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MENTORING MATTERS - You Never Know Who Your Perfect Mentor Might Turn Out To Be

Posted By Julie Janata, Monday, April 17, 2017

The PGA Mentoring Program has provided a great opportunity for me. I am a producer/director/editor, primarily of indie features and feature documentaries. I’ve earned two Emmy Awards and 10 producer credits. I’m proud of the work I’ve done; it’s put me in a great position to pursue the next stage of my career—developing my own projects to produce and direct. This is a long and winding road, I know. But then aren’t we producers always in transition?

As I was making the transition into development, I sought out the Mentoring Program. The committee interview was thorough and pointed, but conducted in an extremely supportive spirit—they were committed to finding me a great match. Ultimately the committee paired me with a mentor I never expected, perhaps someone I would never have met, but the perfect fit for me at this point in my career.

My mentor, Oren Segal, is a producer, a manager and of course, a PGA member, an ideal guide to help me strategize my next career moves. In every meeting, phone call and email, he was full of energy, a hotbed of ideas, freely sharing his experiences and contacts. His advice is always specific and eminently useful. He encouraged me to pitch him my first project. We talked about it in depth, which lead to my decision to revise parts of it with the writer. Oren is clear-eyed, but he also helped me see the big picture with a fresh point of view. We discussed the process of packaging and attaching talent to projects. Like a great collaborator, he offered me an open door, so I’m assured to have wise guidance available in the future.

With Oren’s encouragement and advice, I took a new job as producer, director and editor of a one-man musical memoir, HAM, by Tony Award-nominee Sam Harris. It played to resounding success off-Broadway, and we’re prepping it as a show for cable. Oren’s belief in me has solidified my self-confidence and has helped me move my career forward.

As the industry continues to evolve around us, it seems essential to revisit our assumptions, to test and retest our career trajectory. The PGA is replete with supportive colleagues and the opportunities to tap their immense reservoir of experience and wise counsel. One of the best benefits we have, the Mentoring Program, is a key to unlocking that knowledge base.

Many thanks to the committee volunteers for pairing me with a trusted advisor, and many thanks to Oren for his wisdom and continuing friendship.

Tags:  mentoring matters 

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GOING GREEN - Nothing Wasted, Nothing Lost: EcoSet Brings "Zero Waste" To Production and Redirects Disposals

Posted By Lindsay Bekken, Monday, April 17, 2017

As any artist will tell you, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and a large production’s “trash”—whether an advertising shoot, film or large event—is a goldmine. As a project comes to an end and the creative departments begin striking sets and sorting through props, the dumpsters and heavy duty trash bags come out. If struggling filmmakers and artists of all mediums saw what entered the dumpsters destined for landfills and incinerators, they might tear up a little. And so the question becomes, why needlessly throw away material perfectly fit for reuse in other productions or art? Especially when commonly discarded items are layout board, foam core, rope, lighting gels, art supplies, constructed set walls, custom props, platforms, flooring, lumber and sheet goods.

Since 2009, LA- based EcoSet has been working on a solution. According to Executive Director Kris Barberg, EcoSet is a “responsible disposal vendor and sustainable production resource” providing film, television, web, commercials, and LA-based marketing events and productions with the means to reduce their environmental footprint. EcoSet achieves this objective through two main service sectors— zero waste implementation on set and a back-end reuse service called ReDirect.

 

A Zero Waste Set  - “Striving for 90%”

Zero waste is defined by the EPA as 90% or greater diversion from landfill or incineration. The City of Los Angeles has set a goal to increase its landfill diversion rate to 90% by 2025 and 95% by 2030. This will be achieved through mandatory recycling and food waste collection. Other major cities like San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, New York, Washington DC and Minneapolis are further along with their zero waste goals. Businesses and corporations are including zero waste processes in their corporate responsibility commitments.

Barberg notes that traditionally, EcoSet has operated as a strategic partner with advertising and marketing brands assisting in the onsite development, support and implementation of a zero waste standard for a project. A good example of this process is the collaboration they’ve shared with Target since 2009. As soon as a concept is ready to be produced as an ad, Target contacts EcoSet and adds them to the production calendar. A sustainability one-sheet is included with the bidding specs sent out, and each department and vendor are required to collaborate with EcoSet’s services throughout the shoot or event. As soon as production begins, the EcoSet team is on site to meet and strategize with the production crew on sustainable practices that will endure throughout the entire project, focusing first on waste prevention efforts. The team also provides stainless steel water bottles to the crew as a means of minimizing plastic water bottles from littering the set. Every day, the EcoSet crew is on site first thing in the morning as breakfast is served, and are often the last ones to leave at the end of the day. Their priority is to manage as many materials as possible, including food waste from catering and craft service, recyclable materials and all reusable discards. Currently, EcoSet averages a 93% diversion rate due to their dedicated crew operating from day to night and at all levels of the process.

 

EcoSet's ReDirect service salvages production materials 

ReDirect – “Do Better than a Dumpster”

When it comes to their ReDirect program, Barberg explains that more than 50% of what EcoSet diverts from landfills involves recirculating custom creative elements, props and scenic pieces that are still in good condition, along with other production materials that are collected, stored and made available for free to the public.

While advertising productions or marketing events can utilize both the zero waste program on set and the ReDirect program after the production closes, many film and television productions can only budget for the ReDirect program.

Typically, productions must budget for disposal tactics such as 40-yard roll-off bins or contract labor to deconstruct a set and drive to a landfill site. If they plan for responsible disposals in advance and request a custom estimate from ReDirect, however, they can potentially save time and money on their back end process. Taking advantage of the ReDirect service includes sending pictures and detailed descriptions to EcoSet or scheduling a walk-through of the set. The more advance notice a production gives EcoSet, the more they can save on EcoSet’s work to coordinate a pick up or receive a drop off to their Materials Oasis, storing the items and then facilitating their reuse.

 

The Materials Oasis –
“A Gift to the Community”

Barberg shares that items, “Come in for a fee, and leave for free.” Educational programs and artists in the community benefit from the free materials, including non-profits, schools, camps, indie filmmakers, artists of every medium, theaters and re-use enthusiasts. EcoSet proudly boasts a re-use network of over 1,000 recipients and a “Free Alert” notification system that informs individuals when new items arrive at the Materials Oasis. One recent Free Alert announced the arrival of a marquis light, a staircase, an assortment of vinyl and linoleum, large pieces of carveable foam, platforms, cubes and more.

While people are always clamoring for first dibs on the treasures of the Materials Oasis, there are a few pieces that can be difficult to find a home for—like a 30-foot tall proscenium arch—or are made from materials that don’t hold up to long-term usage. The company will not pick up debris or anything broken or dangerous. Non-profits like Habitat for Humanity remain the best option for functional doors, cabinets or architectural items, but EcoSet can take custom or theatrically designed pieces.

Production Supervisor Melissa Manousos offered insight into how EcoSet partners with local film schools, providing resources and education to aspiring filmmakers. For example, at the beginning of each semester, AFI will often bring their incoming class of production designers, directors, and producers for a tour of EcoSet’s warehouse. After the students finish drooling over the mountain of set-building and prop-making material they now have free access to, the EcoSet team dedicates 3-4 hours to a mini-boot camp on sustainable best practices for productions. The hope is that the knowledge gained will assist these budding filmmakers to implement their own “zero waste” productions.

No matter the size of your production or the scope of your project, keep these thoughts from Kris Barberg at the forefront of your mind: “With a plan in place, it’s not waste.

EcoSet can be reached at (323) 669-0697 or ecosetconsulting.com

Tags:  going green 

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BOSPOAT - Best On Set Photo Of All Time: Rolling Thunder

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 17, 2017

When it comes to production, there are few experiences that match the excitement and intensity of pulling off an epic stunt. A big stunt is almost a microcosm of production itself—the product of weeks of preparation, boiled down to a single, all-the-marbles chance at execution, with little to no room for error.

So it’s no surprise that when it came time to shoot this sequence for the 2007 action thriller The Kingdom, produced by Scott Stuber and Michael Mann and directed by Peter Berg, “Everyone had a high level of adrenaline and anticipation, because we had planned this stunt for months.” PGA member Steve Saeta took the photo above, while serving as executive producer and production manager on the film. “The stunt sequence was filmed over multiple weekends,” Steve tells us. “The particular moment you see was the most complex stunt/action piece of the sequence. One aspect of the stunt involved an SUV doing a cannon roll. The vehicle was so heavy it couldn’t roll, so stunts and effects came up with the idea of wrapping cable multiple times around the SUV then running those lines to two water trucks for traction and torque—you can see the cables attached to the rolling SUV.”  

Despite (or maybe because of) the difficulty, the feeling on set was enthusiastic. “We were confident the stunt would work,” Steve continues, “but we had to ensure each department was in sync to create seamless action coordinated with multiple cameras, including one on a moving camera car. We had been shooting for a few weeks already, so we were a well-oiled machine.” One key to keeping the crew sharp? The efficiency of Peter Berg. “Pete is a director who knows what he wants and knows how to get it,” Steve reports. “He doesn’t believe in long days; most were under 10 hours. That helped keep everyone in great spirits.”   

So what happened in the moments after this spectacular shot was snapped? “First thing was the safety check:  Is everyone all right? (They were!) Next it was applause, high fives and hugs.” We know the feeling; when we secured this shot for our back page, we high-fived everyone in the PGA office. Thank you Steve, for snapping that pic at the best possible moment, and for sharing it with Produced By.


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.

- See previous BOSPOAT winners.

Tags:  bospoat 

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