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AT THE AWARDS 2012

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012
At the Producers Guild Awards 2012
By PGA

Click here if you cannot see the slideshow.
It’s been a little over a week since the Producers Guild Awards, and our collective hangover is finally starting to lift. It was an unbelievable time – such a good time, in fact, that we can only recall bits and pieces of it. We remember Michael Rappaport being pretty damn excited when Beats, Rhymes & Life won the feature documentary award. We remember Alicia Keys belting out a couple of amazing songs, and Kathleen Kennedy getting a little verklempt accepting the animated feature Award for Tintin. We remember laughing at George Clooney’s introduction for Les Moonves, though the specific jokes are a little hazy right now. Don Mischer may have shown a home movie at some point. We may be making that last part up, we’re not sure.

But mostly, we remember having a hell of a time, doing our best to navigate a room that was as full of stars, producers and power players as any we’ve ever seen. We saw Brian Grazer chatting with Angelina Jolie, while Hawk Koch and Warren Beatty were talking shop at the next table over. We pretended to be looking for another cocktail while we were secretly eavesdropping on J.J. Abrams, who was saying all kinds of smart things. Even better, someone handed us another cocktail anyway. We got our picture taken with Stan Lee. It seemed like everyone got their picture taken with Stan Lee. Finally: Judd Apatow – if it looked like we were hitting on your daughter, we absolutely were not doing that, and besides, it was a total accident, and we are very, very, very sorry, is what we’re trying to say.

A lot of the rest of the night is kind of a blur, except for Brad Pitt, who somehow stayed in perfect focus. We’re grateful for the accompanying slide show, which has helped to fill in some of the gaps. But even more so, we’re grateful for the hard work and outstanding taste of Awards Co-Chairs Paula Wagner and Michael Manheim; working together with their talented team, they created an incredible evening that we’ll always partially remember.

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PGA Plants Hope With Habitat For Humanity

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012
PGA Plants Hope With Habitat For Humanity
By Brent Roske

Golf. Sailing. Hauling dirt. What do these 3 things have in common? I’m glad you asked!

5am on Saturday came too quick. I had to get to the Starbucks in Long Beach by 7 to make it to the build site by 745 - the first 20 miles of driving was mentally pretty foggy. 2 boxes of coffee, a bunch of muffins and bagels and I was off to the build site.

I didn’t know much about Habitat for Humanity before then. Here’s what they do and why they do it: Habitat builds houses for qualifying families, which is one that needs some housing help and can make the mortgage payments on the house once it’s finished. Habitat calls it ‘a hand up and not a hand out’ which sounds good to me. Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man how to drive a nail through a fish with a high-powered nail gun and you’ll get a good photo. Every family that is accepted into the program has to work 500 hours at a Habitat property - often at the home they’ll be living in - building ‘sweat equity’. A normal workweek here in the States is 40 hours (not for us hard working producers but we’re special) so over the year it takes to build a Habitat house the owners are certainly putting in their time.

We got hats. Brand new PGA Green Committee baseball hats and a cup of coffee and we were split up into teams. I was put on landscape because I guess they didn’t want me inside the house. Our team’s job was to level the front yard so we could put some plants in. It had been over 12 years since I last touched a wheelbarrow for either business or pleasure (don’t ask). Everybody grabbed a shovel and started filling them up so R.J. Hume and I became ‘Dirt Removal Team Alpha’ (our own name). The first half of our day: Fill the wheelbarrow, wheel it to the dump, lift it with R.J., dump the dirt, repeat.

At the start of the workday we had a group prayer. Habitat for Humanity is a faith-based organization and all faiths are welcome. I had a moment of surprise when I realized that during the prayer all 24 PGA producers weren’t talking! I’m sure that’s some sort of record.

That day we painted, cut tile, sawed wood, dug, planted, hauled stuff, and used muscles that at least for me had been dormant and un-flexed for too long. And the best part? We were there not because we had to be, or because we were getting paid for it, or because we expected anything from it. We were there because a family of 5, who had been living in a one bedroom apartment for years (mom, dad and 3 sons in 700 square feet), now would get to live in a house that they applied for, worked hard to help build and will be responsible for the upkeep and payment for once they move in. With all the partisan politics, economic troubles and other daily struggles we all face, simple acts like helping someone build their house is about as gratifying as you can get. As producers, most of our careers are spent talking – talking about projects, creating excitement, generating funding, casting – you get it. I don’t think I’ve talked less in a day than on the build with Habitat, and there is a good feeling that comes with the tactile experience of creating a home that kids will laugh in.

So, to answer the question at the top of this article: what does golf, sailing and hauling dirt have in common? Find out for yourself by volunteering for a day with Habitiat for Humanity. (and then go golfing and sailing).

If you would like to see more pictures from the PGA Habitat for Humanity, go to our Facebook Page.

Thank you to our Sponsor Safecig for making this year’s build possible. For more information about Safecig, go to www.thesafecig.com.

For more information about PGA Green, go to: www.pgagreen.org or join our Facebook page.

For more information about volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, go to: www.habitatla.org

Brent Roske is a member of the PGA Green Committee and his short film ‘African Chelsea’ is now qualified for Oscar consideration.

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Feature - Film and TV Top 5 Aha Moments

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012


This five-week 10-hour series, led by RUI Subject Matter Experts and USC Marshall School of Business professors, took a deep dive into the financial underpinnings producers must understand in our industry.
TOP 5 Film & TV Finance Series Aha! Moments

by Deanna McDaniel

"Whenever someone says, ‘You’re in television? Well, I don’t watch television,’ I want to slug them. Do they know they’re missing some of the most informative and fabulous forms of entertainment that have ever existed?” This statement, from television luminary Rod Perth, is one of the many provocative thought points we came away with during the PGA/Really Useful Information (RUI) Film & TV Finance series, held over a five-week period at CBS Radford Studios and Raleigh Studios.

We learned some good news from our instructors — for instance, that original programming (not reruns!) is the only way that cable channels can establish themselves as a brand. Feature films are recouping investments with up to 10-year pay cycles that include theatrical box office, home video, pay-per-view, pay TV, a matching international cycle, online delivery systems, merchandising and soundtrack revenue streams.

Okay, great. I’m off to the races. Now, how does this financing thing work again? No worries. I have a new mantra. NPV. Net Present Value, my friends. If you believe your budget is $25 million because that is the amount of funding you raised through equity, loans, and gap financing, think again.

Following are five aha! moments and the hard-core learning behind the RUI series:

#1 Money Costs Money
Let’s start with what should be the most obvious — but is often the most forgotten — piece of the puzzle. Money costs money. Period. If you borrow money, investors will expect an annual rate of return for the use of their funds. The minute those funds are deposited into your account, that interest rate starts ticking and keeps ticking until the money is repaid. Let’s return to your $25M budget (if only) and look at the life cycle of your production over several years with discounted cash flows. During the first year alone, guess what? Your total budget figure remained the same, but your expenses in the form of interest (a 15% weighted average cost of capital if you’re lucky) just increased by $3.75M. The total cash you have at your disposal for your production just decreased to $21.25M. (Note to self: remind line producer to can- cel the crane on Day 8 and reduce total shoot days by five). Until the film breaks even and the funds are returned to the investor (we are likely talking years here), you will continue to pay interest on that capital. We as producers have to create a budget line item for this finance cost. It doesn’t magically go away. As Marc Robertson, CEO of RUI, says, "Don’t be afraid to look.”


Really Useful Information, Inc. CEO Marc Robertson, Brand-in Entertainment EVP Brian Williams.
#2 Brand Integration (Not Product Placement)
Here’s a new one. Your screen time has value. And to think, we’ve been giving it away for free all these years. Brian Williams, EVP of Brand-In Entertainment, taught us to think about how to integrate a brand into our project in advance, not only so we can come up with an organic way to fit it into the creative, but also because it’s going to be much harder to go back to the advertiser later on and ask them for money. Brand integration is the only type of financing that you don’t have to pay back. (Remember that $3.75M we just lost in year one? Doesn’t apply.) And it’s one of the few opportunities for advertisers to avoid DVR blowout. The networks are relying more and more on producers to deficit finance their own shows, so brand integration is a great opportunity for producers to come in to the pitch meeting with a little more moxie. If you’re an indie producer and you can successfully integrate a brand into your storyline, you can raise $150K–$500K. And brands love working with indie producers because they have a vested interest (brand money may be half the budget) in making sure the creative elements are seamlessly integrated into the picture, instead of (like certain studio pics) shoving them in at the end. Again, it’s called "brand integration,” not product placement. There’s so much we learned about this topic I can’t possibly sum it all up, but one last tip: Once you agree to portray a brand in a certain way in your project, that advertiser will hold you to those contracts — so it’s critical to get buy-in from all your creative personnel up front.

#3 Reality & Serialized TV Shows Have Little to No Downstream Revenues
As a television producer, you have to think about downstream revenues (otherwise known as syndication) for your shows. If you are pitching a reality show or a serialized show, recognize that you will have limitations on the back end. Reality shows are most often based on competition, and once we’ve learned the outcome, there is no rerun value. A serialized show requires the viewer to watch every episode to understand the character development, the narrative, and the arc of the story. These don’t work well downstream. For instance, HBO’s Sopranos was one of the most acclaimed series of the past 20 years, yet tanked when it was rerun by A&E. There’s a lot of money left on the table if syndication isn’t part of the formula. Therefore, you may want to rethink your show’s storyline and create an "A” story that is always closed-ended, and a "B” story that has a through line. This season’s Pan Am is a good example. You can watch and enjoy an episode without having seen every prior episode.


Producer Andrew Sugerman
#4 Protect Yourself With Investors
Make investors aware of what you are doing as a producer. Document everything. Investors may not know the process you’re going through and what it means to make a movie, but they may know everything there is to know about finance, investing, and risk. Never underestimate your investors. Let them know in advance all the possible areas where things could go wrong (extra shooting days, overtime, different release patterns, etc.) so they understand what they’re buying into. It’s okay for equity investors — who may be asking for 20% or more — to take a risk, because you’re paying through the nose for that money. Nonetheless, they may expect a level of financial reporting or projections that you don’t understand or don’t have time to perform. Give them what you can, which sometimes may only constitute a SWAG formula (scientific wild-ass guess). Set parameters, such as providing them with an update every five days — they may be less inclined to be intrusive if they know information is coming their way soon. You don’t want to paint a dishonest picture of success. There is a chance that investors may get a solid return or they may lose everything. You want to let them know up front about all the holes. It’s always worth taking the time to inform investors. What’s not worth it is having the plug pulled in the middle of production because you’ve gone over budget, or asking for more money never having communicated the potential pitfalls. The bottom line is to protect yourself as much as you can with people who are financially savvy by being up front. They can and will sue you. Did I mention to document everything?

#5 200+ Is Not an Exaggeration
There’s a 1000:1 chance if you’re selling a show in prime time that you’ll succeed. Every network purchases hundreds of scripts. Out of those, a small number are developed. Of those, a minute number are picked up as pilots, and out of those, 3–4 shows are acquired (per network). From there, you have to contend with cancelation rates. So, network success is tough, but worth going after. HOWEVER, there are more than 200+ cable channels out there. As we’ve said, cable channels need original programming (rather than reruns) to not only establish themselves as a brand, but to increase their standing with advertisers and cable operators. Cable companies also happen to be much more patient, not following a tyranny of ratings that may blow out a show after only three episodes like broadcast networks. You may have to put up with lower fees and less ownership. They may not be able to afford to pay for high-priced productions, but they do need the content. 200 is a big number. Start pitching.


Marc Robertson (left) with RHP Media Consulting CEO Rod Perth.
#6 (Bonus) Get Your Confidence On
I said five, but let’s make it six aha! moments. During the last session, one of the attendees started to ask a question about approaching a well-known person saying, "Well, I’m not in their league, but...” Marc Robertson stopped the speaker immediately and interjected, "Who’s out of your league? Seriously, who? No one is out of your league. Everyone is walking around the same planet breathing the same air. In this business, a name can carry tremendous clout. But if you think you are beneath them, that’s bullshit. It’s critical that you understand you are just as valuable as anyone else.” He went on to say that getting rid of feelings such as "I’m not worthy” or "I’m not that good yet” or "I’ve never had a hit” is the first step to winning. What makes you think you’re less than these people who just happened to close a deal? They may just be good negotiators, and you may be a creative genius! So, go get some training in negotiations. Get your confidence on. People in power are magnetized to those who express confidence. Why? Because confident folks might be able to shoulder the burden top executives are carrying — they might be responsible enough to get it done right on their behalf. Join the league of human beings. That’s the only league there is.

There is so much more we learned during these film & TV finance sessions, so if you missed them, you can view this series as well as other educational series online at http://www. rui.us.com.

A very big thanks from the PGA to Marc Robertson, Rod Perth, Andrew Sugerman, Brian Williams, Devin Arbiter, and everyone at RUI. Deanna McDaniel is a writer/producer, PGA member and author of the newly released book A Speck of Light: How to Free Yourself From Emotional Darkness.


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PGA Job Board 2.0

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012
We are excited to refer you to the Producers Guild Job Board for all your employment-related needs.



The Job Board is a one-stop shop for your job search—whether you’re looking for a new position or seeking to hire a top-notch member of your producing team.


PGA members...
Are able to search current job listings, add or edit their credits and personal information, upload resumes in either .doc or .pdf format, indicate their areas of expertise via "Employer Search Preferences,” and update their availability status.

Employers...

Are able to post open positions, create and update your employer profile, browse or search for PGA members who fit your employment criteria, and both review and contact applicants for jobs you have posted.

Everyone...
Will discover the cleanest, most user-friendly interface ever created for a Job Board website. The PGA Job Board was custom-designed from the ground up, based on extensive feedback from both PGA members and employers. The Producers Guild has always had the best producing talent available for hire in the entertainment industry. And now it’s easier than ever to get them on your team.

jobs.producersguild.org.
it’s where producing jobs live.

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The Power of Joining Forces

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

First Lady Michelle Obama greets military family member panelists U.S. Air Force Capt. Kelly Smith, Arnita Moore and Bobby Jarman before the Joining Forces Entertainment Guild Symposium at the Writer's Guild of America Building in Los Angeles, Calif., June 13, 2011. Bruce Cohen looks on at left. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
The Power of Joining Forces
By Michelle Obama

Be a part of the initiative that’s supporting American military families at home and abroad.

This past summer, the Producers Guild was proud to be a part of JOINING FORCES, an inter-guild initiative in support of military families, supported by none other than our First Lady, Michelle Obama. As a result of PGA involvement, military bases around the world enjoyed screenings of Cars 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and other major motion pictures.

We are proud to continue the work of JOINING FORCES by publishing this brief piece from the First Lady as a website feature.


THE POWER OF JOINING FORCES

Bobby Jarman and his wife wanted to retire together. After his 22-year Army career ended, however, his wife was redeployed to Iraq. And Bobby became a full-time dad for his four daughters.

Arnita Brigham Moore can relate. When her husband joined the Marines, she soon realized that she would be asked to serve our country, as well. Deployments meant Arnita had to play the role of mother and father for their four children, serving as counselor, disciplinarian, and everything else.

But neither Arnita nor Bobby ever complained. They kept moving forward, doing what they needed to do for their family and for our country. And every single day, veterans and military families all across America demonstrate that same commitment, honor, and resilience.


First Lady Michelle Obama listens as military family member panelists relate their stories during the Joining Forces Entertainment Guild Symposium at the Writer's Guild of America Building in Los Angeles, Calif., June 13, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
One of my greatest blessings as First Lady has been hearing so many of these inspiring stories. I’ve heard from military spouses who balance work, family, and school all while dealing with the emotions of a deployment. I’ve spent time with military children who bounce from school to school while stepping up around the house when dad or mom is overseas. And I’ve been inspired by veterans who keep serving their country long after they’ve taken off a military uniform, survivors of our fallen who stand tall as pillars of their communities, and wounded warriors who don’t let anything get in the way of their dreams.

But as much as these stories are a part of my life now, they weren’t always on my radar. For many years, even though I followed the news of the day and kept up on most issues, I simply didn’t know much about the experiences of military families. That’s probably the case for most Americans.

But as I’ve learned more and more about the unique strength and courage of our military families, I’ve become driven to do whatever I can to make sure that these stories are heard. That’s why I launched the Joining Forces initiative with Dr. Jill Biden earlier this year to honor, appreciate, and support our nation’s veterans and military families. We’re asking all Americans – businesses, nonprofits, government, and citizens of all kinds – to keep doing what they do best, and direct some of their efforts toward military families.

That’s why I’m writing to you today – because all of you are our storytellers. You capture our imaginations. You open our eyes. You touch our hearts. And you help us understand who we are as individuals – and as Americans.

So I’m asking you to make these brave, strong military families a part of what you do every day. You might build an episode around a military family’s experience. You might add a character that is going through a deployment or explore the challenges veterans face when they return home. You don’t have to create a full-length screenplay or a pitch the networks on a brand-new series. Simply work it in to what you’re already doing. Be creative. Be compelling. Be funny.


First Lady Michelle Obama shares a laugh with U.S. Air Force Capt. Kelly Smith during the Joining Forces Entertainment Guild Symposium at the Writer's Guild of America Building in Los Angeles, Calif., June 13, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
We’ve already seen how your industry can make an impact, and I’m thankful for all those who have led the way. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition dedicated an episode to an amazing veteran in North Carolina. Your guilds organized a symposium on military families and produced a powerful series of public service announcements seen by millions all across the country. And I even ended up dancing on the set of iCarly after they built an episode around the emotions military children feel while a parent is deployed.

I’ll bet if you asked any of the actors, directors, or producers involved with any of these projects, they’d say they got as much out of the experience than any of the families they were hoping to highlight. That’s been my experience every step of the way. Every time I’ve spoken with a family member or worked on a project with them, I’ve come away refreshed, inspired, and ready to do more. I think you’ll have the same feeling, too.

So I hope you’ll take advantage of the opportunities you have to make a difference for our nation’s veterans and military families. Share their stories. Help America feel their emotions and understand their challenges.

If we can do this, we’ll help unleash even more of the compassion and goodwill that exists throughout America for these families. We’ll see even more creative, meaningful ways that Americans are showing their support. We’ll see more people getting involved. And when we all do that – when we all join forces – we can be sure that we’re serving them as well as they’ve served us.

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