Mindy Kaling, Marci Wiseman & Kate Krantz Discuss Underrepresentation At PGA's 2019 Produced By Conference

On Saturday, June 8th, Her Campus at UCLA had the wonderful opportunity to attend the first day of The Producers Guild of America (PGA)’s 11th annual Produced by Conference. The two-day event took place at Warner Bros. Studios in Los Angeles, a fitting venue that generated an inspirational environment for the attendees. The conference offered an impressive number of panels, all stacked with reputable leaders of film, television and new media. Guests were able to gain valuable insight from all of the conversations. Featured speakers included Mindy Kaling, Marci Wiseman, Nancy Meyers, Michael B. Jordan, Danny DeVito and Michael Douglas. It was an incredible event, and we were extremely fortunate to be able to take part in the experience.   

One of the opening panels was titled, “The New Age of Producing Horror” sponsored by Deadline. As horror films are especially desired by the younger generation in particular, this panel was compelling because it was directed towards answering the question of how producers are taking a new, innovative approach to scaring audiences. The speakers consisted of Ian Cooper (Creative Director, Monkeypaw Productions), Kate Krantz (Chief Content Officer, Crypt TV), Trevor Macy (Intrepid Pictures), Sam Shaw, Dustin Thomason (Castle Rock, Manhattan) and Marci Wiseman (Co-President of Television, Blumhouse). 

Photo by Richard Shotwell / Invision for Producer's Guild of America Foundation / AP Images

Kate Krantz, a UCLA alumnus (go bruins!) shared that “horror uniquely allows us to be vulnerable together, and there’s that positive upside of it.” She noted that the people who fall under Generation Z look at the world through a different lens, as a community of people who wish to talk about issues regarding subjects such as personal identity or social. She affirmed that this generation has become a contributing part of the horror community, and as the audience is always evolving, there is currently a deep yearning for community. She insisted, “Horror touches on hyper-relevant social issues and opens up to the world to have a conversation about it.” When asked about the underrepresentation of women in horror films, she told the audience, “For me, it’s been frustrating watching women not receiving the same amount of respect in this genre. It’s always ‘women in horror,’ instead of just great horror directors. We should not be sub-categorizing this.”  

Marci Wiseman also urged for the importance of providing a voice to underrepresented filmmakers insisting, “We have to reach out to different kinds of storytellers.” She discussed how millennials may view film and television, noting that they are “facing a future that does not look as optimistic and bright as it used to be for their parents’ and the generations before them.” She explained, “Social media has something to do with that. Dystopian and the end-of-world dilemma is a great release for people who are trying to come to terms with this.” She referenced the success of The Walking Dead, informing guests, “The Walking Dead is not about the zombies. It’s about who you would become. The zombies haven’t changed in 10 years, it’s the humans who have changed.”

Photo by Richard Shotwell / Invision for Producer's Guild of America Foundation / AP Images

Ian Cooper, known for his work with Jordan Peele in Us and Candyman, spoke about representation as well. In the process of creating films, he shared his thought process, “How can we make sure to make this beloved genre include the dogma of regimen of the past? Jordan (Peele) opened up the first element of representation, and the discourse surrounding that. It’s intrinsically related to people’s addiction to social media. Get Out set out an amazing template for discourse and unpacking. Fans in general relish the opportunity to dissect these issues. Unpacking and discussing seems to be the biggest change to horror. Talking about these issues in an urgent way.”

Sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter, the panel, “TV: Meet The Buyers” showcased prominent buyers, Jenny Groom (EVP, Alternate Programming & Development, NBC Entertainment), Amy Israel (EVP, Scripted Programming, Showtime Networks), Peter Micelli (Chief Strategy Officer, Film and Television, eOne), Nick Pepper (President, Legendary Television Studios) and Michael Thorn (President of Entertainment, FOX Entertainment). Amy Israel shared with the audience that “every show, from non fiction to comedy, is a response to the world.” Peter Micelli advised, “Be really efficient and strategic with people’s time. Be a student of the business, and make the buyers feel like you know what you’re doing.” Nick Pepper also encouraged aspiring producers, “Spend time making small things that show who you are as a producer, filmmaker, writer. That makes it easier for the buyer to help you.”  

Photo by Richard Shotwell / Invision for Producer's Guild of America Foundation / AP Images

The most packed session of the first day was the conversation between Mindy Kaling (Principal, Kaling International; Late Night, The Mindy Project) and Nancy Meyers (The Intern, It’s Complicated). It was a time of female empowerment and love, as the two women spoke about their experience as filmmakers, and how they feel about leading women in the industry. Mindy Kaling shared, “I feel honored that I am sitting here on this stage with you in the room. Female filmmakers can point to the PGA and say it can be done.” Kaling produced the screenplay for Late Night, and the film was recently released on June 7th. 

Photo By Mark Von Holden / Invision for Producers Guild of America / AP Images

The PGA brought together esteemed producers, directors, actors and other entertainment figures, to spark engagement and advocate for sustainable production practices. The atmosphere was motivational and empowering, and it was an absolute delight witnessing such brilliant minds coming together to ignite discussion. Thank you PGA for inviting us to this incredible event!