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.



(applause) Roger: Welcome to the Women's Panel! I would like to thank lynda.com, who is our presenting sponsor. (applause) I also need to thank the sponsor of the Women's Panel, Fielding Graduate University. (applause) Excellent! So, let's start right away with our panelists. Denise Ream, producer, Cars 2.

(applause) Leslie Urdang, producer, Beginners. (applause) Melissa Cobb, producer, Kung Fu Panda 2. (applause) Dede Gardner, producer, Tree of Life, 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. Madelyn Hammond. She is the former CEO of marketing from Variety, and she has her own marketing company. Madelyn Hammond! (applause) Madelyn Hammond: Thank you Roger. Welcome everybody! I'm excited to be here again, and we have such a great panel. Okay, I may do some quick introductions, because this is just so amazing.

All right, to my left is Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She has won a Globe. You know what? (applause) Julia Louis-Drefus: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! (applause) Madelyn Hammond: You know, Viola Davis said there is nothing like applause. So, it just doesn't matter. It's pretty good, right? Julia Louis-Drefus: You take it if you can get it. Madelyn Hammond: Yeah, absolutely! Okay, so not that I have to introduce Elaine. But you must hate when people call you Elaine. I know you do. Julia Louis-Drefus: I do. Madelyn Hammond: I know, I know, I know. Madelyn Hammond: You know, I couldn't help it.

I always like "Can I somehow do it without doing it?" Anyways, she won a Globe, five SAGs, and an Emmy for her work on Seinfeld. She won an Emmy for The New Adventures of Old Christine. Calling you Elaine is better than calling you Old Christine. Julia Louis-Drefus: Oh, whatever you want. Madelyn Hammond: All right! Okay, good. But she has also been in a bunch of 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 big 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 co-wrote 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 United States, which I want to say starts in April.

Madelyn Hammond: Am I correct on that? Julia Louis-Drefus: That is correct. Madelyn Hammond: All right! So, here we go. Now, too, we have Dede Gardner. Dede, The Tree of Life. I am-- (applause) Dede Gardner: Thank you! Madelyn Hammond: 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 favorites, Eat, Pray, Love, and she also produced The Assassination of Jesse James and A Mighty Heart 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 10 Days, and a bunch of other films.

And next up for Plan B is World War Z. It was described as a zombie action Madelyn Hammond: film, and there must be your audience, right? Dede Gardner: Good! Madelyn Hammond: Am I right? It's a zombie action film? Dede Gardner: Oh, yes. Madelyn Hammond: Because we need more zombie action films. This is good. But also you're doing another Terrance Malick film? Dede Gardner: No. Madelyn Hammond: No. Dede Gardner: We are doing another Andrew Dominik movie. Madelyn Hammond: Okay. And we love him. He's great. All right, so that's Dede. And then next up is Melissa Cobb. Melissa, producer of Kung Fu Panda 2 and 1, 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. Melissa Cobb: 13. Madelyn Hammond: 13? Okay, so, right around the corner. You want to tell us what that is? Melissa Cobb: Well, it's going to be announced in about three days, so I don't know if I should talk about it here, but what the 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.

Madelyn Hammond: I like that. Me and My Shadow. Melissa Cobb: Look out for that in 2013. Madelyn Hammond: Be on the lookout for that. And then we have Denise, producer of Cars 2. She was at Pixar, been at Pixar for five, going on probably six years now. Oh! Leslie, sorry! Oh, my God! I got my notes all mixed up. Okay. Leslie, she is the producer of Beginners. And tonight is a special tribute, by the way, to Christopher Plummer. (applause) Madelyn Hammond: 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 Twelve and Holding, which won the 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? Leslie R. Urdang: Not Broadway. Not-for-profit theater, I have a theatre. Madelyn Hammond: Not-for-profit theatre. Leslie R. Urdang: Yes. Madelyn Hammond: You know that's good, because when I saw live theater, I immediately thought Broadway, but there's a whole other. Leslie R. Urdang: Off Broadway, regional theatre, yes. Madelyn Hammond: And next up. And what's next up for you? Leslie R. Urdang: I'm in post-production on several films. We have a movie coming out in September called The Oranges. We've got, we're in post-production on a movie called Mister Pip, which is directed by Andrew Adamson, and Thanks for Sharing, Stuart Blumberg's film. He did The Kids Are All Right, starring Mark Ruffalo and Gwyneth Paltrow. And a tiny little movie with Melissa Leo.

So, those are all in post coming out in hopefully this year sometime, 2012. Madelyn Hammond: Mark Ruffalo. Mmm. That's all I remember, whatever she just said, I just remember that. Melissa Cobb: Always good. Madelyn Hammond: You had me at that. All right! And now Denise, since I'm so anxious and I keep calling everybody your name, because you're way at the end, Denise, producer of Cars 2 and she has been at Pixar for five years. Madelyn Hammond: I now want to say is this is your sixth year? Yep. Denise Ream: Yes. Madelyn Hammond: And she started out as an associate of production, and a VP, but she, before that, thirteen years at ILM, where she did commercials and a bunch of different films.

At ILM, she was at the top of her game in terms of animation and special effects and worked on Harry Potter film, Deep Impact, and Mission Impossible and Star Wars, just, it's crazy. She has had an amazing career in effects and animation, and I assume when you were little you probably were in front of the TV watching animated shows, right? Denise Ream: I was a Wizard of Oz and I Love Lucy freak and War of the Gargantuas for any of those of you who--actually my grandfather was in the effects business, so I kind of fell into it coincidently, which very happenstance story.

So, I guess it's in my DNA somewhere. Madelyn Hammond: 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 know, you can't help but get a little bit of the bug, so, it's contagious. All right, so I got to ask you a question to you guys, and anyone can chip in on this, and chime in, I should say. But there was just a recent study at the Celluloid study, which talks about women in different areas of entertainment. Women aren't doing so good still in directing and not very good at all in cinematography, but we're making, women are making strides in producing. And I just want to ask you guys--and I'm going to 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 we think there are more women in this, and do you feel there is more opportunity? Thoughts about this? Dede Gardner: I have to honest. I've always felt treated equally in the industry.

So, I've 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, and I don't know. I think maybe someone else would be better at answering this. Madelyn Hammond: 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.

Madelyn Hammond: So, all these things were important -- Dede Gardner: Patience maybe -- Melissa Cobb: And patience, but -- Dede Gardner: Movies take a long time, and you have to be--you have to listen to them, because they tend to talk you, if they're good I think. Dede Gardner: They're kind of like kids. Madelyn Hammond: Yeah. So then that the 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 is heard and make sure everybody is taken care of. Julia Louis-Drefus: 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 without sometimes them knowing they're being wrangled.

Madelyn Hammond: 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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