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New Millennium Production Seminar Series Seminars

By Susan Berry

For the second year running, the East Coast IDA presented its Production Seminar Series last May at Kodak’s New York office of Professional Motion Imaging. The seminars were highly interactive, informative events and provided a perfect venue to convene with other IDA members and have personal contact with industry professionals. All this within quick reach of a sumptuous buffet compliments of Kodak!

Our first seminar, “Budgeting: A Solid Foundation,” was led by past IDA president, director/producer Mel Stuart. Stuart focused on the nuts and bolts of creating a working budget. Drawing from four decades of experience in filmmaking, Stuart regaled the attendees with entertaining and informative vignettes that clearly illustrated the fundamentals of budgeting. To illustrate the finer points, a sample budget was provided to audience members.

Although the air conditioner struggled on that sultry Manhattan night, our intrepid PBS panel mapped the notoriously complicated system of public television to a packed house during our second seminar, “PBS: Funding & Distribution.” Moderated by IDA President David Haugland, the panel featured key industry professionals such as Cara Mertes, executive producer of P.O.V.; David Liu, program director at ITVS; David Grubin, independent producer; Dorothy Peterson, project development officer at CPB; and Caryn Guttieriez-Ginsberg of PBS. Haugland commented that “one of the great benefits that the IDA can offer its members is not only helping documentary filmmakers navigate the public television system but creating the opportunity for personal, one-on-one interaction with the key PBS individuals”.

Our third panel, “Negotiations and Deal Making,” delved into the salient points of contract negotiations for independent filmmakers. Our panelists, Marc Chamlin, an entertainment attorney and co-chair of the entertainment department at Loeb & Loeb, and Melisse Lewis, senior counsel and director of legal affairs at Discovery Communications, illuminated both sides of the equation. The panel was moderated by IDA Trustee Steven Rosenbaum, executive producer at BNN and founder and president of

“Out-takes and Archives,” the final panel of the series, encouraged filmmakers to consider the value of their outtakes in the age of convergence. “Filmmakers should look at the possibilities for potential income sources in connection with the drive for deeper content and the re-definition of deliverables as it relates to the original product,” noted moderator Cathy Carapella of FOCAL USA (The Federation of Commercial Audio Visual Libraries Limited) and vice president of Diamond Time Ltd. Carapella added that “filmmakers should not only consider the value of their outtakes for deeper content, but also see it as a potential source of secondary income and explore the long-term option of marketing their outtakes as an archive.” Panelists included IDA Trustee Matthew White, vice president of the film library at National Geographic Television; IDA Trustee David Seevers, director at ABCNews VideoSource; and producer Jessica Berman-Bogdan of FOCAL USA.

For those of you who missed our summer production seminars, check out our website ( for information on ordering recent IDA production seminar transcripts and audiotapes. Thanks so much to our generous sponsors Kodak and PBS and our panelists who donated their time to share their wealth of experience with our members! We couldn’t have done it without you!