18th annual meeting of AD / UPM of projects nominated by the DGA

On August 28, more than 120 members of the 1st AD gathered online for the 14th 1st annual AD event. Organized jointly by the AD / UPM East and West Councils, the virtual event was designed for members of this category to exchange information, share ideas and address work-relevant issues via two panels. : First AD leadership skills and Response to an emerging pandemic.

After welcoming remarks from the Co-Chairs of the First AD Committee of the AD / UPM West Council, Mark Hansson and Alan Curtiss, the President of the AD / UPM East Council, Lyn Pinezich, and the First Vice President of the AD Council / UPM East / Co-chair of the first AD East Committee, Joseph P. Reidy made their remarks and introduced the first round table, First AD leadership skills. The panel presented 1st AD John Rusk, Chris Surgent, Jennifer Wilkinson and Michele Ziegler explore this topic in a conversation moderated by 1st AD Donald L. Sparks. Topics they covered included skills on what makes a good 1st AD, decision making on set, and working with different personalities.

During the second panel of the day, Response to an emerging pandemic, Reidy moderated a conversation with 1st AD Carol Green, Francisco Ortiz, Artist Robinson and Laura Sylvester who took a look at where we are now. Other topics covered included their personal experiences working during COVID, how their productions worked to keep everyone safe, and how they handled the implementation of safety procedures.

After the moderated panels, all participants gathered for a question-and-answer session during which they answered questions submitted by the audience online.


About the panelists:

First AD leadership skills Panel

John rusk
Rusk has worked in over thirty states as well as overseas. and has collaborated with many prominent directors such as Peter Weir, Alan J. Pakula and M. Night Shyamalan, contributing to the production of over 50 feature films and television shows in addition to dozens of commercials. His feature film credits include Circle of Missing Poets, The sixth sense, Doubt, Unbreakable, Panels, Avalon, A league apart, Intrepid, Pelican briefs, Epidemic, 12 monkeys, To divide, A glass, and 21 bridges. Most recently he worked on the next seasons of Ms. Marvel and Strange things. A member of the DGA since 1987, Rusk served on the AD / UPM Eastern Council as co-chair. He also spent nearly a decade on the board of the Pennsylvania Film Industry Association and was a founder of the Delaware Valley Filmmaking Foundation.

Chris SurgentChris Surgent
Surgent’s AD credits include feature films such as Francis Lawrence Red sparrow and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and 2, that of Julie Taymor The Gloria, John Crowley The goldfinch, Martin Scorsese Hugo and that of Ben Affleck party baby party; films for television including George C. Wolfe The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks; and acclaimed TV series such as Martin Scorsese Boardwalk Empire. He is currently working on Scott Cooper’s feature film, The pale blue eye, and has on Francis Lawrence’s bridge Land of sleep. A graduate of the DGA Assistant Directors Training Program, Surgent has been a member of the DGA since 1995 and has served on the Eastern First Assistant Directors Committee since 2016.
Jennifer wilkinsonJennifer wilkinson
Wilkinson is a graduate of the New York DGA Assistant Director Training Program and has been a member of the DGA since 1992. Her AD credits include shows for television personalities like Steven Bochco, Ryan Murphy and David Kelley and she has spent time in the CSI universe. Wilkinson did the whole ABC series Revenge and twice had the chance to direct the series. Most recently, she spent a winter in Chicago for Amazon’s Utopia followed by a winter in Chicago and Toronto for the upcoming HBO Max miniseries Eleven station.
Michele ZieglerMichèle “Shelley” Ziegler
Ziegler made his PA debut on Bruce Beresford’s His alibi and that of Barry Levinson Avalon. Some of his other credits include Joseph Sargent’s DGA award-winning television film, Something the Lord has done, the film by Barry Levinson nominated for the DGA for television, The magician of lies and Bradley Cooper’s DGA-nominated feature film, A star is born. Some of his other credits include feature films such as Scott Cooper’s Hostiles, George C. Wolfe Ma Rainey’s black stockings and that of David O. Russell Joy, american unrest and Silver Linings Playbook; and episodes of the series Boardwalk Empire, Thread, The Sopranos and Homicide: life on the streets. A member of the DGA since 1991, Ziegler has served as the second deputy on the national board of the DGA and is a member of the first AD committee of the AD / UPM East Council.

Donald sparksDonald L. Sparks (moderator)
Sparks began his media and entertainment career in advertising as a copywriter and also worked as an operations manager at several Los Angeles-based post-production facilities before joining the DGA as a stage manager. 1992. Since becoming assistant director, his credits include comedies such as Steve Carr Daddy Daycare and that of Andy Fickman Parental guidance; action dramas including F. Gary Gray’s Trigger it and that of Paul Haggis The next three days; and period dramas like that of James Gartner Road to glory and Tate Taylor Ugly. Sparks has also enjoyed a close collaboration with director Denis Villeneuve on films such as Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival, and Blade Runner 2049. His most recent projects include A newspaper for Jordan directed by Denzel Washington and is currently in production on director Ryan Coogler Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.


Response to an emerging pandemic Panel

Carol GreenCarol Green
Green has been a member of the DGA since 1981 and has numerous feature film credits as an assistant director, including that of Joe Dante Gremlins and Howard Deutsch Pretty in pink. Since then she has turned mainly to television, with an occasional function, as 1st AD on shows like NYPD Blue; Temptations; Home, MD; American Horror Story: The Asylum; SMILF; Faded away; and Franklin & Bash to name a few. His most recent shows include The Red line and Valley-P, and she recently wrapped up season two of Around twenty.
Francisco ortizFrancisco ortiz
Ortiz is a New York-based 1st Assistant Director who sits on both the AD / UPM Eastern Council and the Eastern First Assistant Director Committee. Since joining the DGA in 2003, some of his credits include feature films such as Alan Taylor’s. The many saints of Newark, that of Martin Scorsese Silence and that of John Turturro The scrolls of Jesus; and episodes of TV series like Utopia, Power, The foreigner, Jack Ryan by Tom Clancy and Vinyl. He is currently working on the next series, Dexter: new blood.
Robinson ArtistRobinson Artist
Robinson spent 38 years in the film industry and worked on over 90 films. He started his career in 1984 as a PA on the film James Bridges, Perfect. In 1986, he moved to Key 2nd AD on Robert Zemeckis Who wants the skin of Roger Rabbit. He then worked on 32 films including that of Rob Reiner Misery, by Steven Spielberg Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Tim Burton Batman Returns. Robinson eventually climbed into the 1st AD seat in 1990 over Jonathan Mostow Breakdown. In 2008, he was a member of the directorial team for the multi-award winning DGA Award nominated mini-series. John adams. He acted as co-producer / 1st AD on Michael Radford Elsa & Fred, and as 1st AD on Neil Burger’s Divergent; that of Paul Feig To spy and ghost hunters; Jonathan Levine’s Snatch; and that of Susanna Fogel The spy who dumped me. His last film is that of Paul Feig The school of good and evil. Robinson has been a member of the DGA since 1986.
Laura SylvestreLaura Sylvestre
A graduate of the DGA Assistant Director Training Program, Sylvester has worked on over 350 television episodes as an Assistant Director. She enjoys working on comedies and dramas. His most recent 1st AD credits include episodes of The truth must be told, You, 68 Whiskey, Lucifer, and Student sex life. She has been a member of the DGA since 1996.
Joe reidyJoseph P. Reidy (moderator)
A graduate of the DGA Assistant Director Training Program, Reidy has worked as a second and first AD Assistant on more than 70 feature films and television projects, including DGA award-winning feature films such as Oliver Stone. Born July 4 and that of Martin Scorsese The dead; and DGA Award nominated feature films such as Sydney Pollack’s Tootsie, Robert Redford Quiz, Darren Aronofsky Black Swan, Aaron Sorkin’s The Chicago 7 trial, Oliver Stone JFK and that of Martin Scorsese Goodfellas, Age of innocence, New York gangs and The aviator. A member of the DGA since 1979, Reidy is the first vice-chair of the Eastern AD / UPM board, as co-chair of the Eastern First AD committee, is a member of the DGA’s return to work committee and sits on the board of directors. of the New York DGA Assistant Director Training Program.


About Tips

The AD / UPM East and West Councils are the elected bodies that represent the members of the Guild of Deputy Directors and Unit Production Directors who work in film, television, advertising and new media. .



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