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2019 Produced By Conference Recap

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The PGA’s 11th annual Produced By Conference was a full-blown hit as more than 1,000 attendees packed the two-day conference both Saturday and Sunday, June 8-9 at Warner Bros. Studios. The event featured engaging conversations from producers and prominent entertainment figures across film, television, and new media including Mindy Kaling, Nancy Meyers, Toby Emmerich, Peter Roth, Michael Douglas, Danny Devito, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Meg Whitman, Marci Wiseman, Michael B. Jordan, Shivani Rawat and Ian Cooper.

Compelling panels and conversations covered a wide range of the hottest trends in entertainment—from the new age of horror, to the power of podcasts, creating content with a conscience and representation for everyone.

In addition to panels, a record number of attendees (600) actively took part in the Producers Mashup, a one-of-a-kind event that gives them the chance to speak directly with top producers including Matt Weiner and Gary Goetzman, in addition to innovative executives like Justin Falvey of Amblin Television and Sasha Silver of Hulu.

Below are highlights from the panels and conversations.

Day One highlights include:

  • Michael B. Jordan spoke about the personal responsibility of choosing socially conscious projects among content creators. “Starting in front of the camera, from the actor’s perspective, it’s all about the heart. It’s about wanting to create bodies of work and tell stories that will make people go home and think thoughts that will weigh heavily on their heart.
  • In a packed session, Mindy Kaling and Nancy Meyers discussed their shared experience as female leaders in the industry. In an empowering session, Kaling said, “I feel honored that I am sitting here on this stage with you in the room. Female filmmakers can point to the PGA and say it can be done.” Nancy encouraged producers to have a strong will and persevere.
  •  Danny DeVito sat down with long-time collaborator Michael Douglas where they reflected on almost 50 years of friendship, working on projects together and the humanity that producers must bring to filmmaking. DeVito said, “It is friendship, it is relationships. It’s all about keeping in touch and being with people you care about.” Douglas also reflected on the #MeToo movement saying, “This #MeToo movement has been phenomenal in bringing women into our industry more than ever before.” Douglas continued, “We know there have been some mistakes by a lot of people or some people but I don’t think it’s a large population. I do feel that it’s important to remember we all mutually love this process and to be kind to each other.”
  • In one of the most-anticipated sessions of the day, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, the founders of the yet-to-be-launched streaming service Quibi, shared for the first time many new details concerning their audacious new content service, including:

o   The service will launch on April 6, 2020.

o   They will be releasing 7,000 pieces of content in one year.

o   Quibi will publish 25 pieces of content every day.

o   It will cost $4.99/ month (with ads).

o   They have deals in place with directors Steven Soderberg and Antoine Fuqua.

  • Toby Emmerich and Peter Roth participated in a lively discussion where they touched on Warner Bros. approach to making DC films; the cancellation of Whiskey Cavalier, with Peter Roth hinting that it might not be the show’s last hurrah - “So it ain’t over yet.” When asked about Disney’s acquisition of Fox and what it means for Warner Bros., Emmerich said, “I’m jealous, because they're going to be number one for the foreseeable future. However, he added, “I do think it creates the opportunity for us to take measured risks with films that maybe they wouldn't see us the theatrical opportunities that we will.”
  • In the Keys to the Kingdom panel Mark Gill, commented on the growing tensions between China and U.S. by saying, “Up until about two days before Cannes I would’ve said China was extremely important and then our president opened his mouth again and basically scared away the Chinese for the moment. I’m hopeful that doesn’t last for a long time…. it is absolutely true that without China we’re all in big, big trouble so I’m hopeful that we can all come to our senses and see that we get more from joining up than fighting each other.”


Day Two highlights include: 

  • At one of the most anticipated panels of the weekend, Ava DuVernay and the producers of Netflix’s When They See Us gave the audience an inside look into the series that was four years in the making. Speaking about the meticulous research that went into the project, DuVernay said they obtained numerous official police records and transcripts. But she noted other material came from people who “wanted us to know things. There were things that came to us anonymously, envelopes that were slipped to us.” 
    Ava stressed to producers in the audience the importance of every project they’re working on now and how critical it is to view them as stepping stones to future endeavors. She said, “I wish someone had said to me in the harder times this is going to mean something to you later, this is going to matter.”
  • During the Future of Producing, panelists shared their insights on how streaming has led to more diverse content. Lesyle Headland shared, “When you look at something like streaming, you are actually getting those marginalized voices—female filmakers of color or a gay filmmaker for example that maybe can’t and don’t have the same access out in front of the world.” In addition, the panelists echoed the importance of taking care of their cast and crew’s emotional needs on set, giving the example of using an intimacy coordinator to ensure safety and comfort during sensitive scenes.
  • PGA President Lucy Fisher moderated Representation For Everyone: Why It Makes Sense Now More Than Ever. Fisher encouraged producers to take responsibility and pride in bringing new voices to the table saying, “We have to own these problems. We can make the biggest difference; we can find the people that we don’t know.” Tricia Melton added, “I do think culture is driving this and it is moving fast. Culture [moves] quickly because [these stories are becoming] personal. And to me, that’s the power that we have in our industry: to make it personal.”
  • In one of the most unique sessions of the conference, six aspiring producers had an incredible opportunity to pitch their projects to high-level decision makers, including Gail Berman, Mike Farrah, Barry Jossen and James Lopez. The panelists gave in-the-moment feedback, an experience virtually unheard of in this industry.
  • Top buyers of streaming content at Disney+, Hulu, Amazon, and EPIX shared insights into their future plans to a packed audience. Discussing what viewers can expect from the upcoming Disney+ streaming service, SVP Agnes Chu hinted that content will be family friendly and that Marvel will lead the way with several superhero spin-off series.

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