More than 30 DGA director and UPM members who work in feature film met in the Atrium at the DGA in Los Angeles on April 17 to discuss the collaboration between UPMs and directors.
Director/UPM Committee Co-chair Robert Butler, a director member, explained that the Director/UPM Committee is an outgrowth from a panel that DGA President Michael Apted served on several years ago. The Committee, which reports to the Western Directors Council and to the AD/UPM/TC Council, has been meeting since last summer.
"What we want to do is begin to address this bit of grit that seems to exist between our categories," Butler said. "It's a mutual two-way street. The goal in all of this is to increase cooperation, collaboration and communication between UPMs and directors."
Director/UPM Committee Co-chair Cleve Landsberg, a UPM member, said, "Through this process, we hope to get the best expertise to understand and strengthen the relationship between the UPM and the director. By strengthening this relationship, by enhancing the collaboration, we believe we'll strengthen the director's team and strengthen the DGA from within."
The members broke into four smaller groups with representatives from both UPM and director categories. For several hours each group discussed the same six topics:
"For a Successful Director/UPM Relationship..."
"The First Steps ... the First Encounter Between the Director/UPM"
"Working Collaboratively... Making One Film, the Same Film"
"Making 'Dr. NO' Into 'Dr. YES' "
"Taming the Unrealistic Director"
"The Imbalance Point of Power."
The discussions were lively, and in the informal setting, the comments were candid, with each category sharing numerous experiences of what they've witnessed on the set. It is safe to say that both sides received insight into the pressures the other faces, particularly from studios.
Following the individual group discussions, the larger group reconvened and the individual group leaders commenting on what they'd learned.
An additional group session of television one-hour episodic directors and UPMs will be held on May 22. A future issue of DGA Magazine will explore the director/UPM collaborative efforts.