ADUPM Teamwork

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: The Dynamics of Successful AD Teams

August 19, 2023 A Western AD/UPM Council 1st AD & 2nd AD Committees Panel Discussion

On August 19, the Western AD/UPM Council’s 1st AD & 2nd AD Committees hosted the panel discussion, Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: The Dynamics of Successful AD Teams. Held both online and in the Guild’s Los Angeles headquarters boardroom, the event featured a panel discussion led by Assistant Directors who have worked together across multiple projects and covered topics including how people move up in category; how technology has changed the jobs; how winning teams develop a complimentary communication shorthand; and what is needed to build a successful production group. While the event was targeted to Assistant Directors, all DGA members were welcome to attend either online or in-person.

The event kicked off with joint welcome from 1st AD Committee Co-Chair Mark Hansson and 2nd AD Committee Co-Chair Joe MJ Moore, who introduced DGA Secretary-Treasurer/Past President Paris Barclay and Western AD/UPM Council Chair Linda Montanti, who spoke a few words of introduction and the importance of cohesive directorial teams in the success of a production. DGA Assistant  Executive Director Faith Santilla, the staff liaison for the Council, also spoke to the audience about the assistance options available to DGA members adversely affected by the ongoing SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes and introduced DGA President Lesli Linka Glatter, who added her welcoming comments to the event via video.

Hansson and Moore then served as moderators for the panel discussion that began with introductions of the panelists, illustrated by clips of their work. Answering questions from the perspective of the arena of feature film teams were 1st AD Donald L. Sparks and 2nd ADs Pete Dress, Karen Davis (via video) and Alejandro Mora who have worked together on projects such as Reinaldo Marcus Green’s King Richard and/or Denzel Washington’s A Journal for Jordan and/or and Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049.  1st AD Sunday Stevens and 2nd ADs Wendy Bledsoe and Oliver Mack Calhoun, whose teamwork can be seen on projects such as the HBO series Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, gave answers as they pertain to the area of episodic television/streaming teams. The opinions from the standpoint of multi-camera production teams were given by 1st AD Robyn Willey-Pratt and 2nd ADs Adam Haas and Matthew Cocozza, whose shared credits includes the Nickelodeon series Danger Force. Adding their knowledge from  the world of commercials production teams were 1st AD Craig Owens and 2nd AD Jimmy Ramirez, whose handiwork can be seen in the NFL spot Run with It.

When the conversation turned to the topic of Prep, the features group shared how they had only four months on Bladerunner 2049 to complete rehearsals, fitting 2,000 extras, training the cast, and navigating weekly department head meetings. The multi-camera team had two weeks of limited prep to set up the whole show for children’s programs and the episodic crew advised team to get the Key 2nd AD as much prep as possible to share info with the team, go to meetings, scouts and tests.

On the overarching subject of teamwork, the episodic team agreed that trust and communication are the most important parts of a team and revealed that they encourage PAs to get involved; commercials spoke to how having a regular team of 2nd ADs can save time as they have developed a communications shorthand; multi-camera revealed that the Key 2nd is the safety net for making sure the production is on track for the next day; and features cited the value 2nd ADs bring to the production such as the Key 2nd keeping up to date with local governmental guidelines and local union rules and the 2nd 2nd providing input on how to stage background and things to consider when shooting with certain lenses.

The day ended with a luncheon and social mixer where the members could continue their discussions with others facing the same challenges.

See video from this event in the gallery below.



Donald L Sparks1st AD Donald L. Sparks
Sparks’s 1st AD feature credits include Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Creed, Denis Villeneuve’s PrisonersSicarioArrival and Blade Runner 2049, Dan Gilroy’s Velvet Buzzsaw and Roman J. Israel, Esq., Reinaldo Marcus Green’s King Richard, Rupert Wyatt’s The Gambler, Cathy Yan’s Birds of Prey, Antoine Fuqua’s The Equalizer 2, Denzel Washington’s A Journal for Jordan, F. Gary Gray’s Set It Off and Tate Taylor’s The Help. He has been a DGA member since 1992 and currently serves on the DGA National Board and on the Western AD/UPM Council. 
Pete Dress2nd AD Pete Dress
Dress’s 2nd AD feature credits include Dan Gilroy’s Velvet Buzzsaw and Roman J. Israel, Esq., Clint Eastwood’s Invictus and Gran Torino, Stefano Sollima’s Without Remorse and Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Reinaldo Marcus Green’s King Richard, Denzel Washington’s A Journal for Jordan, Morten Tyldum’s Passengers, Gregory Plotkin’s Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs, Rupert Wyatt’s The Gambler, Lee Daniels’s The Butler, Oliver Stone’s Savages and Ben Affleck’s The Town. He has been a DGA member since 2000 and serves on the Western AD/UPM Council’s 2nd AD and Education Committees. 
Karen Davis2nd AD Karen Davis
Davis’s 2nd AD feature credits include Denis Villeneuve’s PrisonersSicario and Blade Runner 2049, Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Creed, Antoine Fuqua’s The Equalizer 2, Miguel Sapochnik’s Finch, Destin Daniel Cretton’s Just Mercy, Jeff Wadlow’s True Memoirs of an International Assassin, Richard LaGravenese’s Beautiful Creatures, Billy Bob Thornton’s Jayne Mansfield’s Car, John Lee Hancock’s The Blind Side and Tate Taylor’s The Help. She has been a DGA member since 1993. 
Alejandro Mora2nd AD Alejandro Mora
Mora’s 2nd AD feature credits include Reinaldo Marcus Green’s King Richard, Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049, DanGilroy’s Velvet Buzzsaw and Roman J. Israel, Esq. and John Lee Hancock’s The Little Things. He has been a DGA member since 2014. 


Sunday Stevens1st AD Sunday Stevens
Stevens’s 1st AD episodic/streaming credits include series such as Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers DynastyHomelandLaw & Order: True CrimeTrue Blood and Dexter. She also served as the 1st AD on features such as Miguel Arteta’s Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Andy Fickman’s You Again and Ben Affleck’s DGA Award-winning feature, Argo. Stevens has been a DGA member since 1999. 
Wendy Bledsoe2nd AD Wendy Bledsoe
Bledsoe’s 2nd AD episodic/streaming credits include series such as Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers DynastyHomelandThe Lincoln LawyerThe Shrink Next DoorPretty Little LiarsFranklin & BashBetas and Ben and Kate; and mini-series such as Love & Death and Law & Order: True Crime. She has been a DGA member since 2001. 
Oliver Mack Calhoun2nd AD Oliver Mack Calhoun
Calhoun’s 2nd AD episodic/streaming credits include series such as Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers DynastyThe Mighty Ducks: Game Changers and Insecure; and features such as Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Taika Waititi’s Thor: Love and Thunder. He has been a DGA member since 2019. 


Robyn Wiley-Pratt1st AD Robyn Willey-Pratt
Willey-Pratt’s 1st AD multi-camera production credits include series such as Danger ForceErin & Aaron, The Fairly OddParents: Fairly Odder, Young & Hungry, Hot in Cleveland, The Soul Man, Til Death, Melissa and Joey and Bunk’d. She has been a DGA member since 2002. 
Adam Haas2nd AD Adam Haas
Haas’s 2nd AD multi-camera production credits include series such as Danger ForceErin & AaronHenry Danger, and Game Shakers. He has been a DGA member since 2015. 
Matthew Cocozza2nd AD Matthew Cocozza
Cocozza’s 2nd AD multi-camera production credits include series such as Danger ForceErin & AaronBob Hearts Abishola and Cousins for Life. He has been a DGA member since 2018.  


Craig Owens1st AD Craig Owens
Owens’s1st AD commercial credits include ads such as the NFL spot Run with It; Noam Murro’s 2014 DGA Award-nominated Dodge commercial Ahead of Their Time; Steve Rogers’s 2015 DGA Award-nominated Nike commercial Snow Day; Tim Godsall’s 2010 DGA Award-nominated DirecTV ad Opulence, Hyundai ad Bull and HBO spot Eastbound & Mom; and Andreas Nilsson’s 2015 DGA Award-winning Comcast ad Emily’s Oz. He has been a DGA member since 2001. 
Jimmy Ramirez2nd AD Jimmy Ramirez
Ramirez’s 2nd AD commercial credits include ads such as the NFL spot Run with It. He also has 2nd AD credits on episodic programs including 9-1-19-1-1: Lone Star and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. He has been a DGA member since 2011. 


Mark Hansson1st AD Mark Hansson
Hansson’s more than 130 Assistant Director credits include work on theatrical feature films, celebrated movies for television and episodic television. A DGA member since 1990, his service includes six two-year terms on the Western AD/UPM Council, including serving as Secretary/Treasurer in 2019, as well as eight one-year terms as an alternate of the Council. He has served as Founder and Chair of DGA West Coast 1st AD Committee since 2005. He has also served as a member of the Council’s Education Committee since 1998; as an appointee to the DGA Safety Committee from 2019-2021, as an originating member of the new LGBTQ+ Committee since 2021, and on six DGA Negotiations Committees. In 2023, Hansson was the recipient of the DGA’s Frank Capra Achievement Award, which is given to an Assistant Director or Unit Production Manager in recognition of their career and service to the industry and the DGA. 
Joe MJ Moore2nd AD Joe MJ Moore
A DGA member since 2009, Moore has amassed credits on over 250 episodes including series such as Grown-ishSorry for Your Loss and Saved by the Bell. He currently serves as the 2nd Vice Chair of the Western AD/UPM Council and has served as a Co-Chair of the Council’s 2nd AD Committee for the past six years. He also served on the 2020 and 2023 Contract Proposals and Negotiating Committees and was recently elected to the DGA National Board as a 2nd Alternate. Throughout the pandemic, Moore helped develop a group of DGA members that presented weekly virtual gatherings on The Republic of Zoom, which became a forum for DGA members from around the globe to learn and connect with each other. 

About the Western AD/UPM Council

The Western AD/UPM Council is the elected body that represents the more than 3,200 Assistant Director and Unit Production Manager members of the Guild who reside and/or work in film, television, commercials and new media the Western Region. In accordance with the Constitution and Bylaws of the DGA, the Council is comprised of 16 members and 10 alternate members who meet the criteria for these categories.

Pictures & Video

Photos by Elisa Haber

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