For the Producers Guild of America, 2012 represented a transformative moment in its long campaign to stop the proliferation of undeserved producer credits.
On May 19, Prohibition tale “Lawless” became the first film to include the PGA’s Producers’ Mark, an official designation for producers certified by the guild. The mark — a lowercase “p.g.a.” — made its first appearance in the end credits for producers Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher when the John Hillcoat-directed drama, released by the Weinstein Co., screened in competition at Cannes.
The PGA crossed a key hurdle three months later in August in its decade-long push to become the authority on granting producer credits when the U.S. Dept. of Justice announced it would not challenge the PGA’s proposed use of a voluntary certification system. Five other films, including Venice Film Fest opener “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” received the mark. And in November, the PGA reached a major milestone when Fox, Sony and Universal signed on to let producers be certified with the PGA mark in end credits.
“Announcing three studios is just huge — huge — for the PGA,” says PGA president Mark Gordon. “And I’m really proud of Michael Lynton at Sony, Ron Meyer at Universal and Jim Gianopulos at Fox. They believe it was the right thing to do and that doesn’t happen a lot in this town.”
The PGA has made reining in the proliferation of undeserved producer credits its signature issue since the Oscar ceremony in March 1999 when five producers mounted the stage to receive a best picture Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love.” Within a year, the PGA had hired veteran studio exec Vance Van Petten as its exec director with marching orders to deal with the credit issue.
“Getting this done really has been my career ambition,” Van Petten says. “All our hard work has really paid off.”
The PGA held its first credit arbitrations in 2001 and promulgated a Code of Credits in 2004, which gained traction the next year when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced that the PGA’s credit determination process would be the one it used as a guideline on best picture nominations. It has also become the go-to org for credits determination for the Golden Globes, along with TV nominees for the Emmys.
In recent months, the PGA has conducted arbitrations on about 30 films that were viewed as potential nominees for the Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures — along with an additional 20 for the possible documentary noms.
“We always over-arbitrate just to be certain that we’ve covered all possibilities,” Van Petten says.
The PGA’s Code of Credits spells out the qualifications for those eligible to receive the “produced by” credit for features and executive producer credit for TV. The code attaches specific weights to producer functions: 35% for development, 20% for pre-production, 20% for production and 25% for post-production and marketing. It also includes job descriptions, guidelines and rules intended to help resolve credit disputes. The code requires that a person must have had “substantial” involvement adding up to a majority of those functions to qualify for the PGA credit.
TV’s infinite potential | Society’s ills unchained | PGA’s stamp of approval firmly in place