Produced by Conference 2015: MBA Application Takeaways

The Producers Guild of America held their annual Produced By Conference in Los Angeles last month. As a PGA member, I snagged a free ticket to attend the second day of the conference, where I met some new friends and attended sessions about pitching feature films, creating brand partnerships, Tyler Perry (and his empire), and (speaking of empires…) Empire.

As I went from session to session, I couldn’t help but think about how much content and advice would be valuable for MBA admissions. So here it is, hot off the presses (or cold off the notebook?). Get your Hollywood-approved admissions tips about pitching, passion, and more right here!

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Ted Sarandos: Data, Judgment, Curation

“It is important to know which data to ignore […] In practice, it’s probably a seventy-thirty mix. Seventy is the data, and thirty is judgment, but the thirty needs to be on top, if that makes sense.”

– Ted Sarandos (Chief Content Officer, Netflix)

As someone interested in the data-driven side of entertainment, I love hearing things like this. Yes, data is important — invaluable, really — to discover out what our audiences want to watch and how. But as important is judgment, or taste. So even in data-driven entertainment firms, it’s important to recruit leaders with a well-developed creative sense, as well as a mastery of analytics.

As Tim Wu puts it in his The New Yorker article about Sarandos:

“Perhaps what we are seeing here is better explained by the rise of a different kind of talent. It is a form of curation (at which Sarandos excels) whose aim is guessing not simply what will attract viewers but what will attract fans—people who will get excited enough to spread the word. Data may help, but what may matter more is a sense of what appeals to the hearts of obsessive people, and who can deliver that.”

Image courtesy of IndieWire.

An Introduction

Hi! I’m Jackie, your eponymous TV-producer-turned-MBA-student. Originally from the Bay Area, I majored in Radio / TV / Film at Northwestern University, where I fell in love with producing and spent a whole lot of time on student film sets. I moved to LA two weeks after graduation to start my producing career, and after paying my dues as an assistant, I started working as a freelance producer in reality TV. Over the past few years I’ve worked on shows like The Biggest Loser for NBC, Whodunnit for ABC, and my personal favorite, The Tester for PlayStation Network (gotta love those gamers!).

About a year and a half ago, I realized that as much as I loved producing, I was ready for a new challenge. The thought of becoming a showrunner–the light at the end of the tunnel of my producing career–didn’t excite me any more. I took the opportunity to think broadly about what new function I wanted to move into, and I decided to transition into marketing, specifically the intersection of big data and entertainment marketing. And I decided to make that transition by getting my MBA.

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