15th Annual Meet the AD/UPMs

15th Annual Meet the AD/UPMs of the DGA Award-Nominated Projects

January 27, 2018 A Western AD/UPM Council Education Committee Event

The Assistant Directors and Unit Production Managers of the projects nominated for the 70th Annual DGA Awards were celebrated during the Western AD/UPM Council’s 15th Annual Meet the AD/UPMs event. Hosted by the Council’s Education Committee on January 27, DGA members gathered in the Guild’s Los Angeles Boardroom to hear firsthand what went into the making of these notable movies and television episodes.

The morning opened with a welcome from Western AD/UPM Council Chair Victor Hsu, who spoke about the Council before turning the proceedings over to 2018 Frank Capra Achievement Award Recipient Dwight Williams, who served as the moderator of the event.

After a brief explanation of how the day would proceed, Williams introduced the panel which consisted of: 1st ADs Gerard DiNardi from Jordan Peele’s Feature Film Award and First-Time Feature Film Award-nominated film, Get Out, Aldric La'auli Porter from Scott Frank’s DGA Award-nominated mini-series, Godless, Eric Topp from Isaiah Seret’s Kohler commercial, Never Too Composed and Jey Wada from Martin de Thurah’s WealthSimple commercial, Mad World; and 2nd ADs Paula Case from Martin McDonagh’s nominated feature film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Christine Danahy from Jean-Marc Vallée’s DGA Award-nominated mini-series, Big Little Lies and Heather Wagner-Wang from Mike Judge’s Comedy Series Award-nominated Silicon Valley episode, “Server Error.” UPMs J. Miles Dale from Guillermo del Toro’s DGA Award-nominated feature film, The Shape of Water and Alton Walpole from Godless; and 2nd AD Eric Lasko from Christopher Nolan’s DGA Award-nominated feature film Dunkirk participated in the panel discussion via a video hookup.

After screening clips from the nominated works, Williams and the panelists covered a number of subjects that included when and why to take a job, the ways of approaching high budget versus low budget projects and best practices on approaching an interview and/or doing the hiring. After the discussion, members were able to mingle with and ask their own questions of the panelists. 


DGA Members, click here for "10 Takeaways" - A list of information gleaned from this event.


You can listen to the entire panel here. You can find all DGA podcast episodes on our podcast page.


About the Panelists:

15th Annual Meet the AD/UPMs 2nd AD Paula Case
After starting her career as a DGA Trainee, Case joined the Guild in 1996 and has worked with such distinguished directors as Frank Darabont and Nancy Meyers. In addition to serving as an assistant director on Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, she was also a member of the DGA Award-nominated team for Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper and Damien Chazelle’s DGA Award-winning feature, La La Land. Case also serves as a Trustee on the Assistant Director Training Plan Board.

 

Meet the Teams 2017UPM J. Miles Dale
Prior to serving as the UPM on Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, Dale had over 30 years in the industry including serving as a Director and Executive Producer for four seasons of del Toro’s FX Network series The Strain and again partnering with del Toro to produce the horror hit Mama. Some of his other UPM credits include Matthijs van Heijningen's The Thing, Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Allen Coulter's Hollywoodland. Dale made his feature film directorial debut in 2002 with The Skulls III and has directed episodes for a number of television series, including Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments. Dale joined the DGA in 1997.

 

15th Annual Meet the AD/UPMs 2nd AD Christine Danahy
A graduate of the DGA’s Assistant Director Training Program, Danahy has worked on television and films all across the United States and abroad. In addition to her work on Director Jean-Marc Vallée’s DGA Award-nominated mini-series Big Little Lies, she is currently finishing up season one of the CBS series SEAL Team and scheduled to begin work later this Spring on the Sons of Anarchy spinoff, Mayans MC. Danahy joined the DGA in 2011.

 

Meet the Teams 20171st AD Gerard DiNardi
DiNardi’s production career spans over 25 years as a producer, line producer, UPM and 1st AD. In addition to serving as 1st AD and co-producer on Jordan Peele’s Feature Film Award and First-Time Feature Film Award-nominated film, Get Out, some of his other credits include Greg McLean's The Darkness, Ciarán Foy's Sinister 2, Rob Cohen's The Boy Next Door and James DeMonaco’s The Purge. DiNardi’s has been a DGA member 2000.

 

15th Annual Meet the AD/UPMs 2nd AD Eric Lasko
A DGA member since 2004, Lasko started his career in New York City before moving to Los Angeles in 2007. In addition to his work on Christopher Nolan’s DGA Award-nominated feature film, Dunkirk, some of Lasko’s other credits include George Clooney’s Suburbicon, Ben Affleck’s Live by Night, Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Shane Black’s The Nice Guys, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 DGA Award-nominated feature, There Will Be Blood.

 

Meet the Teams 20171st AD Aldric La'auli Porter
A graduate of the Assistant Director Training Program, Porter has been a member of the Guild since 1984. In addition to his work on Scott Frank’s DGA Award-nominated mini-series, Godless, Porter’s nearly 50 credits include such notable projects as Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Secret Life of Bees, James Cameron's True Lies, Gary Ross’ The Hunger Games, Ridley Scott's Black Rain, and Ron Howard’s DGA Award-winning features, A Beautiful Mind (2001) and Apollo 13 (1995).

 

15th Annual Meet the AD/UPMs 1st AD Eric Topp
Topp’s career began after he moved to Los Angeles in 1997 and started working as a production assistant on feature films, music videos and commercials. In addition to his work on Isaiah Seret’s DGA Award-nominated Kohler commercial Never Too Composed, Topp’s resume includes several other DGA Award-nominated commercials with Directors Fredrik Bond, Bryan Buckley, Timothy Godsall, Noam Murro and Steve Rogers; and Andreas Nilsson’s 2015 DGA Award-winning Comcast commercial Emily's Oz. Topp has been a DGA member since 2003.

 

Meet the Teams 20171st AD Jey Wada
Since starting out as a production assistant on features such as Richard Donner's Lethal Weapon 4 and Xavier Koller's Cowboy Up, Wada has amassed more than 20 years of experience in the business with work on over 800 commercials, television promos and multi-media content. In addition to his recent work on Martin de Thurah’s DGA Award-nominated WealthSimple commercial Mad World, Wada had previously teamed with de Thurah on the 2014 DGA Award-winning Acura MDX commercial Human Race. Wada joined the DGA in 2000.

 
Meet the Teams 20172nd AD Heather Wagner-Wang
A graduate of the Assistant Director Training Program, Wagner-Wang joined the DGA in 2016. In addition to her work on Mike Judge’s DGA Award-nominated Silicon Valley episode, “Server Error,” she also serves as the Key 2nd AD on the HBO comedy series. Her other work includes serving as a 2nd 2nd AD on Todd Holland’s movie for television Charlie Foxtrot; and as a DGA Trainee on episodes of Breaking Bad, Justified, The Goldbergs, The Real O'Neals and Animal Kingdom.
 

Meet the Teams 2017UPM Alton Walpole
A DGA member since 2001, Walpole has more than 30 years of experience in areas including cinematography, editing and producing. In addition to his work on Scott Frank’s DGA Award-nominated mini-series, Godless, Walpole’s UPM resume includes features such as Gavin O'Connor’s Jane Got a Gun, Joshua Michael Stern's Jobs, the Hughes Brothers' The Book of Eli, Scott Cooper’s Crazy Heart; and television projects such as Christopher Chulack’s pilot for Longmire and Niels Arden Oplev’s pilot for Midnight, Texas.

 

Meet the Teams 2017UPM Dwight Williams (moderator)
Williams has worked continuously in feature film and television production since 1969 where he started his career as a trainee on features such as Alan J. Pakula’s Klute and William Friedkin’s The French Connection. In his 47-year career, he worked his way up through the ranks of film production in various capacities from Trainee, to 2nd AD, to 1st AD, to UPM, to Producer and Executive Producer. With more than 80 feature film and television credits, his UPM work includes features such as Tina Gordon Chism's Peeples, Vondie Curtis Hall's Waist Deep, Craig Brewer’s Hustle & Flow and John Singleton’s Baby Boy. A member of the Guild since 1971, Williams is the 2018 recipient of the DGA’s Frank Capra Achievement Award.

 


About the Organizing Committee:

This event was organized by the Western AD/UPM Council Education Committee and the Meet the AD/UPMs Organizing Committee which is co-chaired by Peter E. Jackson and Redelia Shaw, with members Reginald Brown, Mark Hansson, Walt Louie, Lucille OuYang, and Melanie Wagor.

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