Jul 31, 2014 ... BEST ANIMATED FEATURE .... particular motion picture, you performed a major portion of the producing duties, ..... “Happy Birthday” to his own.
“When a film has the power to do what ‘Big Hero 6’ can do on so many levels – it shouldn’t only be watched, it should be celebrated.” HUFFINGTON POST | Kimberly Cooper
FO R YO U R CO N S I D E R AT I O N
B E S T A N I M AT E D F E AT U R E Produced by Roy Conli, p.g . a .
SEE IT ON THE BIG SCREEN For our screening schedule visit us at WALTDISNEYSTUDIOSAWARDS .COM ©2014 Disney
FEATURES Big Apple, Big Honor The Made in NY Awards recognizes three of the PGA’s national committees.
Case Study: Norman Lear If he isn’t your hero, you need new heroes.
Code Junkies How a trio of producers cracked The Imitation Game.
Reflection: Arthur Krim Mike Medavoy recalls a mentor and friend.
Endurance Test Angelina Jolie, Matt Baer and Clayton Townsend go the distance for Unbroken.
Produced By: New York Dancing on the Ceiling Fulldome storytelling starts to take shape.
Now in Session Has Team Downey arrived? Judge for yourself.
Pixar’s Platform Jump Producer Galyn Susman brings Buzz, Woody and friends to television.
10 16 26 32 34 40 50 56 62
7 19 66 76 78 80 82 84 86
From the National Executive Director It’s not something you put on your business card
Norman Lear, Even This I Get to Experience
Going Green No set too small
Member Benefits The Picture of Health PGA Bulletin New Members Mentoring Matters Jason White
Cover photo: Alex J. Berliner/ABImages November – December 2014
F O R Y O U R C O N S I D E R AT I O N I N A L L C AT E G O R I E S I N C LU D I N G
producers guild of america Presidents GARY LUCCHESI LORI McCREARY Vice Presidents, DAVID FRIENDLY Motion Pictures LYDIA DEAN PILCHER Vice Presidents, Television TIM GIBBONS JASON KATIMS Vice President, New Media JOHN HEINSEN
PRODUCED BY Tim Bevan Eric Fellner Lisa Bruce Anthony McCarten BEST DIRECTOR James Marsh BEST ACTOR Eddie Redmayne • BEST ACTRESS Felicity Jones BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY Anthony McCarten BASED ON THE BOOK “TRAVELLING TO INFINITY: MY LIFE WITH STEPHEN” BY JANE HAWKING
Vice President, AP Council MEGAN MASCENA-GASPAR Vice President, PGA East PETER SARAF Treasurer CHRISTINA LEE STORM Secretary of Record GALE ANNE HURD Presidents Emeriti mark Gordon hawk koch National Executive Director VANCE VAN PETTEN Representative, PGA Northwest JOHN GILLES
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“EDDIE REDMAYNE AND FELICITY JONES REACH FOR THE STARS IN TWO OF THE YEAR’S BEST PERFORMANCES.”
“ONE OF THE YEAR’S VERY BEST MOVIES!
Eddie Redmayne is sensational! Felicity Jones is fantastic! Oscar®, take note!” SCOTT MANTZ, ACCESS HOLLYWOOD
PETER TRAVERS, ROLLING STONE
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from the national executive director by Vance Van Petten Over the course of 2012–2013, as the Producers Guild rolled out the Producers Mark, our fingers were crossed that the producing community would embrace it. It turns out, we needn’t have worried. Producers were eager to see their hard work certified by the Mark next to their names. Some of them, it turns out, were a little too eager. Make no mistake, this is a good problem to have. Our industry recognizes the Producers Mark. Within our community, the Mark has real value. In many ways, we couldn’t have wished for a better response. But a “good” problem is still a problem. The Producers Mark has value because it’s earned — the result of a producer’s hard work that’s been certified by a panel of her peers. Its use is strictly licensed and regulated by the PGA, and only accompanies motion picture credits certified by the Guild. In other words: It’s not something you put on your business card. It’s not something that you put in your email signature, or on the nameplate on your office door. It’s not something your credit carries from film to film.
It’s Not Something You Put on Your Business Card
It’s not something that appears on television credits. At least not yet. The Producers Mark next to your name means one thing and one thing only: On this particular motion picture, you performed a major portion of the producing duties, as certified by the Producers Guild. The confusion is understandable. Members of other organizations, such as the A.S.C. and the A.C.E., frequently put the initials of the organization after their names — on their business cards as well as on their credits. The difference is that those organizations’ initials are used to denote membership in their respective guilds. If you’re accepted as a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, you can use the letters A.S.C. after your name. The Producers Mark is different. It’s not a membership mark, but a certification mark. You don’t have to be a Producers Guild member to have that p.g.a. after your name. You just have to do a major portion of the producing work on a given film. The Mark has a highly specific function, and consequently, a much narrower range of application than other three-letter credit suffixes, similar as they may appear at first glance. In fact, no matter how good the intentions, unauthorized use of the Mark infringes on the PGA’s rights. Accordingly, if you have the p.g.a. Mark on your business cards or your email signature, I’m afraid you must remove it. Likewise, if you are tempted to give the Mark to yourself on your independent productions, you cannot do so; instead, contact the PGA and utilize our free certification process. And if you see the Producers Mark incorrectly applied to a television credit, please let us know immediately at [email protected]
We are nothing but pleased by how many producers want to see that p.g.a. after their names. But every improper use of the Mark dilutes its value. Only by working together can we make certain the Producers Mark remains a distinction to which every producer aspires. November – December 2014
Big Apple, Big Honor “Made in NY” Awards recognizes PGA Green, Diversity and Women’s Impact Network
Everything about the “Made in NY” Awards was distinctly New York. Members of the city’s entertainment industry descended upon Brooklyn on November 10 not just to sip and snack on Brooklyn Brewery lager, passed platters of hot dogs, and trays of black and white cookies, but to celebrate film and television production across the five boroughs. This year, our business is responsible for 232 issued film permits and a record 39 prime-time TV shows shooting in the city. Gathered in the magnificently-restored Beaux Arts rotunda of Weylin B. Seymour’s, once the headquarters of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner Cynthia López of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment presided over the festivities, which for the past eight years have honored outstanding contributions to New York City’s media and entertainment industry. From left: NYC Film Commissioner Cynthia López, Mayor Bill de Blasio, PGA members Lydia Dean Pilcher, Rachel Watanabe-Batton, Mari Jo Winkler. (Photo: Brian Everett Francis)
W W W . WA R N E R B R O S 2 0 1 4 . C O M
★★★★ ( H I G H E S T R AT I N G )
“A MESMERIZING MASTERWORK. HYPNOTIC AND HAUNTING. ONE OF THE YEAR’S VERY BEST FILMS. STEVE CARELL, CHANNING TATUM AND MARK RUFFALO GIVE THE PERFORMANCES OF THEIR LIVES. BENNETT MILLER HITS A NEW PEAK AS HE TAKES A SCALPEL TO THE PRIVILEGED WORLDS OF OLYMPIC SPORTS AND INHERITED WEALTH. A UNIQUE AND UNFORGETTABLE PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER THAT KNOCKS THE GROUND OUT FROM UNDER YOU.” -Peter Travers, ROLLING STONE
“While all of us recognize the power of our bully pulpit as producers, it’s really an opportunity for us to press for change within our own industry.” “The 2014 ‘Made in NY’ Award honorees are a testament to the kind of talent that is born or bred here in New York City,” said Commissioner López. “They are the reason that the city continues to thrive as the creative capital.” “The ‘Made in NY’ brand has been a tremendous success,” added Mayor de Blasio, “becoming a globally recognized symbol of innovation and quality.” This year, three of the Producers Guild of America’s national committees — the PGA’s Women’s Impact Network, PGA Diversity and PGA Green — were among those recognized, represented on stage by the PGA East’s Lydia Dean Pilcher, Rachel Watanabe-Batton and Mari Jo Winkler for their committees’ impact in promoting gender equality, diversity and sustainable production techniques to the larger New York production community. “We want the film community to reflect our changing global landscape across race, gender, sexual orientation, class and ability,” said Pilcher while accepting the award. “While all of us recognize the power of our bully
pulpit as producers, it’s really an opportunity for us — and we represent 1,500 producers in New York — to press for change within our own industry, to influence the decision-makers and the storytellers that control the pulpit. That’s our responsibility.” This year’s other Made in NY honorees represented the breadth and depth of the New York entertainment industry, both in front of and behind the camera. They included Golden Globe– and SAG Award–winning actor and director Steve Buscemi; Emmy Award–winning actor, executive producer, writer and director Louis C.K; Tony and Emmy Award winner Neil Patrick Harris; Aaron Shapiro, CEO of Brooklyn-born digital design and technology consultancy Huge; MacArthur Fellow and National Humanities Medal honoree Stanley Nelson; Oscar- and Emmy Award–nominated actress and The View co-host Rosie Perez; Blue Bloods and Sex and the City producer (and PGA member) Jane Raab; and filmmaker Albert Maysles, who received the Made in NY Mayor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement.
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BREATHTAKING ACHIEVE MENT. RICHARD LINKLATER TAKES US TO THE MOUNTAINTOP. ‘BOYHOOD’ ISN’T JUST A MA STERPIECE. IT’S A MIRACLE.” ANN HORNADAY
“ONE-OF-A-KIND STORYTELLING SHOT OVER 12 YEARS,
“ONE OF THE GREAT FILMS OF THE DECADE. Richard Linklater has created a film that I love more than I can say. And there is hardly a better, or nobler thing a film can do than inspire love.”
‘Boyhood’ touches something deep and true, which is that we grow up to be the people we are by letting every moment form us.” OWEN GLEIBERMAN
“AN EXTRAORDINARILY INTIMATE PORTRAIT OF LIFE UNFOLDING.
“RICHARD LINKLATER FINDS THE ESSENCE OF ALL OUR LIVES,
I cannot remember when a film has moved me more.” BETSY SHARKEY
as parents and as children.”
“AN ASTOUNDING ACCOMPLISHMENT, UNPARALLELED IN THE HISTORY OF CINEMA. ‘Boyhood’ perfectly captures the profound awe of being alive.” STEPHEN GARRETT
For Your Consideration
BEST PICTURE BEST DIRECTOR RICHARD LINKLATER BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS PATRICIA ARQUETTE
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Produced, Written and Directed by
Produced by Case Study
Norman Lear Where would we be without Norman Lear?
Norman Lear takes the stage at the 2014 Produced By Conference at Warner Bros. (Photo: Todd Williamson/ Invision)
Maybe some other producer might have had his penchant for those caustic and big-hearted stories, and the eye for talent that could pull them off. Maybe some other producer might have nurtured his social conscience as thoroughly as his command of structure and pacing. Maybe another producer might have had both the opportunity to fight those battles with the networks, and the conviction to win them. Maybe. On the other hand, maybe The Beverly Hillbillies would still be running. Luckily for all of us, Norman Lear blew the doors off of television comedy, and the medium has never been the same. Before Lear, sitcoms took place at Petticoat Junction and on Gilligan’s Island. After Lear, sitcoms took place in your living room. Or they took place in another family’s living room... one on the other side of town from where you lived. Shows like All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Maude and Good Times may have been populated by outsize comic characters, but for the first time in the history of the medium, those characters recognizably lived in the same America as the millions of viewers who tuned in, week after week after week. Lear is one of those producers whose career transcends producing. In addition to his work on set, he’s been busy as an activist, mentor, philanthropist and art collector, and that’s in addition to his one-time side gig as Jerry Falwell’s “No. 1 Enemy of the American Family.” As the producer of the all-star spectacular I Love Liberty and the organizer of a roadshow tour that brought his own personal original copy of the Declaration of Independence through all 50 states, he’s also something like a professional patriot. Lear’s new memoir, Even This I Get to Experience, has recently been published (see PGA Bookshelf, page 19), and for those who can’t get enough Norman Lear — and that should be most of you — that volume expands on this just-scratching-the-surface look at the career of a great producer and an even greater guy. But what follows is the 69th in Produced by’s ongoing series of Case Studies of successful producers and their work. Slated to take place at Lear’s office at Act III Productions, the conversation sadly detoured to a phone call, after Produced by editor Chris Green came down with a fierce cold and decided not to endanger the health of a national treasure. Mr. Lear more than made up for the sluggishness of his interviewer, spinning tales of a 50+ year career in entertainment, stopping for such highlights as the genesis of the spinoff (another Lear innovation), the challenge of doing comedy in the age of political correctness, and the surprising price that CBS had to pay in order to kill off All in the Family’s beloved Edith Bunker.
November – December 2014
I wonder if you could just talk a little about how you found your way into the industry. At what point did the notion of becoming a producer catch and stick with you to the point of making it your career? The only thing I ever remember intending to be was an uncle who could flick a quarter to a nephew. I was a kid of the Depression. My father had four brothers, and they were all broke most of the time. But one of them, my Uncle Jack, he
was a press agent, and he looked a little niftier than the others, and he always flicked me a quarter. He was my early role model. I wanted to be an uncle who could flick a quarter to a nephew. So I wanted to be a press agent. As I served overseas, between flying missions out of Italy, I stood over an Italian printer for several hours and, letter by letter, assembled a printing of a plea for a job as a press agent after the war. I sent that page to my Uncle Jack, and he sent it out to 10 or 12 firms in Los Angeles and New York. And before my tour of duty was over, I had two letters from New York, one offering me a job and one offering an interview. I went to the interview, and between the two, I took that job. I started as a press agent and that’s how I came to California, where I met Ed Simmons, who wanted to be a writer. By then, I had learned that press agents wrote. They wrote witticisms for clients, things clients never actually said, but nonetheless, we strove to get them into one of the eight newspapers then in New York. That tells you as much about the changing times as anything I could say. We had eight — count them, eight — newspapers at that time. And so that’s what I was doing, writing funny tales. Ed Simmons’ wife was my cousin. Ed wanted to be a writer for radio and nightclub comedians and television, which was a new industry, just beginning. And we wrote together. We started to write together one night while our wives went to a movie, just a funny little song. And by the end of the night, we had sold that piece to somebody sitting at a piano at a bar, singing parodies and so forth. We sold that material for 35 bucks. Half of that was as much as I made in three days working. So that’s how it all started. Producing started a long time after that. In order to protect what I wrote, I needed to produce also. You’re closely identified with television today, but it’s interesting, the degree to which it wasn’t a foregone conclusion for you. You built a strong early career in motion pictures as well. Well, Ed Simmons and I were writing. The very first thing we wrote was a show for Jack Haley called Ford Star Review. Jerry Lewis, who was just coming onto television, saw a sketch that we’d written and asked his agency to find those writers. They found Simmons and Lear. And we were very quickly writing The Colgate Comedy Hour, starring Jerry and Dean Martin, and then later, The Martha Raye Show. After Ed and I parted ways, I began working with Bud Yorkin, who was trained as a director. Through an early connection with Neil Simon — from back when he was a TV writer — we wound up producing the adaptation of his first play, Come Blow Your Horn, which starred Frank Sinatra. We did several other films… Divorce, American Style, and The Night They Raided Minsky’s. And then there was a time while we were waiting for the next job and I had an idea which turned out to be the film Cold Turkey. Bud was overseas making another film when I wrote Cold Turkey so I was asked also to direct it.
Top: Lear (left) on the set of The Martha Raye Show, with (from left) Ed Simmons, Vincent Price, Martha Raye and Hedda Hopper. Center: Lear with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Bottom: Lear (right) on the set of Come Blow Your Horn with Frank Sinatra (left) and Bud Yorkin.
Was that your first experience directing? That was my first and only experience directing a film. I directed the pilot of All in the Family also, but ultimately, I didn’t care about directing. I wanted far more to produce and write.
Even This I Get to Experience by Norman Lear My favorite revelation of the many to be found in Norman Lear’s long-awaited memoir isn’t the one about Jerry Lewis in a pitch black room, singing “Happy Birthday” to his own penis while lighting a single birthday candle fastened to said schlong. Nor is it anything about Carroll O’Connor’s weekly crises of confidence before taking the stage as Archie Bunker, nor any of the increasingly heartbreaking escapades surrounding the author’s feckless father, Herman “H.K.” Lear. No, the real prize to be dug out of these 400-odd pages is the man’s bumper sticker: JUST ANOTHER VERSION OF YOU. The entire book, in its way, walks the high wire between that bumper sticker,
drawing on the commonality of our human experience here on earth, and its own title, Lear’s mantra, a wide-eyed shrug of amazement at the singular, unique and downright improbable chain of events that have filled out his 92 years. Is this a rags-to-riches story of an ambitious kid made good? Sure it is. Is it a time-lapse picture of our industry — particularly the television industry — over a few decades of extraordinary change? Yep, it’s that, too. Is it a book about a guy, despite every sign of outward success, still grappling with why he’s here and what it means for him to have led, ultimately, an admittedly fortunate existence? You better believe it. “It’s hard work, being a human being,” he observes more than once. Lear would know. He’s had a lot of practice. (Continued on page 72)
In your memoir, you recount how you were weighing pursuing All in the Family versus a movie deal with United Artists. But you stuck with television over what was regarded as the “prestige” job of directing movies. Directing may indeed be the “prestige” job in our business. I can accept that. But if I was going to spend all day, and sometimes all day and all evening, either writing or directing, I would choose writing, which in television also means producing. In that way you cover the beginning and the closing. Everything in between is shaped by the beginning and the finish. You’d had plenty of television experience at that point, but All in the Family is the first show you created and ran yourself. Yes, that was the first show. What was climbing that mountain like? It’s sort of passed into legend at this point, the way three pilots had to be shot to finally get to the point where a network says, yes, they’ll take a chance on it. Well, I made the show originally for ABC. And they laughed like crazy when they saw it, but didn’t elect to put it on their schedule. They got too scared about it. They held onto it for a year and had the right, contractually, to ask me to make it again. I made it again. Same script, same leads, Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton. Two different young people. But it was the same script, because I wanted to show 360 degrees of Archie, and I thought this script did that. After
the second pilot, ABC had to put it on the air or drop it. They elected to drop it. A year later at CBS, a new president took over, Bob Wood, and he wanted that show for CBS because he wanted to make a change in the nature of the comedy that they had been broadcasting, which was The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction and the like. So he went with us. We had a lot of difficulty getting to agree on a first script and a first show, et cetera. But Bob Wood and Fred Silverman were the guys who elected to put it on the air. And over the course of the next couple of seasons, what was your working relationship with the network like? You were creating a show that consistently pushed boundaries and pushed people’s buttons, but still maintained a very strong emotional attachment to the characters. It was a weekly battle, because I think the establishment generally thinks of the American public as less mature, less intelligent, less courageous than they are. There was nothing we were saying on All in the Family that couldn’t be heard on a playground. The language of our shows was the language of our culture. So there was no question in our minds that the people who viewed the show were only listening to life as they knew it. We weren’t presenting anything new to them in that sense. What was new for them was that we were a TV show that was engaging in reality, not fantasy or wish fulfillment. And the network eventually, show-by-show, accepted that. So, I bless them for being there and putting it all on.
Except where indicated, all photos courtesy of Act III Productions.
November – December 2014
Since creative differences with networks is something that producers still deal with — and probably always will — how did you handle that process of negotiation? To what degree were you ready to compromise versus drawing a line in the sand? I think we went into every situation, the network and the writers and producers, willing to compromise. But compromise isn’t even the right word. Very often, the discussions that came out of their hesitation improved what we were doing. And then there came the times when we simply couldn’t agree, and it wasn’t a question of compromise. It was a question of “I see it your way” or “I don’t see it your way, but let’s go that way,” and we did. And both sides won as a result. We were further ahead each time, and not behind.
Lear’s classic television series, from top left: All in the Family; Maude; Good Times; The Jeffersons; Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman; One Day at a Time. Bottom: Lear (second left) is inducted into the 1st Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1984. Other inductees included Milton Berle (far left), Lucille Ball (third from right), Paddy Chayefsky, Edward R. Murrow, William S. Paley and David Sarnoff.
These days, the franchise model is ascendant in film and television, where a series of projects follow from and build on each other. But in a lot of ways, your pioneering of the spinoff process predicted that. How did that development strategy emerge? We were working with great actors, amazing talent. And the roles on our shows, I sometimes thought of them as the bush leagues and the majors. On Maude there was Esther Rolle playing Florida. And at some point we thought, well, she’s a candidate for the majors. So we brought John Amos on as her husband and introduced that character. And the network now saw a couple, and we agreed, let’s take them out of the bush leagues and put them in the majors. The word “spinoff,” I don’t know where that came from, but I have no problem with it. But that’s the way it happened. We had a guest star on All in the Family, Bea Arthur. She was sensational. From that very first performance it was very clear there was a show in that character. And the network saw that just as clearly as we did.
“ONE OF THE GREAT MOVIES ABOUT AN ARTIST.” -John Powers, VOGUE
“MIKE LEIGH’S MASTERWORK.”
“LUMINOUS AND MOVING.”
-Anne Thompson, INDIEWIRE
-Leslie Felperin, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
“TIMOTHY SPALL HAS ALWAYS BEEN TERRIFIC, THIS IS THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS CAREER.” -Stephanie Zacharek, VILLAGE VOICE
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How did you go about developing that, developing a show around her? Once you have an actress, a character, how did you go about building the house that they were going to live in on TV? We sat around the table and talked and developed it, just like every single episode that followed. Maude as a character on All in the Family disagreed with Archie about everything. That’s why we brought her in, so that she could hammer Archie from an older relationship, a stronger point of view. So we had a full-blown character after one episode. We knew who she was politically. We knew her personality. We knew her history. She was ready for the majors. There’s another TV trend that you were way ahead of, that being the adaptation of foreign series for US audiences. All in the Family and Sanford and Son have become part of American popular mythology at this point, but they were both inspired by British series. How closely did you guys stick to that source material? What did you borrow from them and what did you leave behind? With All in the Family, we kept the relationship between the father and the son-in-law which reminded me of my relationship with my father. Everything else was different. We went into an entirely different family. We broadened the family relationships. FOR SCREENING INFO VISIT WWW.SONYCLASSICSAWARDS.COM
“FEW FILMMAKERS SHARE EASTWOOD’S CONFIDENCE WITH LARGE-SCALE ACTION, MUCH LESS HIS INCLINATION TO INVESTIGATE THE BRUTALITY OF WHAT HE SHOWS US – TO ACKNOWLED GE BOTH THE POINTLESSNESS AND THE NECESSITY OF VIOLENCE WHILE SEARCHING FOR MORE HONEST, AMBIGUOUS DEFINITIONS OF HEROISM THAN THOSE TO WHICH WE’RE ACCUSTOMED.” JUSTIN CHANG,
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I don’t want to get into explaining their show, which was altogether brilliant. But they did eight episodes a year. That was it. And they only did three years. So we did in one season what they did in their entire run. That’s the way America works as opposed to Great Britain, for better or for worse. It was a brilliant show but it was harshly satirical and strident. The wife was a “moo cow” — that was the expression the character used — not a loving, warmth-filled Edith. Very, very different. But in terms of transitioning that show into Archie Bunker’s Place, I know you Lear (center) with Louise Lasser (left) and Greg Mullavey on the set of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman said that having to kill off a neighbor that a family of five, along with their two goats and Edith was a very difficult thing for you to do creatively. eight chickens, had been slaughtered. But no, she was more Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner, Sally Struthers and I decided we concerned about the waxy yellow buildup. At the end of the had done enough. We all wanted to move on, but Carroll wanted first season, she went crazy on The David Susskind Show, a lateto continue in the character. So he took Archie Bunker’s Place. night talk show, where she was being hounded by three media The only way it could work was if Edith was gone. She couldn’t psychologists asking her questions in light of her selection as go any other way. Archie and Edith couldn’t get divorced; that Mother of the Year. And these questions and the media drove would never happen. Our other option was that something tragher out of her mind. Literally, that’s what you saw for that half ic could happen to Edith. So the decision was made to do that. hour. A little-known fact: Edith’s death cost CBS $500,000, a donation And the second season opened with Mary Hartman sitting to NOW, National Organization for Women. in a “home for the stressed” with a crowd of those faces around her, looking at a television set and learning that she had just Really? been — and she can’t believe it, she’s gasping with excitement At the height of the women’s movement, they made a — that at last she, Mary Hartman, was a member of a Nielsen $500,000 contribution to the National Organization for Family. Women. A kind of apology, I guess. And that’s what it cost This show was on five nights a week, as you recall. And CBS for Edith to die. from beginning to end, that was what the show was largely about. As was Cold Turkey, if you take a look at that film again. Wow. Didn’t know that. Before we sign off could we talk a The impact of the media has been much on my mind. It’s a little bit about Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman? strain that runs through everything I’ve had anything to do with. We can talk all night about Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. It’s such a different show than your previous work. All in the Family and Good Times take place in socioeconomic environments we recognize. Their characters have motivations that feel authentic and familiar to us. Whereas Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman is very much a parody and takes place in “TV world.” What led you to move in that more broadly parodic direction? Mary Hartman is all alone in the sense that from beginning to end, it was conceived to study the impact of the media on a simple suburban housewife. She started off on the very first show more concerned about a waxy yellow buildup on the floor than with the sirens that were ringing and the word from
What was it like shooting the show in soap-opera style of five episodes, five nights a week? Was it a big adjustment moving to that kind of structure? It was five times as hard! But we had Joan Darling on Mary Hartman. It was never lost on me, and it’s important to remember that these were giant collaborations. There could be no Mary Hartman, if there wasn’t a Joan Darling who directed that show; or All in the Family, if there hadn’t been a John Rich and a Paul Bogart… If we didn’t have the great writers that we did — the Schillers and Weiskopfs and Mort Lachmans and Milt Josefbergs and — these things would not have existed. Really, a producer is somebody who corrals the right talent. November – December 2014
As someone who’s watched and helped television grow from its earliest roots, what are your thoughts on the way the medium has developed? I think, for two reasons, this is the golden age. One, it’s the age we’re experiencing. This conversation is taking place now. It’s the golden conLear visits South Park. versation. But two, television also today has shown some of the best stories that have ever been told in popular media; in terms of drama, certainly some of the greatest. And when I look at Modern Family and I look at South Park and I look at Family Guy, I think the comedy is as good as it’s ever been. I understand from showrunners that it’s harder to address some of the topics we were able to do all those years ago, abortion or impotence or whatever. And I guess to television executives, these sound like “huge subjects.” But really, they’re ordinary subjects in day-to-day family life. And yet a lot of those subjects that we did handle in those years people are struggling to do today. Showrunners tell me they can’t get them done. So I think this is surely a more politically-correct time than all those years ago.
At the same time, two of the shows you mention are animated programs. And funny as they are, their comic effect is different from the real-world quality that All in the Family brought to TV. All those years ago, television was new, and we were learning together. So we had these little wars over our ability to do a show about Edith having breast cancer, for example, or death or abortion. This was the first time those discussions took place between the writer/producers and the networks. And I won a lot of those early battles because if I didn’t win that little one — there weren’t big ones, there were always little ones — I would lose every one to follow. But we were playing on a different field at that time. Now everybody is far more informed. The people who run networks feel like they really have to toe the line in terms of political correctness. It’s hard to get some of those subjects through those gates. Three years ago, I wrote a script that I think is funny as hell. It’s about elderly people in a retirement community. The ages of the people go from 65/70 to 102. The show is called Guess Who Died. There is nobody that will read it. Nobody wishes to put it on. The demographic they go with is still 18 to 39, and they won’t go near this demographic, not for 50 Norman Lears. Television executives are still television executives. Just one show about the elderly got on the air and was successful, and until another one gets on, Betty White will cover the entire demographic. But for me, it adds up to 92 great years, and television is still television.
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ESMXE NOQKP LWRWP LGKXZ BPYWR GQVYG QXKVC PO A Trio of NQQJJ PVS WFZJZ HHWQG YFOQQ RMVRR QQIDO QVVIW producers cracks MNSDO DVZNH DMOZN NWRJC KKJQO ELWIK PVS the AWXVJ imitation game by Cecelia Lederer A soldier didn’t win World War Two for the Allies; the mathematician Alan Turing did. In many ways, The Imitation Game isn’t a story about war at all, but one about persistence and belief. Not coincidentally, the film itself is the product of that same persistence and belief on the collective part of producers Teddy Schwarzman, Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and the rest of the team responsible for this early awards contender. Like the code breakers at Bletchley Park, the team behind The Imitation Game went for their goal with all their hearts and the payoff was historically significant. “It felt like, a very big burden and blessing to be able to produce this film,” Schwarzman tells me. “Not only because of the hype of the screenplay, but the weight of the true story. We just dug in and believed we could create a movie that would be entertaining and lock in the significance of the story we were trying to tell and make sure it was told in a way that was cinematic so it could reach audiences who didn’t otherwise know what happened.” Like Turing trying to convince the British army that his machine could crack the uncrackable German enigma code, the victorious From left: Matthew Beard, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech and Benedict Cumberbatch bring The Imitation Game to life. (© 2014 The Weinstein Company) resolution did not come easy. was too caught up in resume building without following my Now Principal at Black Bear Productions, the PGA member natural inclinations.” Continuing on the straight and narrow took the long route to production. After graduating from the to law school, he planned to transition into entertainment law. University of Pennsylvania, he found himself on Wall Street. “My 10-year program was: Learn the deal-making side; learn “It was really for lack of intestinal fortitude,” he admits. “I
Producer Teddy Schwarzman (center) with co-producer Peter Heslop (right) on the set of The Imitation Game.
the ropes on the creative side; and hopefully transition to the creative side many, many years later. I was still too scared to just take the plunge and say: I want to intern, I want to shadow, I want to be a PA, I want to do whatever it takes to get into film development and production.” After three years at a top New York law firm and being nowhere closer to his true goal, Schwarzman decided it was time to follow his heart. He didn’t want to enter the industry simply as someone with money, but as someone with talent and vision who had gotten where he was on merit. He began networking with uncapitalized producers who were also trying to make things happen, “but to me the idea of becoming a producer was such a bold statement… I was trying to figure out where I would start.” He started as a production assistant. After leaving a lucrative job any grandmother would be proud of, Schwarzman became the man standing out in the rain stopping traffic while inside the stars found their light. From there, he found a home at Cinetic Media, with producer John Sloss (Boyhood, I’m Not There). “He was nice
enough to see some potential in me,” Schwarzman reflects. “And I think he appreciated my law background.” At Cinetic, Schwarzman raised financing for individual films and consulted with high net worth individuals and equity-backed production companies, helping them structure their deals. “So I took the plunge,” he smiles. “I really learned the business inside out and made so many relationships based on the fact that it was my job to try to help independent producers get their projects set up. And in order to do that you needed to know all the financiers. And all the financiers were looking for projects and we were sort of at the center of that, and got to see so many deals get structured and understand the business side of things.” He refined his taste and figured out what projects fit with which distributors. He learned the creative process of screenwriting and screenplay structure and after two years of watching scripts and deals emerge as finished films, Schwarzman launched Black Bear in 2012. Grossman and Ostrowsky likewise came at The Imitation Game from outside of film production. In television, Ostrowsky
November – December 2014
“THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL FILMS
I HAVE EVER SEEN. …NOLAN IS A MASTERFUL FILMMAKER AND STORYTELLER.” RICHARD ROEPER,
F O R
Y O U R
C O N S I D E R A T I O N
A L L
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BEST PICTURE OF THE YEAR CHRISTOPHER NOLAN, p.g.a. EMMA THOMAS, p.g.a. LYNDA OBST, p.g.a.
had been a writer’s assistant and Grossman went from being an assistant in comedy development to junior executive at DreamWorks Television (now Amblin Entertainment). “We did the same thing in terms of development,” they agree. “There wasn’t a lot of production.” Though both thought they would stay in television development, they ventured outside of their comfort zones when they saw that there was important work to be done. “We saw the op-ed where then Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologized on behalf of the government for the treatment of Alan Turing in World War Two, and we thought it was quizzical and odd and belated,” Ostrowsky relates. “We didn’t know who Alan Turing was at all. We researched and we were bowled over by the power and importance of the story. It didn’t feel just that he hadn’t made a bigger impact on popular culture.” Soon after, they optioned Andrew Hodges’ book Alan Turing: The Enigma. When I asked why they chose to adapt an existing work rather than produce an original screenplay, Grossman recalled, “when I was at 20th, whenever a book or an article came in, my boss always took that more seriously than a pitch.” Unemployed at the time, Grossman and Ostrowsky felt that no one would take them seriously with only an idea. “We knew we needed to track down some IP,” she confirms, “so we did some research and found the definitive biography.” The transition from printed page to silver screen doesn’t happen overnight. Screenwriter Graham Moore was a friend Grossman had met in a staffing meeting during her television
years. “We kind of kept in touch,” she tells me, “and just because of the way Hollywood works, his next job happened to be on a show with my roommate writing. So, he showed up again in my world and he came to a party we threw and I went through the song and dance you go through when you’re unemployed and you don’t want anyone to feel bad for you. So I was telling people that I had optioned this book and we’re looking for a writer, and he overheard and jumped in saying, ‘Oh my God, I love Alan Turing,’ and I said, ‘hey, hold on for a second.’ And I called Ido and told him that I thought I found someone who might spec it for us.” Finding a screenwriter was an early step in a difficult process. Black Bear did initially bid on the script, but the big studios were much more aggressive and there were many producers vying for the chance to tell Turing’s story. The Imitation Game first ended up at Warner Bros. Schwarzman never even got in the room. Luckily for him, the contract stipulated that the film had to be made within the year. When it wasn’t, the rights reverted to Grossman and Ostrowsky. The script went back into the spec market and this time Black Bear took a lesson from Turing, vocally promoting themselves and their intention to put the story on screen. Regarding the early buzz that talents such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Ron Howard had expressed interest in the project, Schwarzman is circumspect. “We weren’t going to focus on whatever the loudest noise in Hollywood was. We were going to try to pay attention to the core essence of this material and the legacy of Alan Turing.”
“THE MOST EXHILARATING FILM OF THIS
CENTURY… A SOULFUL, MUST-SEE
MASTERPIECE.” LOU LUMENICK ,
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“ENTHR ALLING… ‘INTERSTELLAR’ IS NIRVANA
FOR MOVIE LOVERS.” PETER TR AVERS,
“AN UNDENIABLY BEAUTIFUL FILM… VIEWERS CAN HEAR THEIR HEARTS BEATING TO
THE SOUND OF AWE.” RICHARD CORLISS,
“ONE OF THE MOST SUBLIME
MOVIES OF THE DECADE…
‘INTERSTELLAR’ IS SOMETHING TO BEHOLD.” JAKE COYLE, interstellar.withgoogle.com
From left: Keira Knightley and director Morten Tyldum on the set of The Imitation Game. (© 2014 The Weinstein Company)
November – December 2014
FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION IN ALL CATEGORIES INCLUDING
DAVID BLEIMAN ICHIOKA TRAVIS KNIGHT Directed by
ANTHONY STACCHI GRAHAM ANNABLE
different fabrics were used in Lord Portley-Rind’s hat
“The Best Animated Film Of 2014. A Total Delight.” NIGEL SMITH / indieWIRE
“A Marvel Of Craft.”
From left: Producers Teddy Schwarzman, Ido Ostrowsky and Nora Grossman.
The production of The Imitation Game wasn’t driven by factors like its domestic opening or international sales numbers. “We tried to put together the best creative package to protect the material,” Schwarzman insists. “We’re a script-driven company and we read this script and we needed to embrace it. Rather than figure out how you commercialize it, we needed to really respect it.” The shared vision of the three producers, like the friendship between Turing and Joan Clarke, built something great. Grossman particularly appreciates the value of getting along creatively with the person in charge of the financing. “We were on the same page and we had the same vision,” she says. “Teddy was really adamant about being inclusive and understanding that we would be on set every day and producing it alongside him,” Ostrowsky adds. “He was the total package creatively, in terms of experience and know-how and being inclusive.” Schwarzman explains that when it came time to get boots on the ground, “we needed to find people for whom this wasn’t going to be an option, but a calling. People who understood on a very important level not only Turing’s contributions and his legacy, but also underneath it, the creative schematics.” And that’s just the team they found. Working five- and six-day weeks for modest salaries, the cast (including stars such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode) shared the goal of doing Turing’s legacy justice. The honesty of The Imitation Game has earned it the recognition its subject went so long without. Asked how he’s responding to the Oscar buzz, Schwarzman shakes his head and smiles. “We’re so lucky to have the involvement of the Weinstein Company. Harvey and the entire team are incredibly collaborative, and supportive, and really believe in the film, but no one had any idea that this could become what it is. I mean, we knew that the screenplay was incredibly strong and we loved the cast that we’d put together, but this was not engineered to reach this moment. It’s a very surreal experience to receive congratulations from so many people before our film has even been released.” With a proud-but-humble grin, he adds: “It feels to me a little bit premature.” All three producers agree that if the attention, premature or not, gets people curious about who Alan Turing
A. O. SCOTT / THE NEW YORK TIMES
was, why he matters and why what happened to him matters, they will have succeeded. Ostrowsky tells me: “If the message of the movie, that it’s okay to feel different, gets out we did our job.” Alan Turing (like Oscar Wilde and thousands more) was prosecuted and persecuted for his sexuality, what British law called “gross indecency” until 1967, when homosexual acts were decriminalized. For decades his great contributions to the Allied victory and the field of computer science were buried under fear and ignorance. The Imitation Game is the long overdue tribute to a man driven to take his own life by an uncaring government, and reflects back our own laws and prejudices. Less than 100 years ago, Alan Turing was ordered by a judge to inject himself with synthetic estrogen in an attempt to alter who he was. The passion and hard work of producers like Schwarzman, Grossman and Ostrowsky gives hope to all the stories of injustice that have been similarly swept under the rug. These stories deserve telling, and the public is hungry to see them told.
Producer Teddy Schwarzman (seated) supervises the shoot.
ith 79 sets and over 20,000 handmade props, “The Boxtrolls” is
the biggest production ever to be made in stop-motion animation! For more on this extraordinary film, go to www.FocusGuilds2014.com
Arthur Krim by Mike Medavoy Arthur B. Krim was a giant in the entertainment business who translated his status to areas that have affected people the world over. He was an industry pioneer and the leading figure behind “the company that changed the film industry,” as United Artists was called in Tino Balio’s history of the studio. Arthur and his partner Robert “Bob” Benjamin revolutionized the motion picture business in a way that is no longer possible in today’s multi-conglomerate landscape. September 21, 2014, marked the twentieth anniversary of Arthur’s passing, and nothing he achieved has been lost or forgotten.
In the 50 years I have been in the entertainment business, I never met a more towering figure than Arthur Krim. He exemplified the ideals, aspirations and guiding principles of an executive in our business. His personal sense of loyalty had a profound effect on me. I worked with Arthur from 1974 to 1990, first at United Artists and then at Orion Pictures. Over the years, I received many offers to move elsewhere and, unthinkably, even replace him at both UA and Orion. I never even gave it a thought. Arthur, together with Bob Benjamin and their longtime partners Eric Pleskow and Bill Bernstein, gave me a chance to set my own course. When it came to loyalty, they were the standard bearers. To me, they were irreplaceable, not only as bosses but as mentors and friends. The Arthur Krim I knew was self-effacing. He had a towering intellect eased by his great sense of humor. He was thoughtful, gracious, honest and loyal in a way that almost defies comprehension. To wit: history has revealed that it was at Arthur’s home on 33 East 69th Street in New York that John F. Kennedy met Marilyn Monroe. In retrospect, that’s not surprising. Arthur had been the treasurer of the Democratic Party and a Kennedy confidante. His home was a gathering point for political, literary and show business lions — from the Kennedys to Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter, to larger-than-life actors, directors and musicians — everyone from Isaac Stern to Frank Sinatra. Arthur’s support of artists defined his career. Early on, he joined the law firm of Phillips & Nizer and represented many theater artists and writers. He spent time with members of New York’s Group Theater, and this period always remained the source of his empathy for, and understanding of, the creative community. Because Arthur and Bob were friends of the artists, they were called upon in 1951 to rescue the venerable United Artists, which had been founded in 1919 by D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.
Arthur and Bob, along with Eric and Bill, led United Artists from near bankruptcy to profitability, followed by many years of success. As chief executive of United Artists from 1951 to 1978, Arthur and his team (which I joined in 1974) adopted and developed the innovative and successful practice of financing the films of independent producers, directors, actors and writers (some of whom had been blacklisted in the McCarthy era) while providing them with unprecedented levels of creative autonomy. Arthur’s hallmark was investing in the unique, often little-known producer, director or writer who did not, or could not, fit the Hollywood mold, but who had an important story to tell. At Orion Pictures from 1978 to 1990, he and his team continued the same successful approach. As Woody Allen so prophetically put it: “If you have a deal with Arthur Krim, you can sleep at night.” The results stand as a testament to his philosophy. Arthur was the force behind the financing and distribution of more than 1,000 films over a 40-year period, including the James Bond and Pink Panther franchises. Fourteen of these films received the Oscar for Best Picture, the most of any studio head in the film industry: Marty (1955), Around the World in 80 Days (1956), The Apartment (1960), West Side Story (1961), Tom Jones (1963), In the Heat of the Night (1967), Midnight Cowboy (1969), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), Rocky (1976), Annie Hall (1977), Amadeus (1984), Platoon (1986), Dances with Wolves (1990) and The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Arthur used his success to promote numerous humanitarian causes, most notably the struggles for civil rights, civil liberties and against apartheid in Zimbabwe and South Africa; efforts toward improved international relations and for nuclear disarmament; and the struggle for gay rights. He served on the Board of Governors of Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science; the Board of Trustees of his beloved Columbia University, including five years as its chairman; as a Life Trustee of the African-American Institute; and on the Boards of the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson Library Foundations. He proudly yet privately served as trusted personal advisor to three Presidents: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter. But if Arthur were alive to speak, he might say that the proudest societal achievement by a Krim was his wife’s: Mathilde Krim, a doctor and researcher at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, started AMFAR, the foundation for AIDS research, at a time when the crisis was mushrooming. Aside from the considerable achievements and contributions of Arthur’s lifetime, from which so many have benefited and will continue to benefit, he was a modest, self-effacing man who lived and acted with the highest degree of integrity, carried himself with impeccable dignity, and was an exceedingly generous and loyal friend. All those who knew him and all those who benefited from his pioneering efforts continue to remember him with affection, respect and gratitude. Mike Medavoy is the CEO & Chairman of Phoenix Pictures.
Arthur Krim receives the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Motion Picture Academy in 1975.
Arthur Krim (right) takes his place in an eminent lineup including (from left) United Artists exec Bill Bernstein, actor Gene Hackman, producer Eric Pleskow and Sen. Edward Kennedy. November – December 2014
David Friendly (left) and editor Steve Prestemon. (Photo: Amelia Fuchs)
ENDURANCE TEST Angelina Jolie, Matt Baer and Clayton Townsend Go the Distance for Unbroken
by Jeffrey McMahon
47 days stranded in a life raft on the Pacific. 26 months in brutal Japanese prison camps. 58 years in limbo. The first two were some of the ordeals endured by Louis Zamperini, a remarkable Olympic athlete, war hero and inspirational speaker. The third is the length of time it took for his feats to be told in a feature film. And while Zamperini’s life would seem an obvious choice for a Hollywood movie, as in so many areas of life, success in filmmaking is a marathon, not a sprint. The years of waiting have made Unbroken, the new film of Zamperini’s remarkable life, even more special. For producers Angelina Jolie, Matt Baer and Clayton Townsend, the long journey has been one worth taking. 34
(Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures)
Producer/director Angelina Jolie (left) dicusses a scene with cast members (from left) Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson and Finn Wittrock. (Photo: David James, courtesy of Universal Pictures)
“He was an incredible, incredible human being,” says Jolie of Zamperini, who passed away in July at the age of 97. “So many people were blessed just to know Louie and be touched by his life,” she adds, clearly counting herself in that number. Zamperini grew up in Torrance, south of Los Angeles, the son of Italian immigrants. As a youth, he was a troublemaker, often getting into fights and run-ins with the law, until he got involved in athletics. Running track and field taught Zamperini discipline and stamina, and before long he was winning championships and breaking records, building a legend as “the Torrance Tornado.” In 1936, he made it to the Olympics in Berlin, where he came in eighth in the 5,000-meter race. Zamperini planned to place even higher at the 1940 Olympics, scheduled for Tokyo, but the outbreak of war changed everything. Joining the Army Air Force, Zamperini was stationed in the Pacific as a bombardier. In May, 1943, his plane crashed in the middle of the ocean. After 47 torturous days struggling to survive on rations, rainwater and raw fish, Zamperini and another survivor were picked up by a Japanese ship and taken to a series of POW camps. There, he was often singled out for
brutal treatment, beaten and humiliated. After the war, Zamperini sank into alcoholism and despair, and it wasn’t until a religious awakening inspired by Billy Graham that he was able to reform his life, building a career as an inspirational speaker and advocate for fortitude and forgiveness. “There was just so much story!” laughs producer Matt Baer. “I couldn’t believe that such a remarkable story had never been made as a movie.” Baer, a Los Angeles native whose father was a successful television writer, got his start as an assistant to Richard Donner on Lethal Weapon. Later earning credits on The Replacement Killers and City by the Sea, he also enjoyed a stint as head of motion pictures for Brillstein-Grey Entertainment. He first discovered Zamperini’s story in 1998, when a documentary about Zamperini carrying the torch at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, was made for CBS Sports. “I was blown away by this story that I had never heard before,” Baer enthuses. “I knew that I had to get a movie made that ends with Lou Zamperini as an older man returning to Japan with the torch held high, with his beautiful smile and spirit expressing such enthusiasm and redemption and forgiveness.”
November – December 2014
T H E B E S T- R E V I E W E D A N I M A T E D F I L M O F T H E Y E A R “ THE SMARTEST, FUNNIEST AND MOST DAZZLING ANIMATED MOVIE TO COME ALONG IN YEARS.” –RAFER GUZMAN,
“AN OUTSTANDING PIECE OF CINEMATIC MAGIC.” –BILL ZWECKER,
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE PRODUCED BY: DAN LIN, p.g.a. ROY LEE
W W W . WA R N E R B R O S 2 0 1 4 . C O M
Baer immediately began pursuing the rights to make Zamperini’s story into a movie, only to learn that he wasn’t the first to try. “In 1956, Universal had bought Lou’s rights to his memoir, Devil at My Heels ,” explains Baer. “Originally, it was supposed to be for Tony Curtis to play Lou. Tony Curtis e n d e d u p d o i n g Spartacus instead. At the time, there was no such thing as development hell; they either moved forward or they didn’t. So there was never a script written.” Baer convined the studio heads at Universal of the merits of Zamperini’s story as a movie, and the development process began. Baer, sitting on a sunny, cool day in Westwood, has the air of someone who’s in the homestretch of a long voyage, as he recalls the first decade of his efforts to make the film. “We couldn’t find a filmmaker who the studio would agree to make Producer Matt Baer and crew on location for Unbroken off the gold coast of the movie with. The problems Australia. (Photo: Vince Valitutti, courtesy of Universal Pictures) in trying to crack this story have been around since 1956, and have to do with how much of was that it would take Laura eight years to write Unbroken,” the story you can tell. There was a feeling that directors were Baer recalls with a smile. passing because it felt, perhaps, too episodic as a film.” Baer knew that the best time to make the film would be Universal commissioned a series of screenplay drafts after the publication of Hillenbrand’s book, whenever that by such distinguished writers as Robert Schenkkan (The might be. The wait, after so many years of already trying Pacific) and Neil Tolkin (The Emperor’s Club). “Neil’s draft to make the movie, was exhausting. “Was it distressing and was fantastic,” he recalls. “It got on the Black List.” And yet depressing? And did it challenge my patience? Absolutely. the project languished as various directors expressed interBut to me, the story was undeniable.” Finally, in 2010, after est only to move on to other films. As he chats, Baer runs years of painstaking research, Hillenbrand’s book was ready into a familiar face: Robbie Brenner, fellow PGA member for publication. “And to my enormous satisfaction, round and producer of last year’s Dallas Buyers Club, a film which two of Zamperini was happening,” Baer says. Again, new had a similarly protracted, decades-long development hisdrafts were ordered, this time from acclaimed screenwrittory. Brenner, unprompted, vouches for her colleague: “This ers Richard LaGravenese ( The Fisher King), then William is a great producer.” Nicholson ( Gladiator ). “The Nicholson draft went out to By 2002, the untitled Louis Zamperini project was going directors,” says Baer. “Now this time, it’s with the book nowhere. “I took Tolkin’s draft and the CBS documentary to being a big hit. The majority of directors passed again. Same every possible financier and studio, trying to get them interreasons.” Once again, the momentum seemed to be draining ested, and nobody said ‘yes,’” recalls Baer. “And every time, I away, in need of one last push. just shook my head, saying, ‘how could people not be seeing Finally, in 2012, Angelina Jolie found the studio’s open this?’ But really,” he admits, “that happens 99% of the time directing assignment for Unbroken as part of her search for to every producer.” a new project following her directorial debut In the Land of At this point, Laura Hillenbrand, historian and bestsellBlood and Honey. “I decided to move into producing and ing author of Seabiscuit, contacted Zamperini to ask about directing mainly because I wanted to protect the projects writing a new book about his life. “What none of us knew that I felt passionately about,” explains Jolie of the recent November – December 2014
‘WHIPLASH’ IS TRUE TO ITS TITLE. IT THROWS YOU AROUND WITH IMPUNITY, YET CHAZELLE EXERTS TIGHT, EXACTING CONTROL OVER HIS INCREASINGLY FEVERISH AND OFTEN WEIRDLY COMIC MELODRAMA. AS ‘WHIPLASH’ BUILDS, DEMONICALLY, TO A FINALE OF PANTING GRANDIOSITY, YOU START THINKING ABOUT THE MIXED-UP, FASCINATING IMPLICATIONS OF WHAT YOU’VE JUST SEEN. THE MOVIE HUMS WITH PROVOCATIONS AND ITS OWN YOUTHFUL YET MATURELY REALIZED VISION OF ARTISTIC TORMENT AND RELEASE, AND IT’S A 2014 HIGHLIGHT.” -Michael Phillips, CHICAGO TRIBUNE
“GRADE A. IT’S THE MOST ELECTRIC MOVIE I’VE SEEN SO FAR THIS YEAR. YOU FEEL IN YOUR GUT THE SIMULTANEOUS THRILL AND TERROR OF THE DRIVE TO BE EXCEPTIONAL, WHATEVER THE COST.” -Chris Nashawaty, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
Producer Clayton Townsend on the set of Unbroken. (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures)
shift in her career. “I was in awe of this man, how big his heart and his spirit were.” After poring over script drafts and Hillenbrand’s book, Jolie plunged in, making an impassioned pitch to Universal head Donna Langley and other executives. After recalibrating the budget and scope of the film, Universal finally gave it a green light. Baer was relieved. “When Angelina and I first talked about what she liked about the story, it was such an enormous relief for me to be hearing that a director felt the same way about what the movie could and should be about,” he recalls. Any worries about her relative lack of experience as a producer and director were quickly dissipated by her hires of production designer Jon Hutman, director of photography Roger Deakins and other key crew members. “From the moment she got the job, she got an A+ production designer, one of the greatest cinematographers of all time to agree to shoot the movie, and the Coen brothers to do a rewrite. So that’s pretty impressive,” says Baer, smiling. Once pre-production was underway, Universal teamed up Jolie and Baer with veteran producer and fellow PGA member Clayton Townsend. With a long string of credits ranging from Oliver Stone’s Nixon to last year’s Fast & Furious 6 , his experience with large productions would come in handy. “I joke with Clayton that he is the embodiment of Gen. Patton, in terms of the confidence that he gives,” laughs Baer. “I got involved with Unbroken at a crossroads period for the production,” Townsend explains. “I took what was there and guided it to being able to be done for the amount of money the studio had wanted it to be made for.” Townsend was also impressed at the facility with which
Jolie went from her previous film, with a budget of only $13 million, to this new war spectacle, with a budget of more than $65 million. “I was actually quite surprised that she had only done one other film,” he recalls. “It felt like she’d been doing it all her life.” The primary production issue for the new team to face was the question of shooting locations. The sprawling film covers settings from dusty California fields to rainy jungle military bases, not to mention an Olympic stadium and the inside of a B-24 bomber. “We also had a unique scheduling predicament,” recounts Baer, “which was that we had actors who had to be skinny, very skinny, and then some of them would have to regain their weight to shoot earlier scenes. “We needed places that were as close to each other as possible, with the actors in different shape.” Looking around the world, the producers settled on Australia. “That had a far-reaching effect on being able to achieve the scope and grandeur that we wanted,” explains Townsend. “Australia had it all: cost, crew availability, locations, weather, military equipment, costumes, you name it.” To those physical elements, Baer adds, “And Australia was offering an aggressive rebate. They wanted us down there.” With the movie coming together, casting began. While the role of Louis Zamperini was attractive to any number of young Hollywood stars, Jolie pushed for relatively unknown actors. “That required convincing,” recalls Baer. “But she rightfully stated that the challenge in casting Lou Zamperini was that you need an actor who physically can play from 17 to 25, so that eliminated a good amount of young actors because they look like they’re in their late 20s.” In addition, Jolie was interested in hiring a fresh face for the part.
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ACTION SEQUENCES, BIG AND SMALL, ARE STUNNING IN HOW THEY COMBINE JAW-DROPPING BEAUTY AND COMPLEXITY WITH NARRATIVE COHERENCY.
BUT THE FILM REMAINS ROOTED IN CHARACTER, UNAFRAID TO BE PATIENT AND QUIET I N I TS STOR Y TELLI N G.
WRITER/DIRECTOR DEAN D E BLOIS, WITH THE AID OF PRODUCTION DESIGNER PIERRE-OLIVIER VINCENT, HAS PULLED OFF A REAL GEM. THIS IS A GLORIOUS ADVENTURE PICTURE, A STERLING SEQUEL THAT EXPANDS THE MYTHOLOGY WHILE TELLING A MOSTLY STAND-ALONE T A L E T H A T I S U N A F R A I D T O T A K E R E A L D R A M A T I C R I S K S.” SCOTT MENDELSON
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by Katy Jones Garrity
On October 25, 2014, hundreds packed the Time Warner Conference Center eager for the launch of the first-ever Produced By: New York (PBNY). As an East Coaster who has made the trek cross country to attend the Produced By Conference (PBC) in Los Angeles, I was eager to see what my East Coast brethren had brought to the table. The lineup did not disappoint. From legendary and quintessential New York producer Harvey Weinstein (the most popular panel of the day) to an appearance by my favorite Muppet Cookie Monster, I had eagerly prepped my dance card for the one-day event. Produced By is a unique event — a conference by producers, for producers, where everyone you stand in line with, talk to at dinner, meet up with at
1. Speaker James Schamus (right) answers an audience question. Left: moderator Bill Horberg. 2. Donna Gigliotti discusses the state of indie distribution. Right: John Sloss.
3. Harvey Weinstein enjoys the conversation. 4. Producing partners Darren Aronofsky and Scott Franklin share a story at PBNY. 5. Yes, please let’s hold the event here again. 6. Moderator Don Lemon, Adobe rep Mike Bunnick, speaker Steve Forde, Cookie Monster, Adobe rep Peter Kolster Hansen. 7. “The Ms. Factor” panelists, from left, Lauren Zalaznick, Kelly Edwards, Lydia Dean Pilcher, Cathy Schulman (moderator), Stacy Smith. 8. Attendees get ready for a session in the Columbus Room.
November – December 2014
BEST PICTURE CAROLYNNE CUNNINGHAM ZANE WEINER FRAN WALSH PETER JACKSON
9 12 breakfast, shares something with your commitment to the craft of producing. I love the L.A. version of Produced By… the weather, lovely people, the opportunity to rub shoulders with legendary producers who are in your “club.” But it felt time to bring Produced By to New York. We on the PGA East are part of a bustling and thriving production community of our own. With 25% of Producers Guild members now residng on the East Coast, with its greater emphasis on non-fiction and indie films, the conference was an opportunity to showcase our community of talented and commited producers. The Chairs of the event — Dana Kuznetzkoff, Blaine Grayboyes, Ben Lehmann and Bruce Cohen — certainly kept that in mind, creating an epic lineup of cutting-edge content (panel on video games, anyone?) with an eye to New York. As Bruce Cohen said, “Getting to be a part of programming PBNY was both exciting and rewarding because of the incredible array of producing and production talent in NY these days.” My day began with insight from a diverse array of top Non-Fiction network heads for “Greenlight Secrets Revealed.” From frank discussions about the value of awards vs. ratings, how marketing dollars get spent depending on your audience, and how to read your quarter hours,
FROM THE DIRECTOR OF ‘THE LORD OF THE RINGS’ TRILOGY
W W W . WA R N E R B R O S 2 0 1 4 . C O M
9. Mark Gordon (right) and Hawk Koch (center) continue to try and sell speaker Jake Gyllenhaal on Source Code 2. 10. Speaker Jay Roewe. 11. & 12. Speakers Jenni Konner and Terence Winter. 13. Speaker and conference co-chair Bruce Cohen. 14. Moderator Morgan Spurlock demands answers from his panel.
November – December 2014
I walked away with valuable insight into my industry. Great content continued during the packed house at the Showrunning panel where Barbara Hall reminded us to keep in mind that half the secret to being effective is to remember that everyone’s job is the hardest job, while others gave us insight into how to get great notes, and why writing may not be the most important part of the job. One of my favorite panels of the whole event was on Children’s Programming and Technology. While not my usual forte, I’m fascinated by the way that kids programming leads the way in using technology to tell stories. I was far from alone; it was a packed house. As one of the event Chairs, Ben Lehmann said, “We have a thriving kid’s content creator community in New York and we wanted to have programming for that audience. But even more importantly, the future of storytelling rests with the rapidly evolving ways that kids are consuming media… Kids will set the agenda for the kinds of stories we tell and we wanted to explore that extremely producer-relevant topic.” The panel did not disappoint. With active discussions about what makes a great kids character, how kids utilize that character in new digital platforms, and the new ways they “digest” content in “snack-sized” pieces, I walked away with a lot that was relevant to all producers in all content areas. Plus, I got to meet one creator of Phineas and Ferb, which made me “The Coolest Aunt Ever” for at least a week. While the content was well worth the price of admission, Produced By: New York was also an opportunity to bring our disparate production community together under one roof. Just walking in the door in the morning, I was already chatting with a fellow PGA
F O R
Y O U R
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ANGELINA JOLIE p.g.a. CLAYTON TOWNSEND p.g.a. MATTHEW BAER p.g.a.
T H E U N B E L I E VA B L E T R U E S T O R Y
15. NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment comissioner Cynthia López. 16. PGA President Gary Lucchesi wraps up the conference. 17. Adina Pitt cracks up Jeff “Swampy” Marsh during the “C Is for Content” session. 18. John Hadity, quel homme.
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N member about programs we’d like to see in the future. Every change of panel or walk through the hallway found more conversations with contacts old and new, often so fascinating I was almost sorry when the next panel began. Kay Rothman, Membership Chair, put it this way, “We are all so busy so much of the time — either producing existing projects or creating new ones. So events like the Produced By: New York are terrific opportunities to reconnect with our colleagues… After all, we’re producers. We’re hard-wired to walk into a situation and talk to each other — to make connections and build partnerships.” Certainly it helps to be a part of an event where the attendees share your passion and interest. And the value isn’t just for the attendees. Speaking about the event later, Dana Kuznetzkoff said that the panelists were particularly enthusiastic about the quality of the audience. Our conference of producers meant that panelists were talking to a group of people that “got it” and allowed conversations to be more open and productive. PGA East Chair Peter Saraf observed, “There was something quite magical about the East Coast producing community all coming together and sharing ideas and making connections. From the planned panels to the accidental encounters and everything in between, I know we elevated the conversation of producing and strengthened our community.” Here’s hoping for more in the future.
“‘THE JUDGE’ IS THE BACKDROP FOR AN EMOTIONALLY ENGAGING STORY ABOUT FATHERS AND SONS PLAYED, LIKE A DUET, BY TWO VIRTUOSO ACTORS WHO GIVE THE FILM ALL THEY HAVE.”
SUSAN DOWNEY, p.g.a. DAVID DOBKIN, p.g.a. DAVID GAMBINO, p.g.a.
19. Produced By: New York co-chairs (from left) Ben Lehmann, Dana Kuznetzkoff and Blaine Graboyes. 20. PGA eminence David Picker (left) shares a moment with National Executive Director Vance Van Petten. 21. Moderator Stephen Totilo. 22. PGA East Vice President Peter Saraf.
“‘THE JUDGE’ IS A PERFECT MOVIE. IT IS PROVOCATIVELY WRITTEN, INTENSELY MOUNTED, PAINSTAKINGLY PHOTOGRAPHED, PASSIONATELY ACTED AND PROFOUNDLY THOUGHTFUL.” REX REED,
ROBERT DOWNEY JR.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR ROBERT DUVALL
Photos 1, 3, 6,10,12,13,15,17,18,19, 20, 22 by Jeffrey Neira, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9,11, 14, 16, 21 by AP/Invision.
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November – December 2014
Dancing on the Ceiling Fulldome Storytelling Starts to Take Shape
by Michael Ventre As youngsters, all of us have sat in rooms and dreamed about what we’re going to be when we grow up. Typically, it’s not something like a certified public accountant or a project manager, although those are fine and noble professions. Usually, those types of fanciful dreams involved wondrous flights of imagination that an astroAudience on a thrill ride in the EMC World tradeshow dome produced by Vortex Immersion and animated by Pixomondo.
naut, fighter pilot, ninja warrior, master spy or movie star might take.
Constantine Dome produced by Vortex Immersion Media for NBCUniversal at Comic-Con 2014 in cooperation with Pop2Life.
Ed Lantz was one of those kids, a budding techie scifi geek, although now he’s making his dream happen as a grown-up. He sat in a room once and said to himself: “What if you could control people’s sensory inputs and take them on journeys? And what if you were an artist creating those journeys? And what if you didn’t have to edit and shoot and cut it together? What if you could project your consciousness directly onto a dome?” Today, Lantz is a PGA member, and the president and CEO of Vortex Immersion Media, Inc., based at L.A. Center Studios in downtown Los Angeles. He basically projects his imagination onto a dome so you can have a mind-blowing cinematic experience. It’s sort of like you remember from your class trip to your local planetarium, only much, much cooler. And while this technology doesn’t figure to replace conventional cinema, the bet is that it will augment it in a significant way. “These domes are another wonderful platform that a story could be told through,” noted fellow PGA member Kate McCallum, a longtime development executive at Universal and Paramount who has worked with Lantz in fulldome since 2009 and now serves as a fulldome producer and creative consultant with Vortex. “Think about Interstellar or Gravity or Avatar. So you have Avatar the movie, but then you could also do Avatar: The Dome Experience, which may be either a ride film or a short journey that somebody might take. “Imagine there’s a dome in your movie complex,” she adds. “People could have that experience as well as the story narrative feature film. It’s just another media platform that you can showcase another experience, because it’s different.” Lantz doesn’t see himself as Leonardo da Vinci. But he does share a belief with the old master innovator, visionary and esteemed brainiac. “Everything in our world is formatted for a flat plane,” Lantz observes. “Almost everything. All graphics. You’re starting to see LED screens that now are curved. Oculus Rift (virtual-reality goggles) is the kind of thing where you look around and it’s a kind of perspective that Leonardo da Vinci called ‘natural perspective.’ Artificial perspective, that’s projecting on a flat plane. If you do the same thing onto a sphere, it’s natural perspective. The head pivots around on that sphere.” The domes in Lantz’s personal sphere of influence generally fall into two categories: those that are portable and can be constructed in about three days, such as the two Vortex set up at Comic-Con last July in San Diego for Meatwad and Constantine 4D experiences, both of which drew long lines of gawkers (“A lot of my friends never got in,” Lantz lamented); and permanent brick-and-mortar, planetarium-like structures at multiplexes, theme parks, museums and other such venues, which Lantz hopes to see — and is actively working toward creating — more of. “People love this stuff,” Lantz enthuses. “It’s exciting and new and… wow! It’s not like a little postage stamp on your mobile device. It’s big and immersive. We see it as the Next Gen cinema. There’s higher brightness and resolution with 4D. “Where is there left to go,” he asked, “but to wrap the image around your head?” November – December 2014
Cast and crew for independent feature film Division 19, shot in the Vortex Dome.
Lantz has been pondering that profound notion since he was a young teenager growing up in the other Hollywood, in Florida. He once wrote a science fiction story about a performer in a dome projecting his consciousness onto a big holographic screen, immersing audiences and taking them on journeys. At the time, he quickly came to a conclusion: “I said, ‘Oh my God. That’s the future. I want to do that.’ Of course, my next thought was, ‘Uh, that doesn’t exist yet.’” While the possibilities continued to swirl inside his own personal dome, Lantz embarked on a career that saw him receive a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Tennessee Tech, then gain experience in computer science, quantum physics, electro-magnetics and aerospace engineering. It was at one job he had in a government lab in Melbourne, Fla. — “We were getting into battlefield management and kill ratios,” he explains — that he had an epiphany. “I was in a lab playing with an acousto-optic crystal projecting beautiful laser patterns on a wall,” he recalls. “I said to myself, ‘This shouldn’t be in a government lab. This should be a laser light show.’ I ended up coming to one of those turning points in my career where I said, ‘I can’t keep doing this. I want to heal people and bring light and awe. I don’t want to figure out better ways to kill people.’ I knew I needed to get out of that.” Like little techie angels, planetarium people would call him periodically to gauge his interest in a job. He always declined their overtures because he wanted to be more than a technician. But at that juncture, he answered the call, and went to work as a programmer for the Astronaut Planetarium & Observatory in Cocoa, Fla., writing code to control the moon and sun. “I said, ‘Oh my God, this is such a powerful medium,’” he recalls. “When I took the job, I almost cried because it was what I dreamed of as a kid.” From there Lantz worked for a planetarium manufacturing company. Then he had a sit-down with himself: “I said, ‘Ed, you’re an innovator. You’re creating this new stuff, but you’ll never see anything but a regular paycheck unless you become an entrepreneur.’ I looked around and asked, ‘How do I generate cash?’”
Inspired in part by the example of BET founder and multimillionaire Robert L. Johnson, Lantz became a cable guy, albeit one of the white-collar variety. He found a cable television network start-up kit online for $250. From there he created something called the Harmony channel, which he said eventually topped out at 14 million viewers. But he and his partner found that the operation became too costly to sustain. So he went back to the comfort of the dome. He moved from the Philadelphia area to Los Angeles in 2009, and in 2010 put up a dome at L.A. Center Studios. He joined forces with McCallum, with whom he had been telecommunicating, and business partner Matt Fannon. They decided to go full bore into the dome-experience business. Lantz and McCallum — who, after working together for a while, had a mutual sensory experience of their own and now share a dome-icile in the downtown L.A. area — recently invited a visitor to witness Vortex Immersion’s technology at L.A. Center Studios. The imagery and sound are indeed immersive, showing anything from a magnificent school of whales to a scary horror house with cockroaches to any number of shapes and colors. It’s a sensory feast: sometimes wind and scents are used. While Lantz continues to try and raise capital for expansion, Vortex Immersion’s bread and butter these days is in experiential marketing in the pop-up domes, which have been used for a wide array of experiences at sporting events like the NBA All-Star Game and Super Bowl, for gaming tournaments and events, movie promotions and lots of other product marketing. The company also works with Oculus Rift and other virtual-reality headsets to create the “home video” version of the dome experience, as well as IMAX format films that are warped out for a dome viewing. Dane Allan Smith is a line producer at Threshold Entertainment, who detects a burgeoning market for dome and Oculus Rift–like experiences.“The demand outstrips the number of people who can do it,” Smith explains. “The biggest barrier is developing a reliable pipeline and selling it to the decision-makers who green-light these projects.”
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Producers Ed Lantz and Kate McCallum participate in a panel on the Future of Creativity, Arts & Consciousness, connecting live audiences at the Vortex Dome in Los Angeles and the Club of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
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I was in a lab playing and there was something like a laser light show on the wall. I said to myself, ‘This shouldn’t be in a government lab. This should be a laser light show.’ I ended up coming to one of those turning points in my career where I said, ‘I can’t keep doing this. I want to heal people and bring light and awe. I don’t want to figure out better ways to kill people.’
To illustrate the dome immersion’s popularity, Smith pointed to a recent promotion involving Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, which saw people stand in line for two hours at Universal City to put on Oculus Rift lenses and experience life in the spaceship. “I think what is driving it is virtual reality,” he says. “If you look at the numbers created by the Interstellar tour, it tells you that people are willing to spend that kind of time just on a low-resolution, low-quality version.” Lantz also sees a growing demand for filmmakers who specialize in dome work. Right now, much of it is done with CG, and there are a few creators who do it on a regular basis. Lantz would love to see more established filmmakers who work in traditional filmed entertainment to drift into his world. “There are a small handful of immersive filmmakers now and Oculus Rift is making that possible because you don’t need as much resolution in the Rift,” he notes. “In the planetarium industry, there are some decent storytellers; I don’t want to be negative on them. But I think bringing the storytelling power of Hollywood into this format will just blow the doors off of it.” Regardless of the technology used, the possibilities for storytelling are blowing up and going beyond the conventional movie theater flat screen. “Transmedia is this idea that one story — whether it comes from a film or a book or a TV show or an original IP — has been created, and then you tell that story in a variety of media
The audience takes an immersive journey via Adult Swim’s Meatwad Full Dome Experience at Comic-Con 2014.
Producer Ed Lantz (standing) and technical director Ian Downie at the Vortex Dome.
platforms,” McCallum says. “So you have the mobile game that goes with the television show, that goes with the feature film or a book or a graphic novel or a comic book. This is what’s happening now. People are developing upfront multiple story extensions from an existing intellectual property.” As a young man, Lantz said he once had to choose between art and technology, so he went with the latter. Now, inside a dome, he’s doing both. “It’s a compelling experience,” he smiles. “What we’re doing, you can’t get at home.” November – December 2014
Now in Session Has Team Downey Arrived? by Matthew Dessem Judge for Yourself
Susan’s own interest in film came early. Growing up in Chicago, she modeled in commercials and print advertising, but found herself more interested in what was going on behind the camera. By the age of 12, she’d made up her mind to make movies. As she puts it, “I think the real drive for me came from being on sets, and being part of that creative experience so young.” That drive carried her to USC, where she entered their film production program as a freshman. She remembers that when she started, there were four women among the 50 students, but the situation improved. “By the time you’re a junior,” she continues, “they increase your class size from 50 to 100. So then there were eight girls,” she laughs. Though she liked directing and editing, she wasn’t sure she wanted to pursue either path as a career, and when the opportunity arose to work at Lawrence Kasanoff’s production company in the summer of 1995, she took it, starting a breakneck pace that continues to this day. “I went and met them a couple weeks before graduation, totally hit it off, went home to Chicago, and got my wisdom teeth pulled out. 10 days later, I started working and literally haven’t stopped.” Kasanoff, in a forward-thinking move, had acquired the rights to Mortal Kombat, back when a video game adaptation was rare enough that he was able to arrange a deal that allowed him more than simply rights to a single film. Kasanoff worked quickly — during her time there, Susan worked on several Mortal Kombat spinoffs, moving from her initial position as assistant to production work within about a year. By 1998, she wanted experience at a production company with studio ties, and took a job at Silver Pictures, which had a deal at Warner Bros. The pace with Joel Silver moved just as quickly as it had with Kasanoff.
David Dobkin (center) directs Robert Downey Jr. (right) on the set of The Judge. Back: cameraman Jeff Porter.
With every movie, every part of the process, you have to accept that it’s a different piece of material. Each step, you have to accept that it evolves into something new.
The Judge is racking up a lot of firsts. It’s the first drama from director David Dobkin — the first adult drama from a major studio in a long time, it seems — and the first film to play at this year’s Toronto Film Festival. It’s also the first project from Team Downey, the production company headed by Susan Downey and her husband, whom you may have heard of Robert Downey Jr. But calling it their first project is misleading. As Susan Downey explains in an interview at Team Downey’s unmarked offices in Venice, California, their collaboration has already stretched more than a decade, and shows no signs of slowing down. Producer Susan Downey on the set of The Judge with director David Dobkin.
Producers Susan Downey and David Gambino on location in Massachusetts.
All photos by Claire Folger, courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment.
November – December 2014
F O R YO U R C O N S I D E R A T I O N “A spot-on script, near-perfect casting, deftly created characters and often hilarious dialogue.
The book’s heart beats strongly on screen.” Kimber Myers / INDIEWIRE
“The movie is starry-eyed, affecting, and preternaturally wise.” Diane Garrett / THE WRAP
“A refreshingly witty and tender romance for the ages.” Mara Reinstein/US WEEKLY
David Gambino and Susan Downey confer on set.
“I had the fortunate situation that my second job out was at a company that was always making movies,” she recalls. “We were always in production… it’s that whole theory of inertia — a body in motion tends to stay in motion... The mentality you get into is, ‘We should be in production. We should be moving forward on stuff. We should be getting things set up.’” At Silver Pictures, she met the other half of Team Downey, while working on the horror feature Gothika. In a phone interview, Robert Downey Jr. makes the bold claim: “I think I was definitely the cutest unmarried guy on that movie… She was very professional. But you’re on location, Montreal’s kind of romantic…” They were married in 2005. But neither of their careers slowed down; Robert worked his way back to leading-man status while Susan produced a long string of films with Silver. The couple worked together on Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, but as their schedules became more hectic, they both came to the conclusion that they should be in business together. In September of 2008, Variety reported that Susan had opted not to renew her contract with Silver Pictures (which expired in February 2009). Susan was attached to several projects as a freelance producer — Iron Man 2, Due Date and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows — while Team Downey got up and running. Susan remembers speculating to Warners exec Jeff Robinov that they should delay setting up their deal at the studio until their current slate of projects was clearer. He told her flatly, “Susan, stop thinking like that. Let’s just get the deal in place so you guys can start to generate material, and then when you’re ready, you’re ready.” But as Robert puts it, “It’s another thing entirely to actually make the ask, and have to get all the right people together, and give them all somewhere to be, and then show up.”
Their most important hire was David Gambino, a fellow veteran of Silver Pictures. But the prior connection didn’t give him a way in. “I did everything I could not to hire him,” Susan insists. Convinced she wanted fresh blood for her new venture, she looked elsewhere, until “I realized he really had all the qualities that I would ever want in that position.” By all accounts, it was a wise decision — director David Dobkin calls Gambino “a brilliant, brilliant guy,” while Robert praises his taste and his tenacity. In the years since, they’ve added other staffers, including Susan’s brother Steve Levin, who serves as the company’s COO. The Judge, which would ultimately become the first Team Downey film, came to them from David Dobkin, who had the original idea and had worked out a first draft with writer Nick Schenk. Although it’s a present-day courtroom drama, Dobkin says he thought of its basic structure as being like a Western: “A young gunslinger returns to the town where his dad is the sheriff… and his father jumps into danger and he is the only one equipped to stay and protect him.” The gunslinger, in this case, is a brash lawyer; his father is the town’s judge. Dobkin had conceived of the lead role with Robert Downey Jr. in mind, but approached Susan first, making it clear that regardless of who played the part, he wanted Team Downey to produce the film. Susan read it and loved the core idea; Robert initially was less enthusiastic. (“It wasn’t my idea,” he quips, “and that’s always annoying.”) But he came around, and over a period of about two years, Dobkin and Team Downey picked the story apart and rebuilt it. They had the luxury of taking their time, according to Susan, because “it’s not a big tentpole. It’s not a big comedy which [Dobkin is] known for. It’s not the big action stuff we’re known for. It was way under the Warner Bros. radar.” Robert, by this point well into his stint as Iron Man, especially appreciated the luxury of time.
“A film that will stay with you forever.” Joel Amos / MOVIEFANATIC
“The most significant teen love story of this generation.” Dana Mathews Senior Entertainment Editor TEEN VOGUE
WYCK GODFREY MARTY BOWEN
SHAILENE WOODLEY Hollywood Film Awards 2014
Graphics copyright © 2012 Penguin Group (USA) LLC
“It’s a bit of a counterweight,” he reflects, “to a series of films that announce the release date and then say, ‘Great, let’s start thinking about the story.’ It was so nice to really let something develop… to let something take on its own pace and voice was extraordinary.” The product of those two years was a detailed outline they handed over to writer Bill Dubuque, who turned his version of the script around fast. Susan remembers reading it one morning during the production of Iron Man 3: “I was sitting there reading it, and [Robert] was asking, ‘What do you think?’ And you get used to knowing that a first draft is going to need a lot of work, so usually you just try and look at what’s working and be positive. Director David Dobkin (left) goes over a scene with Robert Downey Jr. (center) and But I said to him, ‘I’m scared.’ And he said, Robert Duvall (right). ‘Why?’ and I said, ‘Because I’m 60 pages in, and I love it. And I’m really afraid it’s gonna fall off a cliff.’ And it didn’t.” on everything he’d have to cut. “There are scenes that are After that, things moved very quickly. Dobkin remembers absolutely spectacular that are not in this movie,” he admits, a call for Robert asking if he could clear his schedule to go “because they just didn’t fit.” Susan Downey agreed — some of into production on short notice. “I think he got off the phone her favorite lines had to go, but today, she’s circumspect, about with me, he called the head of the studio and he said, ‘This is the changes. my next movie.’ And then we were off.” “With every movie, every part of the process, you have Casting went smoothly. Many of the roles — Vincent to accept that it’s a different piece of material… What you’re D’Onofrio’s, Vera Farmiga’s, Billy Bob Thornton’s — had developing is different than what you’re in production on, been written with specific actors in mind, and the filmmakers and what you end up in the editing room with. Each step, you fortunately were able to get who they’d wanted. Casting the have to accept that it evolves into something new.” judge was more of a challenge, because as Susan explains, the The exhilarating part, she says, is implementing a new verchoices were more limited. sion after the decisions have been made. There was a preview, “There’s only a couple of guys,” she says, “who you would a few reshoots — adding one scene they’d thought they could believe would be a Midwestern judge, who you could feel skip, tightening another so it was on-story — another preview, would hold their own against Robert on screen.” and it was finished. Everyone involved was thrilled with the Although no one on Team Downey knew it at the time, final film, but more than that, with the collaborative process Robert Duvall was initially not interested in the role, but was Team Downey was able to create for their debut project. convinced by his agents to take a second look. And as Susan As Dobkin describes it, “We just felt like a bunch of kids tells it, “Once he said yes to us, we had no sense that he had in the sandbox building our castle. There was never any delinany sort of hesitation. He was committed a hundred percent.” eation between whose job was whose and what lines there According to Susan, finding the a location that could were. There’s never been a moment of anybody having to put pass for southern Indiana was more difficult than finding the down their fists or draw a line in the sand on this entire projright actors; Indiana wasn’t going to be a viable production ect… There are great rock bands that fight the whole time and location because of its lack of a suitable incentive program. they still somehow make great albums, you know? And there They settled on western Massachusetts, shooting interiors in are bands that get along the whole time and they make music a converted factory in Boston. Robert vividly remembers his that’s just as good. And I think we just felt like we were the first experience producing: band that really got on.” “It means I need to walk over to the trailers of my costars The company hasn’t decided on their next project yet, but and say, ‘Hey, how do you feel about that?’… It’s about the ins they have a lot of irons in the fire. Robert has long wanted to and outs of looking after people. You so take it for granted, star in Yucatan, a film originally conceived for Steve McQueen. when you’re in front of the camera, that all of your needs will He’s also excited about adapting the original Perry Mason stobe met, just because you showed up. ‘Hey look everybody, I’m ries into a feature. And a Pinocchio project is in development, here!’ And it’s actually, ‘No, we’re all here, moron.’” with Robert playing Geppetto. But the company isn’t designed for starring vehicles for Robert Downey Jr. — they’re branchWhen the production wrapped, the team had more film ing out into television, developing TC83, a series about a therathan they knew what to do with. Because of the extraordinary level of trust he’d built up with Team Downey during the develpeutic community in 1983 — for Showtime, and have a first opment process, Dobkin, who’d never brought anyone into look deal with Warner Television. Susan has a simple answer his editing room before his director’s cut was finished, met to the question of what’s next for Team Downey: “It’s the next with Gambino and the Downeys to bring them up to speed great script that comes along.” November – December 2014
only does this keep our characters fresh, but the shorter form also lets us dive into some of the characters whose stories we haven’t been able to explore much before. Jesse (the cowgirl) had a huge debut in Toy Story 2, and Trixie (the triceratops) was one of the breakaway characters from Toy Story 3. The television specials enable us to explore more Jesse- and Trixie-centric stories, as well as stories that revolve around any of the other characters that perhaps we didn’t have the opportunity to do in the feature.” Pixar develops its television properties in-house, as it does with its feature films. Its television productions also draw from the same pool of talent (animators, designers and so on) as its feature films do — indeed, as all of Pixar’s content production does. “It’s all about what type of people you need,” notes Susman, “and what’s your deadline? We use the same technology and we use the same people. We really want to maintain the integrity of the Toy Story franchise, and the TV specials should be indistinguishable in production quality from the feature films.”
Galyn Susman (above) and Pixar characters Jessie, Buzz and Woody (right) from Toy Story of Terror!
PLATFORM JUMP Producer Galyn Susman brings Buzz, Woody and friends to television by Jerry Franklin
Given the ever-shifting media landscape, the Walt Disney Company and Pixar Animation Studios are — like many other production companies — exploring different distribution avenues for their content. To be sure, the company will continue with its major theatrical releases. But shorter formats are helping Pixar derive more value from its IP by opening up channels for exploring back stories, or shining a spotlight on the stories of less familiar characters. Toy Story That Time Forgot is Pixar’s first entry in the annual lineup of television Christmas programming, and only its second foray into television. Its first made-for-television film — Toy Story of Terror! — made its debut as a Halloween special in 2013. Galyn Susman, who produced both programs, says it made sense to leverage the animation studio’s premier franchise as the vehicle for expanding into other forms of media. “Especially with Toy Story,” says Susman. “We just love these characters, and we’re looking for different approaches and different media and different stories we can tell. Not
THE CHALLENGES OF PRODUCING FOR TELEVISION While Pixar’s television productions are fully-integrated logistically with the rest of the organization, there are still unique challenges. For one thing, there’s the obvious dramatic artifice of television: commercial breaks. Susman’s team had to abandon the classic three-act long-form structure, and instead pivot to structure each of the two Toy Story specials into four acts, with each of the first three acts ending in a “cliffhanger moment.” “That was a fundamental difference for us,” Susman says. “Telling your story in four acts, thinking about how to break the story, is something we really had to learn about — to plan around the commercial breaks.” But the shortened (relatively speaking) television production process posed perhaps the most significant challenge. Compared with feature production, the broad strokes of producing a half-hour television special may be similar; most of the first half is taken up with story development, build reels and asset creation, and most of the second half consists of the bulk of production. But the compressed production schedule — two years from conception to air for a half-hour special, or less than half the time it takes to complete a feature — required a more linear approach to filmmaking. For example, before digital dailies were finished, frontend departments, such as character design, were wrapped. Once that occurs, the talent may be reassigned onto other projects, before any desired modifications can be discovered.
November – December 2014
Buzz, Woody and gang from Toy Story That Time Forgot.
The momentum of television’s abbreviated production schedule also inhibits the impulse to develop wholesale new technologies, despite Pixar’s reputation for continuous technical innovation. “With feature films, you have a much longer life cycle,” says Susman. “We’re used to finishing a reel and being able to review a reel before the last reels have gone into production, and you have more ability to adjust. But with our Toy Story television specials you’re making commitments up front without actually having seen any finished product at the end. In that regard, I think, you have to be a bit more courageous and move forward, to trust in the process and trust in the pipeline that it’s all going to look phenomenal.” HOW CLOSE COLLABORATION REDUCES RISK In Pixar’s case, at least, that risk is mitigated by the company’s strong culture of collaboration. For one thing, while filmmaking at Pixar has always been director-driven, the studio’s tradition of director/producer duos working closely together provides the impetus for keeping the many moving parts of a production all moving in the same direction. “When a director and a producer click, that’s something Pixar values very highly. Fortunately, many of our producer/ director teams here have that kind of working relationship. Having a producer you know really well, and who knows you really well, is very valuable.” But that sense of teamwork also extends beyond the producer/director relationship. “Most of us who are working on these projects have worked together before,” Susman says. “And some of the people I’ve worked with before have worked with people that I haven’t worked with before. So there is a lot of trust. If my supervising tech says something is going to be fine, well, I know that person, I trust that person. It is going to be fine.” Of course, it’s not all risk. Susman notes that one advantage of the shortened production time is that it decreases the need for the producer simultaneously to wear the hats of cheerleader/motivational speaker/morale officer. “Nobody is on the production long enough to lose motivation or get bored,” she observes. “It just really, really stays fresh. It is much easier to keep your eye on the ball when you’re only working on a project for a short period of time.”
STAYING ON TOP BY STAYING CURIOUS Susman comes from a more technical background than many of Pixar’s producers. She joined Pixar’s commercial television production group after conducting graphics research and development at Apple Computer. That technical emphasis has been a valuable asset for her. “When I went to Pixar in 1990, I was a generalist,” she says, “doing producing, animating, technical direction. But as we were preparing to make Toy Story, we had to specialize. I chose to stay in the technical direction area. That’s what I found most interesting at that point in time.” Susman contributed as a character technical director and lighting supervisor, and went on to be a supervising technical director and simulation and effects supervisor on subsequent Pixar properties. It wasn’t until Ratatouille in 2007 that Susman fully transitioned from technical direction to producing. But she asserts that her technical experience and acumen have helped her keep tabs on the progress of her productions. “A lot of what I do is — believe it or not — just having lunch or maybe a drink with all of my technical supervisors and having them tell me, teach me, show me what they are doing, what’s going on, what the new challenges are, what problems they are trying to solve. That way, I can pick their brains at a more technical level that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to do in a larger group setting. That really helps me stay current and remain confident that I have a better understanding of some of the challenges that are happening on the production.” Susman’s prior training as a scientist also has served her in good stead. “I think the most important point of it is to have that level of curiosity about everything that’s going on on your film. You don’t need to be trained as a scientist to be inquisitive, but having that level of inquisitiveness is hugely valuable. So asking questions, being inquisitive, becoming open, and really trying to dive in and understand all the facets of the big behemoth that is filmmaking, that one must produce, I think is really, really important. It’s all part of taking ownership of your portion of the project.” KEEPING CONNECTED Pixar and its corporate parent Disney both are known for being circumspect about revealing future plans, and Susman herself says she’s uncertain what Pixar’s next television special will be. (As for the Toy Story franchise, the studio has announced there will be a fourth Toy Story feature.) Whatever the studio decides, Susman will have all the contacts and experts that she needs in-house. But she nevertheless values highly the sense of connectedness the Producers Guild provides. “I love the fact that the PGA emails newsletters and provides other forms of communication,” says Susman. “I don’t go to mixers and the like; what little time I have outside of work I want to spend with my family. So I really appreciate that the Guild provides this window into what everybody else is doing, and the challenges and issues that everybody else is facing. I get huge value out of reading about that. That’s what I hear, and that’s what I know.”
no set too small Why would PGA Green want to dedicate this month’s column to a no-budget film with five crew members and two actors? Perhaps, I’m being given a chance to plant a small seed regarding greening small films. So, thank you in advance for reading. After being a doc/reality logistics producer for a few years, I wrote and directed my first narrative short: a supernatural, suspenseful Western set in the High Chaparral of Malibu Canyon. It’s only eight minutes run-
ning time but the experience of leading a crew was transformative, by virtue of my small commitment during pre-production to film Green. Transformation sounds difficult, doesn’t it? In fact, it wasn’t. I had to start by letting go of some of the bad habits that I had picked up in the past seven years. The film was a laboratory for breaking the cycle. Two of the worst offenses (plastic water bottles and Styrofoam coolers) were easily fixable. I put reminders on the call sheet for everyone to bring a reusable personal bottle. My producer and I brought filtered water, a reusable cooler and some washed glass bottles for the forgetful. No one lacked for hydration in the August sun directly overhead.
But hey, that shoot was in L.A.! What about my next shoot on the road? What happens when I meet the local PA for the first time and he or she’s already asking to be reimbursed for cases of plastic bottled water, plastic bags of ice and “disposable” Styrofoam containers? How has the transformation helped me then? Here’s my answer: By working on my own short films on the weekends, producing in a way I know is better for the earth, I now know I’ll gain courage in my day job as a TV producer. It takes courage to ask that local PAs buy responsibly. It takes courage to meet with my EPs and PMs for a long-term sustainability plan while there is still prepro time, and think of Green ways to save the production time and money.
Chaparral cast and crew, from left: Producer Priya Ayyar, DP Justin Aguirre, cast member Charles Franklin Davis Jr., sound engineer Kichul Lee, director Jesse Rivkin, script supervisor Ying Zhu. (Photo: Zada Clarke)
It takes courage to bring my own cooler on the plane (perhaps doubling as a hard drive case?). It takes courage to take the production office’s recycling to a homeless recycler every week, because a shortterm office complex has zero recycling plan. With courage comes a foresight to ask for what one thinks is right and do what one believes in, while there is still time to make a difference.
For my film Chaparral, the rugged and beautiful shooting location was on ridge trails above a creative, rustic private school. I found their trails while walking my dog in the canyon. It was this place that inspired me to write the script. The school’s own sustainability goals include having buildings that are net zero energy, zero emissions and completely landfill abstinent. Signing their sustainability agreement was not a set of limits but rather a vote of courage, a challenge to rise to. The whole crew recognized that the location has stayed beautiful because it’s been cared for. This is where the magic happens. Was it the absence of single-use items like plastic bags and bottles? You know that sandwich shop chain that has something that every crew member likes? Well, if you ask for no plastic bags and no plastic utensils, they will just put the paper-wrapped sandwiches in your own box! My producer and writing partner, Priya Ayyar, brought her own cardboard box to the sandwich shop for the lunch run. A mantra evolved: “Make craft services more like leave-no-trace camping and less like hanging out in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven.” Most of the producers I know get further into the business because we enjoy being around cameras and get transfixed by the tech and the electric lights. We say, “It’s the only game I know.” Yet, perhaps paradoxically, many of us love shooting in natural sunlight best and being outside. In our free time, we enjoy running in the canyons or digital detoxing in a tent. We may not go “leave-notrace” camping very often due to our busy schedules, but when we finally unplug, we ask, “why don’t we do this every weekend?”
Make craft services more like leave-notrace camping and less like hanging out in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven.
When we connect with the outdoors and bond it to our production life on a small scale, something alchemical happens. By the numbers, our Green army will definitely make its most impactful gains by halting the massive food waste and fossil fuel consumption of larger productions. But within the individual, the opportunity to learn to film in the outdoors, in a way that preserves, is priceless. And it benefits the world by sending out future producers who are grounded in those practices. Two of my crew were from overseas and interning to gain American set experience. My actors were also young and just starting out. Having people on my crew who had never been on set before triggered the thought that this might be my true legacy, showing others what I like most about production in a magnificent setting. It was an indescribable feeling that I’ve taken from set, long into post-production. I am now a member of PGA Green. I encourage any producer reading this article to explore the Green Production Guide website in whatever way works for you. Don’t overthink it. Let it sink in. Once the awareness is there, the knowledge simmers in the background. Also, the eight-page GPG Best Practices for Documentary Filmmakers, drafted this past summer, is a concise summary of what
DP Justin Aguirre shoots a scene for Chaparral with cast member Zada Clarke (left) and Charles Franklin Davis Jr. (back). (Photo: Priya Ayyar)
you can do on any budget, no matter how small. Attend the next PGA Green Habitat build too. You’ll meet other producers who agree that most of the changes needed to go Green are common sense. We often feel like we are alone in our improvisational solo greening, looking at a one REM–cycle turnaround before being first on set the next morning. But by reflecting on all of my eco-mistakes and ecosuccesses, I’ve learned that courage is the answer. If it sounds optimistic to hope to inspire that same courage in others, that is the intended effect. I hope I have encouraged you. –JESSE RIVKIN Jesse Rivkin’s Chaparral is exclusively available on his Vimeo channel, vimeo.com/jesserivkin.
November – December 2014
> FAST T-STOP OF 1.9
> OvAL OUT-OF-FOCUS HIGHLIGHTS
> BEAUTIFUL SKIN TONES
> LOw DISTORTION
Allied POWs line up in camp. (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures)
Producer/director Angelina Jolie on set. Endurance Test (Continued from page 38)
“I wanted someone who didn’t come with baggage,” Jolie explains. “Someone who audiences would believe was Louie.” Townsend ultimately agreed with this approach: “I think a bigger star in any of the acting roles may have detracted from that feeling of reality.” Casting director Francine Maisler found actor Jack O’Connell in London, fresh from the blockbuster 300: Rise of an Empire and the indie prison drama Starred Up. “Jack has a lot of similarities to Lou,” says Baer. “Tough upbringing. Real fire and spirit to his personality. And he was able to physically make the part work, going from a high school junior to a guy in his mid-20s out on a raft.” Opposite O’Connell, Jolie cast Japanese pop star Miyavi in the crucial role of “The Bird” Watanabe, the prison camp commander who torments Zamperini. Miyavi had never acted before, but Jolie was sure of him nonetheless. “He’s a singer and a performer, and he has this presence,” she recalls. “I saw him audition on tape and I was so shocked and excited, I couldn’t wait to show the studio. I was blown away by his talent and commitment.”
As production carried on, Baer and Townsend had as their top priority the need to protect and care for their cast and crew, who were shooting in often arduous conditions, some of them having lost dozens of pounds to play prisoners of war. “Our plan to do a lot of the raft work in the real ocean was limited by deadly jellyfish and bad weather conditions,” says Townsend. “And filming some of the prison scenes outdoors with a lot of fair-skinned extras in the sun for long periods of time, I think we must have gone through hundreds and hundreds of gallons of sunblock.” Jolie herself had expected a challenge in making such a large film, but was still surprised at its scale. “It was harder than I expected,” she says, her famous smile growing wider in recall. “One day we were shooting a racetrack in a field for the Olympics, and the stadium would be built later in CGI. Someone asked me, ‘Where’s Hitler’s box?’ And I just looked around, and there’s nothing. So I said, ‘the 50-yard line?’ Sure…” she laughs. Despite the many challenges of making a war movie that is both sprawling yet intimate, Jolie, Baer and Townsend are now reaping the fruits of their labor. “For me personally and professionally, Unbroken is certainly the height of what a producer can dream of. Something you really believe in, coming together with amazing filmmakers,” says Matt Baer. “I’m definitely proud of this achievement,” agrees Townsend. “And I’m proud of the collaboration that we all shared.” Will the film be an awards contender? For Matt Baer, that would be a bonus, but he and his fellow producers have a more fundamental priority. “It will be very satisfying if the film has an awards life, but especially with Lou’s passing, the most important thing for me is that people see the movie and they connect with the message.” Jolie agrees: “Making that connection with Louie’s life, especially with him gone, and how he touched so many people, is what I most hoped to convey.” Louis Zamperini, a little guy from Torrance, would probably have hoped for the same.
> CINEMATIC BOKEH
> LARGE IMAGE FIELD
Stretch your ImagInatIon
ARRI MASTER ANAMORPHIC LENSES. TRULY CINEMATIC.
pga bookshelf David Friendly (left) and editor Steve Prestemon. (Photo: Amelia Fuchs) LEAR: EVEN THIS (Continued from page 19)
That existence feels a lot less fortunate over the course of the book’s first quarter, much of it detailing the author’s emotionally parched upbringing in Connecticut and New York. Lear’s parents, a pair of individuals spectacularly unsuited to that role, dominate these early chapters. With a mother incapable of demonstrating any manner of affection, and a father too obsessed with chasing his own version of the American dream to consider the impact on his family, Norman Lear’s childhood is not the one you’d want for your kid. At its nadir, for several formative years, Lear was handed off to a sequence of aunts and uncles while his father served a stint in jail and his mother cared for his younger sister — the possibility of looking after both of her children in their formative years an apparent impossibility. In these passages, his richly recalled everyday Depression-era kid-life competes with a devastating sense of loneliness and loss that breaks through all too often. Lear’s father — in absence and presence both — looms large throughout the book. An inveterate believer in the getrich-quick brand of American aspiration,
H.K. Lear coined his own nickname, the K. standing for “King.” (It never seems to have occurred to the elder Lear that his Shakespearean namesake might not be the ideal role model for a paterfamilias.) But Norman’s affection for his father —
Nixon himself bemoaned the show’s caustic depiction of Bunker: ‘Why do they have to make a horse’s ass out of a good man?’
again, in absence and presence both — is abundant, and the author’s gradual coming to terms with the gap between the father he had and the father he wanted forms the emotional core of this near-century-long journey.
Carroll O’Connor and Rob Reiner as Archie Bunker and Mike Stivic in All in the Family.
The baggage of that relationship gets unpacked most memorably in Lear’s landmark debut television series All in the Family, cooked into idealist Mike Stivic’s contentious relationship with his father in-law Archie Bunker, the biggest loudmouth of Richard Nixon’s Silent Majority. (Nixon himself bemoaned the show’s caustic depiction of Bunker: “Why do they have to make a horse’s ass out of a good man?” the President plaintively wonders in one of his many secretly recorded conversations.) But before that breakthrough, we’re
Lear during his television heyday.
t r e a t e d t o L e a r ’s r i s e t h r o u g h t h e Hollywood ranks, a journey that includes surprisingly few setbacks given the paying-your-dues function it serves in the story. But it’s a gas to read, featuring vivid, perceptive sketches of a gallery of stars, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Frank Sinatra and Martha Raye among them. The inception of Lear’s comedy career is a lesson any producer could learn from: After writing a song parody with aspiring writer Ed Simmons (his cousin’s husband), the duo hit the streets and sell their freshly-minted material that very night to a nightclub performer. The word “hustle” doesn’t appear that often in Even This I Get to Experience, and it doesn’t need to. Like any good writer, Lear shows rather than tells what makes for a great producing career. The book’s third section (of four) tackles the height of his television career, and the seven landmark series that Lear managed to place on the air in the 1970s. It’s both the book’s strongest and weakest segment. Fascinating are the details of Lear’s battles with skittish network execs and his analysis of the personal convictions and racial politics that often confounded the efforts of his series Good Times, the first television series to place a working-class black family at its center. But too often, this section devolves into a kind of roll call, with Lear dutifully naming the principals
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of each series and citing their most special or unique characteristics. Obviously, these series comprise the foundation of Lear’s legacy, and literary convention all but demands a recounting of their highlights and contributors. But only a few of these collaborators truly stand on their own as characters rather than cameo roles — chief among them the achingly conflicted Carroll O’Connor, of whom Lear draws a poignant and ultimately sympathetic portrait. Yet counterbalancing all of the “This” that Lear got to experience is the degree to which he’s still just another version of us. To that end, passages detailing the gradual failure of his long second marriage, his discovery of new love and his realization that he, like his father, had devoted the best part of his parenting years to his work rather than his family are beautifully written, and will resonate
as a husband, father and artist, but also about the difficulty of coming to terms with those shortcomings. As often as not, Even This I Get to Experience reads like a personal search for meaning in the universe, only with a cast of characters you recognize from TV.
‘It’s hard work, being a human being.’ Lear would know. He’s had a lot of practice.
powerfully even with readers who aren’t in the Television Academy Hall of Fame. Make no mistake, Lear digs deep on the personal end, and the author is candid not only about his retrospective failings
For many inside (and outside) the producing profession, Norman Lear is a hero. This book will do more than remind you of why that is — it confirms that underneath the hero is just a guy trying to figure it out... still trying, in fact, even after 92 years. I like the title, but ultimately, I’ll take the bumper sticker. I have never driven behind Norman Lear. But having finished Even This I Get to Experience, it’s like I’ve been driving behind him ever since. – CHRIS GREEN
CONGRATULATIONS to Producers Guild of America Nominees
YOUR BUDGET. NOT AS STEEP AS OUR HILLS. Combine the new California State Film Tax Credit and our Scene in San Francisco Rebate Program and save more than 25% the next time you ﬁlm in SF.
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THE NORMAN FELTON AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING PRODUCER OF EPISODIC TELEVISION, DRAMA: Vince Gilligan Mark Johnson Michelle MacLaren Melissa Bernstein
VISIT: FilmSF.org CALL: 415.554.6241 74
Sam Catlin Peter Gould George Mastras Thomas Schnauz
Moira Walley-Beckett Stewart Lyons Bryan Cranston Diane Mercer
Member Benefits • Vote on Producers Guild Awards and receive d iscount tickets to the event, as well as DVD screeners for awards consideration •A dmission to special PGA pre-release screenings and Q&A events •D iscounted registration for Produced By Conference
You have the concept. now all You need is
ACCESS PGA Members are pre-approved for this vetted event!
•F ull access to PGA website including events, calendar, social networking tools
Connect with and pitch unscripted concepts directly to top broadcast, cable, digital and syndicated execs at NATPE Miami, January 20, 2015.
•A ccess to PGA Job Board, online résumé search, employment tools and job forums •E ligibility for PGA Mentoring Program • Participation in the Motion Picture Industry Health, Welfare & Pension Plan •L isting of contact and credit information in searchable online roster •E ligibility for individual, family and small business healthcare options through Producers Health Insurance Agency •F ree attendance at PGA seminars •A rbitration of credit disputes •W ide variety of discounts on events, merchandise, travel •C omplimentary subscription to Produced by 76
YOUR DISCOUNTED TOTAL COST - $1,150
- NATPE Miami Registration $700 (Full Price $1,150) - PRO Pitch $450 (Full Price $500)
In addition to GUARANTEED FACE TIME with execs, participants in PRO Pitch also receive: • Access to intimate pre-awards luncheon meet and greet • Admission to Reality Breakthrough Awards Luncheon • Admission to Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award celebration • Professional development opportunities • Three full days of all NATPE Miami has to offer!
CAtChErS LiSt inCLUdES:
A&E Networks, ABC Entertainment Group, Banijay International, BBC, Bell Media Specialty Television, CBC Television, Debmar-Mercury, Destination America, Discovery, Endemol International, FremantleMedia Group Ltd., Global Agency, History, ITV Studios, Lifetime Networks, MTG, Red Arrow Entertainment Group, Scripps Networks, Shine International, Small World IFT, Televisa, The CW, The Style Network, The Weather Channel, truTV, Univision Communications Inc., WE tv, Zodiak Media and more!
SIGN UP NOW! LImIted meetINGS avaILabLe! Register at natpe.com with promo code N15Pitch today!
the picture of health
Your PGA Health Benefits PGA members have a variety of healthcare options available to them. While none of them represents a “perfect plan,” many members will be able to improve their coverage or
the cost of their coverage through their PGA membership. Members may take advantage of two options: Employerpaid coverage and self-pay coverage.
Qualifying for Employer-Paid Coverage Through the Motion Picture Industry Plan Am I eligible?
To be eligible for the program, you must… • Be credited as an executive producer, producer, associate producer or postproduction supervisor; • Work for a company that is an AMPTP signatory, or signatory to Motion Picture Industry Health Plan; • Work on a theatrical motion picture or primetime network television program; some primetime cable and syndicated series also qualify, as do productions for which an AMPTP member agrees to make contributions; and • Work on a production that utilizes a West Coast IA Crew.
Self-Pay Plans: Producers Health In a perfect world, every PGA member would qualify for employer-paid coverage. For those who do not qualify, the PGA offers self-pay options which, because of our group status, are likely to offer better rates than what members can find on the open market. The Producers Health Plans are available nationally. If you’re currently without health insurance, we encourage you to call immediately to see if you qualify for a plan that suits you. Even if you currently have coverage (particularly other self-pay coverage), it would be worth your while to investigate the options you may have through the PGA self-pay plans.
Questions? Contact: Scott Brandt (888) 700-7725
PGA HEALTH BENEFITS: STEP BY STEP Start
How many hours do I have to work to qualify for coverage?
I’ve determined that I qualify; how do I get my coverage to start?
My company isn’t an AMPTP signatory. Am I out of luck?
To qualify for the Industry Health Plan, a producer must be credited with 600 hours (automatically computed at 60 hours per week) within a six-month qualifying period.* To maintain coverage, he or she must be credited with at least 400 hours for each subsequent six-month period. If a member becomes ineligible, his or her eligibility for benefits will be reviewed every month until he or she accumulates enough contribution hours within a six-month span to re-qualify for benefits. Contributions are not automatic; they must be directly requested by the producer. Producers request contributions by signing and submitting a participation form within 60 days of starting eligible employment. If the producer does not submit a signed participation form, he or she will be deemed to have waived his or her right to contributions with respect to the job. Participation forms should be provided by the employer upon request. If you have difficulty obtaining a form, contact PGA National Executive Director Vance Van Petten at (310) 358-9020 x104. Not necessarily. If you are employed by a company that is a signatory to both the IATSE Basic Agreement and the Motion Picture Industry Health & Welfare and Pension Plans, you can request that they make voluntary contributions, even if they are not members of the AMPTP. This request has been granted many times, but can be difficult to secure. A good way to know if your production has signed on to the IATSE Basic Agreement is to check if the camera, grips, or sound providers are union.
Do you have health insurance?
Are you typically credited as Producer/Produced by, Executive Producer, Associate Producer or PostProduction Supervisor?
Unfortunately, no. However, the cost to the employer is reasonable enough that many employers will approve the coverage. Additionally, standard practice has dictated (though again, not required) that once a production begins making contributions to the Health Plan for one producer, it will make those same contributions for any eligible producer on the show, provided coverage is requested in a timely fashion.
yes You should sign up for the PGA plan. The more members sign up, the lower the average costs, and the better the benefits.
yes Do you work for an AMPTP signatory?
Is the coverage equal to or better than your current coverage?
Call Scott Brandt at (888) 700-7725. Request a quote for Producers Health Insurance.
Congratulations. You’re one of the lucky ones.
no Stick with your current plan, but consider getting another quote next year, or if your current coverage changes.
yes Do you work on a theatrical motion picture, primetime network program, or primetime dramatic first-run syndicated program?
Contact your payroll or labor relations department. Request the MPIH participation form to give to your employer.
yes Does your production utilize a West Coast IA crew?
If I qualify, is my employer required to approve my coverage?
Is it employer-paid?
Have you been credited with 600 hours of such work over the past six months, assuming a 60-hour workweek?
Request that your employer make contributions into the Motion Picture Industry Plan on your behalf.
Employer didn’t know how
Did your employer make the contributions? yes
Congratulations, you’ve got employer-paid health coverage. You must work 400 hours over the next six months (assuming a 60-hour workweek) to maintain your coverage.
*If the producer is also an owner of the signatory company, qualifying hours are computed at 56 hours per week.
November – December 2014
• Feature films: The list of qualifying digital platforms and film festivals has been clarified and expanded. Films that qualify applicants for membership via festival competiton now apply to all recognized credits, not just those within the Producers Council.
pga bulletin Online Offerings Keep Growing Awards season is a great time to be a PGA member... between screening and Q&A events, the PGA Holiday Party and the arrival of DVD screeners, a member has lots of reasons to celebrate. In fact, if there’s a drawback to the Guild’s growth, it’s that there’s more and more competition for limited space at our events. The good news is, the Producers Guild’s library of online content is growing by the week. The Online Video Committee, co-chaired by Stu Levy and Matthew Skurow, has worked hard to give all PGA members the chance to catch up on Guild events they may have missed.
The Committee has redoubled its efforts to record the post-screening Q&A sessions, and as a result, the PGA’s YouTube channel conProduced by editor Chris Green conducts a Q&A with tains recorded Q&As from the producers Angelina Jolie and Clayton Townsend. Guild’s screenings of films like thing from one-of-a-kind seminars The Drop, The Theory of Everything, like “Storytellling in Virtual Reality” to The Imitation Game, Big Eyes, A Most exclusive red carpet coverage from Violent Year, Wild, American Sniper, last year’s (and soon enough, this Selma, Unbroken and Inherent Vice. year’s) Producers Guild Awards. Additionally, you’ll find sessions, highlights and interviews from Produced By Conference 2014 and the inaugural Produced By: New York, as well as recorded events from the New Media Council’s Digital VIP Salon Series. The channel offers every-
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF THE ARTS Assistant/Associate Professor of Professional Practice Creative Producing – Film Program Columbia University, School of the Arts The Film Program seeks an Assistant/Associate Professor of Professional Practice (practice faculty) for the MFA Creative Producing concentration, effective July 1, 2015. The program emphasizes the role of the producer as the creative force behind a project. This requires the producer to have business skills, the ability to form creative collaborations and an understanding of an ever-changing marketplace. Candidates must have a vibrant professional practice, substantial teaching experience, and the ability to teach script analysis and development at the graduate level and to mentor students in the preparation of the MFA thesis. The successful candidate will have a breadth of experience in film, television and new media, the ability to think imaginatively about the future of the industry, a broad network in the industry, and the willingness to build a network of industry professionals in NYC and LA for the benefit of students and alumni. Candidates with an interest in helping to shape the future direction of the Creative Producing program and the Film Program as a whole are encouraged to apply and could serve as the Chair of Film in the future. Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent required. Master’s degree or equivalent experience preferred. Salary and rank commensurate with experience. Review of applications will begin immediately, and continue until the position is filled. The School is especially interested in qualified candidates whose record of achievement will contribute to the diversity of the institution For more information and to apply for this position, please visit our online site at: academicjobs.columbia.edu/applicants/Central?quickFind=59987
Subscribe to the PGA YouTube channel at YouTube.com/ProducersGuild, and visit it often. We don’t know what the next video they’re going to post is... But we’re sure you’re gonna want to see it.
• Short films: The Guild now recognizes short films with broad release as qualifying for membership; review the Guild’s requirements page for specifics. • Long-form/episodic television: Selected streaming subscriber services (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) now are considered as broadcast equivalent for purposes of member qualification. • Non-episodic television: Member qualification now requires 100 aired episodes rather than “26 air weeks.” • New Media: Significant changes made to criteria for broadband producers. Broadband membership now requires one of the following: 75 short-form episodes; three hours of produced content; two live-streamed events of at least three hours each; or five broadly distributed broadband projects. Applicants and sponsors should fully review the requirements page for specifics. • Branded content: While the Guild still does not accept commercial credits as qualifying for membership, it will now consider branded content credits provided that they rest on storytelling or a strong narrative through-line. Long-form advertisements do not qualify. • Minimum Payment Option: The MPO is no longer an option available for new applicants. 100% of applicable fees are now due at the time of application
Membership Qualifications Revised
Distinctive Residential Settings Chef-Prepared Dining and Bistro Award-Winning Memory Care Premier Programs for Health and Wellness Professionally Supervised Therapy and Rehab Services
After extensive review of the PGA membership requirements, the Guild’s Membership Committee, Constitution Committee and National Board of Directors have implemented changes which impact all three councils. Below is a summary of those changes and new criteria. If you plan on serving as a PGA sponsor in order to recommend a co-worker or colleague for membership, we strongly encourage you to read through the new requirements in full at producersguild.org.
belmontvillage.com Burbank (818) 972-2405 Encino (818) 788-8870 Hollywood Hills (323) 874-7711 Rancho Palos Verdes (310) 377-9977 Westwood (310) 475-7501 Thousand Oaks (805) 496-9301
• Time: Qualifying work is now limited to projects broadcast/distributed within the last five years for television and new media; seven years for feature films.
Winner of the George Mason University Healthcare Award for the Circle of Friends© memory program for Mild Cognitive Impairment. Provider to the NFL Player Care Plan.
Columbia University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer --Race/ Gender/Disability/Veteran.
RCFE Lic 197608468, 197608466, 197608467, 198601646, 565801746, 197608291 © 2014 Belmont Village, L.P. ProducedBy_9_2014.indd 1
7/31/14 2:45 PM
November – December 2014
New Members The Producers Guild is proud to welcome the following new members, who have joined the Guild since October, 2014.
Your Production Deserves CASHét is an innovative and complete
DENISE PAPAS MEECHAN
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NICOLE SAN FILIPPO
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ROSS CAVANAUGH THOMAS McNAMARA
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JASON WHITE I’ve been a non-fiction television producer working in the midwest and on the east coast for about 17 years. Name just about any production or post-production job in TV and I’ve done it. So it was a bit of a shock when I moved to Los Angeles three years ago only to discover that, despite all of my experience, I couldn’t get a job to save my life! I soon realized that there was no way I was going to find steady work as a producer here unless I networked hard and made some industry contacts. So, at the urging of a friend, I joined the Producers Guild.
Since joining the PGA, I’ve taken advantage of several of the Guild’s job forums, movie screenings and networking mixers. But even though I was meeting a lot of new people and making important contacts, I still wasn’t finding much in the way of work. Frustrated and quickly going broke, I decided to apply to the PGA’s Mentoring Program. And I’m really glad I did. I’ve always had a secret desire to work on a scripted show, so I asked for a mentor who works in that format. I was lucky enough to get paired with Paul Leonard, a seasoned producer whose scripted credits include Battlestar Galactica and more recently, two Syfy shows, Defiance and Dominion. Given my complete lack of knowledge about the scripted world, I was a bit nervous about contacting Paul, but he put me right at ease. Much to my surprise, Paul said I had a great-looking resume and even was impressed with my experience. I met with Paul several times over the next couple of months and asked questions about how scripted shows get made and, just as importantly, how I might find work on one. Given my background, Paul thought I might be a good fit on the post-production side. One of the things I was most interested in getting out of the mentoring program was an opportunity to “shadow” Paul and see what a scripted producer does, minute to minute. Paul was happy to let me shadow him at three different post facilities. Except for some of the professional lingo, it was reassuring to find the post-production process for scripted shows similar to what I’d been used to. (I admit, I was too embarrassed to ask what an “ADR” session was, so I googled it.) Paul’s a very busy guy, but he was and continues to be very generous with his time and advice. I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor. I’ve also made a great new friend, and you can never have enough of those in this business. I’ll be honest, I’m still not quite sure how I’m going to break into the scripted side of the biz. But with a friend and mentor like Paul, I’m sure I’ll find a way in, sooner or later.
marking time The Producers Guild proudly salutes the following producers whose credits have been certified with the Producers Mark. This list includes films that have been or will be released in November and December, 2014. Certification via the Producers Mark indicates that a producer undertook a major portion of the producing duties on the motion picture.
Clint Eastwood, p.g.a. & Rob Lorenz, p.g.a. Andrew Lazar, p.g.a. Bradley Cooper, p.g.a. Peter Morgan, p.g.a.
James Lassiter, p.g.a. Will Gluck, p.g.a.
BIG HERO 6
Roy Conli, p.g.a.
EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS Ridley Scott, p.g.a. Peter Chernin, p.g.a. Jenno Topping, p.g.a. Michael Schaefer, p.g.a. Mark Huffam, p.g.a.
Mark Wahlberg, p.g.a. & Stephen Levinson, p.g.a. Irwin Winkler, p.g.a. & Robert Chartoff, p.g.a.
HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 Chris Bender, p.g.a. John Rickard, p.g.a.
THE IMITATION GAME Nora Grossman, p.g.a. Ido Ostrowsky, p.g.a. Teddy Schwarzman, p.g.a.
JoAnne Sellar, p.g.a. Daniel Lupi, p.g.a. Paul Thomas Anderson, p.g.a.
James Weaver, p.g.a. Seth Rogen, p.g.a. Evan Goldberg, p.g.a.
INTO THE WOODS Rob Marshall, p.g.a. John DeLuca, p.g.a. Marc Platt, p.g.a.
A MOST VIOLENT YEAR Neal Dodson, p.g.a. Anna Gerb, p.g.a. J.C. Chandor, p.g.a.
NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB Shawn Levy, p.g.a.
PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR Lara Breay, p.g.a. Mark Swift, p.g.a.
Gigi Pritzker, p.g.a. Jon Stewart, p.g.a.
Angelina Jolie, p.g.a. Clayton Townsend, p.g.a. Matthew Baer, p.g.a.
Make certain your next credit carries the Producers Mark. See producersmark.com for details.
Emma Thomas, p.g.a. Christopher Nolan, p.g.a. Lynda Obst, p.g.a.
Summer 2012 Produced by