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Virtual Reality, Storytelling, and the News

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Last Thursday, April 28, the Producers Guild of America National Capital Chapter produced a seminar on the burgeoning topic of Virtual Reality. Hosted by Newseum, the seminar entitled "Virtual Reality, Storytelling, and the News" featured experts in journalism, virtual reality, and new media production. Read more about event and watch the full video of the seminar below:

Virtual and augmented reality are transforming the way information and news are conveyed and consumed, and important stories are told. The promise and challenge of these new tools is connected to theNewseum’s focus on how the rapid evolution of media technologies has fundamentally changed the news business and will continue to affect an informed citizenry and our democracy.

Recent advances in consumer products and innovative applications are creating a new market for production companies and journalists. With customized camera rigs, stereoscopic lenses, and streaming applications, news producers are creating experiences that document major world events as audiences prepare to dive into content in ways not felt, or seen, before.

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) estimates that 1.2 million VR headsets will be sold in the US in 2016, and estimates that, by 2020, the overall VR market will be somewhere between $50-150 billion. As VR content moves onto mobile devices and cost-effective headsets at an increasing pace, journalists and news producers will be in greater demand for new forms of immersive storytelling.

Join us for the first of a series of programs at the Newseum demonstrating these evolving technologies and innovative content with a variety of the best content creators, producers, technology companies and others involved in this emerging field.

Watch the full panel here:


Cameron Blake, senior VR producer, Washington Post
Cam Blake is the senior producer and lead developer of virtual reality for the Washington Post, creating Oculus Rift, augmented reality, and immersive 360-degree programming. He was previously head of creative direction for the news section of the Washington Post, developing high concept creative visual direction.

Mitch Gelman, The Knight Foundation
Mitch Gelman is the vice president of product at The Knight Foundation, where he oversees digital product development in key areas for properties that include more than 90 national and local news entities across the USA TODAY NETWORK. In this position, Mitch has developed a cutting-edge content management system, launched 600+ iPhone, iPad, Android, mobile Web and desktop products; and engineered award-winning emerging technology applications using spherical video- and gesture-based interactions to create virtual reality experiences. He was previously the COO of THX Ltd.; and senior vice president and senior executive producer, among other positions.

Robert Padavick, Lead USA Today Network Producer for Virtual Reality
Robert Padavick is the lead network producer for virtual reality at USA Today, where he produces 360-degree video, and other emerging forms of storytelling. Robert works with teams across Gannett to power and scale premium digital video for dozens of Gannett sites. He was previously the director of content, for the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress, where he implemented multimedia production and strategy across platforms for upstart human rights campaigns, including trips to Sudan with George Clooney. He was also the senior producer of original content, news, for Yahoo!

Paul Cheung, director of interactive, Associated Press
Paul Cheung is the director of interactive for the Associated Press, where he oversees AP’s portfolio of digital innovations and revenue-generating products including interactive, print and broadcast graphics, mobile app, digital news sites and two Knight Foundation funded projects. Paul has built a global team of interactive producers, data-journalists, programmers, designers, animators, and researchers to create ground-breaking journalism. He was previously the global interactive editor of the AP. Paul is the president of the Asian American Journalists Association.

Chris Pfaff; PGA New Media Council
A former board delegate of the PGA New Media Council from 2006-2013; former PGA New Media Council vice chairman, and former PGA Board of Directors delegate, Chris was one of the founders of the PGA New Media Council member in 2003-2004. He leads a consultancy – Chris Pfaff Tech/Media LLC – that represents some of the leading service providers, audio/video technology firms, networking vendors, and media companies in the world. A veteran of the start-up world, Chris helped launch more than 20 ventures from the Lucent New Ventures Group, including iBiquity Digital; Flarion; Lucent Digital Video, and GeoVideo Networks, among others. In addition, he has helped launch AT&T’s Internet strategy; the Viacom New Media division of Viacom, Inc.; Sony Electronics’ Digital Betacam format, and Sharp Electronics’ LCD product division, among others.


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OPEN DOORS - The Legacy of Debra Hill Continues To Change The Face Of Hollywood

Posted By Tamara Krinsky, Monday, May 2, 2016
In November 2015, an article in the New York Times by Maureen Down took a deep dive into the state of women in the entertainment industry.  The statistics presented where frustrating and depressing.  The piece stated that in both 2013 and 2014, women were only 1.9% of the directors for the 100 top-grossing films.  A study by professor Martha Lauzen of San Diego State University reported that in 2014, 95% of cinematographers, 89% of screenwriters, 82% of editors, 81% of executive producers and 77% of producers were men.  This is despite the fact that in the same year, women made up 50.8% of the U.S. population.

The one bright spot in this maddening set of figures is that female representation in the producing ranks is slightly better than in most other areas of the business. As more voices have spoken out about correcting the inequity of men versus women in front of and behind the camera, both in regard to pay rate and simply the number of people filling the jobs, mentorship is often brought up as a key factor of the equation. And if you ask some of today’s most prolific female producers about pioneering mentor figures, one name comes up over and over again: Debra Hill.

Hill’s body of work includes both commercial and critical successes, such as the Halloween series, Escape from New York, Clue, Adventures in Babysitting and The Fisher King. She passed away in 2005 at the age of 54 after a battle with cancer. While she may not be entirely responsible for the better-than-average representation of female producers in the industry, one could make an argument that she had a significant influence on getting more women into the producer pipeline. And it’s not just because she made a point of encouraging other women— it’s also because she was a fantastic producer. She didn’t just open doors for her colleagues—she demonstrated how to expertly do the job once they walked through them, thereby helping to set them up for longevity in the business.

Producer Debra Hill and friends on the set of "The Dead Zone", 1982. Getty.
Hill earned her crack producing skills by doing practically every job on set before taking on her first producer title. She started as a PA on documentaries and worked her way through many different departments, including script supervisor, assistant director and second-unit director. Her big break came in 1978 when she co-wrote and produced Halloween with director John Carpenter. The film, purportedly made for about $300,000, had a domestic gross of $47 million. This made her one of the very first independent female producers with a bona fide box office hit.

As she progressed through her career, Hill maintained her passion for the process of moviemaking. Many of those she worked with and/or influenced, such as Stacey Sher and Gale Anne Hurd, have commented on what seems to be Hill’s defining legacy:

There’s no above and below the line— it’s all one crew moving forward, trying to get there and make the day. Every person on a film or TV crew is essential to that project’s success, regardless of their title or role on production.

Sher, whose producing credits range from Gattaca to Erin Brockovich to The Hateful Eight, was Director of Development at Hill/Obst Productions in 1985 and eventually became Vice President of Production. "I think she was an unbelievably detail oriented, hands-on producer,” said Sher. "She kept track of every nickel of every petty cash receipt. She certainly had a great sense for story—she cowrote the Halloween movies with John—but I think that while she had a great story sense, she made production more creative. She found creative solutions and always looked at things from a directorial and producer’s point of view.”

At Hill’s memorial, Barri Evins, who served as President of Debra Hill Productions from 1995–2001, provided an example of this when talking about their attempt to make a film version of the television series Sea Hunt. During a meeting, special effects experts laid out complicated plans for filming the project, which was set in the world of scuba diving. After listening to all of their ideas, Hill laid out a much simpler plan using a small tank, green screen and specific lighting package. Described Evins, "Their mouths dropped and there was utter silence. And after a moment they said, ‘We think that would work.’ I honestly don’t think they’d ever been in a meeting with a producer who turned around and said to them ‘No, I don’t think so. I have a different idea and I’ve thought it out.’”

In addition to her deep knowledge of physical production, Hill was known for her generous and affectionate nature. This manifested itself in every aspect of her career, from her work on set to her support of emerging women in the business.

"Debra was inclusive and supportive of other women,” said Sher. "I also saw the ‘protect your space at the table’ mentality in Hollywood. I don’t think it’s true anymore. We’re going to see more and more women coming into the business, with every Lena Dunham, Sofia Coppola and Amy Schumer. You can’t be what you don’t see. I really believe that now. I saw women who had my job, so I knew what I wanted to do.”

Hill’s friend Gale Anne Hurd added, "It was more than mentoring. She looked at all women, regardless of where you were on the ladder, as equals. It was less of a mentor/mentee relationship than a ‘We are all sisters and we are all equal, and we should share our knowledge, share power.’”

Hill and producer Lynda Obst did just that while running Hill/Obst Productions together at Paramount Pictures in the 1980s. During her remarks at Hill’s posthumous Celebration of Life, Obst described the landscape when the two of them began working together. "When we met in the ‘80s, there was no Women In Film. There were very few women in film, in fact. And no women producers. There was no women’s networking. There were executives, and at that time if one was fired, one would be drafted to take her place.”

The two producers met while Obst was working for Peter Guber and Hill came to her with the pitch for Clue. "By the time I had met her, she had done every job on a movie set, including making hit movies,” said Obst. "One of the first female studio heads initiated some early ‘girls club’ networking —the late, great Dawn Steel—and suggested that Debra and I become partners. She saw the yin/yang of us. Debra knew everything about physical production and I knew development.” 

Adventures in Babysitting was everyone’s first movie but Debra’s, and she generously taught us all. A key thing among a thousand things she taught me is that a set is where a producer belongs. Not on the phone or at the studio, but with the director, with the crew, making the movie that you’d nurtured.” 

Hurd, whose long list of producing credits includes The Terminator, Alien and The Walking Dead, said the most important thing that she learned from Hill was to always be thoughtful and supportive regardless of how frustrated you might be.

"Everyone should be treated with respect,” said Hurd. "That’s why I think Debra was so important as a positive role model because she could be tough, but she was always kind and caring. Very rarely did she let the slings and arrows that we face every day in this business get to her. Many of the rest of us had to become tougher and tougher to give as good as the guys. And she never did that. She was able to really maintain that level of grace that the rest of us just aspired to.”

Paul Reubens had a similar experience working with Hill, who produced Big Top Pee-wee, which he cowrote and starred in. He said that on a particularly difficult day on set Hill pulled him aside for a chat. "I don’t know if you realize this,” she said, "but you dictate the mood of this whole set. You are the star of this film and you wrote this film, and [if] you come in in a bad mood, it just spreads so quickly.”

Remarked Reubens, "And that was something I didn’t know. That’s something I have been able to take with me from that movie and has helped me—and probably all the rest of the people who have to work with me—quite a bit.”

Hill’s desire to help succeeding generations of producers has continued beyond her death in the form of the Debra Hill Fellowship, which was established by the PGA in 2005. The Fellowship is awarded annually to "a man or woman completing an accredited graduate program in producing, and whose work, interests, professionalism and passion mirror that of Debra Hill.”

Hurd announced the Fellowship at Hill’s memorial service. "With Debra, giving a hand to the women who followed her wasn’t an afterthought to her success. It was an article of faith. Despite a career’s worth of critical and commercial successes, I firmly believe that if Debra had found herself 20 years later to be the only woman producing feature films, she would have been profoundly disappointed.”

Lucienne Papon, SVP, Scripted Television, ITV Studios America, was the first recipient of the Debra Hill Fellowship in 2005. She had just graduated from UCLA’s MFA producing program and was concurrently working as a creative executive for a production company based at Sony.

"The boost of this award was all about me being at a place where I was at the bottom of the totem pole but I had potential. It was a validation that I had some of the qualities that would help me prevail in this business at a time when I wasn’t so sure,” said Papon. The grant she received allowed her to join networking organizations like Film Independent and Women In Film, as well as to option material.

"When I think about Debra’s legacy, it’s all about tenacity and passion,” said Papon. "I think that you have to really love this business and love the messiness of collaboration and love storytelling and love every job in the process—but it’s hard. I still had plenty of meetings well into my career where I was the only woman in the room. So I appreciate her devotion and commitment to our own authenticity, to speaking up with her own power and most importantly, to never being afraid of rolling up her sleeves in doing the work. I think the legacy of Debra Hill is that you do whatever is asked of you to tell the best story you can and find the audience where they are. I think that’s the foundation of producing.”

2010 Fellowship recipient Jacob Jaffke was inspired by Hill’s passion for collaboration with writers and directors. A horror fan himself, he has worked with writer/director Ti West on several films including The Innkeepers (2011) and The Sacrament (2013). Said Jaffke, "I’m not saying that we’re Hill and Carpenter yet, but they’re definitely a duo that we emulate.”

Like Hill, Jaffke worked his way through a number of jobs on the call sheet before earning his first feature producer credit on Sleepwalk With Me, a project cowritten and codirected by, and starring comedian Mike Birbiglia. Jaffke directly credits the Fellowship for the opportunity to produce the film. He came out of Columbia’s graduate film program with a large amount of debt, was living paycheck to paycheck and didn’t have the liberty of cherry-picking his projects. He described himself as, "a gun for hire, working on whatever projects I could to pay the rent.” The Debra Hill Fellowship changed that.

"I think the most valuable thing the Fellowship gave me was the ability to try out my own path and pick my own projects,” said Jaffke. With the money from the Fellowship in the bank and his bills paid, the young producer was able to pass on several films he didn’t believe in and instead wait for the script with which he wanted to make his mark. Sleepwalk With Me served him well, going on to win a number of awards, including the Best of NEXT Audience Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Jaffke was nominated for the 2014 Independent Spirit Piaget Producer Award, and currently​heads​ development for Eric Newman and hisStudioCanal–backed production company Grand Electric.

Hill’s effect on successive generations of producers extends beyond those she personally worked with or those who received money from the Fellowship in her name. PGA member Lotti Pharris Knowles (Chastity Bites, I Am Divine) cites Hill as one of her heroes in the business. A self-proclaimed "horror freak,” she came of age watching Halloween after school every day while her mom was at work. "Sometimes I would have to stop at a certain point because I got too freaked out,” she said, "but I just was obsessed with the teenagers, the dialogue, the building of tension—it’s just exquisite.”

Knowles already had aspirations of being an entertainer by junior high. She described how at some point during her multiple watchings of Halloween, "It hit me that there was this woman’s name who had cowritten the film and produced it. This made me realize that I could be something beyond just a movie star—there were other options in the entertainment business. Debra Hill was this person that I could look to and say, ‘Oh, women are doing this and it’s cool and I can do it too.’ By the time I was about 12, 13, 14, I was telling everybody I was going to make horror movies when I grew up ... and here I am.” Knowles is currently working on a variety of projects, including The Black Rose Anthology, a horror series featuring female directors of note. 

How vital was Debra Hill to the PGA?  Vital enough to serve as the
subject of Produced By's first cover interview, back in 
One can imagine that Hill would be thrilled to hear that her body of work and reputation have served as both encouragement and as an example to the next generation of producers. She was honored by Women In Film in 2003 with the Crystal Award. During her acceptance speech, she said, "I hope some day there won’t be a need for Women In Film. That it will be People In Film. That it will be equal pay, equal rights and equal job opportunities for everybody.”

When asked for a reaction to that statement 12 years later, Gale Anne Hurd paused and said, "We still need Women In Film.”

Hurd then went on to say that there have been inroads but, "It certainly isn’t reflective of either the diversity in this country or the gender equality in terms of actual stats of the population. There are now a lot of women who are shining a spotlight on the fact that it continues to this day. Women are paid less. Given less credit. And it hasn’t changed as much as we would have liked. But at least the discussion is now part of the zeitgeist. Debra began that.”


-Tamara Krinsky is an Emmy award-winning writer/producer, actress and broadcast host. She recently hosted the PGA’s coverage of the Producers Guild Awards.

This article originally appeared in the April/May issue of Produced By magazine


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CREATIVITY IS LEGION - Jay Williams Seeks The Perfect Union Between Rising Storytellers And The Demanding Digital Audience

Posted By Spike Friedman, Thursday, April 28, 2016

Creative ambition and the financial realities of new media are forces that often find themselves in conflict with one another. Dig a little deeper and you find other structural tensions, such as the audience-driven trend towards fan/creator interaction versus the artist’s single-minded pursuit of a unique creative vision. But at Legion of Creatives, Jay Williams and his team are betting on these oft-diverging forces coming together in symbiosis, and the early returns are promising.

For Williams, who came out of Disney’s marketing division, storytelling and audience development have always been of a piece. Having started his career working on brand integration efforts, Williams saw these commercial efforts as an opportunity to develop his creativity. "I was really fortunate, as I got a chance to hone my craft for storytelling,” Williams said of his early experience, "but I also learned how important brands were. What I realized early on was just because you’re a marketer doesn’t mean you’re not creative.”

Even early in his career, Williams’ work often sat in the digital space. And we’re talking early, in digital marketing terms; his first experience with digital promotion was working with CBS and Prodigy. "It was all text,” he explains. "And we did a ‘watch and win’ with the CBS fall season. This was early for digital. Murder She Wrote was still on the air.” While his current company works with cutting-edge digital tools, the goal then was the same as it is now: encouraging savvy audiences to invest more deeply in stories by using technology.

Jay Williams (right) with fellow PGA member and vice president
of Disney/ABC Television Group's Digital Media Studio, Chris Thomes
In 2000, Williams came out west to work in Disney’s creative content division. "It was a group within Disney Studios, that lived in the space between TV spots and trailers,” Williams explained. "It’s the other great content that can be developed around the stories we’re producing at Pixar and other Disney properties.” This effort pushed back into digital and early iterations of mobile content. "It was about the innovation. Where can we take the storytelling? Our work went from a passive experience to a very interactive experience.”

After spending some time post-Disney on the ad agency side, again working on creative content, Williams moved over to work for Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci at K/O Paper Products. "Hands down, two of the most creative writers I’ve ever met. I learned so much from them about the creative process,” says Williams. But that learning was a two-way street, especially when it came to the marketing process. "Once a script is complete, a lot of the old guard of writers think, ‘okay, my job is done, I’ve written this.’ Whereas today’s writers are like, ‘Now I can actually communicate with the fans! I can take that fan base to a whole new level.’ And we had some really early success with that on Sleepy Hollow.” The fans weren’t the only ones who noticed; the TV Academy recognized Sleepy Hollow with its 2015 award for Outstanding Achievement in Interactive Media User Experience and Visual Design.

After K/O dissolved, Williams found himself in the new position of being able to strike out on his own. Partnering with Orci, screenwriter Noam Dromi, and Sleepy Hollow cast member Orlando Jones, Williams formed Legion of Creatives as a response to what he saw as the needs of writers and producers in an increasingly digital entertainment landscape. To Williams’ credit, he remains steadfastly focused on the quality of the work he’s fostering. "We’re interested in premium digital content. The ‘premium’ really comes in with the scripted part, bringing in the best writers from movies and television, people who really know how to write stories.”

Legion of Creatives also finds success in a model that fits somewhere between traditional television production models and independent film. Specifically, by keeping costs down through tight production timelines and the use of technology, Legion of Creatives is helping its partner artists work in new ways. As Jones explains, "Jay’s focus on new technology to empower creatives together with a reframing of storytelling formats has the potential to disrupt production models that are starting to strain as the media landscape becomes increasingly fragmented.”

That instinct towards disruption informs the content itself, and Legion of Creatives functions as a collective looking to tell stories that traditional models won’t tell.Inspired by the success of Sleepy Hollow, a show with a diverse cast that told authentic yet fantastical stories, Legion of Creatives is pursuing partnerships with creative talent across the spectrum. "In digital, we’re telling stories you won’t find elsewhere,” asserts Williams. "We feel part of that model is bringing different audiences in. Digital is a great place to do that. And unlike on TV, you can connect on the platform where your show is actually airing.” With Sleepy Hollow specifically, Williams also cites overwhelmingly positive fan feedback on the diversity of the show.

Williams (left) with Legion of Creatives co-founder and co-president Noam Dromi
at the 2015 Emmy Awards
Furthermore, by engaging with a wide spectrum of fans directly, Williams is carving out room for new voices. "It’s really important to find partners who tell authentic stories. Whatever our creative conceit may be, our creative partners have lived it. And they have a unique perspective on it.” One partnership is with disabled performer Katy Sullivan, an actress who Dromi met while working on Dolphin’s Tale. "She is incredibly talented,” says Williams, "and we have a project we’re working on now with her called Legs that’s about what it’s like to be a 31–year-old woman who happens to be disabled trying to make her way in life. It’s just an honest, unapologetic look at her experience.”

Connecting with fans also means partnering with entities such as xxArray, a company that allows fans to scan themselves in a photo booth with 150 still cameras, and become part of the show’s cast. "Instead of doing your crowd scene with nondescript CG people,” Williams explained, "we can fill it with fans. And now you have fans that want to watch and see that they’re in the show.” This is new territory. LoC is currently using the technology on its new season of Tainted Love featuring Jones, and the response has been exciting. "A lot of fans are asking, why haven’t we been able to do something like this before?”

For Williams, his passion in creating content is driven by the fans. "Part of having a partner like Orlando is that we understand the fan base. He always takes the time for his fans. He goes the extra mile. I’ve learned how important that is. When you talk about the increasing bifurcation of audiences, the question is, how do you go about building an audience? You do it through loyalty.”

To that end, he’s pushing his projects to utilize the sort of technology that can put the fans into the action, which for LoC means staking out a position in the vanguard of virtual reality. Sleepy Hollow was among the first shows to have VR content associated with it, and as that technology develops, Williams wants his team developing for it. "The mistake a lot of people make with technology is it becomes a crutch.” Instead, Williams asks, "How can you use technology to actually supplement the storytelling, so your production value becomes greater?”

As this hybrid production model matures both at Legion of Creatives and elsewhere, it will organically attract partnerships with more traditional media powers. Legion of Creatives is collaborating with ABC as they develop their digital platform, while also working with companies like eOne on international distribution, and figuring out the different ways to move content across borders. "Something that’s a digital series here in the U.S.,” said Williams, "can be a movie in the international market.”

The question then becomes how to fund premium content. "You hear people talk today about there being too much content,” Williams muses. "For me, there’s still not enough good content.” For Legion of Creatives, this mandate carries serious implications for content creators. Having that seat at the table demands an investment beyond simply writing a script and handing it over. It’s a chance to change the game. "Digital is a different place,” Williams smiles. "It’s fun to be able to write the rules instead of frankly, playing by everyone else’s rules.”

- Illustrated by Elena Lacey

This article originally appeared in the April/May issue of Produced By magazine

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Produced By Conference Announces Additional Speakers, Sessions, and Mentoring Roundtables

Posted By Administration, Thursday, April 21, 2016

LOS ANGELES (April 21, 2016) – The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced today additional speakers for its 8th annual Produced By Conference (PBC). This year’s headlining sessions include the Conversations With… series, featuring an in-depth dialogue with the producers from Revelations Entertainment, President Morgan Freeman and CEO Lori McCreary, and one with FX Networks and FX Productions CEO John Landgraf together with "Fargo” Executive Producer Noah Hawley. PBC will also feature a 360 Profile roundtable discussion on New Regency with producer/director Steve McQueen, along with the company’s President and CEO Brad Weston and President of Production Pam Abdy.

Produced By is the only conference offering producers multiple opportunities to network with and absorb information from some of the most accomplished men and women in the entertainment industry. Registration and pricing information can be found at Early bird registration ends May 1st. Produced By 2016 takes place Saturday, June 4 through Sunday, June 5 and is hosted by Sony Pictures on its studio lot in Culver City, CA.

The Producers Guild also announced newly added speakers for Produced By 2016. In alphabetical order, they include:

· Pam Abdy, President of Production, New Regency


· Keith Arem, CEO, PCB Productions; "Call of Duty,” "Phoenix Incident”

· Fred Baron, Executive Vice President of Feature Production, 20th Century Fox

· Marc Bienstock, THE VISIT, SPLIT

· Bill Borden, President, First Street Films; HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL, THE MERMAID

· Joe Chianese, Executive Vice President, EP Financial Solutions

· John Davis, Chairman, Davis Entertainment; CHRONICLE, "The Blacklist”

· Jim Economos, Vice President- Production Safety, Legendary Entertainment

· Ellen Eliasoph, President and CEO, Village Roadshow Entertainment Group Asia

· Katie Fellion, Head of Business Development & Workflow Strategy, Light Iron

· Morgan Freeman, President & Co-Founder, Revelations Entertainment; INVICTUS, "Madam Secretary”

· David Friendly, Principal, Friendly Films; LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, "Queen of the South”

· Carolyn Giardina, Contributing Editor, Tech, The Hollywood Reporter

· Whitney Kimmel Glassberg, Movie Partnerships, Facebook & Instagram

· Misha Green, "Underground”

· Lt. Adam Hall, Project Officer, Navy Office of Information West

· Daniel Hammond, CCO, Broad Green Pictures

· Noah Hawley, "Fargo," "The Unusuals”

· John Heinsen, CEO and Executive Producer, Bunnygraph Entertainment

· Mike Kelly, CSP, Media Risk Control Manager, ProSight Specialty Insurance

· Glenn Kennel, President and CEO, ARRI, Inc.

· Rachel Klein, Producer/CEO, Fire Starter Studios, Solaris Media Group; "30 for 30, The Fab Five," NEA "United States of Arts"

· Josh Kline, Head of Media & Entertainment, Box

· John Landgraf, Chief Executive Officer, FX Networks and FX Productions

· Howard Lee, Executive Vice President, Development & Production, TLC; General Manager, Discovery Life Channel

· Gary Levine, President, Programming, Showtime Networks Inc.

· Joe Lewis, Head of Half-Hour Programming, Amazon Studios

· Peter Mavromates, GONE GIRL, "House of Cards"

· Lori McCreary, CEO & Co-Founder, Revelations Entertainment; President of the Producers Guild


· Chris Moore, Principal, The Media Farm; "The Chair," "Project Greenlight"

· Lydia Dean Pilcher, Producer, Cine Mosaic; CUTIE AND THE BOXER, THE QUEEN OF KATWE

· Sherri Potter, Head of Post Production Services, Technicolor

· Russ Robertson, Vice President of Marketing, Panavision

· Melissa Rosenberg, Tall Girls Productions; "Marvel’s Jessica Jones,” screenwriter "Twilight” franchise

· Ben Rosenblatt, Producer/Head of VFX and Post, Bad Robot; STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, 10 CLOVERFIELD

· Dana Ross, International Marketing Executive, ARRI Rental

· Jonathan Saba, Vice President of Marketing, Saban Films

· Chachi Senior, Senior Vice President, Original Series, Spike TV

· Stacy Smith, Director, Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative, Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California

· Beatrice Springborn, Head of Originals, Hulu

· William Stuart, President, Aurora Productions Inc.; THE ROCK, EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS

· Leslie Urdang, President, Mar-Key Pictures; BEGINNERS, RABBIT HOLE

· Brad Weston, CEO and President, New Regency

· Winnie Wong, SVP, Momentous Insurance Brokerage

Produced By 2016 offers a broad range of programming, including mentoring roundtables, panel discussions, and interactive events. In addition to the Conversations With… and 360 Profile series, PBC features a lineup of sessions addressing topics surrounding film, television and digital.

After a successful inaugural run at last year’s PBC, the conference is excited to announce the return of the popular panels The Art and Craft of Pitching for Film and Television, two sessions where producers have the opportunity to test out pitching skills on experienced industry leaders. Amy Baer (LAST VEGAS) and Michael London (TRUMBO) will head the film session, with Gary Levine (President of Programming, Showtime) and Melissa Rosenberg ("Marvel’s Jessica Jones”) providing the platform for television. Both sessions will be led by Produced By Conference Co-Chair, Marshall Herskovitz.

Newly added sessions are in bold and italics below:












· FUTURE PROOFING YOUR PRODUCTIONS Sponsored by Light Iron, A Panavision Company









· THE STATE OF FINANCING FILMS TODAY Sponsored by Pacific Mercantile Bank

· TOP 5 THINGS EVERY PRODUCER SHOULD KNOW Sponsored by Momentous Insurance


The PBC’s Mentoring Roundtables Sponsored by Panasonic are now open for registration and include sessions with the following producers/speakers:


· Keith Arem, CEO, PCB Productions; "Call of Duty,” "Phoenix Incident”

· Daniel Hammond, CCO, Broad Green Pictures

· Michael London, Principal and Founder, Groundswell Productions; MILK, SIDEWAYS

· Gary Lucchesi, President of the Producers Guild of America; THE LINCOLN LAWYER, MILLION DOLLAR BABY

· Chris Moore, Principal, The Media Farm; "The Chair," "Project Greenlight"

· Clay Newbill, Founder & President, 310 Entertainment; "Shark Tank,” "Brain Surge”

· Ted Schilowitz, Futurist, 20th Century Fox and Chief Creative Officer, Barco Escape

· Molly Smith, Partner, Black Label Media; DEMOLITION, SICARIO

· R. Decker Watson, Jr., Co-Executive Producer, "Deadliest Catch" (Original Productions)

* The above speakers, panel topics and mentor roundtables are subject to change.

Official sponsors include Sony Pictures;Cadillac, the Official Auto Partner of the PGA; Delta, the Official Airline Partner of the PGA; Corbis Entertainment’s BEN; PRG Production Resource Group; Panasonic; AMC Networks; ARRI; Box; Coca-Cola; Don Francisco’s Coffee; Emmett Furla Oasis Films; Entertainment Partners; Film in Iceland; Freixenet Cava; Heineken; Hilton Worldwide; HUB Entertainment Insurance; Indiepay; Intuitive Aerial; Light Iron; Marriott; Minnesota Film & TV Board; Momentous Insurance; Pacific Mercantile Bank; Produce Iowa; Proximo Spirits; SAG-AFTRA; SAGindie; Technicolor; The Molecule; Film US Virgin Islands; and VER.

Produced By Conference 2016 will be presided by PGA members Ian Bryce, Tracey Edmonds, Mark Gordon, Marshall Herskovitz, and Rachel Klein. The Produced by 2016 team includes Supervising Producer Barry Kaplan (EKG, Inc.), Program Director Madelyn Hammond (Madelyn Hammond and Associates), Marketing Consultant Lynda Dorf, and Sponsorship Director Diane Salerno (Six Degrees Global).

The 2016 Produced By Conference is made possible by The PGA Foundation, The Producers Guild of America’s charitable entity. The Produced By Conferences are the cornerstone events that epitomize the Foundation’s core mission, to educate and inspire those working in the producing profession. To review highlights from previous PBCs and to receive news and the latest programming updates for Produced By Conference 2016, please visit the Guild’s official website and follow its social media channels for the event:


Twitter: @Produced_By


About the Producers Guild of America (PGA)

The Producers Guild of America is the non-profit trade group that represents, protects and promotes the interests of all members of the producing team in film, television and new media. The Producers Guild has more than 7,000 members who work together to protect and improve their careers, the industry and community by providing members with employment opportunities, seeking to expand health benefits,promoting fair and impartial standards for the awarding of producing credits, as well as other education and advocacy efforts such as encouraging sustainable production practices. For more information and the latest updates, please visit,, and, and follow us on Twitter @ProducersGuild.

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¡Viva Las Películas! - New Data Confirms The Growing Size And Appetite Of The Hispanic Theatrical Market

Posted By Pete Filiaci, Friday, April 15, 2016
Imagine yourself sitting at home on a Thursday night after dinner, watching your favorite TV show and texting friends about the upcoming weekend. You want something to do on Friday night, and one of your friends recommends looking at the showtimes at the local theater to select which film would be the best choice to kick off the weekend. It’s easy to imagine this scene playing out every week in homes all across the country. What is perhaps less recognized is that this scene plays out with much greater frequency in the homes of Hispanic Americans.

Hollywood has had a prominent place in American life for generations. Going to the movies remains an escape from everyday life, a break from the truths we face every day: bills, work, child care responsibilities. The allure of visiting a communal space with a large screen dedicated to this beautiful art form remains one of those reachable goals that most people and families enjoy sharing with friends and/or family. For Latinos, this is true to an even greater extent. According to NRG’s 2015 Moviegoing Report, Hispanics are 10% more likely to be moviegoers (85% versus 77% for non-Hispanics). Additionally, they are more frequent moviegoers, seeing an average of 8.6 films per year versus 7.2 for their non-Hispanic counterparts. When you combine this with the fact that Hispanics attend in bigger groups (55% of Hispanics attend with three or more people versus 42% of non-Hispanics), it’s indisputable that this population packs some powerful box office punch.

Driving Box Office Sales

"No longer can the domestic market sustain the budgets of studio projects on its own,” says Deborah Calla, Chair of the PGA Diversity Committee, and Women’s Impact Network (WIN). "It is clear that in order to maximize profit, movie studios need to speak directly to the various cultural groups that make up the population [of the United States].” According to Nielsen, Hispanics generated $2.3 billion in box office revenue last year, which is 21% of total sales. For a demographic group that represents nearly 18% of the total U.S. population, that’s impressive. "We know that Hispanics are a loyal movie -ticket -buying group,” says Calla. "If targeted with specific and culturally significant campaigns, [Hispanics] will support a studio film with greater presence and expenditure.”

As more marketers recognize and market to this consumer, Hispanics continue to flock to the movie theater to enjoy the experiences of being completely engaged with and often enthralled by, the big screen. More than half of Hispanic moviegoers (53%) say they go to the movies for the big theater experience. This is a fact that movie studios and producers should take much solace in, given a media landscape that allows for viewing or enjoyment of every form of media, essentially from the palm of your hand. The act of visiting the movies and enjoying the experience in totality—from the convenient ticket kiosks, to the refreshments counter, to the luxury seats—is something celebrated by Hispanics. A recent Mintel report on moviegoing noted that Hispanics over-index across the board when it comes to spending on the extras, such as advanced tickets, reserved or premium seating, theater snacks, beverages and even full meals. And then, of course, there’s the spending on the content itself. NRG tells us that Hispanics are much more likely to see movies in 3D as well as seeing more titles in 3D annually when compared with non-Hispanic audiences.

Every studio head or marketing director works hard to deliver an impactful opening weekend. If that’s the case, targeting Hispanics with advertising in-language could be the recipe for success. Calla notes, "When the [advertising] messaging is targeted to the Hispanic community in their native language, in a culturally-appropriate way, there is a feeling of inclusion and acknowledgment. The greater returns reflect and justify these target-specific campaigns.”

Hispanic audiences tend to visit the theater on opening weekend more than any other demographic segment. According to NRG, 45% of Hispanics go to the movies on opening weekend versus 33% of non-Hispanics. Another important factor to consider is the power of word-of-mouth among Latinos. Hispanics are very social, and the impact that has on the ways in which they share information about products they love—including films—is notable. Hispanics are more likely to be convinced to see a movie in theaters (45% Hispanic vs. 42% non-Hispanic) and will pass along what they’ve heard about a movie more frequently (52% vs. 45%).

A Diverse Hollywood Reflects a Diverse America

As powerful as their current box office impact may be, Latinos likely will have an even greater impact in the years to come. Because Hispanics are more highly concentrated in the younger age groups, they account for nearly a quarter (24%) of all ticket sales among millennials. Given their relative youth, Hispanics have more effective years of buying power than non-Hispanic whites, Asian-Americans, and African-Americans. In fact, the window is an estimated 20 years greater than non-Hispanic whites, per Nielsen, due to a much younger median age combined with a greater life expectancy. What does this mean? It means more opportunities to target them across their lifetimes as moviegoers who attend with their families now, and who will one day take their children and grandchildren to the movies.

The social experience of moviegoing is another big draw for Latinos. Not only do they tend to go with family and friends, as the most active users of social media, they are also most likely to post about movies. In fact, Hispanics are 36% more likely than non-Hispanics to share their thoughts about films across social platforms. "The social experience of moviegoing is clearly a key driver for Hispanics,” says my colleague, Hilary Dubin, Vice President of Business Development at Univision Communications. "Our research community, Univisionistas, an online research panel of over 5,000 members, tells us that 47% go to the movies because it’s an entertainment activity they can enjoy with family and friends.”

As much as Hispanics are already the most frequent moviegoers, there may be even more opportunity to drive additional attendance. Dubin notes, "Our Univisionistas tell us that they want to increase their moviegoing. In fact, 74% of the panel would like to go to the movies more frequently.” That increased appetite for entertainment may entice even more films to market to this consumer. It’s time to think beyond the genres that are most closely associated with Latino moviegoers.

Films across the genre spectrum have enjoyed success with Latinos. Horror films, family-friendly fare, and action blockbusters all do exceedingly well among the cohort. But a diverse taste across a multitude of genres is becoming more and more prevalent. In fact, according to NRG, Hispanics over-index on being fans of every genre—from action/adventure to art house/independent. "One clear way studios are trying to target minorities with their products is through casting,” says Calla. "Putting actors on-screen who represent diversity creates ways for audiences to see themselves represented, and as participants in cultural storytelling.” Consider the success of Straight Outta Compton, or Furious 7, the latest installment in one of the most lucrative movie franchises in history. These titles buoyed a historic year for Universal Studios, one in which the studio grossed nearly $2.5 billion overall and commanded over 21% of market share during the same time frame—tops among all distributors in the United States, according to

It is crucial to note that both Universal titles have incredibly diverse casts with people of color in prominent starring roles. If the media we watch is a mirror to our world, reflecting the diversity of characters and people all around us is not only the right thing to do morally, it’s proving to be a sound business strategy too.

The Case For Multiculturalism

Latinos are avid moviegoers; this much is true. But according to a study released by the Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative at the USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, they may not be finding the characters on the screen—or the opportunities behind the camera—that accurately reflect America’s makeup.

The study, which is called the Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity, found Latinos are among the least represented speaking roles in film and TV, even though they make up about 17% of the U.S. population. Out of more than 11,000 speaking characters surveyed in film and TV, 5.8% were Hispanic or Latino.

The case can be made that this illustrates the need for a systemic change that starts even before the director’s chair or the producer’s chair. It starts in the writing room where small armies of dedicated writers, thinkers, comedians, and creatives are developing the stories, words, and images that the actors on-screen will deliver. Lacking that diversity in the development process will most likely result in a lack of diversity in the finished product.

Given the avidity of Latino moviegoers, Hollywood is clearly already delighting these consumers with its exceptional storytelling. Latinos are contributing more than one out of every five dollars spent at the box office. Just imagine how much more box office potential there is to be had from these enthusiastic attendees if they start seeing more films that acknowledge their experiences, reflect their values, mirror their faces and echo their voices.

- Illustrated by Elena Lacey

 This article originally appeared in the April/May issue of Produced By magazine

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