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The Networker Blog is the internal publication of the Producers Guild. In it, members will find information about Guild benefits, programs and initiatives, career advice, member spotlights, and extensive coverage of major Guild events, seminars and screenings.


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The 101 of 501(c)

Posted By Administration, Monday, February 6, 2012
Nonprofit Tips for Producers: All you need to know about starting a 501c3 for your production company.
By Tanja Meding

Not-for-Profit corporations and how they can benefit producers was the topic of the 101 or 501, a panel discussion produced by PGA East Documentary and Employment Committees.

An expert panel provided firsthand experiences and important answers to all things 501(c)(3): legal, accounting and a non-profit organization as a business model, plus how to set up one’s own not-for-profit organization.

Moderated by PGA East Doc committee chair Shirley Escott, panelists Tracie Holder, Filmmaker and Program Consultant for the Production Assistance Program at Women Make Movies, lawyer Thea J. Kerman, filmmaker Barbara Rick, Financial Consultant Howie Seligman and Juliana Steele, Program Specialist for Fiscal Sponsorship at Fractured Atlas, addressed questions such as:
  • Do you have an idea for a film and are you looking into funding from private sponsors and public grants?
  • What does it mean when funders are asking for a fiscal sponsor or a not for-profit organization?
  • When should you set up a non-profit organization versus using a fiscal sponsor?
  • How can you actually make money with a non-profit organization?
Tracie Holder  
Fiscal Sponsorship

Juliana Steel
What a Fiscal Sponsor can Do for You
Barbara Rick
Starting a Not-For-Profit
Thea Kerman
Starting a 501c3 a Legal Perspective
Howie Seligman
Record Keeping for Not for Profits

The 101 of 501
View the entire panel discussion featuring all the excerpts above and more. Tips for Producers on starting and maintaining a 501c-3 from legal and financial considerations to choosing a fiscal sponsor. (TRT 19:17)


Tags:  non-fiction  PGA East 

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PGA at Realscreen 2012

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Realscreen Day Three: So You Think You Can Pitch?
By Renee Rosenfeld

Katy Jones in session
Realscreen Day Three opened with PGA on the Hill hosting the Insiders Breakfast for PGA members and delegates attending Realscreen.  More than 40 guests listened to insider Elaine Frontain Bryant, Senior Vice President of Non-Fiction Programming at A&E Networks. She gave a frank talk about the development process at A&E, and what the network looks for when commissioning programs: When pitching to A&E bring big characters and high drama because the barrier for entry is entertainment value. The breakfast was organized by National Capital’s Katy Jones.

Sessions ranged from informational sessions with agents to trends in popular genres but the highlight of the Realscreen Summit is the very popular "So You Think You Can Pitch?” a pitching competition hosted by the one and only Howie Mandel.  Five brave Realscreen delegates pitched in front of a packed house for a five-minute presentation to be critiqued publically by the panel of judges, including representatives from the National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, NBC & Universal, and CABLEready. While entertaining for the audience, it was certainly informative to hear feedback from the judges as to what they were looking for and why or why not a pitch might work for them.

The most unscripted moment came when Howie Mandel invited a pitch from a would-be producer who attended the Summit decked out in pirate garb to bring attention to his show idea.  He was a natural! 

The Takeaway: Be sure to lead with your characters and exclusive access - If you are pitching an issue-specific program, be sure to make it personal, and always lead with confidence!

Lynn Hughes recruits prospective members
NPR’s Neda Ulaby was on hand and interviewed several producers including PGA member Evan Marshall about what they were pitching at Realscreen.

PGA members continued to fill us in on their experiences at the Summit.  Katy Jones enjoyed a very lively panel discussion from "The Ownership Question: You’ve Got to Fight for Your Rights.”  The panel featured Kaki Kirby of Atlas Media Group, Jane Millichip of Zodiak Rights London, Greg Jacobs of Red Bull Media House, Richard Hofstetter of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz and one lone representative of broadcasters, Germaine Deagan Sweet of the National Geographic Channel.

The Takeaway: The more leverage you have as you walk into a business deal, the more room you have to negotiate ownership over the IP, but it’s really vital to be conscious of the value of the rights you want, and not overvalue yourself and your product in such a way as to kill the deal outright.  If you are just starting out, you’ll probably need to take commissions as a straight work-for-hire to build up your relationship with the broadcaster.  As you have more hits under your belt, you’ll have more leverage, says Greg Jacobs. Jane Millichip stressed the importance of owning the IP on your format, which can be very valuable to a producer.  Germaine Deagan Sweet was careful to point out that exclusivity is vital to the broadcaster in building their brand, but that they aren’t in the business of destroying producers—channels depend on producers.  The other takeaway: Have your talent signed up BEFORE you walk into a negotiation with a broadcaster.

West Coast’s Harlan Freedman reports that he closed a deal last Friday to become the Head of Development for Leopard Films. Harlan is a seasoned veteran of the Summit. In his view, it’s a great opportunity to build relationships because network players let their hair down. He finds the yearly market very similar to Sundance ten years ago where producers have more access in a fun environment.

Realscreen 14 wrapped up with The Great Original Programming Debate on Wednesday morning. With a "if you don’t own it, clone it” attitude prevailing in non-fiction, the panel agreed that if you live in a derivative world, you must find a way to break through to originality.

Themes of character and story ran throughout all the sessions but the prevailing buzzword was AUTHENTICITY!

PGA on the Hill looks forward to hosting members from around the country at Realscreen 15 in January of 2013. We’ll see you in the Nation’s Capital.

Tags:  non-fiction  PGA National Capital 

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PGA at Realscreen 2012

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Realscreen Day Two: Anatomy of a Hit (Monday 1/30) 
By Renee Rosenfeld

Doug Ross and Katy Jones
Photo Credit: Kc Schillhahn 
The Realscreen Summit Day Two kicked off with the keynote address by NBCUniversal  Entertainment & Digital Networks Chairman, Lauren Zalaznick who delivered a rendition of her tremendously popular 2010 TED Talk.  NBCUniversal collected extensive data about why and how audiences respond to certain shows. Her advice to producers: know your business, know your audience and trust your creative instinct.

Reports from PGA Members at RealScreen
  • Tom Cappello of PGA Southeast had six network meetings and reports that his first meeting with SyFy was a success; execs loved the two shows he pitched.

  • Evan Marshall, a first-time Realscreen delegate says he’s on a very fast learning curve, learning what the networks want and adjusting pitches on the fly.

  • Steve Narisi reports that OWN is looking for shows with "intention.”   Execs advise that Oprah would ask, "What is the intention of the show?  What is its purpose?”  They have 200 hours of primetime to fill.  Steve notes that they’ll take pitches but prefer you have representation, and that OWN is on the lookout for shows that have experts like Dr. Oz in various topic areas.

  • Smithsonian is doubling its markets this year, having recently been picked up by Comcast. Smithsonian needs entertaining, informative, factual programs with integrity, and seeks shows that reflect the legendary Smithsonian Museum culture, history, and aerospace.·       Mark Cuban owned network HDNet has now partnered with Ryan Seacrest, and will be changing its name to ASX TV. (It seems that the days of bikini-clad women on HDNet are gone, or at least numbered.)  The network is moving more toward live events, especially music. The net is still looking for pop culture and lifestyle programs.

    Steve Katz and Doug Ross
    Photo Credit: Kc Schillhahn 

  • Katy Jones reports from The Golden Age of Non- Fiction session that unscripted reality television is here to stay. David McKillop, of A&E finds that characters in non-fiction are often stronger, more entertaining and addictive than invented characters in scripted television. Technology has allowed innovation of storytelling techniques in non-fiction, which as Jane Root points out, is now blurring the line between scripted and unscripted television. But there’s room for all of us as long as the storytelling is strong.

  • From "In Conversation with David Lyle,” The National Geographic Channel CEO says that their channels are doing well but need to do "weller.” Nat Geo is moving away from their brand name by looking for more character-driven programming with action and sub-culture themes. Lyle wants your fresh ideas and wants to work with production companies that haven’t worked with Nat Geo before, and has outlawed the phrase, "we don’t do that.”  Expect him to ask you at the end of the pitch, "What do you have that National Geographic wouldn’t normally be interested in?”

  • Lynn Hughes reports that it’s no surprise, but programming for men 25-45 is still king.Day two concluded with PGA National Capital’s Happy Hour and Pub Quiz at Fado’s Irish Pub in Chinatown.

Tags:  non-fiction  PGA National Capital 

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PGA at Realscreen 2012

Posted By Administration, Monday, January 30, 2012
PGA at Realscreen 2012 (Sunday 1/29) 
By Renee Rosenfeld, PGA Networker Correspondent 

The PGA, National Capital Chapter Booth
at Realscreen Summit 2012
Producers and TV executives from around the world began converging in Washington, DC on Sunday for non-fiction entertainment’s largest global market and conference, the Realscreen Summit . Members of the Producers Guild, National Capital Chapter are representing the Guild in full force. The team has set up an information booth ready to sign up new members, and keep everyone current with breaking news and industry insider sightings during the sold-out event. 

Delegates were treated to tours of meeting rooms, lounges and workshop venues throughout the Renaissance Washington DC and offered the ultimate networking workshop led by the very entertaining Chris Palmer, Director of American University’s Center for Environmental Filmmaking. Day one was capped off with plenty of libations and schmoozing. The Sunday night event was a new addition to RSS, a nod to the 30% increase in attendance this year. Kudos go to National Geographic Channel for their very green and creative contribution to the gift bags: Nat Geo has equipped delegates with water bottles and hydration stations throughout the conference center to keep the bottles filled. 

Realscreen has created a networking nirvana for producers and execs to cultivate programming opportunities. Realscreen Connect provides an online resource to upload HD versions of shows for buyers to screen, a virtual pitching station that operates year round. 

This year’s Summit is the largest ever. Of the 2000 delegates, Producers Guild of America members represent nearly 10% of the registration. The next three days promise to unfold with exciting new programming find homes. PGA Members Doug Ross, Katy Jones, KC Shillhahn, Lynn Hughes, Steven Narisi, Dara Padwo-Audick are on site recruiting new members and spreading PGA cheer between pitch sessions, workshops and networking. Follow @PGAontheHill on Twitter for all the action as the deals unfold.

Tags:  non-fiction  PGA National Capital 

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Featured Member: Autumn Tarleton

Posted By Administration, Monday, January 23, 2012
Featured Member: Autumn Tarleton
From Contributing Member: Elaine Spooner

Autumn Tarleton

I came to film from dance, which I studied as a kid.  Dance combines performance, music, choreography, costume design – all the elements for artistic mediums.  I no longer dance, but I still love the process.  I watch films and editing to see how subjects are expressed.  I think of them as dances. 


My first job in the industry was in the wardrobe department on a couple of small indie features. I just wanted to get in at whatever level I could and start learning the filmmaking process from the bottom up. Being hyper-organized was key to being a good wardrobe supervisor and that constant attention to every lapel crease, every striped sock, every detail has helped make me a better producer.   


I joined Double Wide Media after earning my Masters in documentary filmmaking and I was immediately trusted to just jump in and learn how to produce whatever the company was working on. I think, again, that knowing about the production process and the art of storytelling helped steer me towards the producer role. To be honest, there was also a certain level of creative control that I was interested in obtaining and steering a project from start to finish is something that I found really suited me. I learned quickly to be courageous because I always had Don Faller (the owner of Double Wide Media) around to rely on if things got complicated or harried. He really taught me the ropes by giving me a lot room to do what I thought was best and he always had my back. It was incredibly freeing. In 2007, I was offered the opportunity to partner with the Editors of GQ to produce content for, their online magazine.  One of the first online magazines, highlights included GQ Rules for topics such as ‘How To Tie A Tie’ and the ‘Verge Girl’ series.  The site received 3 Webby nominations and is still a leading edge online publication.  "We were one of the first sites to take the magazine pages and bring them to life on the web.  We created art pieces with great editing and music.”  


I joined the PGA about 2 years ago at the suggestion of Don Faller, Owner and Executive Producer of Double Wide.  The East Coast Chapter and the New Media Council have great meetings, with wonderful networking and screening opportunities.  Participating with other filmmakers is terrific.   


2010 was really a heavy production year for me and 2011 became the year of premieres and distribution, which then morphed back into development again -- it's the same ol' cycle. We've created several original programming opportunities this year and are wrapping up 2011 pitching them to talent, directors, agents and networks. I'm very excited about them. One project is a half hour dark comedy called THE NORMS which is a scripted series that follows a couple of guys in their mid-30s who struggle to be special in a big city that couldn't care less that their somewhat successful band broke up... 15 years ago. I feel like it's a little bit ‘Louis’ and a little bit ‘Mr. Show’ if that show's themes were wrapped in a dark comedy soap opera. And then there's ‘The Flesh’, a scripted genre show that follows Ava Lone, a young woman who has survived a global viral outbreak, after she makes it back home to New Mexico looking to start over.  

I’m very excited about a new project called ‘Random Fandom’, to be hosted by Kevin Maher.  The idea is to travel to special-interest conventions and embed with the fans to understand the cultures.  We’ll be starting on TV, but the digital media elements will be much bigger.  We plan to coordinate with all the online sites and user content possibilities presented by the huge fan bases for these events.  Viewers will watch on their phones, interact on the TV and consume with additional content wherever it appears.


I produced a web series about Chicago Bears’ Quarterback Jay Cutler’s triumph over diabetes on the football field and post-produced a documentary about New York Knicks’ Tracy McGrady and his trip to Chad to learn of the Sudanese atrocities in Darfur.  In 2008, she post-produced ‘Life For A Child’, another documentary about children with diabetes set in Nepal.  In 2010, she produced a month-long documentary shoot in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The film focuses on children struggling to survive with juvenile diabetes. 

My most recently produced film is ‘Animals Distract Me’ which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Directed by and starring Isabella Rossellini, this docu-fantasy film explores a "day in the life” of the animal-obsessed Rossellini.  My first feature length documentary, ‘Windfall’, tells the story of the inhabitants of a small, rural town in upstate New York and their struggle to decide whether or not to allow industrial wind turbine development amidst their homes. It won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 DOCNYC Festival and premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. The film is scheduled to hit theatres in New York in February of 2012.  

Production allows you to do a lot of different things.  I love editing, but I can’t do just that.  On smaller productions with a 4-person crew, I am responsible for the digital media management, interviews, sound  recording and b-roll production, among other roles.  Now, I’m doing a lot of great development work, some on our own and some for other people.  And, of course, we’ll marry everything with the web.

It might sound generic but I think you learn something from all your projects. Sometimes it's as simple as learning a new camera setup or it can be as complicated as navigating the psychology of humans who are just trying to work and create stories together. 

Producing a documentary about juvenile diabetes that we shot for a month in the Congo was truly interesting. Our main concern was just keeping everyone safe and healthy but then there were complications, obviously. We couldn't go anywhere without two security guards at all times and I am usually more accustomed to finding the story out of a certain freedom and access to your subjects and your surroundings. We had little of that. The fact that the families we met and who we cared deeply for didn't have money, or food, or jobs to provide for themselves was an emotional weight added to the 12 hour days in extreme heat. There is a sheer will to survive in Kinshasa that we can all learn from.

It all goes back to storytelling and today we have more avenues to tell any story.  I like playing that game.

Tags:  Featured Member  non-fiction  PGA East 

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