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IN MEMORIAM: RICHARD D. ZANUCK

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

We are heartbroken to report the news of the passing of Richard D. Zanuck today, at age 77.

There are only a handful of producers who could boast the universal trust and respect of the Hollywood community. Dick Zanuck was one of them. Studios trusted him to protect their most valuable investments. His producing colleagues trusted him for peerless counsel, born of immense experience and innate fairness and common sense. Above all, his creative teams trusted him to serve the best interests of their motion pictures, a duty which he fulfilled again and again with boundless energy, clear-eyed intelligence and a true passion for his craft and his industry.

His career is a virtual parade of milestones. His first film, Compulsion, made at age 24, won Best Actor honors at the Cannes Film Festival for all three of its lead performers: Dean Stockwell, Brad Dillman and Orson Welles. In 1962, he became the then-youngest studio head in Hollywood history, taking the reins at 20th Century Fox when he was only 28. His stewardship of Fox resulted in perhaps the greatest runs in the studio’s history, turning out Best Picture winners and generation-defining films with regularity, including titles such as The Sound of Music, Patton, The French Connection, M*A*S*H, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Planet of the Apes.

Shortly thereafter, with his close friend and producing partner David Brown, he formed The Zanuck/Brown Company, one of the most celebrated independent production companies of the past 50 years. Only two years after its founding, it produced a Best Picture winner in The Sting, with Zanuck and Brown serving as executive producers. A year later, the duo produced The Sugarland Express, the big-screen debut of a promising young director, Steven Spielberg. The following year, the team produced Jaws, the first film ever to gross $100 million; it revolutionized Hollywood’s relationship with its audience and ushered in the era of the modern blockbuster.

With Brown, Zanuck continued to demonstrate an instinct for stories that married critical acclaim to popular response, such as multiple Oscar nominee The Verdict, and multiple Oscar winner Cocoon. In 1989, shortly after the dissolution of The Zanuck/Brown Company, he produced Driving Miss Daisy, a film he "literally shamed Warners into making.” It won numerous Oscars, including honors for actress Jessica Tandy, writer Alfred Uhry, and Zanuck himself, a distinction he shared with his wife and producing partner, Lili Fini Zanuck. The Zanucks and Driving Miss Daisy hold a special place in PGA history as the first ever winners of the Producers Guild Awards, at that time called the Golden Laurel Awards.

Over the past dozen years, Zanuck’s career entered a remarkable third act, as he teamed with visionary director Tim Burton to create a half-dozen of the most inventive and imaginative films in recent memory, including Sweeney Todd, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and this year’s Dark Shadows. Outside of his collaboration with Burton, his credits included such recent hits as Yes Man, Clash of the Titans and Road to Perdition, which he produced alongside his son, Dean Zanuck.

Zanuck, along with David Brown (who passed away in 2010), received the Guild’s David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures—its highest honor for feature film producers—in 1993. Two years earlier, he and Brown received the prestigious Irving Thalberg Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, making Zanuck—in conjunction with his father, Darryl F. Zanuck—part of the only father/son pair so recognized.

While his credits are the stuff of legend, the man behind them took immense pride in the hard work and day-to-day tenacity required to bring them to the screen. Above all, he was recognized as honest, direct, and the epitome of professionalism. "There’s not anything that happens today that I haven’t been through in one form or another,” he told Produced By magazine in 2010. "Because of that, I cannot be bluffed by either side, by the studio hyperbole or the people making the film.”

The loss of that breadth of experience alone would be tragedy in itself. But the loss of the man who embodied that wisdom with such dignity and authenticity is incalculable. We can only say that we were lucky to have Richard Zanuck here to show us precisely what a producer was meant to be. But it’s up to us to live up to the example he provided for so long, and so well.

Please share your memories of Dick Zanuck with the PGA community here on the website; for a link to the online Produced By magazine featuring Zanuck’s extensive cover story, click here.

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THE NEW JOB BOARD IS HERE

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It’s finally here.

The new Producers Guild Job Board has been redesigned from the ground up, based on extensive feedback from both members and employers. The Board’s interface has been entirely redesigned, and the new look is clean, intuitive, and user-friendly.

Members login with the same ID and password they use for the main PGA website. Employers will now be able to create their own unique accounts to allow them to post jobs and search the PGA roster for staff.

With the new PGA Job Board, members can:

  • List each of their credits separately, including primary and secondary titles, dates, company name and show/production title—all of which are sortable and searchable by employers.
  • Include any personal information they want, though members always have the option of keeping your address and phone number private.
  • Upload several different resumes or documents to their profiles, selecting which ones to include for each specific job they apply for.
  • Fill out their profiles with "Employer Search Preferences,” including up to 10 different formats or media of expertise, and up to 20 different domestic and international locations.
  • Set their profiles to include when they next plan to be available for work, so a member can more efficiently look for her or his next job (or have their next job find them!) while still working their current gig.

Meanwhile, employers have lots of new features, too, such as…

  • Vastly expanded search and sort capabilities. Now you can search the membership and sort results based on format/genre, locations worked, previous credits, and availability for work.
  • A convenient "home” screen. If you have posted multiple jobs, you can now manage all positions from the same screen, easily sorting candidates into "save” or "decline” lists.
  • Confirmations. Every time you post a job, or a PGA member applies for an open posting of yours, you’ll get a confirmation e-mail alerting you. Of course, you can opt out of this feature if you like.
  • Internal messaging. You can now respond to potential applicants (and they can respond back) via the Job Board system itself, so you can make your initial contact while keeping potentially sensitive information, such as your e-mail address, confidential.

This new job board represents a quantum improvement over its previous edition. To get the most out of it, we have the following recommendations for our members:

Check your profile. We imported every single resume from the old job system into the new profiles. However, when performing a mass importation like that, some format shifting is likely. All of the data included in your old profile appears under "additional information” in your resume & credits page. You would be wise to check that field and make certain that your information appears the way you want it to.

Re-enter your credits. For your credits to be searchable, you will have to re-enter them in the new system. Don’t worry, our fields and drop-down menus make this a painless process.

Update your availability regularly. When employers perform searches, the default format lists first the members who have most recently logged into the system. So if you’re looking for a job, there’s a real incentive to check the Board regularly. And above all, be sure to keep your availability information current. The number-one complaint of employers was reaching out to a member about a job, only to learn that the member wasn’t available—despite their online profile saying that they were.

So what are you waiting for? Whether you’re looking for your next job, or seeking to staff your producing team with the top production professionals in the business, there’s only one destination:

jobs.producersguild.org.

Use it often. Use it well.

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FEATURED MEMBER: CHRISTOPHER KAMINSKI

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Featured Member

Christopher Kaminski

New Media Council



1. WHAT DREW YOU TO THE ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS?

I grew up in the Midwest, where the entertainment business seemed as remote as the Antarctic. It didn’t seem like a viable career choice even though I loved movies, television, and video games as a child. I took a chance on an entry level position testing video games. The first time I met someone who thoroughly enjoyed a game that I worked on, I knew I made the right choice. There is no feeling to rival giving the gift of joy and wonder. That’s what I get from making entertainment.

2. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB IN THE INDUSTRY?

My first job was working as a video game tester. It’s the equivalent of working the proverbial Hollywood "mail room”. It’s a generally thankless job with long hours and low pay, with visibility into almost every aspect of the business.

3. HOW DID YOU START OUT AS A PRODUCER?

A fellow tester who had worked in games for many years told me that I had the right personality for a producer. At the time, I didn’t really know what a producer did. So I simply asked. I got an hour’s worth of time from one of our producers and the studio director, and ended up with a job as an AP on the next game we made.

4. WHAT LED YOU TO JOIN THE PGA?

When I decided to shift from video games into television, I was confronted with a daunting set of questions about how Hollywood worked. What better way than to ask a group of professionals?

5. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE VOLUNTEER/COMMITTEE WORK YOU DO FOR THE GUILD?

Absolutely. My work with the guild centers on advocacy. I’m always on the lookout for how give current and prospective members the tools to take their project, and their career, to the next level.

6. WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?

Right now I’m working on helping make "television over the internet” a more enjoyable experience.

7. WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR MOST INTERESTING PROJECTS, AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THEM?

There is something to be learned from every project. I don’t say that to be trite. Valkyria Chronicles taught me the value of "Under promise and over deliver”. MadWorld taught me the joys of improv acting. And working as a Production Assistant on a feature film set for two weeks taught me more lessons than an entire year’s worth of book learning.

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PGA Dodger Day 2012!

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

PGA Dodger Day

By Michael Quinn Martin


On Saturday, July 14, 2012, over 60 PGA members attended our annual PGA Dodger Day at Dodger Stadium as the Dodgers took on the San Diego Padres.

In a see-saw game the that saw the lead change several times, PGA members cheered when Andre Ethier hit a two run home run in the 6th inning to put the Dodgers ahead 6-4. Dodger relief pitcher Ronald Belisario allowed the Padres to score one run in the 8th inning, but the Dodgers still led 6-5.

With two outs in the 9th inning, the usually reliable Dodger relief pitcher Kenley Jansen had runners Will Venable on 2nd and Everth Cabrera on 3rd. In one of the most bizarre plays of the season, Jansen started to clean the dirt of out his cleats, but turned his back on Cabrera, who started to steal home. With catcher A.J. Ellis gesturing frantically, Jansen finally realized what was going on, but ended up throwing the ball over Ellis’ head and all the way to the backstop, allowing Venable to also score from 2nd base. This put the Padres up 7-6, a lead the Dodgers could not overcome in the bottom of the 9th inning.

At least all of the PGA members in attendance got a free dual Bobblehead, featuring legendary managers Walter Alston (23 years as manager) and Tommy Lasorda (20 years). PGA members were also next to the Dodger bullpen, where Dodger relief pitchers Scott Elbert, Josh Lindblom, Shawn Tolleson, Josh Wall, and Jamey Wright signed autographs for fans before the game.

This event was brought to you by your PGA Events Committee. We hope to see you next year at Dodger Stadium!


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Immersive Media - Stop Talking, Start Creating

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

by Mike Knowlton

One of the biggest challenges facing cross-platform storytellers today is that most projects of significant note are often conceived as a side product of something more "important”. For example: a traditional movie is completed so the studio then creates a transmedia extension to help market the primary platform.

Original transmedia projects, conceived as truly cross-platform narratives from the start, are still fairly underground and haven’t yet reached mass market appeal. I am an immersive media creator myself and I know first-hand how difficult it is to conceive, fund, produce and build an audience for an original cross-platform project.

Another challenge in our industry is the preponderance of talk. It seems that every conference features the same five transmedia case studies. The challenge is really creating, not just talking about it. For immersive storytelling to take place in the mainstream, it needs to be created deliberately.

To respond to these challenges, my partner at StoryCode and I decided to borrow something that works well in the tech space: the hackathon. A hackathon is an event where a group of programmers collaborate, over a specific period of time, to create new types of software and technology. The mindset is DIY and open-source.

Tech hackathons have become a big deal. TechCrunch Disrupt is one of the most well known events, and it attracts talented developers, press, venture capitalists, and new technology companies who open their technology up to participants.

Unfortunately the "hack" culture doesn't really exist in the entertainment space. Creation and ideation are often a much more closed process. We believe a powerful disruption can occur by introducing tech methodologies like hackathons, open-source frameworks, and agile/iterative development into entertainment. Think of it as "transmedia on a budget.”

To this end we created the first-ever "Story Hackathon,” a merging of storytelling and hacking. The event, called "Story Hack:Beta,” was held over the weekend of April 28th/29th 2012 at the Film Society Lincoln Center. Participants entered as teams of four; a typical team might include a filmmaker, producer, developer and dramatist.




Story Hackers in Action


Teams were challenged with designing a cohesive narrative spanning three or more media platforms. They had to create and execute one platform over the course of the 36-hour event. They could use video, mobile, social media, live performance, web-based and/or gaming (console or live) to tell their story. The common theme for all story hacks was "courage.”

We delivered a set of requirements to the teams one week before the event was held. Each hack had to integrate at least one of the technology sponsors, Kaltura, Logicworks, SocialSamba and Twilio. Finally, all the teams had to incorporate a dress as a prop from brand sponsor, Free People, in their hack. We also threw the teams a wild card on Saturday morning: integrating the Emily Dickinson quote, "Fortune befriends the bold” into their story hack.

The resulting weekend of story hacking was a truly amazing experience for everyone involved. "I think the best thing to come out of an event like this is meeting new collaborators and fostering a community,” said filmmaker and Broadcastr Director of Platform Engineering Mark Harris, who served as a mentor. "Becoming part of this community, and discussing everything from storytelling, to technology, to magic, has been instrumental in helping me determine my own course, in helping me identify exactly how the various activities I do—technology and filmmaking—come together.”

All hacks were presented at a Demo Day event on Sunday. A video of the Demo Day event can be viewed here.

Judges included PGA Members Blaine Graboyes and Craig Singer, as well as other established entertainment industry leaders. A cash prize of $1,000 was awarded to one winning team. However the teams didn’t participate for the potential of winning a prize, but took part because in many instances, this was the first time they had the opportunity to actually create a cross-platform story.





Story Hack: Beta winners, Team Cupcakes and Rainbows


Quite possibly the most inspiring outcome of the event is a quote from a participant named Randy Astle. In a series of blog posts he wrote for Filmmaker magazine he said, "I’ve written sample bibles and transmedia proposals before ... but I’ve never finished an actual project. So this Story Hack is my first chance to develop something cross-platform beyond the page."

From Forbes to the Washington Post and PBS, Story Hack: Beta was reviewed and discussed as a groundbreaking approach to creating cross-platform stories. This focus on developing the collaborative process across disciplines including film, technology, publishing, theater and advertising lays the groundwork for the form to take shape and mature.

Our vision for StoryCode is to develop an incubator that identifies immersive media projects and gives the creators the support, seed funding, and relationships to launch them into the marketplace. Story Hackathons are a key part of this vision.

Mike Knowlton is the CTO/Co-Founder of StoryCode

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