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Life Now Playing: SilverDocs 2012, The Take Away

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

More From SilverDocs 2012



By Renee Rosenfeld

After six days of programming and some 27,000 documentary enthusiasts, filmmakers and industry leaders consuming non-fiction storytelling, what’s the take away from the 2012 SilverDocs Festival? With packed theaters and panels, one thing is certain: non-fiction is thriving and there are audiences to prove it. There’s power to inform and change but there’s also big business in real life stories. Each of the major cable outlets maintained a large presence at the festival, either in pitch sessions, premiering content or sharing intelligence.

Kc Shillihahn reports from the pitch session that filmmakers utilized a variety of tactics to impress network execs including distributing five minute DVDs. The funders delivered presentations then offered producers ten-minute one-on-one pitch meetings. Tribeca Film Institute has a number of funding opportunities. Most of the institute’s grants start at $10,000 and cover various stages of the process from development through post-production. PBS is looking for affinity programming that fits with or dovetails off their network’s primary brand. One example is the net’s Wednesday’s nature programming.

It’s no surprise that gaining theatrical release for a documentary is tricky at best. Distributors suggest understanding the entertainment value of the shared experience for an audience before looking for theatrical distribution. In most cases, theatrical is expensive and difficult. The biggest value may be to support your VOD or DVD distribution. It’s tough to profit from a theatrical release, so having a clear vision of your goal and knowing whether your doc is strong enough for a theatrical release is critical. In the case of Bill Cunningham New York, the film won numerous audience awards at festivals, so when the filmmakers were approached with a television deal that would preclude theatrical distribution, they passed and it paid off.

Be certain to hire a thoughtful booker who is knowledgeable about markets to ensure that your film is booked in the right places. Coordinating events with a release may help boost exposure, as was the case with Marley’s release coinciding with Ziggy Marley’s tour. Perhaps the most interesting new release option comes from start-up Gathr. Gathr is TOD or "theatrical on demand,” allowing audiences to aggregate their interest and pledge funds to see a particular film in the theater.

As with all great narrative, non-fiction storytelling demands structure. Rebecca Howland reports from the session "How to Keep Your Story from Falling into a Structural Pothole," that ITVS executive Richard Saiz emphasized that as with fiction, narrative documentaries also need a strong three act structure. Without it, the inevitable mid-point slump can derail the film. Here are the four deadly sins to avoid in constructing your story: 1) Thematic Haze, 2) Lack of Backstory Breakdown, 3) Character Weakness, and 4) Plot Drift.

Probably the most obvious sign of the times was the prevalence of Kickstarter in conversations about the architecture of film financing. Producers reported that Kickstarter was instrumental in either getting their films off the ground or getting films completed in the final stages. Kickstarter also provides a base of supporters that will help get the word out on social platforms and helps you identify early evangelists that create the buzz you need to find your audience.

The National Capital Chapter welcomes colleagues from everywhere to join them next June in Washington, DC for SilverDocs 2013.

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Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Nearly 1,500 people turned out for this year's Produced By Conference at Sony Pictures Studios. Believe us, we were there. We got business cards from all but 11 of them.

This Conference was the sort of event that will have plenty of people saying they were there even when they weren’t. By the time next year’s Produced By Conference rolls around, the world will have 15,000 people insisting they were at the 2012 edition.

Of course, all of those after-the-fact attendees are going to need to sound credible. To that end, we offer this helpful slideshow, showcasing lots of moments you can claim to have seen while faking your way through your "of-course-I-was-at-Produced By!” tapestry of fabrications.

Isn’t that you, just out of frame at the Saturday evening wine tasting reception? Didn’t you win one of the iPads for taking part in the E-Waste recycling drive? You’re the one who asked that question that Todd Phillips is answering so intently, right? And can you believe it? They cropped you right out of that photo of Gale Anne Hurd and Tracey Edmonds relaxing in the GM Speakers Lounge. In short, this selection of images should give you more than enough to wax rhapsodic about all the stuff you didn’t actually see, from the finalists for the PGA ProShow, to Michael Shamberg’s stylin’ sunglasses, to David Picker’s now-legendary safari jacket. By the time you’re done, you’ll have fooled even yourself into thinking you were there.

Our advice: Next year, just attend for real. It’s easier than making stuff up, and the drinks are better.

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2012 Digital VIP

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Leaders in Emerging Entertainment

The Producers Guild of America proudly presents our primary new media event for 2012, Digital VIP. Over the past decade, the PGA has demonstrated a commitment to new media that is unique among the major entertainment guilds. In that spirit, the Guild is proud to present its 2012 "Digital VIP" program recognizing Visionaries, Innovators and Producers with an honor that recognizes individuals and teams who have made the most significant contributions to the advancement of digital entertainment and storytelling over the past year.

Digital VIP is an outgrowth of the PGA’s Digital 25 program. Nominees will be submitted by PGA members, an Industry Advisory Board and accredited representatives of digital storytellers. The Producers Guild of America Digital VIP committee, in conjunction with a distinguished Industry Advisory board and the PGA President, will determine the honorees for 2012.

Nominations for candidates for this honor are submitted by the PGA general membership, as well as press and PR agencies representing clients whom they feel should be considered for this honor.


August 8 – Nominations Open

September 18 – Nominations Close

If you have any general questions, please contact


08.08.2012 - Producers Guild of America Annouces Opening of Submissions for 'Digital VIP'

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Producers Guild of America Active Committees

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012
List Last Updated 06/02/10

While it maintains a small and hard-working staff, the Producers Guild is primarily a member-driven organization. The PGA’s many committees are responsible for most of the programs, benefits and events that the Guild offers. As such, we strongly encourage our members to join any of the committees that are open to participants--it’s a wonderful way to give back to your profession, and the best means the Guild offers for making new connections and expanding your network.

Following, please find a list of all committees manned by PGA members, including those in the PGA East and PGA Northwest, along with a brief description of the committee’s goals and activities, as well as the name of the committee Chair(s).

If there’s a committee that interests you and is designated as being open for volunteers, please contact Director of Member Benefits Kyle Katz (

* Designates a committee open for enrollment
by PGA member volunteers

Advisory Committee on Creative Rights for Motion Pictures

Advisory Committee on Creative Rights for Television

* Audio/Visual Committee

Benefits Committee

Constitutional Committee

Diversity Committee

* Diversity Workshop Committee

The Diversity Workshop Committee offers on a yearly basis since 2004 a producing workshop open to all producers (members and non-members of Producers Guild of America). The workshop aims at supporting and developing works that address diversity as well as producers of diverse backgrounds. Participants are mentored in the development of their craft and projects by members of the Diversity Committee as well as the most successful producers in the business. Past guest mentors have included: Mark Gordon, Bruce Cohen, Marshall Herskovitz, and Shonda Rhimes among many.

* Documentary & Non-Fiction Committee

* Employment Committee

* Events Committee

The events committee is one of the most entertaining committees at the PGA. We get to organize, on average, an event per month. Such events include: Golf Tournament, Poker Tournament, Dodger Day, Day At The Races, Family BBQ, Habitat for Humanity Build, Operation Gratitude, and the list continues. If you’ve come to one of the many PGA hosted events, then you already know who we are. Come join the team with new idea or with a helping hand. No matter what, you’ll have fun!

Finance Committee

* Film USA Committee

Film USA Committee was formed in order to promote and share information about filming within the United States. To this end it has a website (, and a membership that reports State by State on tax incentives, infrastructure and experiences of shooting within the U.S. Committee membership and the website provides a forum for Producers to share their knowledge, ask questions, and learn from other’s Production expertise and experience.

We welcome new members and visitors to our website!

Golf Tournament Committee

* Green Committee

The PGA Green Committee (East and West) was established in 2008 as part of the Producers Guild of America’s commitment to actively encourage and support sustainability in the entertainment industry. The PGA Green Committee has created and maintains the industry's foremost reference website for greening productions, This site is fast becoming the portal for all productions - Feature, TV and New Media, and is available to production crews worldwide. The PGA Green Initiative is to lead the way toward environmentally-friendly productions world-wide through our own "Green Outreach" programs, as well as informative seminars/webinars, screenings, Facebook & Twitter pages, and various events. PGA Green always welcomes new members dedicated to this timely and worthwhile mission.

* Independent Film Producers Committee

The Independent Film Producers Committee is dedicated to representing and promoting the interests of independent film producers within the PGA and in the marketplace. It is the goal of the IFPC to assemble our individual voices into one collective voice, and thereby advocate, support and protect the interests of the independent community. We are currently mirroring the efforts of the Truth in Credits campaign as it relates to leveraging credits for casting and financial participation on independent films, and hosting a series of panel discussions focusing on the various steps toward getting an independent film made and into the marketplace. We support other PGA committees by providing ideas and speakers from the independent world, and by including our voice in the ongoing efforts to expand health care benefits. The IFPC is a national committee.

The IFPC will be pleased to add any interested PGA members to its committee and will copy all on e-correspondence. As committee projects come up, members can choose to take on specific responsibilities.

International Committee

1. To increase the PGA and PGA Awards’ visibility and recognition globally.
2. To provide international networking and job opportunities for PGA members.
3. To facilitate idea exchange and co-production opportunities.
4. To assist PGA members with finance, tax, incentives, casting, location post-production and other production resources in overseas productions.
5. To encourage an overseas membership constituency to the PGA.

* Membership Committee

The Membership Committee oversees the vetting of membership applications and researches each applicant to ensure only qualified professionals are accepted into the Guild. As trained volunteers, Committee members also often speak with potential applicants at recruitment events to demystify the application process and to encourage qualified colleagues to join the Guild.

In these recruiting and vetting capacities, Committee members are directly responsible for the quality of membership and serve as the public face of our organization with many non-members in the industry.

This Committee is especially great for PGA members wanting to get involved with important Guild work on a flexible schedule. Participation brings you the benefits of networking for yourself while also being a tremendous service to your fellow members.

Mentoring Committee

* Motion Picture Technology Committee

* PGA East Community Action Committee

The Community Action Committee focuses on outreach and building relationships between the PGA East and local groups and community organizations. CAC works closely with the NY Production Alliance and it's legislative agenda dealing with NY City and State tax incentives. CAC has worked on initiatives with the NYC Mayor's Office of Film, Theater, & Broadcasting including the "Made in NY PA Training program", and the NYC Task Force on Diversity in Entertainment. The Community Action Committee welcomes all PGA members to join us.

Poker Tournament Committee

Produced By Conference Committee

* Seminar Committee

Sponsorship Committee

Website: Producers Wiki Committee

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The Debra Hill Fellowship Presents Weekend Shorts Contest 2012

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Update 3/15/13:  If you missed the announcements back in November you can check out all of the 2012 winners and finalists HERE

You can also read about the contest and awards ceremony in the Awards Edition of the Produced By Magazine, HERE
The Production Period of the Producers Guild Weekend Shorts Contest Has Begun!

The production period of The 2nd Annual Producers Guild Weekend Shorts Contest has begun!

A significant proportion (30%) of your film’s evaluation will be based on your entry’s EXECUTION OF ASSIGNMENT - a requirement that your film include certain story and thematic elements. The degree to which your film organically incorporates the elements of the assignment will dictate judges’ scoring of your film in this area.

Each iteration of the PRODUCERS GUILD WEEKEND SHORTS CONTEST will be characterized by a specific ASSIGNMENT, requiring films to include certain story and thematic elements. The degree to which each film organically incorporates the elements of the assignment will dictate judges’ evaluation of the films’ EXECUTION OF ASSIGNMENT

For the 2012 WEEKEND SHORTS CONTEST, the contest draws on key aspects of Debra Hill’s modern classic, THE FISHER KING. If you haven’t watched THE FISHER KING recently, you may wish to take a moment to refresh your memory of this wonderful film.

The elements of this year’s assignment are as follows:

Setting: A CITY or TOWN

THE FISHER KING memorably utilizes several New York City landmarks and locations. For the purposes of this year’s contest, any setting in a city or town will serve.

Story Elements: a GRAIL; a HAT; a DOLL

Each of these objects plays a key role in THE FISHER KING. Entries in the contest must include all three of these items in some fashion. Furthermore, at least one of the items must have a central or important function in the story.


Entries in the PRODUCERS GUILD WEEKEND SHORTS CONTEST must include one of these thematic elements.

These themes are among the fundamental archetypes of storytelling; each has potentially limitless applications and manifestations. Indeed, one of the defining qualities of THE FISHER KING is its explicit transposition of such archetypal themes into a highly specific and contemporary setting. In the event that a PRODUCERS GUILD WEEKEND SHORTS CONTEST participant requires further direction on how these themes might be interpreted, we can only suggest: Consider the movie. If you haven’t seen it recently, some quick internet research will help you out; Debra and her collaborators have already given you all of the examples and inspiration you might need.

Good luck with your productions. We can’t wait to see your films.

Please contact with any technical difficulties you encounter on their site.

The Producers Guild has got a challenge for you. Make a film – write, shoot and edit it – in two days. The 2nd Annual Weekend Shorts Contest takes place September 28-30, 2012.

We know that there are some great undiscovered producers out there. This is the chance for them to show us what they're made of. How fast can you mobilize your team? Craft your story? Find your locations? Hunt down your costumes? Call in your favors? Cut the pieces together?

We're not looking for Lawrence of Arabia, here. Your running time should be three to five minutes. For a great producer, that's plenty of time in which to tell a mesmerizing story.

Of course, just to keep you honest, we have some specifics that your story must include. (We can't have you go shooting the whole thing in advance, after all.) When the contest opens, we'll post the specific elements that your film will have to utilize. Because THE PRODUCERS GUILD WEEKEND SHORTS CONTEST has been established to honor the legacy of Debra Hill and support the Producers Guild's Debra Hill Fellowship, the specific details will be drawn from Debra's films. These elements will be announced at the start of the filmmaking period: the evening of Friday, September 28. But that's all we can tell you for now.

The films entered in THE PRODUCERS GUILD WEEKEND SHORTS CONTEST will be evaluated by a remarkable group of judges, including Bruce Cohen, Gale Anne Hurd, Paul Reubens, Stacey Sher, and Cathleen Summers. Each of the judges had the opportunity to work closely with Debra Hill, and we deeply appreciate their honoring her legacy by providing their time and expertise.

There are some terrific prizes, of course. THE PRODUCERS GUILD WEEKEND SHORTS CONTEST is being held through

Got questions? Please see the FAQ page. If, and only if, you do not find your answer there, email us at

Congratulations, you now know what you're going to be doing over the weekend of September 28-30. Start getting your team together now; and we look forward to seeing your film!

NOTE: Certification statement, release agreement, and entry agreement documents are available for download at the bottom of the Rules page.

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