There was lots of cheer at the December PGA on the Hill screening of a new holiday classic.
PGA members and guests gathered to celebrate our community and PGA member Kurt Ubersax.
Kurt, along with Producers Richard Jefferies, and Alan Somers among others, produced the feature ELF-MAN.
Both Kurt and Richard were on hand to provide an informative narrative after the film about the pros and cons of filming locally.
With the exception of editorial and special effects, ELF-MAN was shot and produced in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. Members of the audience seemed most interested in learning about the upside of the varying state film incentives and what that means to a budget.
There were a few downsides however; Jefferies related the trials of casting and transporting a reindeer interstate.
An advisory committee of PGA members has selected its Digital VIP recipients for their contributions to advancing media at the intersection of entertainment and technology.
The honors will be presented at an awards gala on April 11th and then followed by a speaker series beginning in June in Los Angeles. Check out the details of winners in this Variety article.
With support emanating from the Guild’s leadership, the New Media Council is taking up the prospect of admitting Branded Entertainment producers to the Council.
A committee has been formed to determine guidelines for admission. As the medium matures, productions have grown well beyond traditional commercials and product placement into robust entertainment.
The committee will offer recommendations to the NMC Board at it’s February meeting. Please forward your thoughts or impressive examples of well-produced Branded Entertainment to Renee Rosenfeld.
Look for an announcement for the first National Capital New Media event to be held in mid February.
The topic? How digital is impacting issues and moving audiences. Tentative panelists include digital decision makers from the Obama for America team, Freedom to Marry, Gun Violence initiatives and Immigration reform.
The Non-Fiction Committee is putting together some great programming for 2013 starting in January.
To celebrate the PGA Awards, we’ll be screening the PGA-nominated documentaries with local partner American University , January 17-19th- three days in a row! Please join us for double feature movies including SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN, THE ISLAND PRESIDENT, and THE GATEKEEPERS to name a few.
We’re also gearing up for our annual Realscreen events, working with other PGA friends and committees at Realscreen January 27-30. If you are planning on going to Realscreen, please stop by at the PGA booth, or join us for a volunteer stint. It’s a great way to increase your chance to network with attendees.
Our popular Insider talk series will re-launch in 2013, with new faces from local and faraway speakers. We’ll keep you updated.
If you want to be involved in events or want to volunteer, contact Non-Fiction Chair Katy Jones Garrity.
The standing room only crowd crammed into a theater on the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City last June wasn’t there for a screening of the latest blockbuster. They were there for a different kind of premiere, one that in many ways was more important than any single production any studio had to offer.
- Camera assessment comes to D.C.
The audience, attendees of the PGA’s "Produced By” conference, had come to see something that will have a profound effect on the way they work, and on the future of our business.
The title of the program, "The 2012 Imaging Control Assessment Series (ICAS),” may not roll off the tongue, but the presentation by Lori McCreary, CEO of Revelations Entertainment and head of the PGA Technology Council, and David Stump of the American Cinematographers Society held everyone in rapt attention.
They watched as Lori and David headlined a unique showcase of the individual characteristics of current high-end digital motion picture cameras and current post-production work-flows, including the Arri Alexa, RED Epic, Sony F-65, Sony F3, Canon C300 and a Arri 35mm Film Camera. Significantly, the presentation also introduced ACES, the Academy Color Encoding System for the standardization of digital media.
Now, those who weren’t able to make it to Culver City will have the opportunity to see this fascinating presentation in the D.C. area, as the PGA National Capital chapter brings Lori, David and ICAS to the Regal Majestic Theatre in Silver Spring on February 1.
- A Night with David Picker
It was a Gala PGA evening at the AFI Silver Spring theatre in November, a celebration of the renown filmaker, studio executive and PGA member David. V.Picker.
PGA members and film enthusiasts alike filled the theatre for the chance to see a rare screening of the 1974 classic LENNY- one of many seminal films produced by Mr. Picker.
In addition to the iconic film, the audience was introduced to the PGA’s Executive Director, Vance Van Petten who after winging his way from Los Angeles stepped in to do the honors of moderating a Q&A with Mr. Picker following the film.
Vance said this about his experience.
At least twice per year, I do my very best to find a good reason to make a working visit to the east coast to meet with the PGA members based in the New York area as well as ACELA my way south to ‘The Hill’ to visit with our burgeoning new membership in the Washington D.C. area.
Well, several months ago , PGA on the Hill Chair Lynn Hughes called me about an event to screen David Picker’s film, LENNY, and I needed no better reason than that. It’s not just that I’m a fan of the film, it’s because I’m a huge fan of the man I simply call "Picker.” (Like "Lenny” and "Obama” and other men who are bigger than life, just one name is needed.)
Well, getting into Washington D.C. wasn’t quite as easy as I expected. Due to the weather, not only was the plane late, but the drive into Silver Spring at 5:00pm took several hours! Luckily, we did get to the theater just in time . . . not to see the film, but for me to start the Q & A with Picker!
In his 40+ years as a producer and executive in the motion picture industry,
Picker has been responsible for making a LEGION of great films.
From bringing the Bond films into existence, the Beatles to filmdom, to running the unbelievably successful United Artists studio in the prolific 70’s, to providing film vehicles for some of the greatest comedians like Lenny and Steve Martin, Picker has truly earned the title of ‘iconic filmmaker.’ (And the Guild is indebted to Picker for inspiring and guiding the growth and prosperity of the PGAEast region!)
The evening’s focus was on Picker’s personal experience with LENNY. And, as always, he told a great story – many great stories – about the hurdles he jumped, the problems he faced and solved, the challenges he managed and the true process of what it takes to produce a film. The audience was adoring -- as it should have been -- and they also asked Picker some very good questions. My hope and my perception is that everyone was quite entertained and informed by the experience.
Despite the wonderful long drive with KC, the informative and entertaining Q&A with Picker, I must confess that the highlight of the trip for me was the opportunity to have a late dinner with the iconic filmmaker . . . just Picker and me.
Know Your Rights: The Freedom to Photograph in D.C.
By Rebecca Howland
A few years ago while making a documentary about the D.C. Central Kitchen, I learned first hand how law enforcement officers can overreact to the filming of public buildings.
While shooting subjects entering DCCK’s Culinary Job Training Program, shouts of "Stop! Stop! Stop!” grew louder. A federal guard from the nearby U.S. Tax Court ran towards me and my crew. He was more than two blocks away, but gaining.
My mind raced – would he confiscate the camera? More importantly, would he confiscate the tape and the day’s work? We took off.
Luckily my wheelman was already in the car with the engine running – not because we were committing a crime, but because he had to double park. Tape, camera, and crew were gone before the guard caught up.
Stories are piling up of shooters being hassled, having their cameras and its precious content confiscated, even being arrested for filming public buildings and/or public employees (mostly police officers).
What are your rights?
Here’s a broad breakdown of filming in public. These apply to both private citizens and members of the media. Remember that filming on private property always requires permission from the owner.
- Filming Police Officers – In July 2012, the D.C. Metropolitan Police releasedgeneral order 304-19 making it clear that officers cannot interfere with the photographing/recording of police activities nor may they seize cameras or delete recordings.
- Filming Public Buildings – The Federal Protective Service is responsible for the security of thousands of Federal buildings. In August 2010, FPS confirmed that "the public has a right to photograph the exterior of federal facilities from publicly accessible spaces such as streets and sidewalks.”
663 Many of the guards are private contractors, the depth of their training varies, and they still routinely interfere with photographers. If federal buildings are your favorite subject, download a copy of theFPS bulletin.
- Filming Metro Stations – Photography is allowed in and around all Metro stations except for the Pentagon Station, which is Pentagon property. Photography is prohibited on board in-service buses and rail cars. If what you want to shoot requires a tripod, special lighting, or a crew, get apermit.
- Filming Union Station – Per Amtrak’s officialpolicy, shooting is allowed within the public portions of Union Station and the platform and inside trains if you’re a ticketed passenger. The challenge is that Union Station is a mixture of public and private – the concourse is public, but the attached restaurants and shops are private and they can be cranky about shooting. The attached private garage allows for some of the best views of the station and the city, but explicitly prohibits photography even if it is not of the garage itself.
- Filming Airports – The TSA does not prohibit photographing or filming at screening locations (except for monitor screens) as long as it doesn’t interfere with the screening process. The challenge is TSA’s photography policy is often superseded by local laws that prevent photography within the terminal. If you want to shoot inside an airport, contact TSA to determine the policy of the location.
- Street Photography – There is an obscure law on the D.C. books that regulates street photography. It states:
"No person, firm, or corporation shall engage in the business of taking photographs of any person or persons upon the streets, sidewalks, or other public spaces of the District of Columbia, for profit or gain, without first having obtained a license to do so from the Mayor.”
But even if the $25 license is obtained, the law forbids photographers from remaining in any one location for more than five minutes.
TheNational Press Photographers Association
is trying to get the law changed for fear that police will interfere with photographers documenting ongoing events like Occupy Wall Street
How do you protect yourself?
Even though official policies and the law defends your right to exercise the first amendment, an uninformed or under-trained officer may not share that knowledge.
Shortly after the metro police issued GO 304-19 in July, a man took a photo of an officer assaulting bystanders at the scene of an arrest. His smartphone memory card was confiscated and destroyed by the police – along with photos of the first five years of his daughter’s life. The only copies he had. The ACLU has helped him bring suit, but that won’t restore those lost memories.
If confronted, be pleasant and courteous but assertive. You know your rights; help the officer know them too.
A great general tool is The Photographer’s Right: Explaining Your Rights When Stopped or Confronted for Photography. Make a copy and keep it with you.
As producers we’re used to planning ahead, but if a great shot presents itself go for it – and hope none of the above is needed.
The Discovery network has ordered its first scripted miniseries titled
KLONDIKE, about six strangers as they search for gold in 1890s Alaska. Production will begin in March in Alberta, Canada.
Discovery currently has three reality series about hunting for gold, two based in Alaska and one in Ghana.
There’s no air date yet for KLONDIKE.
- Netflix Deals the hand they are dealt
Look for a February premiere of the Baltimore-produced Netflix series HOUSE OF CARDS. Doubling down, Netflix has gambled on a hit. It’s made a two year commitment to the freshman series.
- DC based filmmakers take Sundance, again
Local filmmakers Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine, who's documentary WAR/DANCE was nominated for an Oscar in 2008, are headed to Sundance. Their latest film, THE GOOD LIFE, was just announced for the 2013 Sundance slate. THE GOOD LIFE follows Dr. Leslie Gordon and Dr. Scott Berns as they fight to save their only son from Progeria, a rare and fatal disease for which there is no treatment or cure. In less than a decade, their work has led to significant advances. Congratulations!
- Executive Shuffle Throughout the Capital Region
The end of the year saw a number of moves among the networks in the Capital region:
Runnette moves from Discovery to NGT
Former Discovery executive and Shark Week executive producer Brook Runnette has been named president of National Geographic Television. She succeeds Maryann Culpepper who ankled the post in July. Culpepper had been with NGT for 16 years, 15 months of which were as President. Runnette will oversee the development and production of series, special events and live programming at NGT.
An Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning producer, Runnette was responsible for specials at Discovery Channel, including ratings juggernaut Shark Week. She oversaw the Emmy nominated special The Kennedy Detail, Discovery Channel’s 25th Anniversary Week, the Amelia Earhart expeditions and current affairs programming such as Secrets Of Seal Team 6. Prior to joining Discovery Channel, she worked at TLC, where she was EP of the hit series Little People, Big World.
- Hoppe makes a big move at PBS
In a shake-up at the pubcaster, Beth Hoppe has been promoted to chief programming executive and general manager, general audience programming. Former programming chief John Wilson will become senior VP, pledge strategy and special projects.
In 2011 Hoppe joined PBS from Discovery Studios, where she was EP of Discovery’s CURIOSITY series. Prior to Discovery she was president and CEO of Optomen Productions. At PBS she has shepherded documentaries on Steve Jobs, the Titanic and the Cuban Missile Crisis. In her new role she will be responsible for creating PBS' primetime content strategy and building on hit series like SHERLOCK and DOWNTON ABBEY.
After little more than a year, TV One CEO Wonya Lucas has left the network. Alfred Liggins, president and CEO of Radio One will take over as CEO position. Radio One owns 51% of the net.
Lucas became CEO of the African-American targeted network in May 2011, succeeding Johnathan Rodgers. Making a statement about the move, Lucas said, "It has been my pleasure to have had the opportunity to be a part of TV One and work with Alfred Liggins, Cathy Hughes, and the TV One staff. I am extremely proud of what has been accomplished during my time with the network and am confident that the senior team under Alfred’s leadership will continue to thrive and succeed.”