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Debra Hill Fellowship: Weekend Shorts Contest 2012

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Weekend Shorts Contest: September 28th-30th

The time is nearly upon us for the second annual Weekend Shorts Contest presented by the Debra Hill Fellowship.

Awards include well over $100,000 value in prizes, PLUS, Producers Guild mentorships with prestigious members.

Make sure to check back in at 2:01 pm PST on Friday the 28th for contest criteria and final instruction!

Debra Hill Fellowship's Weekend Shorts Contest 2012.

Winners From 2011

First place
Produced by Edgar Alvarez
Directed by Edgar Alvarez
Written by Edgar Alvarez and Amanda Rodriguez

Second place
Group Ethos
Produced by Joe Schober
Directed by Ian Spohr
Written by Chioke Nassor

Third place
The White Queen
Produced by Christin Mizelle and Dianne Ward
Directed by Bryan
Written by Chris Wiltz

In memory of Debra Hill and the films she produced, submitted projects were required to include:

  • Halloween as a setting. (In recognition of Debra Hill’s breakthrough film of that same title.)
  • Story Elements: a CHESS KNIGHT; a CASSETTE TAPE; a KNITTING NEEDLE. (Each of these objects has played a key role in one of Debra Hill’s films. Entries were required to include all three of these items in some fashion, with at least one items playing a central or important function in the story.)
  • Thematic Elements: ESCAPE; an UNLIKELY HERO; GRACE and FORGIVENESS. (Entries were required to include one of these thematic elements.)

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PGA Northwest Networking: "An Evening of Locations"

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An Evening of Locations!
by Brandon Grande

Scouts and Location Managers are vital in determining logistics, working with the producers, and helping to organize aspects from legal and accessibility to parking and permits. So, on August 15th, 2012, the PGA Northwest chapter gathered at Ambiance Antiques in the SOMA for "An Evening of Locations”.

Ambiance can double as a movie set in itself, and it was the perfect backdrop for the night's event. Thrown by Teri Cundall, of local prop and wardrobe directory Propville, along with the PGA Northwest, the event drew San Francisco's best location professionals.

The salon’s experts speaking included:
Sussanah Greason Robbins - Executive Director San Francisco Film Commission
Ricardo Capdepont - Location Scout
Jason Pachura - Birdman Locations Inc.
Jim Baldwin - Baldwin Production Services
and Gail Stempler - Location Scout & Manager

Each expert offered a unique perspective and everyone in attendance had plenty of interesting experiences to share. The cocktail reception to follow was a great opportunity for everyone to network and the guest’s were treated to a divine spread of wine and local cheeses while they schmoozed amongst one another. The night offered a unique opportunity to learn about the details of locations and it was huge success!

photo credit: Stefani Renee, Production stills.

Speakers from left to right: Jim Baldwin, Ricardo Capdepont, Jason Pachura, Sussanah Greason Robbins, Gail Stempler

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Featured Member: Karen Sutton

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Featured Member

Karen Sutton

Producers Guild Northwest


I’ve always had a passion to understand how things are made. When I watch TV, I’m always trying to count the number of cameras used and always have my eye on the details in the shots.


My first production-related job was working for a caterer at Jones Beach Theater in NY. We provided meals for the crews and artist dressing rooms. It was really a great learning experience to absorb everything involved in a live event, the staging, lighting, cameras, etc.


I started as an Associate Producer at Stanford University and had the opportunity to grow the business and move up the ranks.


I started with the PGA through friends in production who introduced me to the group. I attended events and decided to get involved.


I’m on the Event Committee now. The events we’re planning will be educational and social, including our annual Guild & Grapes this October. We’ll also schedule joint events with other industry groups in the Bay Area.


Roundtable 2012 Gray Matters: Your Brain, Your Life and Brain Science in the 21st Century, a production with 5-camera live switch, live webcast and live captioning.

The Uncommon Knowledge series is ongoing and airing bi-monthly.

TEDxStanford 2013

Redesign of our studio sets.


One of my most complex productions was back in 2005, a visit from the Dalai Lama. This event included 3 locations on campus over a 2-day period on a bootstrap budget. This was also our first webcast with live captioning. I was coordinating multiple crews and transferring equipment from venue to venue. Many things went wrong but in the middle of the chaos, I stopped to really listen to his message, "…compassion, combined with wisdom, always helps a broader perspective.”

Another production, also in 2005, was our Commencement speaker, Steve Jobs. His speech was one of the greatest reflections on life I’ve ever heard.

"Spotlight" Article

"Every day I have the opportunity to work with political leaders, Nobel laureates, journalists and thought leaders who are changing the world. It’s live production that’s in the moment. You do whatever it takes to make the production run smoothly.”

Karen Sutton’s position as Executive Producer/Director at Stanford Video (Stanford University) requires her to produce 175 events every year. She’s clearly in the right place to leverage her experience and well prepared to successfully negotiate the visibility, challenges and craziness of live event production.

Born on Long Island, Sutton went to college in Buffalo, majoring in broadcast communications. She was immersed in all aspects of production, including learning the ropes by producing a current affairs cable access program. "Early on, I worked for a direct mail agency on Madison Avenue, where I absorbed an understanding of marketing, corporate budgets and navigating a bureaucracy. My favorite project was the launch of the first Mercedes SUV, which was well received in the ad business at the time.”

After 2 years in NYC, Sutton decided to move west to get into traditional production. She was a freelancer in various roles in film and television before landing her first job managing a facility in Silicon Valley, where she produced corporate videos. Shortly thereafter, she learned of an opening as a teleprompter operator at Stanford. "I thought ‘I can do anything’ and took the job. This is where my Stanford career began. I worked in various roles including associate producer, director, camera, floor operator, audio and make-up.”

At the time, Stanford’s video group was part of the Stanford Center for Professional Development. Their mission was to get faculty on the networks and the local cable access channel in Palo Alto. "The business quickly grew and we began to capitalize on the constant change of the industry and broadcast standards. We invested in a multi-camera flight pack system, which allowed us to produce the video board shows for all the Football home games, medical training conferences with live surgeries, ‘Uncommon Knowledge’, a TV series for local and national PBS stations in partnership with the Hoover Institution, and our first-ever live webcast, Doug Engelbart’s ‘Unfinished Revolution’, which was a 30-year celebration of his contributions to the computer revolution.”

"With this growth, we no longer fit into the mission of the Stanford Center for Professional Development and found a new home with University Communications.” This new partnership allowed Sutton to work with Capital Planning to locate a site where a new facility could be built. After about 14 months, they finally did it without ever shutting down production. "We even ran live shots from a trailer in the loading dock at one point. The networks never knew we were in process on a major change.”

"The build of Stanford Video’s production facility is the proudest moment of my career. I was involved in all aspects of the design, build and equipment integration.”

One of Sutton’s favorite efforts was Stanford’s first-ever TEDxStanford event, which featured digital innovation, philosophy talks, student inventions, virtual reality, yoga, Taiko drumming, dance and musicians. The one-day event included 27 different talks/performances, which was one of her most technically challenging events. "I am so honored that has chosen to air 2 of our talks on their website. You can access the others on the TEDxStanford website.”

Sutton’s team also produces an annual event during homecoming called the Round Table. It’s another high profile event – moderated by talent such as Charlie Rose or Tom Brokaw. "We’ve held Round Tables about climate change, education reform, the aging population. These events are streamed live to an audience of more than 5,000 and we get an additional 1,000 viewers on the web. We market to Stanford Alumni and active university faculty and students. Round Table 2012 is titled ‘Gray Matters: Your Brain, Your Life and Brain Science in the 21st Century’ and will be a production with 5-camera live switch, live webcast and live captioning.”

Sutton’s team is small – there are seven full time staff, who are supplemented by a huge base of freelancers. Stanford Video continues to operate as a self-funded entity of the University and Sutton attributes their success to the long-term relationships formed with key University personnel and the trust and knowledge her team brings to the table.

Sutton started with the PGA through friends in production who introduced her to the group. "I attended events and decided to get involved. I’m on the Event Committee now. The events we’re planning will be educational and social, including our annual Guild & Grapes this October. We’ll also schedule joint events with other industry groups in the Bay Area.”

Question of the Month:
How is video-based education evolving at Stanford?

"I spend a lot of time assisting groups who are developing interactive courseware. The Stanford Center for Professional Development is producing courses in advanced project management, innovation and entrepreneurship, energy innovation and advanced computer science.

"Our next live webcast will be available on multiple platforms. It’s important to reach the audience where they are. In 2004, Stanford launched their iTunesU channel, which was a cost-effective way to provide access to an archive of Stanford content to alumni and the public as well. In 2008, we shot Oprah at the graduation ceremony to launch the Stanford U-Tube channel, another early adopter move for education. Today, all the classes on the channel are free. We produce much of it, but several departments originate their own programs. They can use our fiber lines and multi-camera packages and cover larger events.

"We've been putting lectures online for years, but Stanford is looking at expanding the quality and scope of online education. So we are in an experimental mode, trying out different technologies to capture and publish the videos more efficiently.”

"A lot of my job is educating the community about video and how to convey a training or promotion message. It’s ever evolving. I like that I’m traveling now and working with new crews in other states. That’s a great learning experience.”

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Featured Member: Jennie Bourne

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Featured Member

Jennie Bourne

New Media Council


I’m a student of traditional storytelling and I love using the power of technology to educate and inform, but after working in news for a decade I’m developing more creative ways to tell people’s stories and deliver much needed information on the web.


Associate Editor, Newsweek Broadcasting Service, translating articles from Newsweek Magazine for television. We used UPI Television News crews and writers like Peter Benchly, who was writing ‘Jaws’ at the time, as talent, and had access to the Movietone film archive.


Working with a Production Manager shooting exteriors for ‘Paradise Alley’. I learned production budget breakdown, how to scout locations and pay off unions in cash when we burned through lunch and breaks and I met Stallone. It was his first directing gig.


As an editor and independent producer, I wanted more contact with colleagues in the field. It’s great to talk shop with some of the most prominent producers in the business. I have not been disappointed.


I’m a founding member of the Online Content Committee; which is Producers Guild members working together to document seminars and events and to interview members about their work. We interviewed six PGA members on the set of the new Morgan Freeman movie directed by Rob Reiner, which is the first film to display the Producers Mark. I also moderated the ‘Brick City Event’, as a member of the Diversity Committee.


Developing an urban media lab I’m calling New York Media Lab, designed to mine the creativity and ingenuity of urban life as the basis of developing new technologies. Look out MIT.


Creating an online video channel for Pulver Media. I learned not to edit video on a laptop, in a cab, or try to upload it over wireless from Sweden, what makes it prohibitively expensive to build a video studio in an office building on Long Island, how to make telecom technology fascinating, and how to build a community around video content.

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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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