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Produced By: Distributors Enlist Producers In Fight For VOD Transparency

By | Monday June 9, 2014 @ 6:08pm PDT

produced-by-schulman-slossThe rallying cry for transparency in VOD reporting fell on receptive ears Sunday at the 2014 Produced By conference, where Cinetic Media’s John Sloss appealed to the financial interests of the producers in the room regarding the mounting importance of VOD and digital distribution. “The promise of transparency creates the promise of the future of cleaner revenue streams,” said Sloss. “And the efficiency of the future should push more revenue back to you.”

Sloss has been indie film’s most vocal proponent of VOD data reporting since he went public with VOD performance numbers on indie Escape from Tomorrow and called for others to do the same. But without more distributors onboard to offer up numbers and no standards in data collecting it’s still a steep uphill climb towards transparency. Read More »

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Produced By: It’s Not Just The Hair – How To Court The Female Audience

As women’s roles continue to expand in society, so too are their roles growing on television. More than ever, capturing the female audience is vital to a show’s success, and that was the subject of Sunday’s smart and funny “Courting the Female Audience” panel at the Producers Guild‘s Produced By conference.

Mara Brock-Akil“Women are looking for nuance,” said Mara Brock-Akil, creator and executive producer of Being Mary Jane and The Game. “We’re not all beautiful and gorgeous.”

Women are also, it would appear, looking for zombies, or at least one particular set of them. “The Walking Dead is the No. 1  show for women,” said Marc Juris, WE TV president and general manager. Either way, “Female viewers are much more demanding and discerning,” said Matt Warburton, executive producer of Fox’s The Mindy Project. “They care about the quality of a show. For men, fart jokes and an explosion are enough.”

So-called “procedurals” – those ubiquitous, based-on-a-real-story crime dramas – remain popular with older women in particular, the panelists agreed, although moderator Debra Birnbaum, a contributing editor at Variety, said she finds it “hard to deal with” all the genre’s “rape and torture.” Notwithstanding The Real Housewives of Pretty Much Everywhere, reality shows offer some of the best opportunities for female viewers to see real women like themselves dealing with everyday issues that affect their lives. “Reality does a much better job,” Juris said.

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Produced By: Francis Ford Coppola Sees A “Live” Future For Film

Produced by CoppolaFrancis Ford Coppola can see the future of cinema, and it’s going to be “live,” like a digital play or a virtual opera. Speaking before an overflow crowd at the closing of the Producer Guild‘s Produced By conference, Coppola said he sees a future in which movies will be presented “live” to audiences all around the world at the same time.

With the digital revolution, he said, “movies no longer have to be set in stone and can be composed and interpreted for different audiences that come to see it. Film has always been a recorded medium,” but live cinema remixes might be “30 percent pre-recorded as the actors do it live. You can do anything and you can do it live.”

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Coppola said he might even essay such a “live” movie himself.  Coppola, who is currently writing a saga about multiple generations of an Italian-American family (ed.: why does this somehow sound familiar?), said, “Maybe I should put my money where my mouth is and do it live.”

The Godfather of American cinema said that he is “very optimistic about the future of cinema and the world,” and he’s especially bullish on independent filmmaking. ”If not for independent filmmakers,” he said, “all we would have would be these big industrial films. The cinema is too important to allow industry high finance to stop it. Cinema is too big to be defeated.”

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Produced By: Norman Lear Goes Archie Bunker On TV Ageism

Norman LearNorman Lear, the greatest TV comedy producer of all time, can’t get a series made these days, he says. The Producer’s Guild of America may have named its episodic comedy award after Lear, but good luck getting a Lear-made episodic comedy on the air now. In a TV-transforming run through the 1970s, Lear tackled the most controversial issues of the time – including racism, abortion, sexism and so much else – but he says the only time he’s ever been censored is today.

Lear, now almost 92 and reflecting on his legendary career in a packed session at the PGA’s Produced By conference, said no one ever told him, “You can’t do that,” while he was producing ground-breaking shows such as All in the Family, Maude, and The Jeffersons. But today, when he pitches a comedy that’s set in a retirement village, nobody wants to hear about it.

Betty White“They don’t want to touch the demographic,”he said. Apparently, he said, there’s only room for one old person (that would be another comedy veteran, Betty White, who actually is a few months older than Lear) on network television today.

The name of the show Lear has been pitching is Guess Who’s Dead?, a title that got a huge laugh from the audience. It is particularly ironic that Lear, whose People for the American Way organization long has fought for free … Read More »

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Produced By: Top Cable Executives Undeterred By Netflix

Produced by Conference 2014 logoConsumer’s ferocious viewing appetite and The Netflix Model were some of the prime weighty topics at Produced By‘s “Take It From the Top: 10 Questions for the Cable Bosses” panel Saturday featuring Starz CEO Chris Albrecht, FX Network CEO John Landgraf, president of Showtime networks David Nevins and SundanceTV president and GM Sarah Barnett. Despite the impact that Netflix has had on consumers’ viewing habits, the group concurred that premium cable still has the edge and provides the pivotal role as a curator to viewers.  Exclaimed Albrecht, “If you took the premium channels, we have much better product than Netflix and we have more movies and earlier windows.”  Albrecht also pointed out how premium “was at the forefront of technological advances” with such view-where-you-go apps as HBO GO. If premium cable is going to outlast Netflix, the trick lies in getting cable and satellite distributors to offer up such services at a suitable price point for the customer. “The consumer is increasingly becoming the buyer of such distribution equipment, and they’re going to feel entitled about what they want, when they want,” said Albrecht. Read More »

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Produced By: Concern Over Crews In Tax Incentive States Following ‘Midnight Rider’

Sarah-Jones-camera-operatorChasing state tax incentives can have disastrous safety consequences, according to producers, risk managers and insurance brokers, who spoke today at a PGA Produced By panel on industry safety.

The recent death of camera assistant Sarah Jones in a tragic train accident during filming of Midnight Rider has shaken the industry like no other accident since the 1982 Twilight Zone disaster. The fact that Midnight Rider was shot in Georgia, one of the most tax incentive-friendly states in the nation, wasn’t lost on the panelists. Read More »

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‘Neighbors’ Team Talk Sequel Status, ‘Jazz Cops’ & Lessons Learned

Seth Rogen, Evan GoldbergNeighbors producers Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen mentioned at the Produced By conference that they’re still taking a lot of meetings about a sequel to their hit summer comedy, which is on the verge of hitting $220 million worldwide, but it’s still undetermined whether they will move forward. In the meantime, they are trying to get the project Jazz Cops off the ground, a starring vehicle for Rogen and Kevin Hart, about two cops during the 1950s trying to infiltrate the jazz scene.  A bulk of their conversation, along with fellow producing partner James Weaver who first started with Rogen as an assistant on Funny People, was devoted to the lessons they’ve learned while writing, directing and producing their comedies.  After working on The Green Hornet, the trio learned — big budget isn’t everything. Too much red tape, too many parties to contend with.  After enjoying the buffer from the studios on their Judd Apatow productions, i.e. Knocked Up, Superbad and Pineapple Express, Weaver has been a welcome cog in their wheel, continually providing updates to the studios and agents as the cameras rolls. Read More »

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Deadline Advisory: Produced By Conference Coverage

By | Friday June 6, 2014 @ 6:21pm PDT

Produced by Conference 2014 logoDeadline’s Jen Yamato, David Robb and Anthony D’Alessandro will be on hand this Saturday and Sunday covering the Produced By Conference at Warner Bros studios in Burbank. Sponsored by the PGA, the conference brings together marquee and burgeoning producers who will dive into issues impacting the film and TV industry including distribution, finance, marketing, branding and production. At last year’s conference, J.J. Abrams announced when he was starting production on Star Wars: Episode VII, Stacey Sher discussed the success of crowdfunding Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here, and Tom Cruise spoke about how he reinvented global studio promotion. Here is the full schedule for the 2014 Produced By Conference: Read More »

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PGA Produced By Conference 2014: Francis Ford Coppola Among Speaker Additions

By | Monday April 28, 2014 @ 10:27am PDT

Related: Produced By Conference Unveils 2014 Lineup

ProducedBy2014LOS ANGELES (April 28, 2014) – The Producers Guild of America (PGA) is pleased to announce that Academy Award-winning filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola (GODFATHER I, II and III, APOCALYPSE NOW) will join the 6th annual Produced By Conference (PBC) as a featured speaker. Coppola will join some of the entertainment and digital industries’ most renowned producers and visionaries, including Ceán Chaffin (GONE GIRL, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, THE SOCIAL NETWORK), David Fincher (GONE GIRL, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, THE SOCIAL NETWORK), Evan Goldberg (NEIGHBORS, THIS IS THE END, SUPERBAD), Norman Lear (“The Jeffersons,” “All In The Family”), Seth Rogen (NEIGHBORS, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, KNOCKED UP), Joe Roth (HEAVEN IS FOR REAL , MILLION DOLLAR ARM, MALEFICENT) and James Weaver (NEIGHBORS, THIS IS THE END, THE GUILT TRIP). Produced By 2014 is hosted by Warner Bros. Studios in Los Angeles on June 7-8.

For a full list of speakers and to register for Produced By 2014, please visit www.producedbyconference.com

Newly added speakers, in alphabetical order, include:

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Produced By Conference Unveils 2014 Lineup

By | Thursday March 27, 2014 @ 10:09am PDT

pga67__140108185018-275x154LOS ANGELES, CA (March 27, 2014) – The Producers Guild of America (PGA) is pleased to announce the initial slate of speakers confirmed to participate in the 6th annual Produced By Conference (PBC). Director and producer David Fincher (GONE GIRL, FIGHT CLUB, SE7EN, THE SOCIAL NETWORK, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON) & producer Ceán Chaffin (GONE GIRL, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO), producer Norman Lear (“The Jeffersons, “All In The Family”), actor and producer Seth Rogen (NEIGHBORS, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS, KNOCKED UP), and producer Joe Roth (MALEFICENT, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN) will participate as featured speakers at the 2014 Produced By Conference, hosted by Warner Bros. Studios on June 7-8.

Additional speakers include some of the entertainment and digital industries’ most renowned producers and visionaries. Confirmed speakers are noted below in alphabetical order. Additional speakers will be announced prior to the conference.

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Produced By Conference: Tom Cruise Talks Control On Set & How He Reinvented Global Studio Promotion

By | Saturday June 15, 2013 @ 2:44pm PDT

Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s conference coverage.

Tom Cruise Produced By Conference 2013After he dropped out of last Saturday’s Produced By conference due to a late conflict, Tom Cruise – ever punctual and intensely focused, as is his reputation – kept his appointment for a rescheduled session this morning for a production-specific discussion that steered clear of any talk about what he’s up to now. (Hard at work on pre-production as star and producer for Mission: Impossible 5.) Onstage with Academy president Hawk Koch as moderator, Cruise looked sharp and relaxed in navy pullover sweater, open-collar shirt, black slacks and black leather shoes. Speaking in the Zanuck Theater on the Fox lot (roughly 80% full) before an audience of producers and would-be producers, Cruise came across as the class act he is purported to be, speaking with passion about the need to practice “basic decency” and “respect every member of the crew” on the set. He returned repeatedly to the experience of his first significant film – 1981’s Taps – as being key to satisfying his incessant curiosity and his driving need to soak up every aspect of making a film. It ultimately led to his first hands-on producing work on the first Mission: Impossible film in 1996.

Cruise also earnestly spoke about how seriously he takes his leadership role on every film. “I love acting first and foremost, and I don’t have to be the one calling the shots,” he insisted. “I don’t direct myself when I’m acting. I am the actor… But I make sure to get the crews together and make sure they know that we’re a team, and that I want everyone to come in with their A game.” Read More »

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Produced By Conference: Mark Burnett On ‘Bible’ Follow Up, Feature Version Of History Series Finished Editing

By | Sunday June 9, 2013 @ 3:30pm PDT

Mark Burnett is cooking up a sequel of a sort to The Bible series, but he’s keeping details of his next faith-based project to himself. “A lot of things have come our way since the Bible, that’s how the business works. Roma [Downey] and I will do a follow up to The Bible, no question to that, something big,” said Burnett today at the Produced By conference. No word if this next project on Christianity would be on the History Channel as The Bible was. The producer however did reveal that he has just finished editing a 2 hour and 15 minute feature version of the successful series focusing on the life of Jesus. He is now looking to sell it. “Just on the scripted side, I could spend the next 10 years just distributing the Bible series and the movie. I believe that in the next 15 years more people on the planet will have seen our Bible series that haven’t seen it,” added Burnett of the project he and wife Roma Downey produced with Hearst Entertainment & Syndication. Read More »

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Produced By Conference: Pros Forecast The Future Of VFX, Post-Rhythm & Hues

By | Sunday June 9, 2013 @ 3:28pm PDT

Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s conference coverage.

In the wake of the mass layoffs and bankruptcy filing of the VFX house Rhythm & Hues at the same time it was winning the Oscar for the film Life of Pi, the entire future of the visual effects industry has come under scrutiny — even as Rhythm & Hues recovers under new ownership. The question of the company’s crash-and-burn while creating award-winning work led off a Produced By panel this morning entitled “The Unlocked Picture: Global Opportunities in VFX and 3D Conversion,” where the consensus was that the R&H situation was both an anomaly and a harbinger of VFX industry issues that won’t soon be going away. Rhythm & Hues bankruptcy“It’s a tough business and changing business, and we’re right in the middle of a very tumultuous time,” said Chris DeFaria, Exec VP of digital production, animation and visual effects for Warner Bros. Pictures. While noting that Rhythm & Hues was beset by obvious cash flow problems, DeFaria maintained that the VFX business is being altered by an increasing standardization of tools and techniques and, most importantly, by more competitive financing globally. “You have an international workforce that’s mobile and capable of setting up low cost labor markets,” he noted. “There’s a big benefit in the exchange rates. These forces conspire to make it a very difficult business.” Read More »

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Produced By Conference: Stacey Sher On Zach Braff Kickstarter Success & Scrutiny

By | Sunday June 9, 2013 @ 1:58pm PDT

Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s conference coverage.

The Kickstarter model of financing movies was front and center this morning at a Produced By conference panel entitled “The State of Producing — Finding Funding, Lining Up Talent & Securing Screens,” which replaced the scheduled session with Tom Cruise (postponed to next weekend). Before the seats were even warm, producer Stacey Sher (Django Unchained, Erin Brockovich, Pulp Fiction) was quizzed about her groundbreaking Kickstarter effort in April on behalf of Zach Braff that found his project Wish I Was Here meeting its $2 million fundraising goal in a mere four days en route to a 30-day total of $3.1 million from a grand total of 46,520 pledgers). “We were absolutely shocked,” Sher admitted. “We became these people who lived for 30 days under both a microscope and a spotlight. And it was excruciating.” Why “excruciating”? Sher explained that by virtue of being Exhibit A in the new media funding model, the haters were inspired to come out of the woodwork wondering why they deserved this kind of support. But she stressed that the experience has been overwhelmingly encouraging and positive. “The people who backed the film are going through every step of its production with us, with more access to how it’s being put together than some of our interns,” she said. Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin and Josh Gad will join Braff in the film about a thirtysomething actor who is trying to figure out who he is. Read More »

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Produced By Conference: Reality TV Only Getting Bigger, Louder

By | Saturday June 8, 2013 @ 7:03pm PDT

Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s conference coverage.

A group of cable network execs and producers shared their views on the ever-evolving reality TV landscape and how the sales game is changed this afternoon during a Produced By panel sponsored by Deadline Hollywood and entitled, “Reality Isn’t What it Used to Be: Selling Nonfiction Television.” “You used to be able to sell a show off of paper; you didn’t need tape,” recalled Stephanie Drachkovitch, a principal in 44 Blue Productions. “That’s much harder to do now. Also, what would have been a brilliant idea three years ago doesn’t make the bar. It’s not big enough, it’s not loud enough, it’s not gonna move the needle, it’s not gonna break through.” The reason for needing bigger and noisier programming ideas, she believes, is the sheer number of networks and venues doing original reality program content and vying for eyeballs. A&E’s Senior VP of Talent and Production Neil Cohen agreed that it takes a lot more juice for an idea to get sold and gain traction than it did even a couple of years ago. “It’s much more competitive and the expectations are much higher,” he said. “It used to be enough to enough to put a very primitive team together to sell to people like us. Now there’s the expectation that we’ll get a sense of the tone and storytelling style in the concept in the sizzle tape.” Read More »

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Produced By Conference: Death Threats, But No Network Censorship For ‘Walking Dead’ Execs

By | Saturday June 8, 2013 @ 6:19pm PDT

Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s conference coverage.

The Walking Dead exec producer Gale Anne Hurd admitted this afternoon that one of the hazards of her job is receiving death threats from the rabid fan base of smash hit AMC zombie drama when it dares to kill off a character. “That’s one of the dirty little secrets of social media,” she admitted during a session at the Produced By conference on the Fox lot. “The fans so identify with the characters that if you kill them off… well, first they’re in denial. It’s really the stages of grief. They say, ‘That gunshot off camera, they aren’t really dead, they’re coming back.’ And then they get angry. They threaten to hunt you down. They don’t understand the difference between reality and fantasy.”

Gale Anne Hurd Walking DeadFor the most part, however, the experience of being the highest-rated drama in cable history is a far more rewarding and less dangerous experience, Hurd and her fellow panelists agreed. She was joined at the event by Walking Dead exec producer David Alpert; Sharon Tal Yguado, EVP of global scripted programming and original development for Fox International Channels; and Marci Wiseman, SVP of business affairs for AMC. They discussed the how the show originally and famously was rejected at the pilot stage by NBC. Alpert recalled how when the comic book rights were sold to NBC in 2005, the network told him, “We want to do something totally different.” He remembered, “When they passed, I said, ‘But I thought you wanted to do something totally different.’ They said, ‘We do. We just don’t want to do a zombie show.’ That was one of the more frustrating things.” Read More »

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Produced By Conference: JJ Abrams Says ‘Star Wars’ Starts Production In Early 2014

“I think that the thing is so big and so massive to so many people that the key to moving forward is honoring but not revering what went before,” said JJ Abrams today about the challenges of directing the new Star Wars movie. Abrams also revealed that production on Star Wars Episode VII is set to start right at the beginning of 2014. “Most likely we are going to be moving to London at the end of the year for the Star Wars movie,” said the Star Trek Into Darkness director Saturday at the Produced By conference on the Fox lot. Abrams added that the overseas shoot “drives me insane” as he would have liked to film the movie in LA. He also noted that the plan to shoot Star Wars Episode VII for Disney in the UK was set before he was brought on board. The director joked that getting the offer to helm the new Star Wars was the only thing that would have caused him to postpone a long set family vacation.
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Produced By Conference: Kurt Sutter Updates ‘Sons Of Anarchy’ Prequel Status

By | Saturday June 8, 2013 @ 3:37pm PDT

Rarely at a loss for words, Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter has spoken before about doing a prequel to the FX series. Today at the Produced By conference, he told me a little bit more about where things stand with the possible look at the formation of SAMCRO. Sons Of Anarchy prequel“Right now, it is just conversations,” Sutter said after appearing on the Hit The Ground Showrunning panel. Confirming that the series, if it happened, would be with SOA’s current home of FX, Sutter said that the show wouldn’t be coming for a few years. “I want to let the property rest for a year or so after Sons is over before jumping in,” he noted. SOA is heading into its sixth season with the expectation that the biker club series will go for a least one more cycle after that. Beyond that timeline, a lot about the prequel is still up in the air. “I don’t know if it will be a series or a limited series of say 10 to 13 episodes,” Sutter said. “I don’t want to do it as a movie – tonally, I don’t see it as a movie.” Read More »

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Produced By Conference: Producers Who Direct, Or Directors Who Produce?

By | Saturday June 8, 2013 @ 1:57pm PDT

Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s conference coverage.

The 5th Annual Produced By Conference, sponsored by the PGA, kicked off this morning on the 20th Century Fox lot with a panel discussion entitled “The Real Deal: Producers Who Direct? or Directors Who Produce?”. Producer Mark Gordon of Grey’s Anatomy fame moderated the discussion in the packed Zanuck Theater, peppering panelists Jon Favreau (Iron Man 1, 2 and 3) and Roland Emmerich (White House Down, Independence Day) with questions about how producers can effectively navigate the directorial waters and vice-versa. Of course, working with filmmakers at the level of Favreau and Emmerich who have abundant experience is rarely a problem, Gordon repeatedly acknowledged.

“There is a comfort level with directors who have a body of work,” said Gordon, who doesn’t direct. “It’s more difficult now because everybody specializes. In the old days of the Hollywood studio system, guys like John Ford and Billy Wilder did it all. They directed comedies. They directed dramas. They directed musicals. Today, you hear, ‘This guy is an action director, this guy directs comedy.’ I don’t believe in that. If you direct, you should be able to direct everything.” But Favreau pointed out that inexperienced directors are becoming less of a dice roll for producers and studios, what with the cost of admission to the club dropping to relative pennies. “There are tremendous filmmakers doing strong pieces of content online,” he said. “Those content walls are coming down. It’s becoming less and less of a guess. It isn’t like picking the new Dalai Lama. You can see what’s being done and say, ‘This kid’s got some vision’.” Read More »

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