Producers Guild Chiefs on Diversifying and Georgia's Abortion Ban
Ahead of the Produced By Conference, set for June 6-9 in Burbank, Lucy Fisher also talks about her remake of 'The Craft,' while Gail Berman reveals an unexpected side effect of producing Marie Kondo's Netflix show.
Halfway into their tenure as presidents of the Producers Guild of America, Gail Berman (Fox-based Sidecar) and Lucy Fisher (Red Wagon Entertainment) are focusing on diversifying the group's ranks — and ensuring producers are agents of change in the industry. They've already launched an initiative to provide legal and human resources support to independent film sets, where sexual harassment has long gone unchecked. On the eve of the 11th annual Produced By conference, one of the guild's marquee events, the duo talk about the WGA's standoff with agencies, taking a stand on Georgia's proposed abortion ban and the unexpected side effect of Berman producing Marie Kondo's Netflix show.
What kind of impact is the WGA-ATA standoff having on rank-and-file producers?
GAIL BERMAN It's certainly having one. What I keep saying is, "Just get everybody back into the room and work out your issues." Resolving this is the best thing for the business. Have things fallen apart? No. They're carrying on. But I think everybody wants this resolved, and I'd love to see that sooner rather than later.
What are your personal mandates as PGA presidents?
LUCY FISHER I think both of us were incredibly respectful of what the guild has already accomplished — but we're at a place in history that's a bit of a tipping point in terms of gender and diversity. We were able to create a program called the Independent Production Safety Initiative, IPSI. We secured a grant, and we've been able to devote a lot of time and resources. All of that will let us provide free on-set sexual harassment training and up to two hours of legal counsel, for free, for a lot of productions.
BERMAN At the first group training in New York, we had 50 attendees. You can see that folks in the indie world are clamoring for help in this area.
The majority of the top-grossing producers are still men. What can be done to get more women in that tier?
BERMAN I think we're in a war of attrition. Part of our responsibility is to encourage more people of diverse backgrounds to come into the guild. The more the messaging is out there, that the old way of doing business is over, the more it will change. It's just not happening fast enough. Nothing in Hollywood ever does.
A lot of studios issued statements on filming in Georgia if the abortion ban goes through. Where do you stand?
BERMAN Lucy and I are extremely supportive of a woman's right to choose and make decisions for her own body. It's unequivocal, as far as we're concerned. What we have done in response is put an agenda together to let our board weigh in on the subject. We will have more to talk about after that meeting, but we do plan to make a statement.
FISHER In general, the PGA doesn't make political statements. In some cases, if things are important enough, we go to the board. That's what's happening now. I can say, personally, that our company has made three movies in Georgia. We love the people there. We love the crews. However, we will not be going back to that state or to any other state that has those laws if they go into effect.
Let's end on a lighter note. Lucy, where are you with Zoe Lister-Jones' remake of The Craft?
FISHER We're going to start in September! We've got to find a fun new batch of kids to cast, which is one of my favorite things to do. Zoe has given it a real female-empowerment spin, but we're trying to figure out where to shoot. (Laughs.)
Gail, has producing Tidying Up With Marie Kondo inspired you to apply the KonMari method to your own home?
BERMAN I did Kondo the closet in my master bedroom, and it looks fantastic. I'm thrilled everybody loves the show, and that it's been a hit for Netflix, but I'm over getting photos. I don't want to see any more pictures of my high school classmates' underwear drawers.
This story first appeared in the June 5 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.