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Shondaland’s Betsy Beers, co-chair of the 2022 Produced By conference, wants to help get her industry brethren out of their Zoom isolation.
“I’m hoping this conference will inspire us all to start thinking like a community again,” she says of the June 11 event that will host a range of expert panels. The creative producer will use her background bringing shows like Bridgerton to the screen — Shondaland is currently producing the prequel — to help attendees navigate the ever-changing (and COVID-complicated) entertainment landscape. Beers spoke to THR about this year’s lineup and how it will help revitalize the industry.
How would you describe the mission of the Produced By conference, especially as the industry continues to experience rapid change and constriction?
I was thrilled that the Guild asked me to co-chair the conference. So much has changed over the past two years, and while it has affected everyone in our business, it is especially a complicated landscape for producers. I think the team has put together a really compelling range of panels that cover the gamut of important and relevant subjects. We are hoping to give our membership access to a wonderful, diverse selection of voices who can share their past experiences — and hopefully will hazard some guesses as to where we are headed.
What does a return to an in-person conference this year mean to you?
It’s a big deal! Many producers work independently and don’t have the regular access to the structure an organization provides. And those of us who do produce for larger entities often get insulated in our own worlds. Obviously, the work habits during Covid have increased a sense of isolation for all of us. So much of the business of generating projects and new opportunities comes from conversations that happen organically — through networking, during the process of production and more casual personal interactions. The world of Zoom has made every meeting very intentional. I am hoping that this conference will inspire us all to start thinking like a community again. A producer may work at a company, a producer may be independent, but no producer is alone. Also, on a personal note, I am excited to put on real clothes. I might even brave a waist band. Stay tuned!
How do you describe your job as a creative producer?
I like to say that my job is to do anything and everything that is needed to make a show succeed — from initial pitch through production and post. I work closely with show creators to develop an idea and articulate that vision. Once the project becomes reality, I have to do what is necessary to make sure that our vision is reflected in the work of every department. Every show is different, so my focus shifts as needed — sometimes it’s initiating an idea, sometimes it is serving as the bridge between the creator and the buyer — and it’s always trying to be mindful of the budget. The buck stops with me. Literally! At Shondaland, we have worked with many writers over the years who are first time show runners. They quickly learn that running a show is different than just writing one, and I am there to help guide, share my experience and carry as much of the load as I can.
Out of everything that Shondaland has on tap for the future, what are you most excited for?
It’s honestly hard to choose. We are currently filming the prequel to Bridgerton, Shonda’s show about young Queen Charlotte. I haven’t seen a cut yet, but if the scripts and dailies are any indication, it’s going to be fantastic! We have an incredible cast and our resident genius Tom Verica is directing all six episodes. I’m also very excited about our upcoming project by Paul Davies called The Residence, a very funny, fast paced whodunit about a murder at the White House. Paul created For the People and we are thrilled to be making another show with him.
What surprises you the most about your job?
I think what continues to surprise me about my job is that almost every day is different — and that is saying a lot after close to twenty years producing television! (Can I still call it television? Producing for the small screen?) It also points to what I love about my job — I am involved in so many different aspects of the process, there are different challenges all the time — and I am always learning new stuff.
It also never fails to surprise me that whenever a day looks as though it’s going to be more relaxed, or slow — the wheels invariably fall off the bus. Friday afternoons! That’s when they get you! I always think of Grey’s Anatomy. When the ORs aren’t booked, a “quiet board” always is a harbinger that a natural disaster is around the corner. After so many years, I should have learned something from that show by now…
A version of this story first appeared in the June 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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