2012 SBIFF Women's Panel: Women in the Biz

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2012 SBIFF Women's Panel: Women in the Biz
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As the presenting sponsor of the 27th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival, lynda.com is once again pleased to open the door to four entertainment industry panels that feature some of Hollywood's top talent. Panelists are carefully chosen during the awards season and include many you'll see on the Golden Globes® and Oscars®.

Moderated by Madelyn Hammond from Madelyn Hammond & Associates, the Creative Forces: Women in the Business panel features five talented producers whose films have been nominated for multiple awards—from drama and comedy to animation and independent short film. Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Picture Paris) talks about her short film written by husband/writer Brad Hall. A multi-award winning actress, Louis-Dreyfus describes her journey to the other side of the camera as producer. Dede Gardner (Tree of Life) tells us why Fox Searchlight Pictures chose not to include images of star Brad Pitt while promoting the film. Melissa Cobb (Kung Fu Panda 2) talks to the organic process of producing an animated feature that allows an ongoing evolution of the story during production. Denise Ream (Cars 2) also shares her journey in feature animation though the creative juggernaut that is Pixar Animation. And Leslie Urdang (Beginners) talks about the experiences of working with legendary actor Christopher Plummer, who was presented with the Modern Master Award at this year's festival.

These powerful forces in feature filmmaking offer an inside look at why women are no longer excluded from any role in production they choose. All it takes is desire and a lot of hard work.

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Introductions

(applause) - Welcome to the women's panel. I would like to thank Lynda.com who is our presenting sponsor. And I also need to thank the sponsor of the women's panel, Fielding Graudate University. (applause) Excellent, so let's start right away with our panelists. Denise Ream, producer, Cars Two.

(applause) Leslie Urdang, producer, Beginners. (applause) Melissa Cobb, producer, Kung Fu Panda Two. (applause) Dede Gardner, producer, Tree of Life. (applause) And Julia Louis-Dreyfus, producer, Picture Paris. (applause) And please welcome the powerhouse behind the women's panel, she's been with us for now nine years doing this panel, we adore this amazing person, Madilyn Hammond, she is the former CEO of marketing from Variety and she has her own marketing company, Madilyn Hammond.

(applause) - Thank you, Roger. Welcome everybody, I am excited to be here again and we have such a great panel. Hey, I'm gonna do some quick introductions because this is just so amazing. Alright to my left is Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She has won a globe. You know what? (applause) - Thank you. Thank you, thank you. - [Madilyn] You know Viola Davis said there's nothing like applause, it doesn't matter, it's pretty good, right? - You take it if you can get it.

- Absolutely, okay so not that I have to introduce Elaine, but...you must hate when people call you Elaine, I know you do. - I do. - I know, I know, I know. And you know, I couldn't help it. I was like, "Can I somehow do it without doing it?" Anyways, she won a globe, five SAGs, an Emmy for her work on Seinfeld. She won and Emmy for New Adventures of Old Christine, but calling you Elaine is better than calling you Old Christine. - Ah, whatever you want. - Alright, okay good. But she's also been in a bunch of other films, including one of my favorites, Hannah and her Sisters. And she was also in an animated film in A Bug's Life. And I say that because we've got two producers from animated films.

She is now starring, and I'm very happy, tonight is the debut of Picture Paris, which is a short film that she's in that she also produced. And her husband Brad Hall is here and he cowrote it, or wrote it. And she, let's see what else. Oh, and I think you have a little HBO series coming up, called Veep, which is about Vice President of the United States, which I say starts in April, is that correct? - That is correct. - Alright. So here we go. Now, two, we have Dede Gardner. Dede, Tree of Life... (applause) - Thank you.

- Three Oscar nominations, one for best picture, one director for Terrence Malick, and cinematographer. She is the president of Plan B, which is Brad Pitt's production company. They produced a bunch of films, including one of my faves, Eat Pray Love and she also produced Assassination of Jesse James, A Mighty Hart, with Angelina, and before Plan B, she was head of production at Paramount, where she worked on Election, Zoolander, How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, a bunch of other films. And next up for Plan B is World War Z.

It was described as a zombie action film, and there must be your audience, right? (laughter) Good. Am I right, it's a zombie action film? - Yes. - [Madilyn] Because we need more zombie action films, this is good. But also, you're doing another Terrence Malick film. - No, doing another Andrew Dominic movie. - [Madilyn] Oh, okay, and we love him, he's great. Alright, that's Dede, and then next up is Melissa Cobb. Melissa, producer, Kung Fu Panda Two and One, I should say. Before Dreamworks, she worked at VH1.

She did a lot of the music-driven films and before that she worked at Fox Family Films, Fox Animation, also at IRS Media, where she oversaw production and development for a bunch of indie films. And before that she was in live theater. And next up for her is, you have an animated film coming up in 2014. - 13. - [Madilyn] 13, okay so right around the corner. You want to tell us what that is? - Well, it's gonna be announced in about three days, I don't know if I should talk about it here, but what heck.

It's called Me and My Shadow. It's a movie that will combine CG Animation and 2D animation in a really kind of fun way. - [Madilyn] I like that. - Look out for that in 2013. - Be on the lookout for that. And then we have Denise, producer of Cars Two. She has been at Pixar for five, going on probably six years now? - Oh, what'd I do? - Oh, Leslie, sorry. Oh my god, I got my notes all mixed up. Okay, Leslie, she's the producer of Beginners. And tonight is a special tribute, by the way, to Christopher Plummer. (applause) She's the president of Olympus Pictures.

Before Olympus, she founded her own company where she worked on a bunch of independent films, including one 12 and Holding, which won an Independent Spirit Award. She also worked for Redford's company, Gary Ross's company, she developed and produced Motorcycle Diaries and you started out in Broadway, too, did you not? - Not Broadway, not for profit theater, I... - [Madilyn] Not for profit theater. - Yes. - [Madilyn] You know that's good, because when I saw live theater, I immediately thought Broadway, but there's a whole other. - Off Broadway, regional theater, not for profit. Some Broadway. - [Madilyn] And what's next up for you? - I'm in post production on several films.

We have a movie coming out in September called The Oranges. We're in post production on a movie called Mr. Pipp, which is directed by Andrew Adamson. And Thanks For Sharing, Stu Blumberg's film, he did The Kids Are Alright, starring Mark Ruffalo and Gweneth Paltro and a tiny little movie with Melissa Leo. So those are all in post coming out in hopefully this year sometime, 2012. - Mark Ruffalo, mmm. (laughter) That's all I rmember, wheatever she just said, I remember that.

Always good, you had me at that. Alright, and now Denise, since I'm so anxious and I keep calling everybody your name, because you're way at the end, Denise, producer, Cars Two. And she's been at Pixar for five years. And I want to say now is this your sixth year? - Yes. - Yeah, and she started out as associate of production and VP, but she, before that, 13 years at ILM, where she did commercials and a bunch of different films. At ILM she was top of her game in terms of animation and special effects and worked on a Harry Potter film, Deep Impact, Mission Impossible, Star Wars, it's crazy.

She's had an amazing career in effects and animation and I assume when you were little, you were probably in front of the TV watching animated shows, right? I was a Wizard of Oz and I Love Lucy freak, and War of the Gargantuas for those of you. Actually, my grandfather was in the effects business so I kind of fell into it coincidentally, which, very happenstance story. I guess it's in my DNA somewhere.

- Well you know, I think sometime when you do have a family member that's in something, whether it's restaurant business or effects or writing or acting, you can't help but get a little bit of the bug. It's contagious. Alright, so I got to ask a question to you guys. And anyone can chip in on this, or chime in I should say. But there was just a recent study, the celluloid study, which talks about women in different areas in entertainment. Women aren't doing so good still in directing and not very good at all in cinematography. But women are making strides in producing and I just want to ask you guys, and I'm gonna start with you, Dede, do you think it is because of our collaborative personalities, our persuasive nature, the fact that we're generally nurturers and we can take a project through? But why do you think that there's more women in this and do you feel there is more opportunity and thoughts about this? - Hmm.

(laughter) I have to be honest, I've always felt treated equally in the industry, so I felt fortunate. And I haven't ever experienced being denied the ability to do something simply because I was a woman, so I think producing is a lot of multitasking, which I'm told we're good at. I don't know, I think maybe someone else would be better at answering this.

- Well I do think, though, the multitasking is a big thing. And Melissa, you and I talked before about how important it is in producing to be collaborative, so all these things... - Patience, maybe? Movies take a long time and you have to listen to them because they tend to talk to you if they're good, I think. They're kind of like kids. - Yeah, so then that experience of having kids, and Julia, you can speak to this, it probably helps you when you take a film and you have to kind of make sure everybody's heard and make sure everybody's taken care of. - Yeah, I think you do, I think you have to wrangle a lot of personalities.

And I think that women can be very effective at that and can wrangle people sometimes without them knowing they're being wrangled. (laughter) - That's the most important part of all. That was your idea, wasn't it? What a good idea that was that you had.

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