Produced By: Producers Talk Runaway Directors and Female Protagonists

Topics also included international production and crowdfunding, during a Q&A on Saturday at the PGA's annual conference.
AP Photo/Matt Sayles
Tracey Edmonds

Part of the producer’s job is being a good politician, chuckled PGA national executive director Vance Van Petten, getting a laugh as Transformers producer Ian Bryce carefully responded to a question about working with runaway directors.

“Directors are creative people,” Bryce said during a producer Q&A session held Saturday at the Producers Guild’s Produced By conference. “It’s a producer's job to moderate … and to bring everyone together.”

During a session that covered a range of topics, PGA president and Revelations Entertainment CEO Lori McCreary (Invictus) said she gravitates toward projects with strong female roles. “I want to see powerful women who don’t have to have a crazy addiction," McCreary said. "I feel a responsibility to show females who are technologists and leaders up on the screen.”

“I also gravitate toward female stories,” added Tracey Edmonds (Jumping the Broom), CEO of Edmonds Entertainment. “There’s a little piece of me in my stories.”

Asserted Bryce: “If our business is relying on people like Lori and Tracey to fill that gap, we are not doing our job. Our company focuses attention on that. It’s our obligation to do as much as we can.”

Edmonds earned applause when, asked about the series Empire, she said, “I always want to open up the world for African-Americans" and praised the series as not "just a niche show."

Asked about his recent The Age of Adaline, PGA president Gary Lucchesi noted that audiences “love sequels, but I think they really love original product. There’s an audience out there.  But they have to be good. You can’t make a marginal movie.”

Turning to the subject of international production — now a common part of feature production — producer Stuart J. Levy (Priest), CEO of Tokyopop, noted that that model is “starting to move to TV, and we’re also seeing it for video games. If you want to find the financing to recoup your budget, then international, I think, is very advantageous.”

Asked about crowdfunding, Bunnygraph Entertainment CEO John Heinsen related that there are the Kickstarter companies as well as new companies that are marrying productions with investors. He said this financing process has been likened to “shopping for a home mortgage.”

He cited one example where individuals who invested in a project had the opportunity to be an extra. Joked Bryce, “It’s called human product placement.”

“I hate it; it’s such an annoying process,” Levy added of crowdfunding. “If you are trying to do a full feature, you [are] not going to get the whole thing funded. It is overrated, but there are exceptions.”