PGA Awards: Hawk Koch and Mark Gordon on Making a Mark for the Industry
This story first appeared in the Jan. 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Since June 2010, Mark Gordon and Hawk Koch have served as co-presidents of the Producers Guild of America. (Hawk took a leave of absence in 2012 to serve a one-year term as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.) With their tenure as head of the trade group that represents the interests of film and TV producers ending this summer, they took a moment to look back at the growth of the guild, which is approaching 6,000 members.
Your biggest accomplishment has been the industry's adoption of the producer's mark, the letters p.g.a. after a producer's name in film credits. What was the tipping point?
Koch: I think it was [executive director] Vance [Van Petten] coming up with the idea to call it a certification mark. We told the studios you can give anyone you want a producer's credit, but only the people who actually do the functions of a producer get the certification mark. It's the right, morally correct thing to do. Luckily, several of the studio heads early on thought, "You know, they're right." I give a lot of credit to [Universal's] Ron Meyer and [Sony's] Michael Lynton for being the pioneers.
Gordon: I think that's true. When you have no power, your powers of persuasion have to be on something other than on a pure business level. We're not a union. We had no leverage. The only thing we could say to them is that it's the right thing to do. At first, everyone was gracious, everyone listened, but nothing happened. And so we would come back again. We just wouldn't take no for an answer. We wore them down, and we made them feel good about doing the right thing.
Koch: We hoped that producers would want to do this, but it's taken off even bigger than we thought because producers are realizing, "Yeah, this shows I really did the work. I want it on my movie."
This year, the PGA Awards (Jan. 19) celebrates its 25th anniversary. Where does it stand in the landscape of awards shows?
Koch: Ten or 15 years ago, nobody gave a damn about our awards. Now our awards are an important cog in leading up to the Oscars. Each year, as our award coincided with the best Oscar, people realized we were a great predictor. And the people we're honoring this year are being honored for what they've really done for our industry. Sometimes people are honored for political reasons, but I think our honorees deserve it.
What challenges do you think your successors will face?
Gordon We started out as a movie guild, but our membership is now 50 percent working in TV. We continue to look at how we can better serve all areas of the TV community. We'll push hard for the next president to push for all areas of the guild -- TV, movies and new media.
ROBERT IGER: Milestone Award
The PGA's highest honor goes to the Disney chairman and CEO for "bringing companies together to create new platforms for storytelling and cultivating creative excellence, innovation and continued growth."
CHRIS MELEDANDRI: Visionary Award
The CEO of Illumination Entertainment and producer of the breakout animated hit Despicable Me 2 is being honored for his "unique or uplifting contributions to our culture through inspiring storytelling."
CHUCK LORRE: Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television
The producer of such TV hits as Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory is being recognized "for his distinctive voice and commitment to vivid, one-of-a-kind characters."
FRUITVALE STATION: Stanley Kramer Award
The award, honoring a film that "illuminates and raises public awareness of important social issues," goes to this fact-based drama, starring Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer, about a racially motivated shooting.
BARBARA BROCCOLI AND MICHAEL G. WILSON: David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Motion Pictures
The heirs to the James Bond franchise have injected new life into the series as they ready Bond 24 and 25.
PETER JACKSON AND JOE LETTERI: Vanguard Award
Oscar winners for The Lord of The Rings: The Return of The King, Jackson and his visual effects supervisor "have created some of the most epic visionary fantasies in the history of filmmaking."