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The PGA's New Brand

Posted By Gregg Kilday, The Hollywood Reporter, Friday, January 25, 2013

This year's awards gala, on Jan. 26, will celebrate a new distinction, the Producers Mark, which should allow some studios to avoid hangers-on and keep their credits honest-

(This story first appeared in the Feb.1 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.  It is reprinted with permission.)

To the average guy on the street, the letters PGA probably summon images of country clubs, fairways and putting greens. But the Producers Guild of America is determined to change that -- at least for those in the entertainment industry -- by giving new meaning to the lower-case letters p.g.a.

When "p.g.a.," known as the Producers Mark, shows up after a producer's name in credits, it signifies that the producer so designated actually did the work of producing the movie onscreen. The mark began appearing in film credits for the first time this fall on such titles as the Weinstein Co.'s Lawless and Silver Linings Playbook. By November, several studios -- Universal, Sony and Fox -- had agreed to adopt the practice. DreamWorks Animation came on board, and as the new year began, DreamWorks has joined as well. While the companies involved have agreed to participate in the process, the mark itself is added to a film only when an individual producer voluntary requests it and offers evidence of his work.

"We feel really good about it; we've reached a critical mass," says Vance Van Petten, national executive director of the PGA, which holds its annual awards dinner Jan. 26 in Beverly Hills. "The initial agreements took some time to negotiate, but now they seem to be coming rapidly one after the other."

The PGA, a trade organization representing more than 5,000 producers in film and TV, long as sought to raise the status of working producers by insisting that their contributions to a film receive proper credit. In the PGA's view, the widespread practice of rewarding everyone from financiers to business managers with producer credits has diluted the meaning of the term. Those producers who actually develop projects, spend time on set and then shepherd their finished films through marketing and into distribution have been looking for a way to restore the meaning of the title of producer.

To that end, in 2004, the PGA set up a Code of Credits, which outlines the roles that a producer plays on a movie. It's that code taht the PGA refers to when it decides which producers have done enough work on a project to claim credit on a fiml nominated for one of its PGA awards. Since 2005, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also has followed the PGA's lead and used its credit determinations to decide which producers are eligible to go onstage and claim an Academy Award for best picture should they win.

The Academy decided to get stricter about producing credits after Shakespeare in Love was named best picture in 1999 and five producers, including Harvey Weinstein, whose Miramax Films produced, crowded onto the state. Ironically, Weinstein has been among the first to adopt the Producers Mark on films released through his Weinstein Co.

"Harvey has really been a fabulous supporter from the get-go," says Van Petten. "He still feels like he was unfairly accused of starting the mess with Shakespeare in Love. But he's been in the forefront of supporting honest producing credits." Weinstein and brother Bob will be recognized at the PGA's awards dinner with its Milestone Award.

Going forward, Van Petten predicts that the Producers Mark -- championed by PGA president Mark Gordon and president-on-leave Hawk Koch -- "should become a commonplace practice within the industry."


Tags:  producers mark 

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Inaugural PGA Delegate Lot Lunch

Posted By Rembrandt Bell, Wednesday, January 23, 2013

January 22 marked the very first PGA Lot Delegate Lunch. The networking event was the brain-child of AP Council members Karen Covell and Jethro Rothe-Kushel. It was held for PGA members working for the Walt Disney Company Disney at their Studio Lot in Burbank California. 

The Delegate Lunch program is designed to connect the PGA members on each lot so they have friends and associates to network with and hire.  It also provides the PGA with a more viable presence at each studio creating a linked community of member producers, and serves as a way to reach new potential members.

Thanks to Vice President of Digital Media Studio, Disney/ABC Television Group, Chris Thomes (also PGA New Media Council Chair and VP of New Media for the Guild) the event reached producers from divisions all over the Walt Disney Company including Television, Motion Pictures, Interactive and Imagineering. "It was a great way for PGA members to find each other in a Studio," says Thomes, "It's not easy to identify PGA members or connect with them at work. This program is a first step in that vein and will be a real value to PGA members moving forward. Karen and Jethro have the right idea here."

Tags:  ap council  disney studios  lot lunch  new media 

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PGA at Sundance

Posted By Kevyn Fairchild, Wednesday, January 23, 2013
The Producers Guild of America is headed to Park City for the 2013 Sundance Film Festival!

With sixty members screening thirty-four films (read the list here), our members represent a significant portion of this year's slate, and we're excited to get a chance to meet with them to talk a little shop.  Every day, we'll be uploading a short interview clip, with full edited interviews to come after the festival.  You can read the daily dispatches here. 

Since Sundance is one of ten membership qualifying film festivals, we are also reaching out to producers in attendance regarding membership.

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This is 40: Q&A

Posted By Rembrandt Bell, Thursday, January 17, 2013

After screening This is 40 Producers Guild members were treated to a Q&A session with producers Clayton Townsend, Judd Apatow, and Barry Mendel. See select highlights below:

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PGA Sizzle Reels Seminar - December 1st, 2012

Posted By Rembrandt Bell, Monday, January 7, 2013

The venue at CBS Radford was packed with record-breaking attendance for the PGA's 2012 seminar about producing "Sizzle Reels" (the trailers producers use to sell their reality shows).

Producer Dan Abrams moderated the event, which was a follow-up to his previous PGA panels on the topic held over the years (all similarly well received). This most recent seminar was the biggest yet.

Attendees were pleased when it began with screenings of several successful sizzle reels. Some were produced by established production companies and led to sales at cable networks. The others were made by independent producers and led to deals at production companies.

That was followed by a series of succinct panels. The first three were brief case studies where producers were interviewed about their respective sizzle reels. Brian Adler, James Gutierrez and Adam Reed discussed where they found their show ideas, how they actually produced their sizzle reels and then what happened after that to get their deals done.

The next panel focused on representation and negotiation. Agent Stewart Cavanagh and lawyer Rob Rader provided perspectives on dealmaking.

The seminar concluded with the final panel on development. It included network executives Christy Dees (Bravo) and Justin Lacob (SpikeTV) as well as production company executive Dana Olkkonen (Authentic).

Like any seminar with multiple experts there were plenty of diverse opinions. But there was a general consensus about the following bits of advice:

1) As always, be sure to lock-in your leverage. That means you need to have a solid contract binding you to the "talent" or you must own the recognized IP (intellectual property) upon which your show is based (e.g. a format for a hit series in another country). CAUTION: Simultaneous creation happens all the time in Hollywood and is especially common in reality TV (where there are fewer "moving parts" of the machine). Ideas are cheap and common. Execution is everything. Star Search didn't sue American Idol.

2) Research what the networks are actually airing and buying. If you're daring, you can attempt to be avant-garde, but never try to sell something that is years behind their current "brand." The only theoretical exception is if there has been a recent drop in ratings for that network and consequently there has been a changing of the guard. New executive leadership regularly wants to alter course, dump the previous regime's shows (especially those that have weak ratings) and pursue whatever works (even if that might conceivably be "older" formats). In any event, you're probably better off coming up with something at least somewhat new in order to distinguish yourself as a producer.

3) Keep your sizzle reel as short as possible while still hooking the buyer. 2 to 3 minutes seems to be the sweet spot. 5 minutes is fine but any longer than that is probably a gamble not worth taking. Everyone knows of exceptions but the shorter it is the less there is for the naysayers to nitpick. If, after watching a short sizzle, buyers want to see a more fleshed-out version they can always commission a bigger sizzle (or, better yet, a pilot).

4) If you're an independent producer, focus on making a sizzle that excites a production company. A network is unlikely to buy from you directly unless you have a lot of experience as a showrunner, whereas production companies are always looking for new ideas and talent to develop. If you have a network in mind, then research which production companies produce shows for it and approach them with your finished sizzle.

5) When you're negotiating for your deal, be modest in your expectations. If you've never sold a reality show before don't expect to get rich. You'll be lucky to get 1.5% to 2.5% of the budget on your first show. That likely means $2k to $10k per episode for the life of the series (depending on the network). That might not seem like a lot of money but remember that's "passive income" meaning you just collect the checks and don't have to come in every day. If you actually provide services on the show (as Showrunner, SP, Director, etc.) then you should get compensated for that as well. And once you sell your first show, you enter a prestigious new category of producer. This means networks are much more likely to buy from you (so the odds upgrade from absurdly terrible to simply bad) and your financial upside is likely to increase significantly.

PGA Sizzle Reels Seminar - December 1st, 2012


Brian Adler: Co-Creator of "Growing Up Fast"


James Gutierrez: Executive Producer and co-creator of "Twisted Dixie"


Adam Reed: Executive Producer, ThinkFactory Media

Panel on Representation & Negotiation -

Stewart Cavanagh: Agent, Rebel Entertainment Partners

Rob Rader: Attorney, Partner at Schwarcz, Rimberg, Boyd, & Rader


Christy Dees: Director of Development at Bravo

Justin Lacob: Director of Original Series at SpikeTV

Dana Olkkonen: Director of Development at Authentic Entertainment

NOTE: If you want more information click on this link to be directed to Dan Abrams' 4-part article all about sizzle reels for the PGA.

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  seminar  sizzle reel 

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