While speaking at the Producers Guild of America's Produced By conference, Harvey Weinstein asked that the PGA add a new "CPGA" category that distinguishes producers who contribute creatively to a project.
He also asked the PGA to add a category for producers that focus mainly on financing, in an attempt to make it clear which producers are offering their specific talents and skills to influence films either creatively or financially.
Let's rewind: a drove of tuxedoes and gowns make their way up onto the biggest cinematic stage in the world to accept the most coveted prize in the industry: the Oscar for Best Picture. We often don't know their names or recognize their faces, or what they did specifically to earn that golden statue. All we know is that they're all up there in a little huddle around the microphone, desperately trying to say thank you before they're shooed off stage. If you haven't figured it out yet, these people are producers, and this scenario is called the "producer pile-up."
In fact, caps were introduced by the Academy to limit the number of eligible production credits available for producers -- restricting the number to three nominees and winners. This happened after the five producers of Shakespeare in Love, including the venerable Harvey Weinstein, took to the stage to accept the award for Best Picture in what Weinstein would later call a "five-people-on-stage car crash."
According to BBC News, Weinstein expressed that he felt creative producers deserved to be "taken a little more seriously" by not lumping all of the general "producing" contributions into one catch-all category. To put it into perspective, Weinstein used the 1999 Oscars as an example -- how he and fellow producers Donna Gigliotti, David Parfitt, Marc Norman, and Ed Zwick came up on stage to accept their awards, explaining how Norman and Zwick, though incredibly important to the development of the project in pre-production (Norman wrote the original script and Zwick developed it), weren't involved in any aspect thereafter.
In the contract, it said that Ed Zwick and Marc Norman were to be designated 'producers.' These guys made enormous contributions to the project -- in the development stage. Neither of them were ever on the set, they were never in the editing room and they were never involved in any post-production. These two guys were never there. These two never did anything in the producing sense.
So, if the PGA does change how they categorize a producer's contribution to a project, what benefits, if any, will come from it? The question is similar to the one we had back in March when we asked if the Oscar's Best Cinematography category should be split up into "traditional" and "computer-driven" cinematography categories. Were Weinstein's change to be enacted, that might give some much needed credit to producers who are creative collaborators rather than financiers. In other words, if awards are going to be given out to celebrate the great accomplishments of producers, should the Academy and the PGA recognize and acknowledge the very different roles and contributions, and award accordingly?
What do you think about Weinstein's position on film credit changes for producers? Feel free to discuss and debate in the comments below.