Write On http://www.wgaeast.org/blog Blog of the Writers Guild of America, East. By writers, for writers Wed, 25 Feb 2015 22:27:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 (PHOTOS) 2015 Writers Guild Awards New York Ceremony http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/photos-2015-writers-guild-awards-new-york-ceremony/ http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/photos-2015-writers-guild-awards-new-york-ceremony/#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 22:20:08 +0000 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/?p=1634 i-7gKrVrh-1284x856

Norman Lear accepting the Writers Guild of America, East’s Evelyn F. Burkey Award for bringing honor and dignity to writers

The 2015 Writers Guild Awards New York Ceremony were hosted by Comedy Central’s new late night star Larry Wilmore (The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore). Presenters included Golden Globe-winning comedian Sarah Silverman (We Are Miracles), Golden Globe-nominated actor Clive Owen (The Knick), SAG Award-winner Michael Kenneth Williams (Boardwalk Empire, The Wire), Emmy Award-winning actress Judith Light(Transparent, Ugly Betty), Emmy-nominated Executive Producer Frank Rich (Veep), Oscar-nominated documentarian Morgan Spurlock (CNN’S Inside Man), actor Mahershala Ali (House of Cards, Mockingjay – Part One), actor Andre Holland (The Knick, Selma), actress Julie Klausner (Mulaney, Ugly Americans), writer/producer/activist Lizz Winstead (The Daily Show) and actor/comedian Robert Klein (The Good Wife, Sharknado).

The Writers Guild of America, East presented several special honors during its ceremony: Edward Zwick(Thirtysomething, Shakespeare In Love) presented Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby) with the Ian McLellan Hunter Award for Career Achievement in Writing. Journalist Bill Moyers presented legendary television writer/producer Norman Lear (All In The Family, The Jeffersons) with the Evelyn F. Burkey Award for Bringing Honor and Dignity to Writers. WGAE Vice President Jeremy Pikser (Bulworth) was presented with the Richard B. Jablow Award for Devoted Service to the Guild by last year’s recipient Philip V. Pilato. WGAE Executive Director Lowell Peterson presented Megan Rico with the Michael Collyer Memorial Fellowship in Screenwriting, which is funded by the Charles & Lucille King Family Foundation. WGAE President Michael Winship presented Liz Essley Whyte with the John Merriman Memorial Award for the Study of Broadcast Journalism at American University in Washington, D.C.

Attendees at the WGAE’s awards ceremony included Golden Globe-nominated actor Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex), actor/writer Michael McKean (Better Call Saul), writer/producer Beau Willimon (House of Cards), writer Larry Kramer (The Normal Heart), writer Gillian Flynn (Gone Girls), producer John Sloss (Boyhood), writer Hugo Guinness (Grand Budapest Hotel), author Elizabeth Strout (Olive Kitteridge), actress Annette O’Toole (Halt and Catch Fire), screenwriter Terry George (Hotel Rwanda), screenwriter Walter Bernstein (The Front) and actress Abby Elliott (Saturday Night Live).

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Photo Credit: Ken Goodman

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(WATCH) 2015 Writers Guild Awards New York Ceremony http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/watch-2015-writers-guild-awards-new-york-ceremony/ http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/watch-2015-writers-guild-awards-new-york-ceremony/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 20:41:44 +0000 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/?p=1503 The 2015 Writers Guild Awards New York Ceremony were held on Saturday, February 14, 2015 at the Edison Ballroom in Manhattan.

Comedy Central’s new late night star Larry Wilmore (The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore) hosted the WGA New York ceremony, which was executive produced by John Marshall. Presenters who appeared at the WGAE’s New York awards ceremony included Sarah Silverman (We Are Miracles), Clive Owen (The Knick), Michael Kenneth Williams (Boardwalk Empire, The Wire), Judith Light (Transparent, Ugly Betty), Frank Rich (Veep),  Morgan Spurlock (CNN’S Inside Man), Mahershala Ali (House of Cards, Mockingjay – Part One), Andre Holland (The Knick, Selma), Julie Klausner (Mulaney, Ugly Americans), Lizz Winstead (The Daily Show) and Robert Klein (The Good Wife, Sharknado).

The Writers Guild of America, East presented several special honors during its ceremony: Edward Zwick (Thirtysomething, Shakespeare In Love) presented Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby) with the Ian McLellan Hunter Award for Career Achievement in Writing. Journalist Bill Moyers presented legendary television writer/producer Norman Lear (All In The Family, The Jeffersons) with the Evelyn F. Burkey Award for Bringing Honor and Dignity to Writers. WGAE Vice President Jeremy Pikser (Bulworth) was presented with the Richard B. Jablow Award for Devoted Service to the Guild by last year’s recipient Philip V. Pilato. WGAE Executive Director Lowell Peterson presented Megan Rico with the Michael Collyer Memorial Fellowship in Screenwriting, which is funded by the Charles & Lucille King Family Foundation. WGAE President Michael Winship presented Liz Essley Whyte with the John Merriman Memorial Award for the Study of Broadcast Journalism at American University in Washington, D.C.

Below are video highlights from the 2015 Writers Guild Awards Ceremony.

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INTERVIEW: Shannon Walker & Damon Cardasis, “Vicky & Lysander” http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/interview-shannon-walker-damon-cardasis-vicky-lysander/ http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/interview-shannon-walker-damon-cardasis-vicky-lysander/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 18:56:32 +0000 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/?p=1493 Vicky LysanderShannon Walker and Damon Cardasis created, wrote and star in VICKY & LYSANDER, the popular YouTube web-series about a celebrity-obsessed couple who live like they’re higher on New York’s social ladder than they ever will be in reality.

The show has been so well received that it earned two Writers Guild Awards nominations this year for “Short Form New Media – Original.”

The WGAE Write On Blog spoke with Shannon and Damon, who are also the co-founders of the L.E.S. Film Festival, about how they write their show.

Can you tell me a bit about how you came up with the story of VICKY & LYSANDER?

Damon and I went to college together (ten years ago), and wrote a 5 minute sketch that is quite similar to Season 1, Episode 1 of VICKY & LYSANDER –  we performed it our last year in college and additionally for a sketch show we put together a year later. I can’t remember what the actual germ of an idea was… We love the idea of self-proclaimed “Power Couples.” Making fun of them. People that are so deluded and self-important – who think everyone wants to be them.

How did you shape the identity of the two lead characters. 

Someone who saw the sketch owned a pop-up space in The Lower East Side and asked if we would be interested in hosting dinner parties there as Vicky & Lysander. People would buy tickets, we would have family style catering, and the plan was to hold the most ridiculous dinner party you’ve ever been to because the hosts (Vicky & Lysander) are self-righteous jerks. It was supposed to run one month, and we ended up doing it for three months and were named “Best Borderline Performance Art” by the NYPress in 2010. Six months later, we said, “why don’t we turn this into a web series?

What is the script writing process for each episode/season? 

Damon usually types. I pace, stand up, sit down, stand up again, and we both act out the dialogue we’re writing. There’s usually some “that’s too on the nose.” “is this funny…” stuff like that. We’ve been collaborating for years so have developed a nice short hand. We know what the other is thinking,

What kind of environment do you like to write in? Do you need to be a certain frame of mind? Music on or off? 

A conference room, a Le Pain Quotidien, or a bar. Music doesn’t bother us unless it’s too loud. A song actually inspired the idea for the entire 2nd season.

Working in New Media, have you sought out ways to get feedback and notes on scripts before you shoot? 

We have great directors (Tony Castle and Roxy Hunt) who are up for anything. For Season 2, we wrote in a car chase scene, and instead of saying “I don’t think this is possible,” they just figured it out. We’re spoiled by their willingness to do anything the script asks for.

Do you have a particular episode that you felt translated from the page to the screen exactly as you imagined it? 

We were really impressed with how Ep 10 and Ep 11 played out. We had no idea how it would be pulled off, especially as we had extremely limited funds, but friends all pitched in and Tony and Roxy found a great way to shoot it. You’d be amazed how little we spent!

Was there a scene that turned out completely different looking or feeling than the way you intended it to be in the script? If so, did that particular scene make you go back and rewrite or rework any other parts of your script? 

Season 2, Episode 2 – Jenny enters and delivers this lengthy monologue about the tragic history of her atelier. It was based on Javier Bardem’s entrance in SKYFALL. Bond is tied to a chair and he approaches with this super long monologue. It wasn’t translating so well from page to screen for us, so We cut a lot of it in the editing room.

Lysander’s moustache. Discuss. 

HA. Moist would be a word to describe it. And moist is a gross word. The fakeness of it is part of the fun. It gets hardened with all of the glue and falls off repeatedly. It acts as a “wink” to the audience. Some people actually think it’s real. How that is possible is beyond us…

What would you recommend your friends read, watch or listen to that may not be on everyone’s radar? 

Excellent question. You came to the right Tastemakers. I (Shannon) love the podcast Scriptnotes by John August and Craig Mazin, and I thought A MOST VIOLENT YEAR was awesome. Damon would recommend the movie BEACHES, starring Barbara Hershey and Bette Midler. Try not to cry. Great combination of humor, drama, and music! “Oh Industry.” That’s where it’s at.

Who are your favorite on-screen duo? 

Turner & Hooch. Doc and Marty McFly.

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(PHOTOS) Warm You Up For Sundance, Slamdance and the Independent Spirit Awards http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/photos-warm-you-up-for-sundance-slamdance-and-the-independent-spirit-awards/ http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/photos-warm-you-up-for-sundance-slamdance-and-the-independent-spirit-awards/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 22:37:16 +0000 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/?p=1452 Last week, the Writers Guild of America, East hosted its annual Warm You Up For Sundance, Slamdance and the Independent Spirit Awards Cocktail Party. 

The event presented a opportunity for filmmakers, many of whom were heading to Park City for the first time, to meet and mingle before premiering their work. The event was highlighted by words of encouragement from WGAE President Michael Winship, Vice President Jeremy Pikser and Sundance alumni Shari Springer-Berman, Robert Pulcini and Craig Zobel.

Below is a selection of photos from the party.

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(PHOTOS) The Blackhouse Foundation’s Pre-SUNDANCE Reception http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/photos-the-blackhouse-foundations-pre-sundance-reception/ http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/photos-the-blackhouse-foundations-pre-sundance-reception/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 17:44:59 +0000 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/?p=1439 On January 5th, The Writers Guild of America, East hosted The Blackhouse Foundation‘s 2015 Pre-Sundance Reception.  It was a great sendoff for Producers and Directors of Color heading to Park City to premiere works at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

The Blackhouse Foundation believes in the importance & power of diversity in film. Its goal is to expand opportunities, increase knowledge & provide support for Black filmmakers in the U.S. and abroad through partnerships with the world’s most prominent festivals.

WGAE’s Executive Director Lowell Peterson, Director of Programs Dana Weissman and Lead Strategic Organizer Ursula Lawrence welcomed guests including Tamir Muhammad, Stanley Nelson, Julie Walker, Kamilah Forbes, Dolly Turner, Ron Mwangaguhunga, Duana C. Butler, Lyric R. Cabral, China Shaves, Sergei Franklin, Jacqueline Walker and Nicole Moore.

Thank you to sponsor VDKA 6100.

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(VIDEO) Die Well or Die Trying: A Panel On Scripting A Better Exit http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/video-die-well-or-die-trying-a-panel-on-scripting-a-better-exit/ http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/video-die-well-or-die-trying-a-panel-on-scripting-a-better-exit/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 20:49:09 +0000 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/?p=1434 On November 19th, The Writers Guild of America, East, in collaboration with the UCLA Global Media Center For Social Impact and The Conversation Project, hosted DIE WELL OR DIE TRYING, a panel discussion on scripting death, dying and end-of-life care.

To tackle this important issue, one that affects everyone, the panelist had an open and honest talk about how to script a subject matter most people find difficult discussing with even close friends and family. Panelist shared personal stories about caring for people who were at the end of their life, how writers can engage viewers in a conversation most people avoid until it is too late and, most importantly, what should be discussed when it comes to planning for death.

The panel featured Lachlan Forrow, MD (Director of Ethics and Palliative Care Programs, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School), Ellen Goodman (Pulitzer Prize-winning Columnist; Founder & Directer of The Conversation Project) and Dan Truly (Writer/Executive Producer, BLUE BLOODS). Moderating was Sandra de Castro Buffington (Founding Director, UCLA Global Media Center For Social Impact).

Below are video highlights from the event.

Die Well or Die Trying: Sandra de Castro Buffington (Part 1 of 4)

Die Well or Die Trying: Lachlan Forrow, MD (Part 2 of 4)

Die Well or Die Trying: Ellen Goodman (Part 3 of 4)

Die Well or Die Trying: Dan Truly, BLUE BLOODS (Part 4 of 4)

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INTERVIEW: Angus MacLachlan, GOODBYE TO ALL THAT http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/interview-angus-maclachlan-goodbye-to-all-that/ http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/interview-angus-maclachlan-goodbye-to-all-that/#comments Mon, 01 Dec 2014 17:52:49 +0000 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/?p=1429 Angus MacLachlanAngus MacLachlan’s film GOODBYE TO ALL THAT is building the kind of buzz that turned 2005’s JUNEBUG, which he wrote, into an indie hit and handed actor Amy Adams her breakout role.

GOODBYE TO ALL THAT, which MacLachlan wrote and directed, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and earned him a nomination for “Best Narrative Feature.” The film’s star Paul Schneider went on to win “Best Actor” in a Narrative Feature.

Indiewire‘s review of GOODBYE TO ALL THAT noted that  “MacLachlan already demonstrated a knack for many sharp, funny and dolorous observations in the North Carolina-set JUNEBUG, and by returning to the same locale, he scores big once again….the winning indie drama is refreshingly funny, sweet and full of humanity.”

The WGAE Write On Blog spoke with MacLachlan about GOODBYE TO ALL THAT, which debuts in theaters and VOD on December 17th.

Can you tell me a bit about how you came up with the story of GOODBYE TO ALL THAT?  

A lot of friends seemed to be going through various break-ups, and divorces, and then re-entering the dating pool with dating websites, and the phenomenon of re-connecting with old relationships via Facebook. As I observed and listened to these stories I found them fascinating, funny, horrifying and so deeply human.

What was the script writing process like for GOODBYE TO ALL THAT?

I slowly took notes of events, perhaps character ideas, and when Otto, my main character emerged I began to form a narrative around him. After quite a while I have an outline and the main characters and then I start the actual script, and begin at the beginning and write straight through. I try not to judge too much, and I tell myself if it’s terrible I can throw it away, or never show it to anyone. Once I have a complete draft I re-write and re-write, and then I have a few friends I show it to. At one point I got some young actors for a week to work on the script – read it, put it on its feet, and tell me what they thought. Then, finally, I began to send it to producers. When Mindy Goldberg and Anne Carey agreed to produce I continued to hone the script with their input. So by the time we were casting, and then shooting, the script was set. There was no re-writing during shooting, and very little improvisation. However, when I began to edit there was ‘another draft’ – scenes were dropped, the order was rearranged, and many were honed and cut down again to arrive at what was truly necessary, and entertaining.

What kind of environment do you like to write in? Do you need to be a certain frame of mind? Music on or off?

I have a studio apartment that I use as my office and I go to it everyday from 8-5. I need complete quiet. And lots of naps.

Did you write GOODBYE TO ALL THAT knowing you were going to direct it and if so, did that change the way you wrote the script?

When I finished the script I gave it to Phil Morrison, who directed JUNEBUG. He is a really trusted reader, and I also asked him if he’d direct. He told me “Angus, the central emotional relationship in the film is the father and daughter. I don’t have children and you do. I think you should direct it.” I had another director friend say the same thing. So when Mindy and Anne asked me about directors I said ‘Well, if we can get someone as good as Phil, that would be great. But – I’m interested in directing myself”. And they thought about it, and then said they’d see if we could do it with me directing.

The lead character, Otto Wall, finds himself in situations that are often uncomfortable, yet viewers get the sense that he is trying to find the humor in each situation and hope in each encounter. How much of that were you able to write out in the script, or is that something that really came out when you began filming.

I think because of my background and education as an actor and playwright I really respect ‘the text’. I want it on the page. And because of having the experience of acting on stage, one develops, hopefully, a sense of what ‘plays’. Then, if you’re lucky to get smart, talented actors, as I was, they bring their own mojo to it. I was very open to what they felt comfortable with, and any ideas they had. And – when we were editing we had a few ‘friends and family’ screenings which also helped to know what works, and what goes on too long.

Do you have a particular scenes that you felt translated from the page to the screen exactly as you imagined it?

I have to say that I am very, very lucky and I got to make the movie I wanted to make.

Was there a scene that turned out completely different looking or feeling than the way you intended it to be in the script? If so, did that particular scene make you go back and rewrite or rework any other parts of your script?

No particular scene is radically different then what was in the original script, but, as I said, the order changed. I found in the editing that it made more sense for a character to find out a certain bit of information earlier, and then his subsequent actions were more sympathetic and understandable. The scene at the pool and the final confrontation on the porch were two scenes that were shot much longer. And they were challenging to edit. My wonderful editor Jen Lilly and I moved some lines around, and cut, and cut, but they are now two my favorites. Maybe because for so long they didn’t seem to be right. And now it seems they are.

What would you recommend your friends read, watch or listen to that may not be on everyone’s radar?

I just spoke to a woman who was in film school but considering quitting because of the high cost, and I recommended Alexander MacKendrick’s book ‘On Filmmaking’. I never went to film school and my friend Ramin Bahrani told me to read it in preparation for directing and it is great. Like a concise film school education. I also suggested to this woman that she act. I have heard from actors that they often feel like directors don’t know how to talk to actors, or, really, what or how they do it. If you, yourself, have acted you understand how vulnerable actors are. Also you intuit that some actors want you to leave them alone, and some want verbal help. The third thing is to educate yourself in the history of cinema. I’m constantly surprised at how film executives and even filmmakers don’t know the great films of the silent era, thirties, etc…

What’s another film spotlighting divorced characters that you would recommend and why?
 

One of my inspiration was Paul Mazursky’s AN UNMARRIED WOMAN starring Jill Clayburgh. I wanted to see if you could tell a similar story from a man’s perspective. Also KRAMER VS. KRAMER is sort of the heavier version of GOODBYE TO ALL THAT.

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Need health insurance? Check out the Working America Health Care program http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/need-health-insurance-check-out-the-working-america-health-care-program/ http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/need-health-insurance-check-out-the-working-america-health-care-program/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 20:50:10 +0000 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/?p=1422 Health Care

Open enrollment for health care starts on November 15, 2014.

In 2013 and 2014, more than 8 million Americans were able to find quality, affordable health insurance through Health Insurance Marketplaces. Most people received tax credits to help pay for their health plans through private companies. The average monthly premium was only $69.

This year, the WGAE is working with our friends at Working America and Union Plus to launch The Working America Health Care program, which is specifically geared towards our members who do not qualify for collectively bargained health coverage.

Licensed professionals recommended by Working America Health Care will help WGAE members needing insurance understand the array of options available on the health care exchanges through the Affordable Care Act, compare costs, select the plan that best suits your needs and walk you through the enrollment process . They will explain the tax subsidies and credits available and help determine your eligibility.

We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity. WGAE members can visit workingamericahealthcare.org/wgae or call 888-686-4254.

As a WGAE member, by enrolling in a qualified health plan through the Working America Health Care program, you will also have access to several exclusive health-related member benefits, including a Health Advocate service* to help you coordinate your care, resolve claims, and answer questions about coverage. This service helps you:

  • Negotiate complex bills to try to lower costs and establish payment plans – acting as a 3rd party negotiator with providers and insurance companies on your behalf;
  • Find the best doctors and hospitals for your needs;
  • Access a Nurse Helpline for explanation of conditions, treatment options, and doctor recommendations;
  • Obtain appropriate approvals for needed services from insurance companies and providers;
  • Locate eldercare support services;
  • Explain your covered benefits, in-network options, and more.

You can also take advantage of Union Plus Dental Care Discounts and vision care savings to expand your coverage and help make your health care affordable.

Have a family member or friend who is not a member of a union? The Working America Health Care program is available to him or her as well. Participants of the program who are not members of a union are invited to join as members of Working America at no cost. As Working America members, they too are able to access exclusive health-related member benefits.

*Your eligibility for the personal health advocate service is based on your WGAE membership and your completed enrollment in a qualified health plan through the Working America Health Care program. Working America and Union Plus, the provider of Working America member benefits, reserves the right to discontinue this service at any time. If you discontinue your enrollment in a health plan through the Working America Health Care program, your health advocate service also will end.

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PHOTOS: WGAE panel with the writers of LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/photos-wgae-panel-with-the-writers-of-late-night-with-seth-meyers/ http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/photos-wgae-panel-with-the-writers-of-late-night-with-seth-meyers/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 19:44:45 +0000 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/?p=1389 DSC_2803

The Writers Guild of America, East spent Election Night (November 4th) with the writing staff of LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS.

The panel discussion was moderated by Chris Albers (BORGIA, THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH CONAN O’BRIEN) and featured Seth Meyers (Host, Writer), Mike Shoemaker (Producer, Writer), Alex Baze (Head Writer), Seth Reiss (Writing Supervisor), Michelle Wolf (Writing Supervisor), Alison Agosti, Bryan Donaldson, Matt Goldich, Pete Grosz, Andrew Law, John Lutz, Chioke Nassor, Connor O’Malley, Amber Ruffin and Ben Warheit.

The writers were asked about a wide-variety of subjects, from how they got their jobs at LATE NIGHT to what an average work day looks like to their favorites sketches that never made it out of the writing room. The evening produced a lot of laughs and provided great insights into writing for a comedy/variety program.

Below are photos from the event.

Meyers 1 Meyers 8 Meyers 2 (2) Meyers 9 Meyers7 LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS Meyers 7 (4) Meyers 7 Meyers 7 (2) Meyers 5 (3) Meyers 7 (3) Meyers 5 (4) Meyers 5 (2) Meyers 2 Meyers 6 Meyers 4 Meyers 2 (3) Meyers 3 (2) Meyers 3 Meyers 3 (3) Meyers 5 Meyers 10 Meyers 12 Meyers 11 (2) Meyers 11 ]]>
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RECAP: Produced By: New York http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/recap-produced-by-new-york/ http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/recap-produced-by-new-york/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 17:11:37 +0000 http://www.wgaeast.org/blog/?p=1382 produced by nyBy Melissa Hilfers

As a writer who has dabbled in producing, I was intrigued to learn that the Produced By conference, put on by the Producers Guild of America for the past six years in LA, was expanding to include New York this year. The Produced By: New York conference took place on October 25 at the Time Warner Center (Time Warner and HBO co-hosted the event), and when I got the opportunity to attend, I took it.

First and foremost, the conference was an all-day networking opportunity. Producers from all formats were there, and everybody was looking to chat. As a New York writer I often jealously lament the fact that since everybody in LA is in the business, networking opportunities abound there. In my mind, at least, writers are offered staff jobs in line at the Coffee Bean while waiting for their no-sugar-added ice-blendeds. It’s a bit more difficult to make connections here, and the conference was an excellent opportunity to do that. I swapped cards with feature and TV producers, a showrunner (LA-based, but still…), an entertainment reporter, and even a guy who makes coffee for film sets (decent coffee, I might add.) And I wasn’t feeling particularly social.

Second, there were educational sessions on topics such as “Greenlight Secrets Revealed: 10 Questions You Always Wanted to Ask a Network Head,” “The Ms. Factor: The Power of Female-Driven Content,” and “Window Shopping: Customizing Financial Models in the Era of Hybrid Distribution.” Folks like Harvey Weinstein, James Schamus and Darren Aronofsky also shared their views on a variety of issues relevant to producers.

Of most interest to me was the “Inside Showrunning” session, with panelists Barbara Hall, Jenni Konner, Terence Winter and Greg Yaitanes, moderated by Mark Gordon. The panelists shared anecdotes as well as specific advice on running a show. After Gordon offered his view that “showrunning is the hardest job in our industry,” Hall (who runs Madam Secretary) shared her three rules (I’m paraphrasing): hire people you like and trust and let them do their job; everybody needs to be on the side of the show; and everybody’s job is the hardest job. Konner (Girls) agreed with her, adding that in her view the best strategy is “kindness.”

The conference also offered Mentoring Roundtables, in which small groups (10 or so people) got to meet with producers like Hall, Konner and Gordon, and if my session was any indication, to pepper them with questions. I attended the session with Mark Gordon, who was extremely candid (also hilarious) and gave specific advice to all those who asked. For example, one film producer asked how you know when a script is ready to go out. She was working on a film that had been re-written by three different writers. “Yeah, that sounds like too many,” Gordon advised. He talked to another producer about moving from film into TV. (Interestingly, throughout the day I heard a lot of film people talking about the challenges of making this transition.) I also got some inside scoop on Ray Donovan, but I’m not sharing.

Finally, while writers sometimes feel we aren’t given due respect from producers, at least at this conference, that wasn’t the case. At more than one session, speakers gave props to writers. As Gordon said, “It’s all about the script. It’s all about the story.”

Melissa Hilfers is a screenwriter who lives and works in New York City.

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