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Produced By June/July 2016
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ALL GROWN UP - From The Associate National Executive Director

Posted By Susan Sprung, Thursday, June 09, 2016

Many of you will be reading this column at this year’s Produced By Conference at Sony Pictures Studios. If so, I sincerely hope that you’re enjoying the event. The PGA and the production team put a great deal of time, thought and hard work into Produced By. I’ve been lucky enough (or crazy enough) to oversee that process for the last several years.

The growth of the Produced By Conference, along with its counterpart event, Produced By: New York, has turned a task that was originally conceived as seasonal into a year-long endeavor, involving a wide variety of personnel on both coasts. The scope of our event this year at Sony should give some sense of the challenge involved. This summer, we are presenting conference sessions on everything from what kind of content streaming services are buying, to collaborating with the U.S. military, to exploring on-screen diversity via STEM-based storylines, to ensuring safety on set and in the entertainment workplace. It’s a 12-month juggling act that requires close collaboration between the conference chairs, the PGA staff, and the professional team hired to produce, staff and execute the event.

The more people we can bring to Produced By, the better we represent the PGA and the producing profession.
Over the last few months, one of our "chief jugglers” has been programming director Madelyn Hammond, who has recruited the lion’s share our speakers… and then recruited their replacements when schedule conflicts compel a speaker to withdraw from the program. Our other juggler-in-chief has been supervising producer Barry Kaplan, whose attention leaps between a half-dozen production challenges each day, every time proposing creative solutions to maximize the conference experience for our attendees and speakers alike. Meanwhile, our sponsorship manager Diane Salerno has consistently delivered top-flight backers to make up the gap between our registration revenues and our event costs, making sure our bottom line is covered.

So what is that bottom line? Rather than striving to make the conference a profit center for the PGA, our only directive from the National Board of Directors is simply to break even. So long as we cover our costs, we are cleared to extend the conference’s offerings as far and wide as we can. That’s 100% in keeping with the mission of the PGA and the PGA Foundation (the Guild’s charitable arm through which the conferences are financed), both of which are not-for-profit corporations.

Instead, our goal is to bring as many people to Produced By as we can, through steep discounts for PGA members, students, industry colleagues and group rates. The more people we can bring to Produced By, the better we represent the PGA and the producing profession. If we’re lucky, some of our non-member guests will turn around and support the Guild by becoming full-fledged members themselves. But from the National Board to our volunteer staffers, everyone on our team takes as a point of pride the fundamental premise behind Produced By: A strong professional community means far more than a number on a spreadsheet.

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