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PGA Women's Impact Network: Stepping Up To Set The Agenda For Change

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 24, 2014
Updated: Monday, March 24, 2014

The news is troubling, and there’s no way to spin it: For the past 15 years, there has been no perceptible change in the proportion of women working behind the camera in the entertainment industry. The Celluloid Ceiling, a study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, in assessing 250 of the top-grossing U.S. movies of 2012, found that women comprised only 9% of directors, 15% of writers, and 25% of producers. (The 1998 numbers: directors 9%; writers 13%; producers 24%.) As the size of films’ budgets drop (i.e., studio films to independent films to documentaries), the percentage of female participation rises. But even so, the lack of change over time at each level persists.

Assessments like this one have prompted the creation of the PGA Women’s Impact Network to broaden the Guild’s commitment to diversity with a focus on gender inequity.

At the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam and President of Women In Film Los Angeles Cathy Schulman announced the results of a first-of-its-kind research study examining gender disparity in American independent film in the last decade, followed by a plan of action to collaborate with other key organizations. Sundance/WIF’s efforts inspired PGA member Lydia Dean Pilcher to reach out to colleagues on the East and West Coasts to ask: “Are we doing enough? Can we do more?” The responses from 50+ members, collected by Pilcher and Deborah Calla, Chair of the PGA Diversity Committee in LA, were resounding in favor of further action.

Pilcher, one of the Chairs of PGA Green, cites the progress that has emerged from direct collaboration with the major studios and independent production companies. “By using the same model of a national committee, I have no doubt that PGA can make a significant social impact around gender inequity in the entertainment industry,” she asserts. The Guild’s membership is 47% female. Not only are we uniquely positioned by the strength of our membership, but we have a wealth of resources to offer in terms of utilizing our relationships with studios, unions, fellow guilds, and other allied organizations.

The newly-formed PGA Women’s Impact Network was approved as a national committee on November 11, 2013, at the Guild’s All Boards of Delegates Meeting in Los Angeles.  

Sundance Institute and Women In Film Los Angeles Study Examines Gender Disparity in Independent Film 

Professor Stacy L. Smith, Ph.D., a renowned expert on diversity and the media, of USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, led the Sundance/WIF landmark study. In the report, Dr. Smith explores individual, financial and industrial frameworks that have limited female creative professionals in distinct ways, as well as pathways and opportunities utilized by successful women subjects.

One producer in the study stated, “The majority of films made, in terms of content, are men’s stories… The stories [women] want to tell are women’s stories, and those don’t have the same commercial value. Or whether they really do have the same commercial capacity or not, they’re [not] perceived to have the same commercial potential as stories driven by men.”

Highlights of the Study include: 

·      FEMALE-SPECIFIC FINANCIAL BARRIERS emerged as the most frequently-cited barrier to women filmmakers. Interviews with content creators and industry gatekeepers yielded comments including the subject matter or sensibility of female-directed films being perceived as not commercially viable, confidence in a filmmaker’s ability, amount of funding, access or knowledge about finance, and finance-specific confidence.

·      MALE-DOMINATED NETWORKS permeate the upper ranks of the industry’s corporate structure, resulting in a “tilt” toward male priorities (at the expense of female priorities) in both the corporate culture of the industry and the types of stories and projects supported by the studios, networks and major production and finance companies.

·      SOCIAL NORMS AND STEREOTYPES about women and filmmaking were cited during production activities from financing through delivery. This incorporated the token status of females on set, objectification of women, which can contribute to lower performance, decreased technical resources or knowledge, and stereotype threat triggers. Gender equality on set is more common when females fill key leadership positions. This environment may also affect on-set experiences of emerging and/or seasoned content creators.

·      STRUGGLE FOR WORK/LIFE BALANCE. This was reported less often than the aforementioned financial barriers and male-dominated networks. But it is acknowledged that framing female unemployment after motherhood as a choice to “opt out,” neglects the fact that this choice is made within a context of workplace practices, which do not support a healthy career and family balance.

·      EXCLUSIONARY HIRING PRACTICES. Female directors face a real restriction in the range of properties they are hired to helm, thus foreclosing the opportunities to gain the experience needed to later attach to larger budget films. 

The full study can be found at:

http://www.sundance.org/programs/women-filmmakersinitiative/           

Lydia and Deborah introduced the PGA Women’s Impact Network at the November 2013 Sundance Institute/WIF Women and Finance Forum in LA, and PGA WIN will collaborate with Sundance on a similar finance forum planned for New york in the spring of 2014. These events are focused on midcareer support, and offer valuable opportunities to give accomplished female writers, directors and producers an overview of current film financing models, an understanding of what today’s investors are looking for, and training to bolster and harness confidence in the course of raising money for productions.

 
Women's Impact Network Chairs Lydia Dean Pilcher (left) and Deborah
Calla (right) with Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam,
Women In Film President Cathy Schulman, and Women's Impact
Network Co-ChairJoyce Pierpoline.
One of the first initiatives that the Committee will focus         on is an analysis of the existing diversity initiatives and training programs affiliated with studios, networks and other organizations. Building on the PGA’s solid member-driven profile in the realm of new media, another primary focus will be to facilitate the adoption of training programs for women in tech companies.

 

Television also will be a key area for PGA members to take the lead. In October 2013, the Directors Guild of America released a report reviewing more than 3100 episodes produced in the 2012–2013 network television season from more than 200 scripted television series, and found that male directors outnumbered female directors 4 to 1.

The World Economic Forum’s current annual Global Gender Gap Report ranks the United States 23rd out of 136 countries in the status of women. The U.S. ranks particularly low by international standards in wage equality and in numbers of women in the legislative branch. Twitter and other social media networks have become a key tool for activists raising social and political awareness. With women comprising the majority of social network users, these media have shone a brighter spotlight on gender inequity across many sectors of life.

In business, for example, while the percentage of female Board members at Fortune 500 finance and insurance companies has nearly doubled from 10% in 1995 to 19% in 2012, those Boards are still overwhelmingly male. Consultants at McKinsey & Company found that the international companies with more women on their corporate Boards far outperformed the average company in return on equity and other measures. In fact, at such companies, operating profit was 56% higher. 

In terms of the entertainment industry, there is encouraging news ahead for female perspectives in storytelling. At the recent Sundance/WIF Women and Finance Seminar, multiple panelists stated that female audiences, more than male, are now driving the VOD business. Howard Cohen, president of Roadside Attractions, said “Movies by and about women have a bigger marketplace now than ever before.” Stuart Ford of international sales company IM Global, echoed this, observing, “With the collapse of the male-driven DVD business, more buyers are looking for material that plays to female audiences on digital platforms.”

The PGA Women’s Impact Network seeks to connect interested Guild members of all genders through an active social media network. Everyone is invited to join and help our Guild set the agenda for change. A landscape of broader diversity in our industry not only will create a healthier culture, but will make us more effective and successful as producers.

Facebook: Producers Guild of America Women’s Impact Network

Twitter: @PGAWomen

The PGA Women’s Impact Network’s leadership includes Chairs Lydia Dean Pilcher and Deborah Calla, and Co-Chairs Laura Allen, Caitlin Burns, Martha Cotton, Lynn Hendee, Joyce Pierpoline and Rachel Watanabe-Batton.

- Article by Dana Kuznetzkoff

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2014 PGA Oscars Viewing and Recruitment Party

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 06, 2014
The 2nd annual PGA Oscars Viewing and Recruitment Party saw 200+ people watching, celebrating and networking with each other on a glamour filled night at the Farmer's Market Planet Dailies restaurant. The all-council event was hosted by the AP & New Media Councils and spearheaded by AP Council Chair Megan Mascena Gaspar and NMC Chair Michael Bellavia. Even before the first Oscar was handed out, 25 candidates had applied to the Guild. With applications still coming in using the event's special discount code, the recruitment event is on track to give the Guild another boost in membership beyond the recently cleared 6,000 benchmark.

Throughout the night, as specialty mixed drinks from sponsors Skinny Girl and Platinum Rye Entertainment flowed, business cards circulated and new members got an opportunity to meet PGA members up close and personal. While the presenters announced the Oscar winners, we had our own awards throughout the night, with prizes generously donated by The Grove and Farmer's Market retailers, an autographed poster from legendary producer Robert Evans, original Oscar posters with Ellen and copies of the latest version of Final Draft software and a free day to the Produced By conference.

With another successful year under the belt, we all look forward to The Producers Guild 2015 PGA Oscars Viewing and Recruitment Party.

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Stanley Rubin, 1917-2014

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, March 05, 2014
http://www.hollywoodfiveo.com/archive/issue2/cinema/rubin.htmOur PGA family lost one of its most treasured voices over the past weekend. Stanley Rubin, age 96, passed away at his home, leaving behind an unmatched legacy of creative work and Guild service.

For how many years was Stanley a member of our Guild? The answer is simple: All of them. One of a handful of founding members of the Screen Producers Guild in 1950, he lived to see the ranks of the Producers Guild swell to more than 20 times its original numbers—in great part due to the inspirational leadership he himself provided as a PGA President, Vice President, Secretary, Board member and trusted councilor.

Under Stanley’s presidency (1975 – 1979), the PGA signed its collective bargaining contract with Paramount and Universal—the last collective bargaining agreement (to date) the Guild would negotiate. Stanley’s clear-eyed wisdom helped the Guild through not one but two mergers, bringing together the Screen Producers Guild and the Television Producers Guild—to form the Producers Guild of America—in 1967, and then, 34 years later, serving on the Merger Committee that joined the PGA to the American Association of Producers (AAP). For over half a century, Stanley was the living embodiment of our Guild’s history, and his loss is a terrible blow not only to the countless friends and colleagues who relied on his wit, insight and passion, but to our collective heritage as an organization.

Stanley can claim a place not only at our Guild’s earliest origin, but at the inception of one of the industry’s most cherished honors—the Emmy Awards. In 1949, Stanley made television history as the producer of the first Emmy-winning film made for television, “The Necklace,” part of his anthology series Your Show Time. Stanley was kind enough to share his experiences creating that piece of television history in a feature for Produced By magazine in 2006.

His career—in classic producer fashion—tacked from television to film and back again, providing him opportunities to collaborate with everyone from Otto Preminger and Mel Blanc to Clint Eastwood and Tony Scott. An accomplished writer as well as producer, he rose to a leadership position within the WGA as well as the Producers Guild, providing for essential inter-guild communication and collaboration.

But it’s Stanley’s singular record of PGA service that makes him unique in the history of our Guild. Stanley was only the second member in the Guild’s history to receive the Charles FitzSimons Award for outstanding service—second only to Charles FitzSimons himself. And how many individuals could boast to have served as a PGA Board member with both Frank Sinatra and Gale Anne Hurd? Just one.

In his speech to the Guild at the close of his presidency in 1979, Stanley said, “I think the single most important thing I can pass on to the members of this Guild is that there is a hidden strength in the PGA that has kept it alive in spite of everything… To be honest, the Board of Directors has said many times over the past three or four years, ‘We’d better make a breakthrough this year, or by next year, there won’t be a Guild!’ Well, we were wrong. There still is a Guild. And there can be only one reason for that—and it’s the hidden strength I mentioned—the fact that there is a genuine need for a PGA.”

More than ever, there is a genuine need for a PGA. But in order to become what it is today, the PGA needed Stanley Rubin. And for more than six decades, every time we needed him, he was there for us.

Godspeed, Stanley. We miss you already.

- The Producers Guild

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25th Annual Producers Guild Awards: Honoring Entertainment's Best

Posted By Andrew Mahlmann, Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Updated: Thursday, February 20, 2014

The 25th Annual Producers Guild Awards was an event to remember. Featuring a historic tie for the Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award between 12 Years a Slave and Gravity and an unusual receipt of flattery from Ben Affleck, it is somewhat of a miracle that the show ran just under time.

The event was attended by influencers from every corner of the industry, from the most recognizable star actors, directors and musicians, to the most respected producers and industry executives. Opened by a terrific Johnny Carson impression by the inimatable Kevin Spacey, the Awards represented the best of Hollywood across it's history, present, and future. Honoring ingenuity, legacy, social consciousness, boldness and judiciousness, the Producers Guild Awards have come to recognize the beating heart at the core of entertainment.

See all of the night's winners here: 2014 Producers Guild Awards Winners

Red Carpet Interviews:

 

View official photos at our facebook album:

 

Tags:  PGA Awards  Producers Guild Awards 

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Weathering Change Under The New Healthcare Law

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, January 14, 2014

In the past few months, it has become clear that administration of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and preparation for compliance are highly complex processes which are stirring up a great deal of confusion. Lack of adequate preparation is going to create challenges for all employers, and none more so than those of us in the production world. In co-employment relationships, such as those that exist within the entertainment industry, the ACA provides that the co-employer who directs and controls the worker’s day-to-day functions is the responsible employer. This means that the production company typically will be responsible for providing coverage under the ACA, and that has come as a surprise to much of the industry.

All employers with at least 50 full-time employees and equivalents must offer affordable and adequate health coverage starting January 1, 2015, or pay a penalty tax. The IRS issued proposed regulations at the end of 2012 to implement this employer play-or-pay health coverage mandate. The mandate for individuals to obtain minimum essential health coverage, however, begins January 1, 2014. On October 1, the public health insurance exchanges opened for business and it was reported that thousands began signing up. Fulltime production employees not covered under union or employer health plans will be required to meet this requirement or face a penalty, and it is up to all of us to help get the word out to them.

What does this all mean for producers and members of the producing team? How are the unique needs of such a highly transient workforce being addressed? Where does one begin to assess how they will be impacted by the requirements and what the best course of action should be?

The industry has looked to my company for answers and solutions that will help mitigate their exposure. Fortunately, because of our role as a statutory employer of production workers, we are uniquely qualified to assist. For the better part of the past year, Joe Scudiero, our Senior Vice President and Chief Labor Counsel, and I have been analyzing how the ACA will affect our industry. We’ve been meeting with all of the studios and many major and commercial independent production entities and hosting seminars and webinars in order to discuss what we have learned.

Among the top concerns we have heard from the industry are confusion over what is affordable and adequate coverage, determining eligibility, lack of consolidated reporting across productions and production payroll companies, misunderstanding of government reporting obligations, and knowing where to find an insurance plan to meet the requirements. There will be instances in which a producer believes that it might be more cost-effective to pay the penalty rather than provide coverage but even this determination is complicated. For instance, though you would only be obligated to provide insurance for those full-time employees not covered under a union or employer health coverage plan, if you opted to pay the per-head penalty for not providing coverage, the penalty would be assessed on almost all workers on your production, including union members. A myriad of questions abound regarding what happens when a production worker is between shows and how COBRA eligibility will work; and while the studios have human resources and benefits professionals who are able to address these questions, we know that a majority of independent production entities will be on their own.

Producing entities had their first ACA obligation begin on October 1 and this will be ongoing when hiring new workers. Pursuant to Department of Labor regulations issued in

May 2013, employers must distribute a Notice of Exchange (NOE) to all current employees (including union, non-union, full-time, and part-time) stating whether or not they will offer compliant health coverage and informing their employees about government health insurance exchanges. While any new hires through 2014 must be provided the notice within 14 days of hire, beginning in 2015, the NOE must be provided on the date of hire.

We do not recommend that you attempt to answer all of the ensuing questions on your own, but rather seek the assistance of a trusted and knowledgeable advisor. Though employer compliance is not required until 2015, we are working with a number of studios who are choosing to begin compliance in January 2014. We will be happy to share what we all learn from the experience.

In the meanwhile, following are some essential details and sample scenarios to help you begin to comprehend the new laws. Though by no means a comprehensive set of guidelines, it is intended to assist you in planning your next steps toward compliance. There are a number of resources available to you — please do not hesitate to contact my team or your preferred service provider for more in-depth information and guidance or visit our online compliance center at www.entertainmentpartners.com/aca/. Though it may initially seem overwhelming, it is important to remember that all businesses are facing the challenge of wading through these new requirements and that we are all in this together.

The ACA Employer Mandate Ÿ- Play or Pay?

America’s new healthcare law is commanding everyone’s attention these days and has created an entirely new vocabulary for employers. One new term — "play or pay” — takes on a different meaning from what the industry is used to; here it is shorthand for the decisions employers must face in 2015. For employers in the entertainment industry, arriving at that decision is not a simple calculation.

For example, the majority of your crew on a given union production is receiving coverage through their union or guild plans. Does your company opt to play by offering compliant coverage to the remaining full-time, non-union crew? Or do you simply pay the no-coverage penalty tax on this small segment of your workforce?

While the latter may seem to be the easiest option, the decision is not as straightforward as it looks and will often not be the most cost-effective choice. Review the graph and infographics below for a more comprehensive breakdown.

Assessing the Impact

As production companies begin to grapple with the employer responsibilities, properly assessing their workforce and estimating their play-or-pay options will be crucial to managing production budgets in 2014 and beyond. However, this is only one simplified example of the changes entertainment employers face under the ACA. Their jobs are even tougher as they tackle the ACA’s many complex requirements and challenges, including:

· Adapting to changing ACA requirements

· Managing all ACA employer mandate responsibilities

· Evaluating employee status and healthcare eligibility correctly

· Accurate analytics and ACA reporting to the IRS

· Ensuring compliance and controlling costs

*The current regulations are interim and final guidance on the employer mandate is expected to be issued before 2015.

PLAY or PAY?

PLAY

Start: 400 Total Employees


MINUS 40 part-time employees

The ACA doesn’t apply to them outside of determining employer coverage.

The employer mandate applies only to full-time employees. You are required to offer coverage to at least 95% of your full-time employees (and their dependents) to avoid Part A penalties ($2,000 annual penalty tax per full-time employee minus the first 30 full-time employees).


MINUS 40 variable-hour employees

(e.g. day and weekly hires)

Variable-hour employees are not entitled to coverage until they’ve completed a full measurement period and satisfied full-time eligibility.


MINUS 80 short-term employees

They work full-time, but less than 90 days.

A full-time employee who is employed less than 90 days is not eligible for coverage if the employer has made an offer of coverage subject to a 90-day wait period.


MINUS 200 union workers

They’re covered by their union benefit health plans.

For 2015, you will be compliant if you are contributing to a multi-employer health plan (i.e. union/guild plans) that meets the affordability, adequate value and all other requirements.



Headcount for coverage calculation = 40 employees

Average annual premium = $3,000

$120,0001 Total Employer Cost (tax deductible)

PAY

Start: 400 Total Employees


MINUS 40 part-time employees

The ACA doesn’t apply to them outside of determining employer coverage.

The employer mandate applies only to full-time employees. You are required to offer coverage to at least 95% of your full-time employees (and their dependents) to avoid Part A penalties ($2,000 annual penalty tax per full-time employee minus the first 30 full-time employees).


MINUS 40 variable-hour employees

(e.g. day and weekly hires)

Variable-hour employees are not entitled to coverage until they’ve completed a full measurement period and satisfied full-time eligibility.


MINUS 0 short-term employees

If there is no plan offered, the employer is unable to exclude short-term employees from the Part A penalty base calculation.


MINUS 0 union employees

Since your non-union employees exceed 5% of your production’s workforce, you will be required to pay the "no coverage” penalty tax of $2,000 (i.e. Part A) per full-time employee (minus the first 30 full-time employees).


MINUS 30 full-time employees

There is a safe harbor to exclude the first 30 full-time employees.


Headcount for coverage calculation = 290 employees

Penalty tax over 12 months = $2,000

$580,0002 Total Employer Cost (non-deductible)



UNDERSTANDING PRODUCTION WORKER OPTIONS

Employers may have one year before they must comply with their employer mandate obligations under the ACA, but this is not so for individuals. As of January 1, 2014, individuals must enroll in "minimum essential coverage” or pay an annual penalty of $95 or up to one percent of income, whichever is greater. The yearly penalty increases in future years.

What health coverage options do production workers have? With the exception of a minor segment that would fall under public programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, health coverage is available through two primary sources: group plans and public exchanges. Here’s a quick look at these sources:

Group Plans

A large segment of the production workforce may already be covered through the unions and guilds. Others may have coverage through their spouses’ plans. The remaining segment of eligible, non-union workers can obtain a health plan through their employer group policy (if offered) or opt to get their own individual plan through the public exchanges. An obvious advantage to choosing an employer plan is the employer contribution, limiting the worker’s share of the premium to no more than 9.5% of adjusted gross household income.

Transportability is one of the most essential considerations when offering health benefits to a transient workforce.

The drawback to a traditional employer-based group plan is when production workers move on to their next project, they’ll face re-enrolling in a new employer group policy likely to involve a different network, doctors, and premium rates. Union members covered by a multi-employer health plan avoid this issue since they maintain the same coverage regardless of the project or employer if they meet eligibility requirements. Similar to multi-employer plans, there are employer group plan options available through a private entertainment industry exchange that enable non-union workers to carry coverage from production to production.

Public Exchanges

Publicly-run exchanges offer health coverage for those who are ineligible for or decline group health plan benefits through their union, guild or employer. Some eligible non-union workers also may elect to buy coverage through a public exchange. Once they enroll in a health plan through the public exchange, they carry their coverage with them, and depending on their income level, they may receive a government subsidy to reduce the price of their health plan if they have not declined an offer of compliant health coverage from their employer. Those workers who decline compliant employer sponsored coverage will pay 100% of the cost on an after-tax basis and will not qualify for a subsidy. When shopping the exchanges, the key variables impacting a plan’s cost and value include tax subsidies, benefits, coverage limits, out-of-network reimbursements, stability, and plan administration and support services. While the federal marketplace has gotten off to an undeniably rocky start, several state exchanges have fared better. Nonetheless, the volatility of the enrollment process and uncertainty of the insurance market should also be factored in when evaluating health coverage options through public exchanges.

Some production entities may regard offering health insurance or paying the penalty tax as solely a financial decision, while others may view offering insurance an incentive to attract and retain high-quality workers. Either way, it is up to employers to help their crews understand their options and properly assess their choices.

*To be eligible for a subsidy, a person (1) must not be eligible for medical insurance through an employer-based plan and (2) have a household income of less than 400% of the federal poverty level.

THE INDIVIDUAL INSURANCE MARKET

Coverage through individual insurance market plans may also be an option; however, many carriers are pulling out of the individual market to avoid the uncertainty tied to ACA changes and are directing their administrative and marketing services to the exchanges.

Individual market plans and employer plans specific to the entertainment industry are listed under "ACA Resources.”


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