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SEEKING TRUTH: SilverDocs 10th Edition is in Full Swing

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

More From SilverDocs 2012



By Renee Rosenfeld

Neal Schon on the red carpet with the Don't
Stop Believing filmmakers
The 10th Anniversary edition of the SilverDocs festival kicked off with Don’t Stop Believing: Everyman’s Journey, the emotional story of Arnel Pineda, who was thrust into fame after the iconic rock band Journey’s lead guitarist, Neal Schon, spotted the Philippine cover band singer on YouTube. National Capital member Katy Jones Garrity reports, "As a DC producer, [SilverDocs] is one week I look forward to every year.” She opened the festival viewing this week by attending a screening of The Imposter. Directed by Bart Layton, known for his work on Nat Geo’s long-running series Locked Up Abroad. "This film employs many of the same techniques that made that series such a hit: fantastic interviews with characters whose story is a bizarre twist from normal life, recreations that flow seamlessly into the storytelling, and camera directing that is clever and revealing,” says Jones Garrity.

Kc Shillihahn attended The Guggenheim Symposium--one of the festival’s special events. Named for the pioneering filmmaker Charles Guggenheim, the Honor is meant to identify and reward filmmakers that have brought the power of documentary to bear in the human experience. No other trilogy of films demonstrates that power like those created by this year’s honorees, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. Early in his remarks former Arkansas prison inmate Jason Baldwin turned to Berlinger & Sinofsky and thanked them for the films that ultimately saw him released after nearly 18 years of unjust imprisonment. Jason Baldwin and the saga of the West Memphis Three is the ultimate demonstration of the power of non-fiction to advocate, report and shed new light on issues.

Alongside the festival is a full conference connecting filmmakers, educators, broadcasters, business leaders, distributors, private and public media, and funders that began with the keynote delivered by 18 Days in Egypt’s Jigar Mehta. Mehta recounted how he broke the rules by bringing together various forms of media from last year’s Egyptian uprising and using the storyteller as the source to create a more authentic and richer experience. His use of social media sources serves as a real-time walk through the events that changed the world.

"Meet the Broadcasters: The Dish On Docs On TV" moderated by Crowdstarter co-founder Liz Ogilvie, brought together execs from Discovery, PBS’s POV, A&E, The Documentary Channel, ESPN Films and HBO. Among the panel's revelations: In Discovery’s competitive environment, the network has shifted to more series. Discovery receives about 400-500 submissions each week through their Producers Portal. The good news is that execs look through submissions about once a week. The Documentary Channel’s demo skews male, ironically. HBO produces twenty-five to thirty docs a year but only one-third come through acquisitions. HBO is looking for documentaries with impact and press that are standout contemporary social impact films. If your genre is sports, ESPN Films is more likely to be interested in your piece if it lives on every platform and reflects a human story within sports. A&E suggests looking at Withoutabox to see what’s popping.

National Capital’s Rebecca Howland reported from the session, "Discovery: From Pitch to Air." Execs there suggest that when preparing to pitch the Discovery family (e.g., Discovery, ID, TLC), do your homework. Study the specific network that you're pitching to and be sure your concept is a fit for their brand. All pitches, regardless of whether you’re a newbie or the most seasoned producer, must be submitted through Discovery's Producer's Portal. What you submit must be as complete and buttoned-up a submission as possible. Discovery is looking for big, fascinating characters or subcultures that haven't been previously seen on television. A good piece of tape is expected if you want to be considered seriously. It doesn't have to be a pricey sizzle reel or pilot. It just has to demonstrate the characters' appeal. TLC bought four shows last year just from seeing Skype interviews with the talent. If the character is "big," they'll pop off the screen no matter what the format. The exception is Investigation Discovery, which is story-driven, not character-driven. It's okay to pitch ID with paper; tape is not necessary.

In these digital times, no producing conference is complete without a session entitled, "How To Make Noise in the Digital Forest." The exec’s best advice was to think beyond the finished piece and create additional content as if it were going to live in a DVD extra. Rolling out extra information is key to a complete digital package. They know that this is probably the last thing on your mind, but turning the camera around and capturing that behind the scenes footage makes a big difference. Think about your audience and build relationships with partners and ambassadors because they will help create the buzz that will sell your film. You can’t get started with social too early. The digital aggregators want to see what you have beyond the program itself.

Los Angeles PGA member Ruby Lopez joined National Capital members at a happy hour at McGinty’s Pub. Lopez is taking advantage of one-on-one pitch sessions to get her in-progress, animated full-length documentary in front of decision makers. She’s gathering intelligence by attending small group "Silver Sessions” with key players at Crowdstarter, Working Films and Discovery, among others. Lopez is finding that marketing early is key and using social networking is critical to engaging fans.

-Stay tuned for the final bulletin from SilverDocs, to be published soon.

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Life Now Playing: SilverDocs 2012, The Take Away

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

More From SilverDocs 2012



By Renee Rosenfeld

After six days of programming and some 27,000 documentary enthusiasts, filmmakers and industry leaders consuming non-fiction storytelling, what’s the take away from the 2012 SilverDocs Festival? With packed theaters and panels, one thing is certain: non-fiction is thriving and there are audiences to prove it. There’s power to inform and change but there’s also big business in real life stories. Each of the major cable outlets maintained a large presence at the festival, either in pitch sessions, premiering content or sharing intelligence.

Kc Shillihahn reports from the pitch session that filmmakers utilized a variety of tactics to impress network execs including distributing five minute DVDs. The funders delivered presentations then offered producers ten-minute one-on-one pitch meetings. Tribeca Film Institute has a number of funding opportunities. Most of the institute’s grants start at $10,000 and cover various stages of the process from development through post-production. PBS is looking for affinity programming that fits with or dovetails off their network’s primary brand. One example is the net’s Wednesday’s nature programming.

It’s no surprise that gaining theatrical release for a documentary is tricky at best. Distributors suggest understanding the entertainment value of the shared experience for an audience before looking for theatrical distribution. In most cases, theatrical is expensive and difficult. The biggest value may be to support your VOD or DVD distribution. It’s tough to profit from a theatrical release, so having a clear vision of your goal and knowing whether your doc is strong enough for a theatrical release is critical. In the case of Bill Cunningham New York, the film won numerous audience awards at festivals, so when the filmmakers were approached with a television deal that would preclude theatrical distribution, they passed and it paid off.

Be certain to hire a thoughtful booker who is knowledgeable about markets to ensure that your film is booked in the right places. Coordinating events with a release may help boost exposure, as was the case with Marley’s release coinciding with Ziggy Marley’s tour. Perhaps the most interesting new release option comes from start-up Gathr. Gathr is TOD or "theatrical on demand,” allowing audiences to aggregate their interest and pledge funds to see a particular film in the theater.

As with all great narrative, non-fiction storytelling demands structure. Rebecca Howland reports from the session "How to Keep Your Story from Falling into a Structural Pothole," that ITVS executive Richard Saiz emphasized that as with fiction, narrative documentaries also need a strong three act structure. Without it, the inevitable mid-point slump can derail the film. Here are the four deadly sins to avoid in constructing your story: 1) Thematic Haze, 2) Lack of Backstory Breakdown, 3) Character Weakness, and 4) Plot Drift.

Probably the most obvious sign of the times was the prevalence of Kickstarter in conversations about the architecture of film financing. Producers reported that Kickstarter was instrumental in either getting their films off the ground or getting films completed in the final stages. Kickstarter also provides a base of supporters that will help get the word out on social platforms and helps you identify early evangelists that create the buzz you need to find your audience.

The National Capital Chapter welcomes colleagues from everywhere to join them next June in Washington, DC for SilverDocs 2013.

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Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Nearly 1,500 people turned out for this year's Produced By Conference at Sony Pictures Studios. Believe us, we were there. We got business cards from all but 11 of them.

This Conference was the sort of event that will have plenty of people saying they were there even when they weren’t. By the time next year’s Produced By Conference rolls around, the world will have 15,000 people insisting they were at the 2012 edition.

Of course, all of those after-the-fact attendees are going to need to sound credible. To that end, we offer this helpful slideshow, showcasing lots of moments you can claim to have seen while faking your way through your "of-course-I-was-at-Produced By!” tapestry of fabrications.

Isn’t that you, just out of frame at the Saturday evening wine tasting reception? Didn’t you win one of the iPads for taking part in the E-Waste recycling drive? You’re the one who asked that question that Todd Phillips is answering so intently, right? And can you believe it? They cropped you right out of that photo of Gale Anne Hurd and Tracey Edmonds relaxing in the GM Speakers Lounge. In short, this selection of images should give you more than enough to wax rhapsodic about all the stuff you didn’t actually see, from the finalists for the PGA ProShow, to Michael Shamberg’s stylin’ sunglasses, to David Picker’s now-legendary safari jacket. By the time you’re done, you’ll have fooled even yourself into thinking you were there.

Our advice: Next year, just attend for real. It’s easier than making stuff up, and the drinks are better.

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2012 Digital VIP

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Leaders in Emerging Entertainment

The Producers Guild of America proudly presents our primary new media event for 2012, Digital VIP. Over the past decade, the PGA has demonstrated a commitment to new media that is unique among the major entertainment guilds. In that spirit, the Guild is proud to present its 2012 "Digital VIP" program recognizing Visionaries, Innovators and Producers with an honor that recognizes individuals and teams who have made the most significant contributions to the advancement of digital entertainment and storytelling over the past year.

Digital VIP is an outgrowth of the PGA’s Digital 25 program. Nominees will be submitted by PGA members, an Industry Advisory Board and accredited representatives of digital storytellers. The Producers Guild of America Digital VIP committee, in conjunction with a distinguished Industry Advisory board and the PGA President, will determine the honorees for 2012.

Nominations for candidates for this honor are submitted by the PGA general membership, as well as press and PR agencies representing clients whom they feel should be considered for this honor.


August 8 – Nominations Open

September 18 – Nominations Close

If you have any general questions, please contact


08.08.2012 - Producers Guild of America Annouces Opening of Submissions for 'Digital VIP'

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Producers Guild of America Active Committees

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012
List Last Updated 06/02/10

While it maintains a small and hard-working staff, the Producers Guild is primarily a member-driven organization. The PGA’s many committees are responsible for most of the programs, benefits and events that the Guild offers. As such, we strongly encourage our members to join any of the committees that are open to participants--it’s a wonderful way to give back to your profession, and the best means the Guild offers for making new connections and expanding your network.

Following, please find a list of all committees manned by PGA members, including those in the PGA East and PGA Northwest, along with a brief description of the committee’s goals and activities, as well as the name of the committee Chair(s).

If there’s a committee that interests you and is designated as being open for volunteers, please contact Director of Member Benefits Kyle Katz (

* Designates a committee open for enrollment
by PGA member volunteers

Advisory Committee on Creative Rights for Motion Pictures

Advisory Committee on Creative Rights for Television

* Audio/Visual Committee

Benefits Committee

Constitutional Committee

Diversity Committee

* Diversity Workshop Committee

The Diversity Workshop Committee offers on a yearly basis since 2004 a producing workshop open to all producers (members and non-members of Producers Guild of America). The workshop aims at supporting and developing works that address diversity as well as producers of diverse backgrounds. Participants are mentored in the development of their craft and projects by members of the Diversity Committee as well as the most successful producers in the business. Past guest mentors have included: Mark Gordon, Bruce Cohen, Marshall Herskovitz, and Shonda Rhimes among many.

* Documentary & Non-Fiction Committee

* Employment Committee

* Events Committee

The events committee is one of the most entertaining committees at the PGA. We get to organize, on average, an event per month. Such events include: Golf Tournament, Poker Tournament, Dodger Day, Day At The Races, Family BBQ, Habitat for Humanity Build, Operation Gratitude, and the list continues. If you’ve come to one of the many PGA hosted events, then you already know who we are. Come join the team with new idea or with a helping hand. No matter what, you’ll have fun!

Finance Committee

* Film USA Committee

Film USA Committee was formed in order to promote and share information about filming within the United States. To this end it has a website (, and a membership that reports State by State on tax incentives, infrastructure and experiences of shooting within the U.S. Committee membership and the website provides a forum for Producers to share their knowledge, ask questions, and learn from other’s Production expertise and experience.

We welcome new members and visitors to our website!

Golf Tournament Committee

* Green Committee

The PGA Green Committee (East and West) was established in 2008 as part of the Producers Guild of America’s commitment to actively encourage and support sustainability in the entertainment industry. The PGA Green Committee has created and maintains the industry's foremost reference website for greening productions, This site is fast becoming the portal for all productions - Feature, TV and New Media, and is available to production crews worldwide. The PGA Green Initiative is to lead the way toward environmentally-friendly productions world-wide through our own "Green Outreach" programs, as well as informative seminars/webinars, screenings, Facebook & Twitter pages, and various events. PGA Green always welcomes new members dedicated to this timely and worthwhile mission.

* Independent Film Producers Committee

The Independent Film Producers Committee is dedicated to representing and promoting the interests of independent film producers within the PGA and in the marketplace. It is the goal of the IFPC to assemble our individual voices into one collective voice, and thereby advocate, support and protect the interests of the independent community. We are currently mirroring the efforts of the Truth in Credits campaign as it relates to leveraging credits for casting and financial participation on independent films, and hosting a series of panel discussions focusing on the various steps toward getting an independent film made and into the marketplace. We support other PGA committees by providing ideas and speakers from the independent world, and by including our voice in the ongoing efforts to expand health care benefits. The IFPC is a national committee.

The IFPC will be pleased to add any interested PGA members to its committee and will copy all on e-correspondence. As committee projects come up, members can choose to take on specific responsibilities.

International Committee

1. To increase the PGA and PGA Awards’ visibility and recognition globally.
2. To provide international networking and job opportunities for PGA members.
3. To facilitate idea exchange and co-production opportunities.
4. To assist PGA members with finance, tax, incentives, casting, location post-production and other production resources in overseas productions.
5. To encourage an overseas membership constituency to the PGA.

* Membership Committee

The Membership Committee oversees the vetting of membership applications and researches each applicant to ensure only qualified professionals are accepted into the Guild. As trained volunteers, Committee members also often speak with potential applicants at recruitment events to demystify the application process and to encourage qualified colleagues to join the Guild.

In these recruiting and vetting capacities, Committee members are directly responsible for the quality of membership and serve as the public face of our organization with many non-members in the industry.

This Committee is especially great for PGA members wanting to get involved with important Guild work on a flexible schedule. Participation brings you the benefits of networking for yourself while also being a tremendous service to your fellow members.

Mentoring Committee

* Motion Picture Technology Committee

* PGA East Community Action Committee

The Community Action Committee focuses on outreach and building relationships between the PGA East and local groups and community organizations. CAC works closely with the NY Production Alliance and it's legislative agenda dealing with NY City and State tax incentives. CAC has worked on initiatives with the NYC Mayor's Office of Film, Theater, & Broadcasting including the "Made in NY PA Training program", and the NYC Task Force on Diversity in Entertainment. The Community Action Committee welcomes all PGA members to join us.

Poker Tournament Committee

Produced By Conference Committee

* Seminar Committee

Sponsorship Committee

Website: Producers Wiki Committee

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