Last week, I attended the Produced By Conference, put on by the Producer's Guild of America and held on the Disney lot in Burbank. I attended the Produced By Conference last year, and it inspired one of my first (or several) pieces for HuffPost. It's really an amazing concept for a conference that's essentially: "Let's bring together some of the most highly regarded producers in film and television and have them speak about different, relevant issues about being a producer in 2011."
Last year, I went to strictly film-related discussions, though lately, I've been working on some television concepts and figured I'd mix it up. I've been focusing less on directing and all things tech-related, and more on getting back to the basics - writing and producing content (that hopefully can reach a large audience.)
Anyway, here are some of my top takeaways from this year's Produced By Conference:
-Name talent can really elevate a micro-budget production, so keep SAG in mind as they're eager to keep their actors working. SAG recently launched iActor, which is a great new online tool for producers and actors. There are also all types of diversity incentives that I was not aware of. Meaning, if you cast your production to actually resemble the real world, you'll be able to stretch your budget even further.
-It never hurts to have footage already shot when approaching name talent to be a part of your production. (If a picture's worth a 1000 words, 24 frames per second is easily...okay, I was never the best at math.)
-I really enjoy hearing TV showrunners talk about their jobs, and the panel with Marc Cherry (Desparate Housewives), Damon Lindeloff (Lost), Andrew Marlowe (Castle), and Darren Star (Sex and the City) was great. I don't remember who said it, but the idea of "sometimes the best future showrunners are the worst to be on staff" really stood out to me. After all, being on staff is all about clicking into the vision from above. Some people are just better at going full throttle with their own ideas.
-"It's better to have a little bit of talent and a lot of drive than a lot of talent and a little bit of drive." - Mark Gordon
-Marshall Herskovitz interviewing new NBC Chief Robert Greenblatt was excellent. I was really impressed with how poised and down to earth both men were. NBC should be in good hands with Greenblatt at the helm.
-When should you start contacting sales agents about your indie film? As soon as you lock picture.
-While I'm not a huge horror movie fan, Eli Roth is a force of nature, and I have utmost respect for the man. He's embraced micro-budget fearlessness to launch his own career, and he believes that limitation is really the best thing for indie filmmakers, as it allows you to "squeeze your brain." He also recommends being unapologetic if you really want to act in your own stuff and believe you can. There will undoubtedly be naysayers...just let the work prove it.