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THE VIEW FROM SILVER DOCS

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

More From SilverDocs 2012

Part 2: SEEKING TRUTH. SILVERDOCS IN FULL SWING

Part 3: LIFE NOW PLAYING. SILVERDOCS 2012, THE TAKE AWAY


By Renee Rosenfeld


Each June, filmmakers and audiences converge in the Nation’s Capital at SilverDocs, the internationally renowned documentary film festival spun from a unique alliance between the American Film Institute and Discovery Communications. The festival has been dubbed "Non-Fiction Nirvana" by Variety, and the "premiere showcase for documentary film" by The Hollywood Reporter. This year’s festival kicks off next Monday, June 18th and runs through June 24th at the AFI’s Silver Theater, just steps away from Discovery headquarters. SilverDocs offers an opportunity to see new documentaries combined with a robust conference that connects producers with key decision makers in non-fiction. SilverDocs staff reports that HBO and The Weinstein Company have made pre-festival inquiries and anticipate the festival will provide a fertile environment for acquisitions.

Producers Guild National Capital Chapter is hosting a Happy Hour with Women in Film and Video on Tuesday, June 19that McGinty’s Public House around the corner from the theater. In addition, the chapter is putting the finishing touches on an Insider’s Breakfast, its signature event, with Snag Films’ Rick Allen. Details to be announced in the coming days.

"AFI-Discovery Channel SilverDocs, celebrating its 10th edition in 2012, is the only event in the U.S. that combines the experience of a documentary festival with a professional conference, fusing the art and business of nonfiction storytelling,” said Sky Sitney, Festival Director. "This year’s Conference offers an extensive program of advanced sessions that explore today’s leading topics in the context of a relaxed and intimate setting ideal for creative and business connections to be made.” Among the highlights of the conference is Silver Sessions. Silver Sessions are small-group meetings with development, programming and acquisition executives, program officers from funding agencies, theatrical, DVD and international broadcast distributors, digital media innovators, marketing and PR consultants, producers’ representatives, legal advisers and industry leaders. Other conference highlights include panels on pitching with PBS, Discovery and other major networks as well as funding opportunities in the digital landscape and with the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Notable filmmakers presenting their work include Yung Chang (China Heavyweight); Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Detropia); Eugene Jarecki (The House I Live In); Ross McElwee (Photographic Memory); and Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky (Paradise Lost Trilogy, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, Good Rockin’ Tonight: The Legend of Sun Records, Crude, Under African Skies), who will be honored at the festival’s Charles Guggenheim Symposium for their collective and individual contributions to the documentary genre.

You can follow @PGAontheHill and @SilverDocs for updates throughout the festival and search these hashtags for the festival and conference on Twitter:

#Silverdocs and #SDConference12

Members of the National Capital will be posting news to The Networker during the festival. If you plan to attend let National Capital members know you’re in town!

More From SilverDocs 2012

Stay tuned for more updates.

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SEEKING TRUTH: SilverDocs 10th Edition is in Full Swing

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

More From SilverDocs 2012

Part 1: THE VIEW FROM SILVER DOCS

Part 3: LIFE NOW PLAYING. SILVERDOCS 2012, THE TAKE AWAY

By Renee Rosenfeld


Neal Schon on the red carpet with the Don't
Stop Believing filmmakers
The 10th Anniversary edition of the SilverDocs festival kicked off with Don’t Stop Believing: Everyman’s Journey, the emotional story of Arnel Pineda, who was thrust into fame after the iconic rock band Journey’s lead guitarist, Neal Schon, spotted the Philippine cover band singer on YouTube. National Capital member Katy Jones Garrity reports, "As a DC producer, [SilverDocs] is one week I look forward to every year.” She opened the festival viewing this week by attending a screening of The Imposter. Directed by Bart Layton, known for his work on Nat Geo’s long-running series Locked Up Abroad. "This film employs many of the same techniques that made that series such a hit: fantastic interviews with characters whose story is a bizarre twist from normal life, recreations that flow seamlessly into the storytelling, and camera directing that is clever and revealing,” says Jones Garrity.

Kc Shillihahn attended The Guggenheim Symposium--one of the festival’s special events. Named for the pioneering filmmaker Charles Guggenheim, the Honor is meant to identify and reward filmmakers that have brought the power of documentary to bear in the human experience. No other trilogy of films demonstrates that power like those created by this year’s honorees, Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. Early in his remarks former Arkansas prison inmate Jason Baldwin turned to Berlinger & Sinofsky and thanked them for the films that ultimately saw him released after nearly 18 years of unjust imprisonment. Jason Baldwin and the saga of the West Memphis Three is the ultimate demonstration of the power of non-fiction to advocate, report and shed new light on issues.

Alongside the festival is a full conference connecting filmmakers, educators, broadcasters, business leaders, distributors, private and public media, and funders that began with the keynote delivered by 18 Days in Egypt’s Jigar Mehta. Mehta recounted how he broke the rules by bringing together various forms of media from last year’s Egyptian uprising and using the storyteller as the source to create a more authentic and richer experience. His use of social media sources serves as a real-time walk through the events that changed the world.

"Meet the Broadcasters: The Dish On Docs On TV" moderated by Crowdstarter co-founder Liz Ogilvie, brought together execs from Discovery, PBS’s POV, A&E, The Documentary Channel, ESPN Films and HBO. Among the panel's revelations: In Discovery’s competitive environment, the network has shifted to more series. Discovery receives about 400-500 submissions each week through their Producers Portal. The good news is that execs look through submissions about once a week. The Documentary Channel’s demo skews male, ironically. HBO produces twenty-five to thirty docs a year but only one-third come through acquisitions. HBO is looking for documentaries with impact and press that are standout contemporary social impact films. If your genre is sports, ESPN Films is more likely to be interested in your piece if it lives on every platform and reflects a human story within sports. A&E suggests looking at Withoutabox to see what’s popping.

National Capital’s Rebecca Howland reported from the session, "Discovery: From Pitch to Air." Execs there suggest that when preparing to pitch the Discovery family (e.g., Discovery, ID, TLC), do your homework. Study the specific network that you're pitching to and be sure your concept is a fit for their brand. All pitches, regardless of whether you’re a newbie or the most seasoned producer, must be submitted through Discovery's Producer's Portal. What you submit must be as complete and buttoned-up a submission as possible. Discovery is looking for big, fascinating characters or subcultures that haven't been previously seen on television. A good piece of tape is expected if you want to be considered seriously. It doesn't have to be a pricey sizzle reel or pilot. It just has to demonstrate the characters' appeal. TLC bought four shows last year just from seeing Skype interviews with the talent. If the character is "big," they'll pop off the screen no matter what the format. The exception is Investigation Discovery, which is story-driven, not character-driven. It's okay to pitch ID with paper; tape is not necessary.

In these digital times, no producing conference is complete without a session entitled, "How To Make Noise in the Digital Forest." The exec’s best advice was to think beyond the finished piece and create additional content as if it were going to live in a DVD extra. Rolling out extra information is key to a complete digital package. They know that this is probably the last thing on your mind, but turning the camera around and capturing that behind the scenes footage makes a big difference. Think about your audience and build relationships with partners and ambassadors because they will help create the buzz that will sell your film. You can’t get started with social too early. The digital aggregators want to see what you have beyond the program itself.

Los Angeles PGA member Ruby Lopez joined National Capital members at a happy hour at McGinty’s Pub. Lopez is taking advantage of one-on-one pitch sessions to get her in-progress, animated full-length documentary in front of decision makers. She’s gathering intelligence by attending small group "Silver Sessions” with key players at Crowdstarter, Working Films and Discovery, among others. Lopez is finding that marketing early is key and using social networking is critical to engaging fans.

-Stay tuned for the final bulletin from SilverDocs, to be published soon.


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Life Now Playing: SilverDocs 2012, The Take Away

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 19, 2012

More From SilverDocs 2012

Part 1: THE VIEW FROM SILVERDOCS

Part 2: SEEKING TRUTH. SILVERDOCS IN FULL SWING


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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THE IMPOSTER'S GUIDE TO THE PRODUCED BY CONFERENCE 2012

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.

PLEASE NOTE, THE NOMINATIONS PERIOD HAS ENDED.


August 8 – Nominations Open

September 18 – Nominations Close

If you have any general questions, please contact digitalVIP@producersguild.org.

PRESS RELEASES

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


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