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PGA East: Documentary Screening Salon

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The PGA East Documentary/Non-Fiction Committee presents the Documentary Screening Salon, an exclusive monthly curated program designed to enlighten audiences and spur discussion.  Once a month, the committee behind this lineup screens a documentary, presents a Q&A featuring the filmmakers, and concludes with a reception to encourage more conversation.

 

The Documentary Screening Salon is managed by members of the PGA East Documentary and Nonfiction Committee, and focuses on documentaries with small distributors, self-distributed, or without distribution.  This subset of qualified members aspire to choose documentaries they believe should have the opportunity to reach a larger audience, thus providing an exclusive look for members, as well as a venue for filmmakers to showcase their work.  The program aims to provide not only the experience of viewing the film, but enrich the issues brought to the surface by surrounding them with informed discussion.

 

In 2018, the Documentary Screening Salon screened several highly acclaimed independent documentaries: Minding The Gap, On Her Shoulders, Our New President, Chi-Town, and House Two.  Each year the program runs from March through August, and invites for the evening are sent to all 1800 members within the Guild's East region. Screenings are not open to the public or press, and the venue is provided at no cost.

 

Although the Documentary Screening Salon is not a member screening program, members are strongly encouraged to submit their documentaries for consideration.  All documentaries should be submitted a minimum of 8 weeks prior to release date. This is a very competitive process, and Documentary Screening Salon selection panel decisions are final.

 

If you are interested in submitting your documentary for consideration, please complete the Documentary Screening Salon submission Form.

 

PGA members interested in joining the Documentary/Non-Fiction Committee, please request membership at:
East: http://www.producersguild.org/members/group.aspx?id=136088
West: http://www.producersguild.org/members/group.aspx?id=138882

 

For questions regarding the Documentary Screening Salon or information regarding the official PGA screening program, please contact Mitzie Rothzeid, Director, PGA East "mrothzeid_at_producersguild.org"

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No Script? No Problem - "Roma" Wasn't Built In A Day - Or With A Script

Posted By No Script? No Problem - "Roma" Wasn't Built In A Day - Or With A Script, Thursday, January 31, 2019

Nearly every film director who’s known for being a true master of their craft has a personal film up their sleeve that longs to get out. Typically these intimate and compelling films are showcased at the beginning of their careers. The filmmakers are catapulted to fame and elevated to bigger budgets, bigger stories, bigger stars—so much so, they never quite get back to their roots, seduced by the rewards of Hollywood success. However once in a while the stars line up, and that special story they’ve held close to their heart sees the light of day. Think Bergman’s Cries and Whispers (1972), or Louis Malle’s Au Revoir, Les Enfants (1987). Sometimes the timing is right and voila! A masterpiece is born.

Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma stands in that lineage. A highly personal, semi-autobiographical memoir of growing up in Mexico City in the 1970s, raised by his mother and their live-in housekeeper, this intimate film will be among the first beneficiaries of Netflix’s new awards release strategy, receiving limited theatrical exhibition before appearing on their streaming platform. One of the season’s most eagerly awaited films, it’s already taken the festival circuit by storm. That success is in no small part thanks to its producers, Gabriela Rodriguez and Nicolás Celis.

After having won an Oscar for Gravity in 2013 and known for relatively dark, large-canvas features such as Children of Men (2006) and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Cuarón returned to his Mexican roots for a highly unconventional production. He hasn’t directed a Spanish-language film since Y Tu Mamá También (2001).

The story of Roma started percolating 12 years ago. Two years before that, a young intern joined his company, Esperanto Films, in New York City. She had just graduated film school and was anxious to work in production. Gabriela Rodriquez hails from Venezuela and has been with Esperanto for her entire career. After interning, she became Cuarón’s personal assistant before her promotion to running the company itself. She has worked by his side through his biggest successes. So when Cuarón approached her to produce his passion project, telling her she was “ready to do this,” she all but had to say, “yes”—though she admits she was apprehensive, “because I know what letting him down feels like,” she confides.

Meanwhile Nicolás Celis has been working in Mexico as a producer and unit production manager for more than 12 years, collaborating with such Mexican directors as Tatiana Huezo and Amat Escalante. He found his way into Cuarón’s orbit when he produced Desierto (2015), the feature film debut of Cuarón’s son, Jonás. Aside from a few phone calls during Desierto, Gaby and Nico (as they came to be known), never worked together until Roma. They quickly found out that one was the yin to the other’s yang. Celis loves dealing with people, aligning the Mexican officials to get on board, though none of them had read the script or even known that it was Cuarón’s movie until later. Meanwhile Rodriquez knew the director intimately, understood what he needed and, even more importantly, knew what she needed to do to stay one step ahead and keep him focused. On this shoot Cuarón wore many hats. He, too, was a producer but he also served as director, writer, cinematographer and editor. With so many roles to play, he needed both Celis and Rodriquez to make production happen while he worried about the actors, lights and camera angles. Fortunately neither of his fellow producers was afraid to get in the kitchen and do whatever was necessary to make his creative vision a reality.


Cuarón moved his company to Mexico nearly three years ago to begin pre-production on Roma, which lasted more than 10 months. A long prep allowed the producers to research every aspect of the director’s early life in Mexico City, right down to the family dog, Borras. All the research came in lieu of breaking down the script … because they had no script. Cuarón shared the script with just one person—David Linde from Participant Media, who financed the film and served as an executive producer on it. (We only hope Linde was up on his Spanish. Cuarón provided no translation.) Cuarón’s intense secrecy was a safeguard against anyone slipping pages to the cast. He would be working with a lot of non-actors in addition to well-known Mexican talent and wanted the process to be fresh and something he alone had control over. It was the producers’ job to allow him his creative process while still prepping the production as best they could.

“We all agreed to participate on this project without a script,” Rodriquez tells me over a cappuccino at The London Hotel. “It’s like when a kid is told he’s not going to have any more cookies. At some point you realize, even if you’re crying, you’re not going to get the cookie. Let’s just see how you get on with your day without the cookie. That’s kind of how we felt.” The team was compensated with the extremely long pre-production period to provide the time for research, scouting and consulting with the director, discussing shots and scenes. Their location scouts grew bigger and bigger, sometimes bringing in excess of 30 people on a scout. They wanted every department represented at the earliest stage so Cuarón could explain what he would need from them. They had a skeleton of dates, so they knew on a given span of days they were going to shoot “the riot,” while on another day they would be shooting “the birth scene.” They were still given zero dialogue.

Hiring a team of collaborators to shoot a script that no one was allowed to read created its own set of problems. Those fell to Celis to solve. “I remember during the first meeting I met Alfonso, I asked him, who’s going to be the script supervisor? After all this is someone who works closely with the director. Then when we didn’t have a script—it was like, how are we going to hire a script supervisor if we won’t give her the script? Even the [job title] says it!” When it came time to interview Natalia Moguel, he asked, “Hey, are you willing to work without a script?” Moguel naturally asked Celis what he meant. Nonchalantly Celis told her, “Yeah, yeah, we do have a script, but we haven’t read it, so you’re not going to read it either. So are you willing to do it?” As everyone did on this shoot, Moguel decided to trust the process, trust her belief in Cuarón and gave it her all. In Moguel’s case, that meant developing a completely new way of tracking blocking and continuity without it.

“Once we knew this was the way we were going to operate, we knew we had to be ready for everything,” Rodriguez explains. “So we have our wardrobe truck. We have it there all the time. We have backups. It sounds crazy but it’s the way we gave Alfonso the freedom for his creative process to flow in case it needed to take a different direction, which it rarely did.”

In addition to shooting without a script, Roma also shot in story sequence, which presented another series of problems. But there were plenty of happy accidents that happened along the way. Celis notes that the house they found was an exact replica of Cuarón’s childhood home in his old neighborhood, which gives the film its title. It served ideally as a stage, given that the owner told them he was planning to demolish it, so the team could do what they wanted to the structure as long as they left him the lot in good shape. Rodriguez and Celis took full advantage of the permission to knock down walls and open up ceilings without having to put them back in working order.

Cuarón’s creative vision lived its details. Everything had to be as it was in 1970, down to the clothes and shoes that the thousand-plus extras wore during the riot scene. A big avenue leading to the cinema as well as a street where the mother is stuck between two big trucks all had to be built, because so much had changed in the urban landscape, mostly due to the earthquake and modern technology.

“I think it was the biggest set ever built in Mexico. But I cannot guarantee that,” Celis laughs. “But since I’ve been working, I’ve never seen such big construction.” Rodriguez confirms that the size of the set took up roughly four city blocks.

The producers and their crew learned to push past what they thought were their limitations. Creating hailstones for a storm scene was another adventure. Cuarón wasn’t happy with the fake hail available in Mexico because, while the stones could be different sizes, they were still all the same shape—in other words, not authentic enough to meet Cuarón’s standards. There was a company from Canada that made it perfectly, but their work was very expensive. Rather than saying “no” to the director, the producers created a “hail unit” and tried to figure out how to engineer Cuarón-approved hailstones. The production manager came up with the idea of cutting up glue sticks, then melting them a little on hot metal, to create individual, unique hailstones. Rodriguez recalls, “One day Alfonso walks in the office to find five people from production literally sitting there with buckets, cutting glue, dropping them into the buckets, and then those buckets would go out to the truckers who helped us burn them into the different shapes and then those went into a different bucket … hail-making!” Two hundred kilos of glue sticks later, they had their handcrafted hail.

That effort was typical of the team’s “Anything for Alfonso” approach. As Celis explains, “If he had an idea he really liked, we tried to make it happen, find the means. That’s something I really learned for life, that sometimes something looks like a mountain you will never be able to climb by any reason or any excuse you might find. But [Cuarón] really pushed us to find the tools to do it and find the way I think this could be solved. He makes you, instead of saying ‘no,’ to be ready with alternatives, always.”

“I don’t believe he is a director that separates himself from stories,” Rodriguez reflects. “He really does nurture them, carry them and work with them from beginning to end. But I think, in this one, even while he trusted us and said, ‘Go ahead—this is what I want, I trust that you will make it happen,’ he also had to trust himself even more to say, ‘I’m going to do this the way I’m going to do this.’ He wasn’t expecting anyone to necessarily love or hate it. He wasn’t thinking about how to market it while he was making it. He was just thinking, ‘This is my process and I’m going to do it’ … and that takes courage. When you’re already in that place when you have the commercial and critical success—all that hoopla that’s generated from everyone telling you you’re great—it takes some courage to say, ‘OK. I’m going to do this and whatever happens, I’m going to be OK with it.’”

The buzz surrounding the film is just icing on the cake for these two producers. They put one foot in front of the other, enjoying every step of the process, even when it was daunting. Now they are reaping the unexpected fruits of their labors and find themselves delighted by the amazing reception Roma has received. “I’m super excited with this movie,” proclaims Celis. “That it’s in black and white, that it’s in Spanish … That all of this is happening, for everybody. It’s ‘The Little Engine That Could’! We just never expected it to blow up and that people would identify with and find it so accessible.”

“To me,” Rodriguez continues, “that this has been received the way it has around the world … I thought Latin America would get it, but the reception worldwide—wow—this is already so much more than I was expecting.”

To top it off, this young, self-effacing woman, who has worked long and hard for Alfonso Cuarón, may very well become the first Latina woman to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. “I feel grateful for the opportunity,” she says, “and grateful for the faith that Alfonso put on me to push me and not give me a choice or a way out. The fact that there’s a movie out there and it’s finished—it’s there! We did it! That means the most. To me, what I learned is that I can do it.” Both producers reminded me that Roma spelled backwards is Amor—an appropriate grace note that sums up the entire crew’s feeling for the unique production.

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A Race Lost And Found - How Helen Estabrook And Aaron Gilbert Got Behind "The Front Runner"

Posted By Kevin Perry, Monday, January 28, 2019

Politics have become synonymous with division. Toxicity abounds, animosity trumps altruism, and truth is just a carcass in the rearview mirror as we careen further down the forked road of our bifurcated democracy.

So how do you navigate this divisive landscape to tell a political story in the age of us vs. them? Answer: You have the audacity to be human.

That is the brilliant subversion of The Front Runner, the new Jason Reitman film produced in partnership with his trusted collaborators Helen Estabrook and Aaron Gilbert. Their movie revisits the sex scandal that derailed Gary Hart’s political aspirations in 1988, but the producers eschewed the exploitation angle in favor of true intimacy.

“I think that we get used to talking about stories in a certain way and forget that we’re talking about people,” explains Estabrook. “One of the things that I like about this film is that we’re not talking current politics … Being able to look at this through a different lens and have these conversations and ask relevant questions, also to talk about them in the realm of past events is really helpful.” It was a creative challenge fraught with obstacles and opportunities. “The nice thing about a story of this era is that we actually have a lot of resources to look at: documentary footage, interviews from that time, all of the actual videos from the Gary Hart campaign. So we could really look at what was most authentic from that time and find the right cameras and  find the right look of the sets.”

“It’s movie magic! It’s movie magic!” Gilbert exuberantly concurs. “For me, The Front Runner captures such an important time in the history of America … a man who literally could have been an incredible president of the United States was taken down because of this situation that happened over a few weeks’ period.” Gilbert surmises, “Everything that took place around Gary Hart at that time during the presidential election had never been experienced or talked about in that way before.”

Striking a reflective tone, Estabrook adds, “We were exploring how someone could go from being the presidential front-runner to leaving politics in three weeks. We were exploring how it felt for journalists and a candidate to find themselves in a dark alley for the first time and no one having any idea what to do.”

Estabrook is not being metaphorical; that actually happened. One of film’s most jaw-dropping sequences recreates the moment when Hart faced off with reporters in the shadows of his D.C. townhouse—a historic flashpoint in the eternal struggle between politicians and pundits. “This is the first moment where tabloid journalism and political journalism really drove into the same lane,” assesses Estabrook.

Their writing team reflects this chaotic dichotomy. The Front Runner was scripted by Reitman, veteran political reporter Matt Bai and Democratic strategist Jay Carson. “Having those two not only co-write the script but having that direct experience for all those years together, they just brought so much real life into these roles,” says Gilbert.

“Accuracy was always key for us,” asserts Estabrook, who details how painstakingly every background actor was prepped. “They were all given packets of magazine and newspaper articles from 1987. Everyone was really focused on trying to create this reality of that time period.”

Aaron Gilbert (center) discusses a scene with cast member
Hugh Jackman (right) and writers/executive producers
Matt Bai (left) and Jay Carson (back left).

Reitman takes it a step further, recalling how they edited together vintage clips for his cast to study on set. “When an extra comes in, a background actor, and they’re gonna be doing a scene on a plane that morning, they watch footage of journalists on planes in the 1980s, so they know exactly what to do. It’s about the prep work and being dedicated to this larger sense of truth … We wanted this to be a movie that just dropped the audience onto the campaign trail.”

To replicate the epic sprawl of a presidential trek across America without actually spending a billion dollars, the producers cobbled together a peachy plan. “We shot this entire film in Georgia—in Atlanta and in Savannah,” reports Gilbert. “We were able to find and dress and create an environment that had the scope and had that feeling of indeed crossing the country, and showing Colorado and showing New York and showing Florida and showing all of these other things. It’s really just a testament to Jason’s eye, of course, and the incredible team that we had around him.”

Reitman himself singles out one noteworthy member of said team, production sound mixer Steve Morrow. “Steve was wiring 10 to 20 actors at a time, every single day, and live-mixing all of these different conversations. Oftentimes the mix that you hear in the finished film was the one that Steve was doing on the day, and it was kind of surreal to be on set with our headphones on, hear the movie come to life and already feel ourselves as an audience trying to pick which conversation we want to follow.”

But the pivotal scene depicting Gary Hart’s inaugural rendezvous with mistress Donna Rice features no dialogue at all. Their words fade away, yielding to the strains of the pointedly chosen selection “Foreplay”, by Boston. “Jason is always very specific about the music that he wants in his movies,” chimes Estabrook. “I think the trick for this movie was finding the music that felt of a time but didn’t feel too on-the-nose ‘80s because I think we’re all so aware of what ‘80s music sounds like, and it almost puts it in a less authentic place in a weird way because it just blasts those synthesizers.” Instead their goal was “keeping within the emotional scope of the film and finding the music that works there while also being of a certain time. I think that we ended up leaning more on ‘70s music because there was a sort of ‘70s aesthetic to the film.”

The result is a soundscape worthy of Robert Altman, a comparison that Reitman graciously welcomes. “We wanted to make this film in as analog a way as humanly possible and try to use technology that was available in the ‘70s, similar to the films we were trying to emulate. So almost all the things that happen on screen were done as real-time playback that the actors could watch.”

A standout example of this dynamic is the scene featuring Hugh Jackman as Gary Hart, alone at home, watching TV as he’s being skewered in a classic Tonight Show monologue. “It’s a weirdly intimate scene because it really is just him in a room by himself with the television. Filming that felt much more intense than I expected it to,” admits Estabrook. “Often in screenings, the monologue gets a big laugh, and it’s always amusing to me how timeless Johnny Carson can be.” Of course comedy may be the great equalizer, but the film slyly utilizes our ease with laughing at Carson to make us complicit in the public spectacle that unraveled the career of a public servant.

Helen Estabrook confers with writer/director Jason Reitman.

Jackman’s performance humanizes Hart, imbuing the philandering presidential candidate with a quixotic blend of charisma and regret. “One of the greatest things that we got from this experience was working with Hugh Jackman, who is one of the most amazing actors but also just such a great presence on set,” recounts Estabrook. “If he ever runs for office, we’re all volunteering for his campaign, I’ll tell you that right now.” Gilbert echoes her sentiments with a hearty, “I’m in! I’m in!”

His enthusiasm extends well beyond Jackman to the rest of the ensemble. “It’s sort of an embarrassment of riches, this cast. All the way through, everyone was so wonderful.” The roster includes veterans of Reitman’s troupe like Vera Farmiga and JK Simmons. Estabrook quips, “We sort of half-jokingly say that JK is Jason’s muse, because he’s managed to be in almost every one of his films thus far.”

Reitman is fiercely loyal to his cast and crew, heaping the lion’s share of praise on his producing partners in particular. “When it comes to Aaron Gilbert, he has been a savior on my last couple of films. As you can tell, I don’t make easy films. I don’t want to make easy films. I want to make films that are tricky and complicated, and Aaron has been a thoughtful supporter of filmmakers and actors and complicated projects.” Summing up, Reitman deems Gilbert “a real director’s producer.”

And his admiration for Estabrook dates back even further. “Helen Estabrook and I have been working together since Up in the Air, and she challenges me on every film to be a better director. We’ve been having, specifically, a conversation about gender since basically from the moment I met her … I think it’s the reason why the women in The Front Runner are as compelling as they are. Helen would say to me, ‘You have to remember the particular burden that lands on the shoulders of women in the midst of a scandal.’”

As if finishing his sentence, Estabrook elaborates, “We talked a lot about the emotional labor that is expected of women because they are often asked to do the caretaking, whether or not they asked to be put in that role.”

Extrapolating, Reitman applies the greater gender conversation to the considerable achievements of his friend and producing partner. “We talk about what it’s like to be the only woman in the room, whether it’s at a newspaper or on a campaign and how challenging it is to feel like you’re representing your entire gender.

“I’ve just been very lucky that I met both Helen and Aaron,” extols Reitman. “They are supportive of me as an artist, storyteller and filmmaker. I don’t know how I would do this job without them. At the end of the day, finding your producing partners is like finding someone to fall in love with.”

Reciprocating the feeling, Gilbert beams, “There’s a difference between a director and a filmmaker and to me, Jason is the latter.” Theirs is a mutual respect galvanized in creativity, and their work ethic infuses the crew at large. Gilbert opines, “You sure as hell better love what you do in this business, ‘cause it ain’t easy. That’s the same thing with these incredible men and women we follow in our film; they were all driven by something a little bit bigger than themselves.”

Estabrook triples down on the humanity of their endeavor. “We’re not trying to make anything that’s an allegory in any way. It’s really just ... seeing this pivotal moment in American history, what that looks like for all of the many people involved, not just the people who are most often talked about but all of the journalists, all of the campaign staff, all of these people who were part of this moment.” Surveying a job impeccably done, Estabrook concludes, “I don’t think we even knew we were going to make something that felt so relevant.”

The Front Runner is a modern reminder that our empires are mere sandcastles, and we are the grains. Each wave systematically tears us down as much as it brings us together. “Our hope with our film is that we provoke our audience to take a stance and look a little harder at who our leaders are and what makes somebody a leader. What are the traits that we want?” Gilbert asks prophetically. “What are we OK accepting from our leaders? What kind of behavior is OK?”

Invoking the medium’s immense powers of community and curiosity, he makes a final declaration. “We always hope that when people leave The Front Runner, they’ll start having conversations and asking questions. That’s really the power of what film can do.”

 
- First two photos were taken by Dale Robinette
- Third photo taken by Frank Masi

 

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Swan Song - Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey Saved The Best For Last

Posted By Michael Ventre, Thursday, January 24, 2019

Los Angeles contains a handful of enclaves especially renowned as dream incubators to those with the entertainment industry in their career crosshairs. Beachwood Canyon arguably is principal among them. Nestled in the hills beneath the Hollywood sign, Beachwood is where Nathanael West set a good chunk of his nightmarish Tinseltown classic The Day of the Locust. It is where Harry Bosch occasionally roams in the Michael Connelly detective novels. Don Siegel shot parts of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers near Beachwood Market. It is where scores of writers, actors, directors, musicians and other artists migrate to in search of a creative community.

It is where Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen began Temple Hill Entertainment, the film and television generator behind the Twilight franchise, current releases First Man and The Hate U Give, and much more. Godfrey and Bowen have ended their 10-year partnership, but this is one of the rare occasions when the happy ending belongs in the lead: Godfrey is now president of Paramount’s Motion Picture Group, and Bowen plans to move with Temple Hill to Paramount to make pictures there when the company’s deal with Fox runs out.

“The shorthand of knowing how he does his job and how people at that company do their jobs will give me great confidence that, when they’re producing movies for us, I’ll know what I’m getting,” Godfrey explains. “I have a feeling we’ll still be working together.”

The company began as a dream, the result of four ambitious young dudes—Godfrey, Bowen and two roommates also entering the business—sharing a house on Temple Hill, working their way up the industry ladder and hoping the seductive glow of the Hollywood sign would brighten their respective futures.

“The work days were exciting,” Godfrey recalls of the mid-1990s. “We’d come home, sit over a glass of bourbon or a beer and talk about what we did that day. We’d trade stories. There was such excitement about being in the business and figuring out how to help each other get ahead.

Marty Bowen (right) on the set of First Man with fellow producer
Isaac Klausner. Photo credit Daniel McFadden

“Certainly those conversations,” he continues, “and our wondering ‘Where are we going to be in five years? Where are we going to be in 10 years?’ were origins of Marty and I thinking out loud that maybe someday we could have our own company.”

That day came more quickly than they perhaps expected. Bowen had been an agent at UTA and wanted to move into producing. Ordinarily the traditional path toward that goal moves slowly. Bowen opted for the express version: lunch with one New Line executive; the impassioned pitch from Bowen about the company and a partnership with Godfrey; immediate interest; quickly scheduled dinner with Toby Emmerich, then a top New Line executive; shortly thereafter, plans for the first project.

“The script I talked about in the pitch, I hadn’t even spoken to the writer yet, and I hadn’t talked to Wyck,” Bowen remembers. “I just kind of did a ‘ready, fire, aim,’ as they say.”

Next tiny detail: letting Godfrey in on the plan. “In wonderful Marty Bowen form,” says Godfrey, who was producing for John Davis at the time, “he called me while I was shooting a movie in Hungary (2006’s Eragon), nights, in the middle of the winter, in a frozen quarry. I had just gotten off work and put my head on the pillow at 5:00 in the morning. He called. I said, ‘Marty, I’m going to bed.’“

Undaunted, Bowen filled him in on New Line and their new partnership. “That was the first time I heard that we were starting a company together,” Godfrey laughs. “He agented me. He basically sold me externally before he sold me internally.”

Their first film, greenlit from the formation of the New Line deal, was The Nativity Story, directed by Catherine Hardwicke. Since then, under the stewardship of Godfrey-Bowen, Temple Hill has churned out five installments of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga; the sleeper smash The Fault in Our Stars; three editions of The Maze Runner; The Longest Ride; the TV series Revenge, Rosewood and Mr. Mercedes; and earlier this year, the groundbreaking gay teen romantic comedy Love, Simon and Dan Fogelman’s intricate family saga Life Itself.

The book on Temple Hill is literature. The guys love a good book, and they especially love one that makes you cry. “I was an English major. I loved reading growing up,” Godfrey says, “so for me the natural inclination was taking books I loved and figuring out how to do the best adaptation of those books. We’re both from the South, we always wanted to make movies that were fundamentally from the heart and not from the head. That was a guiding principle. We’d rather be corny than cynical.”

From left, producers Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Robert Teitel and executive producer/UPM Tim Bourne take a moment to relax
on the set of
The Hate U Give. Photo credit Erika Doss.

A prime and current example of the written word transformed into wondrous cinema is First Man, directed by Damien Chazelle, adapted by Josh Singer and starring Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy. To give you an idea of how long a journey it took from book to screen, Isaac Klausner was Godfrey’s assistant 10 years ago when Temple Hill first acquired the rights to the James R. Hansen bestseller about astronaut Neil Armstrong. Now Klausner is Temple Hill’s film president.

“They’ve been incredibly supportive to those eager and ready to take on responsibilities,” Klausner says of the Temple Hill culture. “Everybody participates in staff meetings and has a creative voice.”

Selling Oscar-winner Chazelle on a project is not easy these days, given that since his success with both Whiplash and La La Land, he can typically be found chased by unruly mobs of producers waving scripts in his face. But Temple Hill managed to turn his head.

“When I first met Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey and Isaac Klausner, they asked me if I was interested in Neil Armstrong,” Chazelle recalls. “I told them honestly, ‘Not really.’ But because of their persistence and their passion I agreed to review some documentaries and other materials they sent me about this story. Within days I was obsessed.

Wyck Godfrey confers with cast member Ryan Gosling
on the set of
First Man. Photo credit Daniel McFadden.

“Working with this team of producers has been an incredible experience,” he adds. “They supported my vision for the film and added to it with their wealth of research and knowledge of the subject matter. They fought for the movie, championed it, worked on both the macro and the micro, put out fires left and right. They were there every step of the way.”

Obviously the Twilight series represents a very different set of characters and ideas from First Man. But again, it’s a penchant for adapting books that move people that brought the Temple Hill team to the popular collection.

“Despite the fact that neither of us is a 16-year-old girl, I think doing a movie and a series of characters as beloved as the ones from Stephenie Meyer brings with it a responsibility for making sure they came out well and making sure the girls love the movies and continue to love them,” Bowen observes. “That’s a responsibility we took very, very seriously. That was a special time in our lives.”

The Hate U Give, released this year, is a different kind of young adult title that drew the interest of the Temple Hill collective. Written by Angie Thomas, the novel tells the story of a young African-American woman and how she deals with the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer. Adapted by screenwriter Audrey Wells and directed by George Tillman Jr., it opened to glowing reviews.

“Getting to work with authors like Angie Thomas, with first-time authors who have never had a book turned into a movie, to be the kind of conduit that allows them to take that journey, is incredibly gratifying,” professes Godfrey. “To me the baseline is that if the author loves the movie, then we’ve done a great job. And, even better, if that movie represents a different experience for them of the story they’ve created … my goal is to take the movie beyond the book audience to a whole new audience.”

The Temple Hill catalogue is lengthy and impressive. But the Temple Hill story continues to be told, despite the partnership split.

“I’m a psychiatric cliché,” admits Bowen. “I literally went through all the emotions after you lose somebody. All of them, from nostalgia to sadness to anger to relief. I did them all. At the end of the day, Temple Hill is not about two people. It’s really not. There are still 10 or 11 of us doing the same thing. We probably just don’t laugh as much."

While Bowen finishes his Fox deal and prepares for the long traipse in cross-town traffic from the Fox lot to Paramount, Godfrey settles in as a studio honcho. “It’s exhilarating,” he says. “I’m probably too dumb to be scared, although I probably should be. As a producer you just focused on the movie that you wanted to make and you let your passion and creative energy push the project up the hill. You didn’t have to worry about an entire slate of films in every genre, across multiple years, that you’re mapping for the future. That’s been a great challenge but a really exciting one, and I feel blessed to be able to tackle a new job at my age.”

Says Bowen: “I told him I don’t mind him dating other people for a while, but if you ever want to come back here, your office is available.”

And to think it all started with a dream in a town famous for them, in a neighborhood steeped in them, in a house that realized at least a couple.

“That house,” Godfrey says of the one he once shared with Bowen on Temple Hill, which then begat Temple Hill, “provided the platform for us to become friends.”


- Lead photo and last photo by Monica Orozco

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Results: 30th Annual Producers Guild Awards presented by Cadillac

Posted By Administration, Sunday, January 20, 2019
Updated: Friday, January 18, 2019

Photo by John Salangsang/Invision for Producers Guild of America/AP Images

The Producers Guild Awards celebrates the finest producing work of the year, and gives the Guild an opportunity to honor some of the living legends who have shaped our profession.

- To see all nominees for Theatrical Motion Pictures and Television, click here.
- To see all of the 2018 honorees, click here.

And the winners are...

The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures: 

  • “Green Book”
    Producers: Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga


The Award for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Motion Pictures:

  • “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
    Producers: Morgan Neville, Nicholas Ma, Caryn Capotosto


The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures:

  • “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
    Producers: Avi Arad, Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, Amy Pascal, Christina Steinberg


The Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television - Drama:

  • “The Americans” (Season 6)
    Producers: Joe Weisberg, Joel Fields, Chris Long, Graham Yost, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank, Stephen Schiff, Mary Rae Thewlis, Tracey Scott Wilson, Peter Ackerman, Joshua Brand

The Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television - Comedy:

  • “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Season 2)
    Producers: Amy Sherman
    Palladino, Daniel Palladino, Dhana Rivera Gilbert, Sheila Lawrence


The David L. Wolper Award for Outstanding Producer of Limited Series Television:

  • “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” (Season 2)
    Producers: Ryan Murphy, Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson, Alexis Martin Woodall, Tom Rob Smith, Daniel Minahan, Brad Falchuk, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski, Chip Vucelich, Maggie Cohn, Eric Kovtun, Lou Eyrich, Eryn Krueger Mekash


The Award for Outstanding Producer of Streamed or Televised Motion Pictures:

  • “Fahrenheit 451”
    Producers: Sarah Green, Ramin Bahrani, Michael B. Jordan, Alan Gasmer, Peter Jaysen, David Coatsworth
     


The Award for Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television:

  • “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” (Season 11, Season 12)
    Producers: Anthony Bourdain, Christopher Collins, Lydia Tenaglia, Sandra Zweig


The Award for Outstanding Producer of Live Entertainment & Talk Television:

  • “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (Season 5)
    Producers: *Eligibility Determination Pending*


The Award for Outstanding Producer of Game & Competition Television:

  • “RuPaul's Drag Race” (Season 10)
    Producers: *Eligibility Determination Pending*
     


The PGA does not vet the individual producers of short-form programs, sports programs, or children’s programs. The winning productions will be recognized at the official ceremony on January 19th.

The Award for Outstanding Short-Form Program:

  • “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” (Season 5)


The Award for Outstanding Sports Program:

  • “Being Serena” (Season 1)
     

The Award for Outstanding Children’s Program:

  • “Sesame Street” (Season 48)

 

ABOUT THE PRODUCERS GUILD OF AMERICA (PGA)

The Producers Guild of America is a non-profit trade organization which protects and promotes the interests of all members of the producing team in film, television and new media. Representing more than 8,000 producers, the PGA works to safeguard the careers of its members and improve the producing community at large by encouraging the enforcement of workplace labor laws and sustainable production practices, creating fair and impartial standards for the awarding of producing credits, facilitating health benefits for its membership, and hosting educational opportunities for new and experienced producers alike. For more information and the latest updates, please visit the Producers Guild of America website and follow on social media:

 

www.ProducersGuild.org

Twitter / Instagram: @ProducersGuild

www.Facebook.com/PGA

www.YouTube.com/ProducersGuild

 www.LinkedIn.com/company/Producers-Guild-of-America/

#PGAwards


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