LC Producing Directors

An Evening with Producing Directors

December 5, 2019 A DGA Latino Committee Event

On December 5, DGA members gathered in the Guild’s Los Angeles Boardroom for the event, An Evening with Producing Directors. Hosted by the DGA Latino Committee (LC), the event was an informative evening of discussion with Producing Directors Jason Ensler (The Passage, The Exorcist) and Ken Olin (This Is Us, Sleepy Hollow) moderated by Director Javier Soto (The Strain).

The evening opened with a welcome from DGA Executive in Charge of Diversity Programs and Committees Frank Bennett Gonzalez. Then also speaking on behalf of Co-Chair Alicia Zaragoza who was unable to attend, LC Co-Chairs Regina Ainsworth and Ed Ornelas briefly discussed the goals of the evening.

“It’s events like this that I feel we can up our game by learning from experience and being prepared when we have the opportunities,” said Ornelas. “It’s one of the things that I love about the Latino Committee.”

Ainsworth added, “This was a perfect way to end the season and kick us off into the new year in terms of really focusing on how do we get hired, how do we get in the room, what’s the next step in our careers and just keep forwarding the conversation.”

The floor was then turned over to the panel where Ensler, Olin and Soto discussed the role of the Producing Director in television, the paths they had taken to get their individual careers to the next level, and how to maximize communication and connectivity both on and off set.

“So much of your time on a television set is problem solving,” said Olin. “It’s problem solving with a lofty goal which is to really elevate the material and tell the story in the most elegant, compelling and dynamic way.”

“When you’re in a jam on a television show, there’s a certain formula to how to get the scene that gets you through it,” said Ensler. “That’s the muscle… It’s good for young directors to be aware of the need to build that muscle.”

The evening also included a Q&A session where the attendees were able to have their questions addressed by the panelists.

At the close, Soto thanked Ensler and Olin for their participation. “What I love about this night is how the passion you both still have for what you do really came across. I want to thank you again for demystifying this role that I think a lot of people don’t know exists. And as emerging directors, it’s great to know that you have an ally.”

About the Panelists:

Jason EnslerJason Ensler
Ensler recently executive produced and directed the pilot and series for The Passage. In 2017, he served as executive producer and director on season two of The Exorcist, after directing two seminal episodes in season one. Prior to that, he directed the pilots for Redliners and Transylvania, and was the executive producer and series director on Red Band Society. He has directed and executive produced pilots for series including Cult, Hart of Dixie and Franklin & Bash, which he also served as the executive producer and director for the first two seasons. He has also directed episodes of Newsroom, Lethal Weapon, Grace & Frankie, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Goldbergs and Sirens. As well as the pilot and all episodes of the acclaimed cult series Andy Barker, P.I. Currently the executive producer and director for the upcoming series Love, Simon, Ensler joined the DGA in 2003.

Ken OlinKen Olin
After launching his career as an actor and appearing in critically acclaimed series like Hill Street Blues and thirtysomething, Olin began his career as a director—directing two episodes of thirtysomething a season during the final three years of the series. He followed up with two critically acclaimed movies for television – Doing Time on Maple Drive and The Broken Cord. His other directing credits include the feature White Fang 2, the HBO film In Pursuit of Honor, and episodes of The West Wing, Freaks and Geeks and Felicity. Olin also served as both executive producer and director on series such as Alias, Brothers & Sisters, Eli Stone, The Mob Doctor, Sleepy Hollow and The Slap, and the pilot for the upcoming series Grand Hotel. Currently, the executive producer and director of the hit series This Is Us, Olin joined the DGA in 1988.

Javier SotoJavier Soto (moderator)
Soto is most well-known for his compelling on-set documentaries which includes documentaries for Nimród Antal’s Predators, Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kong: Skull Island and Guillermo Del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth and his DGA and Academy Award-winning feature, The Shape of Water. Soto’s most recent project is a streaming 10-episode companion series for FX Network’s The Strain. Recently selected as a participant in the DGA’s Director Development Initiative, Soto is set to make his feature directorial debut in 2020 with the WWI horror film The Fallen. He joined the DGA in 2015 and he and Alberto Belli serve as the Coordinators of the Latino Committee’s Activities & Events Subcommittee.

About the Committee:

The Latino Committee was created as a networking group to advance career and job opportunities for Latino DGA members by improving craft skills, networking, and making Latinos better known to the Hollywood creative community. The Committee meets every other month and the current Co-Chairs are Directors Regina Ainsworth and Edward Ornelas and Second Assistant Director Alicia Zaragoza.

Pictures & Video

photos by Elisa Haber

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