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This is 40: Q&A

Posted By Rembrandt Bell, Thursday, January 17, 2013

After screening This is 40 Producers Guild members were treated to a Q&A session with producers Clayton Townsend, Judd Apatow, and Barry Mendel. See select highlights below:

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PGA Sizzle Reels Seminar - December 1st, 2012

Posted By Rembrandt Bell, Monday, January 7, 2013

The venue at CBS Radford was packed with record-breaking attendance for the PGA's 2012 seminar about producing "Sizzle Reels" (the trailers producers use to sell their reality shows).

Producer Dan Abrams moderated the event, which was a follow-up to his previous PGA panels on the topic held over the years (all similarly well received). This most recent seminar was the biggest yet.

Attendees were pleased when it began with screenings of several successful sizzle reels. Some were produced by established production companies and led to sales at cable networks. The others were made by independent producers and led to deals at production companies.

That was followed by a series of succinct panels. The first three were brief case studies where producers were interviewed about their respective sizzle reels. Brian Adler, James Gutierrez and Adam Reed discussed where they found their show ideas, how they actually produced their sizzle reels and then what happened after that to get their deals done.

The next panel focused on representation and negotiation. Agent Stewart Cavanagh and lawyer Rob Rader provided perspectives on dealmaking.

The seminar concluded with the final panel on development. It included network executives Christy Dees (Bravo) and Justin Lacob (SpikeTV) as well as production company executive Dana Olkkonen (Authentic).

Like any seminar with multiple experts there were plenty of diverse opinions. But there was a general consensus about the following bits of advice:

1) As always, be sure to lock-in your leverage. That means you need to have a solid contract binding you to the "talent" or you must own the recognized IP (intellectual property) upon which your show is based (e.g. a format for a hit series in another country). CAUTION: Simultaneous creation happens all the time in Hollywood and is especially common in reality TV (where there are fewer "moving parts" of the machine). Ideas are cheap and common. Execution is everything. Star Search didn't sue American Idol.

2) Research what the networks are actually airing and buying. If you're daring, you can attempt to be avant-garde, but never try to sell something that is years behind their current "brand." The only theoretical exception is if there has been a recent drop in ratings for that network and consequently there has been a changing of the guard. New executive leadership regularly wants to alter course, dump the previous regime's shows (especially those that have weak ratings) and pursue whatever works (even if that might conceivably be "older" formats). In any event, you're probably better off coming up with something at least somewhat new in order to distinguish yourself as a producer.

3) Keep your sizzle reel as short as possible while still hooking the buyer. 2 to 3 minutes seems to be the sweet spot. 5 minutes is fine but any longer than that is probably a gamble not worth taking. Everyone knows of exceptions but the shorter it is the less there is for the naysayers to nitpick. If, after watching a short sizzle, buyers want to see a more fleshed-out version they can always commission a bigger sizzle (or, better yet, a pilot).

4) If you're an independent producer, focus on making a sizzle that excites a production company. A network is unlikely to buy from you directly unless you have a lot of experience as a showrunner, whereas production companies are always looking for new ideas and talent to develop. If you have a network in mind, then research which production companies produce shows for it and approach them with your finished sizzle.

5) When you're negotiating for your deal, be modest in your expectations. If you've never sold a reality show before don't expect to get rich. You'll be lucky to get 1.5% to 2.5% of the budget on your first show. That likely means $2k to $10k per episode for the life of the series (depending on the network). That might not seem like a lot of money but remember that's "passive income" meaning you just collect the checks and don't have to come in every day. If you actually provide services on the show (as Showrunner, SP, Director, etc.) then you should get compensated for that as well. And once you sell your first show, you enter a prestigious new category of producer. This means networks are much more likely to buy from you (so the odds upgrade from absurdly terrible to simply bad) and your financial upside is likely to increase significantly.

PGA Sizzle Reels Seminar - December 1st, 2012


Brian Adler: Co-Creator of "Growing Up Fast"


James Gutierrez: Executive Producer and co-creator of "Twisted Dixie"


Adam Reed: Executive Producer, ThinkFactory Media

Panel on Representation & Negotiation -

Stewart Cavanagh: Agent, Rebel Entertainment Partners

Rob Rader: Attorney, Partner at Schwarcz, Rimberg, Boyd, & Rader


Christy Dees: Director of Development at Bravo

Justin Lacob: Director of Original Series at SpikeTV

Dana Olkkonen: Director of Development at Authentic Entertainment

NOTE: If you want more information click on this link to be directed to Dan Abrams' 4-part article all about sizzle reels for the PGA.

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Tags:  seminar  sizzle reel 

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Lessons on Producing a Transmedia Experience

Posted By StartupWeekend Transmedia Blog, Friday, January 4, 2013

Transmedia is fundamentally about leveraging multiple platforms and mediums to tell a story or build an interactive experience. In most cases, projects require the collaboration of people with very different skill sets and specific expertise. Sometimes, those people also don’t come from the same background and are not necessarily used to collaborating with each other. As a result, the producer of such projects is left with the task of having to orchestrate very complex projects and hybrid teams – more than any other kind of media project. This is why in 2010, the Producer’s Guild of America decided to add: "Transmedia Producer.” to the Guild’s producers code of credits. This decision had a major impact in that it heavily contributed to the establishment of the term as an industry standard. More and more companies are now laying claim to expertise in producing transmedia content.

On Tuesday November 27th, TransmediaSF held a meetup at WESTERNIZED dedicated to the role of the transmedia producer. Four producers where invited to share best practices and build a "Transmedia Producer’s Guide” moderated by Maya Zuckerman, TransmediaSF co-founder. The PGA Northwest was very proud to co-host the all female panel featuring three PGA Northwest members: Esther Lim, Susan Bell, and Lin Tam. It is not an easy thing to describe a role that is constantly remodeled and challenged by new technologies, practices and tools. One of the night’s hot topics was building multi-disciplinary teams.

Multiple platforms need multiple experts in the making. "You’re not building a story. You’re building a universe” says Susan Bell to describe the numerous branches and interactions that need to be put together when producing a transmedia experience. Transmedia producers are responsible for building the team that will create the magic, mixing complementary skills and finding the right balance between extraordinary creativity (storytellers, game designers, story architects) and top notch execution (developers, community managers, planners, filmmakers, copywriters, etc.). How do you get them to work together and understand each other? How do you transfer the vision when the project goes from hands to hands? Good luck with that.

Esther Lim discussed the importance of educating the client. Over the past few years, transmedia storytelling has become a hot buzzword – "the next big thing” or "the last big thing” depending on whom you ask. A lot of brands get excited by the opportunity to deliver the brand image in a newer fashion, providing entertainment on multiple platforms and reaching their audience in an authentic, yet sticky way. But they also easily get lost in the intricacy of transmedia and its lack of tangibility. One of the main missions of a transmedia producer is therefore to educate its clients: helping them identify the business objectives, to know their audience, to measure the risk, to prepare for uncertainty and to understand new interactions with the brand. "Don’t underestimate the time you spend convincing, explaining and re-assuring your client. It’s huge."

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Producers Guild Holiday Party Recap

Posted By Ryan Willis, Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 4, 2013

Has it been another year already!?

As we enjoy the season, the PGA once again came together to celebrate one thing on the night of December 4th, a great year in producing. Once again, the West Coast PGA Holiday Party was held at the elegant Luxe Hotel. With excellent food, friendly company, and the exciting chance to win a prize in the raffles, everyone stayed late into the evening indulging in conversations reflecting on their year.

As each member entered the party, they were greeted by decadent food provided by the Luxe Hotel. Each dining table was graced with winter-themed cakes provided by A Wish and a Whisk. As the evening progressed, each table was greeted by Aye Jaye who didn’t fail to entertain with tricks and magic, teaching and amusing members with sleight of hand. Psychic reader Angela and friends added to the evening as many members rushed to sign up.

And what would a PGA Holiday Party be like without the joy of winning at casino games? I lost my money in Blackjack while many members were lucky at Craps. The prizes in the casino raffle spoiled everyone, ranging from a stay at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas to loaner vehicles gifted to us by GMto Le Clafoutis gift certificates. Additional raffle gifts were provided by Tory Burch, Massage Envy of Beverly Hills, Panera Bread, Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, Bristol Farms, Murad, Globe Trotoys, The Redd Collection, Caesars Palace Las Vegas, JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort, and Delta Airlines.

The 2012 Holiday Party prizes included 3 Casino Prizes and 7 Raffle Prize Packages:


· 2 night stay for 2 at Planet Hollywood Las Vegas, one week loan of a GM vehicle

· $80 Le Clafoutis gift certificate, one week loan of a GM vehicle

· $60 Le Clafoutis gift certificate, one week loan of a GM vehicle


· WHAT WOMEN WANT package:

o 2 One hour massages compliments of Massage Envy of Beverly Hills

o Tory BurchPurse

o $120 Le Clafoutis gift certificate

· HUNGER GAMES package:

o Panera Breadgift certificate

o Red Wine tasting flight for 10

o Cheese Store of Beverly Hills Basket

· FOREVER YOUNG package:


o 2 One hour Facials compliments of Massage Envy of Beverly Hills

· THE HANGOVER package:

o 2 Night stay for 2 at Caesars Palace Las Vegas with a $100 gift certificate to their Steakhouse & Spa passes

o 2 Week GM Vehicle Rental


o Murad Gift Basket

o Bristol Farmsgift basket


o 2 nights stay for 2 at JW Marriott Hotel - Golf & Hotel Package

o 4 Magic Castle tickets

· UP IN THE AIR package:

o 2 Domestic tickets anywhere in the continental United States on Delta Airlines

Congratulations to those Members and their guests that won such incredible prizes; they are certainly packages that I and others were eyeing all evening. I guess there it always next year.

Whether you won a prize or not, the decor of nutcrackers, sleigh and giant wreath from Almost Christmas Prop Shoppe, lighting by PRG, and snow machine from Blank Extreme Entertainment, provided a wonderland that was a gift in itself. To top it off, vehicles for the event were generously provided by Hertz. With that said, this party clearly left producers wanting to celebrate into the late evening without a care in the world.

Why shouldn’t they? The next PGA gathering wouldn’t be until after the New Year. This truly was a glorious send off to an exceptional year in Film, Television, and New Media.


The PGA Holiday Party 2012 was coordinated by the PGA Events Committee, led by committee chair Vicente Williams and the Holiday Party subcommittee - Joseph Morabito, Marty McDonough, Giselle Rivera, Leonard Koss, Chris Debiec, Khalilah King, Maureen Dooling, Jane Shayne, and Jordan Foley with the assistance of generous PGA volunteers and staff. Compliments to another wonderful year!


-All Photos by Michael Quinn Martin

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Tags:  Events 

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Walking Dead Atlanta Recruitment Event

Posted By Administration, Thursday, December 20, 2012
The Walking Dead Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd, far right, Producer Tom Luse, left, and Co-Executive Producer Denise Huth were guest speakers for PGA-Atlanta's behind-the-scenes look at the hit TV series, Nov. 17.

As more and more production comes to Georgia, the Atlanta Chapter of PGAEast aims to recruit more members from its growing production community. To help support the new chapter's efforts, Gale Anne Hurd - PGA Recording Secretary and Executive Producer of The Walking Dead -- led a panel discussion with TWD colleagues and fellow PGA members Tom Luse (Producer) and Denise Huth (Co-Executive Producer) at the chapter's first recruiting event, Nov. 17.

"We were thrilled to have these talented PGA members share their insights into producing this hit TV series shot on location here in the Atlanta area," said PGA East-Atlanta's Scott Thigpen. "We look forward to creating more presence for the PGA here and to championing its important work."

For more information on the Atlanta Chapter of PGA East, contact Scott Thigpen at

-Rosemary Taylor

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