Like any good film story, I had a
goal and a problem. The solution turned out to be the PGA Mentoring Program.
I had worked
successfully as a non-fiction producer, but I wanted to work in fiction
features as a writer and producer. How was I going to make that transition,
especially as the years were creeping on? I felt I had the right script (my own
low-budget drama that I’d been developing/pitching for three years), but what I
understood about film finance would barely fill the zero in a net profit
applied to the PGA Mentoring Program, I was excited when I learned that I had
been slotted with Peter Bevan, English-born but now LA-based producer of 14
features and current executive vice president of production at Umedia.
dozens of questions about feature production while Peter efficiently organized
our first meeting at the exclusive and swanky Soho House. After being surprised
that Soho House actually let me in, I met Peter: tall, calm, affable and half
my age! We politely small-talked, then I peppered him with questions about
topics like foreign tax incentives, pitching equity investors, finance from
presales (especially the market value of male vs. female talent) and contacting
Hollywood players who might have a personal interest in the themes of the
And that was
just meeting #1. He arranged meeting #2 at Jones in West Hollywood. I was still
struggling with the complexities of film finance, so Peter patiently went
through how it works, including the relationships between parts of a finance
package: equity, tax shelter, pre-sales, gap, tax incentives. We also worked up
lists of Australian and British talents who are strong in the foreign presale
market. (I am Australian born and will film the story there.) Peter also
advised me about finding an Australian co-producer, including the need to
protect myself as the originating producer.
Meeting #3, our last, was at Graffiti Café on La Brea. As I walked into yet
another classy café, I blurted out my suspicion to Peter that I was really
being filmed for some hidden camera reality show about cafés. Peter kindly
allayed my fears as we discussed government development money and
pre-production. (Be 100% certain that the money is in the bank and accessible
to you!) When it came to filming, Peter explained how to watch the budget and
use a light touch, giving the director space and knowing when to be and not be
on the set.
the total pro—always generous with his time and expertise, always benevolent
during my constant quizzing and, most of all, always thoughtful and informed in
his answers and advice. Happily, Peter and I remain in touch, and he is still
answering my questions.
I had a problem, and the PGA Mentoring
Program solved it.