It’s not often one gets to pick the brains of the industry’s top producers.
The Producers Guild of America’s annual Produced By Conference, which was held June 4-6 this year on the 20th Century Fox lot, brought out some of the biggest names in the industry for the opportunity to do just that.
In addition to moguls such as Ted Turner and Mark Cuban, and blockbuster producers such as Avatar’s Jon Landau and Mission Impossible’s Paula Wagner, the conference included more than 100 other speakers representing all aspects of the film, television and new media industry. Newly elected PGA presidents Mark Gordon and Hawk Koch, as well as previous PGA president Marshall Herskovitz, were among those sharing their insights for the estimated 1,100 participants. SAG and SAGIndie were proud sponsors of the event, allowing members to receive a deep discount on attendance.
Topics of the conference included financing productions, utilizing transmedia and devising hybrid distribution models. So what do any of these things have to do with acting?
“It’s especially important for your membership,” said Vance Van Petten, executive director of the PGA. “You have to learn how to be your own producer. You have to make your own breaks.”
It was a consensus among speakers that there are too many talented people out there. Finding a way to put your talents forward, either by self-producing or, even better, partnering with an established producer, is a proven formula.
Some other advice that came from panelists:
- Have a compelling story to tell, or attach yourself to one. Nobody will care about your plans for related webisodes and social networking if you don’t have something of value story-wise, usually in the form of a finished screenplay.
- If you’re wearing the producer’s hat, figure out the windows of distribution that work for your individual project. A traditional theatrical release may not be the best strategy.
- Realize before setting out that the market is more competitive than ever before and money doesn’t flow as freely as it once did. Have a true understanding of the value of your project and hire an experienced line producer in order to keep the budget realistic.
Of course, SAG members realize that no producer, including themselves, can hire a SAG actor without a SAG contract. They also know it’s an affordable way to have access to the finest actors in the world.
“There’s nothing better for a producer than to have a good relationship with Screen Actors Guild,” said Dominik Rausch, producer of the SAG-signatory Easy to Assemble. “It’s just so helpful to have SAG backing you up.”
Winners Named in Producer Challenge
Congratulations to the SAG-signatory winners of this year’s Produced By Producers Challenge:
Best Produced Studio Webisode: Heroes: Nowhere Man
Executive Producers: Tim Kring, Dennis Hammer Producers: Christopher Hanada, Tanner Kling
Best Produced Independent Webisode: Horrible People
Producers: Jonathan Stern, Joe Lo Truglio, A.D. Miles
Attendees of the Produced By Conference included SAGIndie National Director Darrien Michele Gipson and SAG New Media National Director Mark Friedlander.
Photo by Michael Quinn Martin