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Sundance First-Time Dramatic Competition Producers Discuss Career Paths and the Challenging Producing Landscape


“Producing is an identity,” said producer Karin Chien in her keynote speech at this year’s virtual Sundance Producers Brunch. She continued, “It is a tribe, it is an active community and is it is an artistic practice that encompasses more than can be communicated. A producer solves problems and creates problems, good problems. A producer questions why things are the way they are. We are independent producers because we subvert, and we complicate the status quo, with the intention of forwarding new thoughts, ideas voices and stories, our culture, our communities and our industry depend on us to do this.”

Of course, producers are storytellers too, so Chien’s idealistic rhetoric soon turned as she segued into a discussion of the challenges producers are currently facing in a system that often devalues their work. These challenges, which include producers being asked to cut or even defer their fees by agents and financiers, are among the reasons for the in-formation Producers Union, which tackles them through solidarity and collective bargaining. And they are the behind-the-scenes forces that shape who even enters the field of producing and, once in, how their careers progress.

Among the producers at Sundance this year are Jesse Hope, Nikkia Moulterie and Jessica Switch, all with films in Dramatic Competition. For each, it’s their first full producer credit even as this credit is the culmination of sustained work in the industry, ranging from below-the-line jobs to working with studio executives. At the links below find their interviews in which they discuss the challenges of these particular productions, their own career paths, and what the film business needs to do to sustain a new replenishing group of young producers.

“The Biggest Challenge Facing Producers and the Film Industry at Large Is an Unhealthy Relationship to Labor”: Producer Jesse Hope on A Love Song

“When Building a Team Around Your Film, Don’t Forget to Build Your Own”: Nikkia Moulterie on Producing the Sundance Horror Drama, Nanny

“I Do Take Pride in the Fact that All of the Parties Feel Authentic and Accurate”: Jessica Switch on Producing the Sundance Comedy/Drama, Cha Cha Real Smooth


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