and DreamWorks Animation, Lucasfilm, Marvel, MGM, New Line and Pixar. If an independently owned film elects not to participate, we can’t
force them to submit for certification. The Producers Mark also is recognized by the WGA, DGA and SAG-AFTRA. The PGA has agreed not to license the Producers Mark for use with any combined credit (e.g., “Directed and Produced By …”)
WHO DOES THE PRODUCERS GUILD REPRESENT? The PGA is composed of over 7,500 professionals working in motion pictures, television and digital media throughout the United States and around the world.
HOW IS THE PGA DIFFERENT FROM ITS FELLOW GUILDS? Unlike the DGA, WGA and SAG-AFTRA, the PGA is not a labor union. This means that we can’t go on strike, set wage minimums, or negotiate collective bargaining agreements on behalf of our membership. As we are now the largest professional trade organization in the entertainment industry, the PGA provides numerous benefits for its members, including educational and training events, employment opportunities, social and networking functions, and a collective voice that represents and protects the varied interests of producers and their teams, including the Producers Mark. ■
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HERE’S TO YOUR HEALTH
n our August/September issue, we covered current options for health care coverage for PGA members. The flowchart below will help you to determine which of the PGA options (if any) are a good fit for you, but in summary, those options include…
• Comprehensive coverage under the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan • Predicated on meeting a variety of conditions, including job titles, type of production and number of hours worked over a 6-month period. • Employers not obligated to provide this coverage; it must be requested by the employee and approved by the employer. However, cost to employers is reasonable enough that many will agree to provide coverage.
Do you have health insurance?
• Coverage via OpenHealth Entertainment Trust MEWA (Multiple Employer Welfare Association) plans. • OpenHealth is an offshoot of the Cast & Crew payroll company. You need not be a Cast & Crew client to be eligible. • Eligible producers must run—and be paid out of—their own companies. • Eligible companies are defined as having a minimum of two (2) employees, one of whom can be yourself.
Is it employerpaid?
Are you the owner of a company?
• Coverage via individual plans on open market, in consultation with The Actor’s Fund. • The Actors Fund extends beyond actors, as the official organization representing the Affordable Care Act to the entire entertainment industry. • The Actors’s Fund offers consultations and monthly seminars geared to help industry pros find the best health care options for themselves and their families.
Are you typically credited as Producer/Produced by/Executive Producer, Associate Producer?
Congratulations! You’re one of the lucky ones.
Do you work for an AMPTP signatory? Yes
Do you work on a theatrical motion picture, primetime network program, or primetime first-run syndicated program?
Contact Open Health at (866) 491-4001 and request information about their MEWA offerings.
Could you form a company? You only need two employees, one of whom can be yourself.
Contact The Actor’s Fund at (800) 2217303 (New York) or (888) 825-0911 (Los Angeles) to inquire about self-paid coverage.
Does your production utilize a West Coast IA crew?
Have you been credited with 600 hours of such work over the past six months. The MPIHP presumes a 60-hour workweek.
Contact your payroll or labor relations department. Request the “Election to Participate in the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan” form to give to your employer.
Did your employer agree to make contributions to the MPIHP?
Congratulations! You’ve got employerpaid health coverage. You must work 400 hours (the MPIHP presumes a 60-hour workweek) to maintain your coverage.
P G A AT YO U R SERVICE
NEW MEMBERS The Producers Guild is proud to welcome the following new members, who joined the Guild in April and May, 2018.
Brent Almond Stuart Alson Bob Barlen Michael Bloom Alexia Cirino Diane Cornell Christopher Costine Leslie Cowan Judy Craymer Alfonso Cuaron John Dahl Carson Daly Mychelle Deschamps David Eisenberg Mike Farah 1 Gleb Fetisov Jessica Gaston Megan Gilbride Marcie Gold Jacoby Bradley Kell Erik Kenward Ara Keshishian Charles King Michael Klein Steven Kochones Christopher Kramer John Landolfi Chris Leanza Barry Levinson Erin Leyden Dimitri Logothetis 6
Jennifer Lopez Philip Lord Hayden Mauk Tom Mazza Russ McCarroll Kevin McKeon Frank Merle Brian Metcalf John Middleton James Miller Bruce Miller Jeff Miller Carmen Mitcho Audrey Morrissey Elisabeth Moss 2 Adam Neuhaus Clare Nolan David Offenheiser Ailee O’Neill Evelyn O’Neill Daniel Palladino Ritu Pande Jonathan Perkins John Rickard Nestor Rodriguez Jenna Santoianni Amy Sherman-Palladino 3 Lindsay Shookus James Smith Zack Snyder Peter Sobiloff Andrew Tappon 7
Wendi Trilling Kerry Washington 4 Berry Welsh William Wright
NEW MEDIA COUNCIL Ajae Clearway Sean Dacanay Jack Davis Eric Day Jared Geller Eri Hawkins Aviv Nissan-Russ 5 Carol Norton Nicholas Platt Kristen Reardon Douglas Reilly Ethrina Reyes Michelle Romano Edward Siebert
AP COUNCIL ASSOCIATE PRODUCER/ PRODUCTION MANAGER/ PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR John Bartnicki James Baumgartner Anthony Cox Sybil Curry Andy Keeter Greg Lauritano John Mader Jason Mauro Persephone McFadden Megan Roger Jennifer Teter Cambria Watson Alison Winter Steve Yandrich
SEGMENT/FIELD/ STORY PRODUCER Diana Lampiasi 6 William Peloquin
PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Kelly Ferrara Brianna Hart Jesus Heredia 7 Stephanie Noel Elizabeth Ussery
POST PRODUCTION Jessica Bail Matthew Bolton Daniel Gilbert Rachel Korman Susan Lazarus Jake McKay Erica Myrickes Alexandra Nurthen Frank Salvino Courtney Sonnenburg
VISUAL EFFECTS Gretchen Libby Lily Shapiro
COMING SOON A new sagaftra.org
P G A AT YO U R SERVICE
MEMBER BENEFITS ■ Vote on Producers Guild Awards and receive discount tickets to the event, as well as DVD screeners for awards consideration.
■ Eligibility for PGA Mentoring Program.
■ Discounted registration for Produced By Conference and Produced By: New York. ■ Admission to special PGA pre-release screenings and Q&A events. ■ Full access to PGA website including events, calendar, social networking tools, members-only video library.
■ Listing of contact and credit information in searchable online roster. ■ Arbitration of credit disputes. ■ Eligibility for individual, family and small business health care options through Producers Health Insurance Agency. ■ Free attendance at PGA seminars. ■ Wide variety of discounts on events, merchandise, travel.
■ Participation in the Motion Picture Industry Health, Welfare & Pension Plan.
■ Complimentary subscription to Produced By.
Join our diverse community of over 6,500 filmmakers and film lovers who enjoy memorable cinematic experiences all year long. LEARN MORE AND BECOME A MEMBER AT
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■ Access to PGA Job Board, online resume search, employment tools and job forums.
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THE BEST ON-SET PHOTO OF ALL TIME
THE LONG VIEW
or most of their history, cameras—still and motion picture alike—have been inherently directional. Draw a straight line from the lens to the subject, and what you’ve marked out is the effective space of the act of photography. For decades, we’ve taken it as a given that such narrowness of focus is an essential of visual storytelling. The fundamental bargain: You’ll be moved to laugh, cry and hold your breath in thrilled anticipation, so long as you agree to pretend that nothing exists outside that frame. One of the most exciting things about new technologies is the way they threaten to explode this bargain. You see it in the theater-in-the-round quality of our nascent VR storytelling or in even something as accessible as the panorama mode for the camera app of your mobile device. Which brings us to the Catskill Mountain Lodge in Palenville, NY on a beautiful spring day in 2015. The image above comes to us from the set of Darcy, an independent feature produced by PGA member Heidi Phillipsen and co-directed by Phillipsen and Jon Russell Cring. It’s the last day of the shoot, and the setup is for the film’s “big reveal,” as the producer characterizes it, an emotionally wrenching moment that the entire story turns on, after which “all hell breaks loose.” Cring, the slender gentleman in the brown shirt on the right of the frame, will be calling “action!” in a few seconds. The image was shot by gaffer Caroline Mariko Stucky, and we love it because the essential subject of the shot is invisible. There
are 16 different people in this photo, and yet it’s not “about” any of them. What it’s about is the spontaneous orientation of the team at the most essential instant of a project that took months, even years, to get to this precise time and place. “Nearly our entire crew is on hand,” observes Phillipsen, “prepped, waiting, making things happen and standing by … It’s that moment right before the escalation to the ultimate climax. And it was ‘all hands on deck’ to be ready and watching.” The specific object of this collective focus isn’t entirely clear … and that’s the point. That collective focus is itself the true subject of this image. “I love this shot so much because it illustrates the magnetic power of a team working together in film,” says Phillipsen, and we couldn’t agree more. Ten years ago, it wouldn’t have been possible to tell this story in a single image. Who knows what will be possible 10 years from now? But by way of a caveat, we’ll note that the producer herself doesn’t appear in the image. Playing a role in the film, she’s off “in the wings” with her fellow cast members, putting the big-picture stresses of production aside to zero in on the second-to-second emotional truth of the story … a story that she and her co-director brought to life, spurred by heartbreak and dark days we don’t have space to get into on this page. Consider it a reminder that even if your field extends to 180 or 360°, there are always countless other stories hovering like ghosts outside the frame. ■
We know what you’re thinking. “Best of all time? No way. I’ve got an on-set photo way better than that.” If that’s the case, we dare you to prove it. Submit it to BOSPOAT@producersguild.org. Before you submit, please review the contest rules at producersguild.org/bospoat. Because no matter how great your photo is, we have no desire to get sued over it.
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