December 2019 Digest

I did it. I took two full weeks off from everything. 

Over the holiday break, I didn’t do any work. I didn’t open or send emails. I didn’t read any scripts. I didn’t edit any Dear Producer articles. I didn’t compile this December digest. I didn’t wish you all a ‘happy holidays.’ I didn’t do an end of the year ‘best of’ list (Honey Boy is my favorite movie of 2019 if you want to know) and I didn’t do one of those “10 years ago I started the decade…” posts. 

I’ll be honest, for a few days I did feel a little anxiety. I had a very quiet holiday and could have used that time to get ahead. But instead, I reminded myself that the work never goes away unless you put it away. So for my own well-being, I decided to put the work away and chose to watch a ton of movies, read books, and take naps. A lot of naps. 

The 2019 Word of the Year was “Existential.” If I had to pick the 2019 Word of the Year for producers, I would have picked “Burnout” (though “Existential” is also appropriate). It is the word I heard most often in conversations with producers and a state-of-being I was suffering from myself. 

Burnout comes in many forms. For me, burnout isn’t a lack of energy, it is a lack of motivation. When I hit peak burnout, I don’t want to do any work and I loose interest in just about everything. When I hit burnout, you’ll find me on the couch looking out the window at the squirrels with my cat or taking my time in the grocery store even though I hate grocery shopping. You’ll notice I haven’t returned your phone call, email, or even your text, which is not my style. I just want to turn it all off while simultaneously feeling guilty that I want to take a break. 

Given that producers are the ones who have to keep the train moving and keep everyone motivated, burnout can become a big problem. I manage to push through it, but I’m just going through the motions, which is not how great work gets accomplished.  

So over the holiday, I gave myself permission to take a break without the feeling of quilt. I immersed myself in storytelling and I took naps. Because when I nap, I daydream. And when I daydream, I think about good things. And when I think about good things, I believe I can make things happen. And when I believe I can make things happen, I start to become interested in the world again. And when I’m interested in the world again, I want to tell stories, not just appreciate other people’s stories. And that is when my motivation returns. 

You may not have had as quiet of a holiday as I did. Maybe you had kids running around and multiple sets of families to visit. If that was the case and you are feeling even more drained than you were before the holiday, find a way to fill yourself back up again. Learn to take care of yourself in addition to your filmmakers. Burnout is completely common. The key is knowing how to recognize and combat it. Figure out how your burnout manifests and take the necessary steps to reverse it – it’s not too late. 

Keep Going,


Hits & Misses 2019: How This Year’s Sundance Class Did
In its immediate aftermath, the story out of Sundance 2019 was its bounteous acquisition market and record-setting sales numbers—By the summer, a different narrative began to emerge. 

The Best Undistributed Films of 2019
While some movies struggled at the box office and others became surprise hits, these gems of the festival circuit still need homes.

Ten Predictions for Indie/Arthouse Film (Brian Newman)
I’ve been writing predictions for the film world since 2006, and while I haven’t kept a running total, I’ll admit that some of them have been dead-wrong, while more than a few have been pretty accurate, if sometimes off by a year. So I freely admit in advance that I might be wildly wrong.

Who Won The Year? A Look At 2019’s Box Office Receipts
What we really mean is, who came in second after Disney.

Disney is Responsible for 80% of the 2019 Box Office
Disney has eight of the top ten movies of 2019 and captured 80% of the box office this year. This unprecedented dominance is striking and unusual, but it marks a shift in high powered, conglomerate filmmaking that could be the future of cinema. 

“Apple Buys Disney or Netflix”: Hollywood Insiders Reveal Their 2020 Predictions
Guilds will go on strike, digital video costs will skyrocket, a streamer will win the best picture Oscar and more forecasts as 40-plus top industry players place their bets.

Adapt or Die: Why 2020 Will Be All About Entertainment’s New Streaming Battleground
As the calendar turns, 2020 is shaping up as a critical marker for high-stakes execution — when those in the C-suite have to prove they made the right decisions to realign their businesses for media’s next epoch.

In Baby Yoda, Hollywood Sees Its Past, Present and Meme-able Future
For ‘Star Wars’ fans, ‘The Child’ is a delightful surprise in a tiny package. But for the entertainment industry, it marks the culmination of a decade’s worth of trends as powerful as the decline of the movie star and the rise of Netflix, the dominance of IP and the brilliance of a Beyoncé album drop, all wrapped up in one fresh yet familiar package.

Disruptor Of The Decade: How Streaming Changed Everything And Will Do It Again In The 2020s
Hollywood’s unofficial wake-up call came on February 1, 2013, when Netflix dropped the first season of House of Cards in a single, binge-able chunk.

Netflix Leads Both Film & TV Golden Globe Fields, Streaming Dominates TV Nominations As Broadcast Is Shut Out
For the first time ever, it’s the same outlet that is leading both the film and television nominations at the Golden Globes. Netflix is the most nominated film distributor with 17 noms, led by Marriage Story and The Irishman, and the most nominated TV network, also with 17 noms, paced by The Crown and Unbelievable . 

New Netflix Subscriber And Revenue Figures Underscore Boom Outside U.S.
Emphasizing its surge in growth internationally as its domestic business settles into a more sedate pattern, Netflix released three years of revenue and subscription figures. 

The Downside of Studios Owning Movie Theaters Again
The Justice Department is trying to terminate a 71-year agreement that could theoretically give studios ownership over what plays in multiplexes.

IDA Files Lawsuit against State Dept. & DHS over Visa Rules
IDA and Doc Society, with support from the Knight First Amendment Institute and the Brennan Center for Justice, filed a lawsuit against the State Department on behalf of documentary filmmakers.


Here Comes YouTube: ‘Billboard’ To Change How It Calculates Top Albums
The question of how Billboard determines the most popular music in the country has gotten a lot harder in the digital age. It used to be a simple question of which album sold the most physical copies, but now Billboard needs to consider things like Spotify plays and mp3 downloads. Starting Jan. 3, it will also include YouTube streams.

Announcing IndieWire Influencers: The Craft of Filmmaking
With testimonials from Kevin Feige, Keanu Reeves, Greta Gerwig, and many more, IndieWire celebrates 30 below-the-line artists shaping cinema today.

The Hollywood Reporter’s 2019 Women in Entertainment Power 100
Dozens of new faces join Oprah, Shari Redstone and Michelle Obama on Hollywood’s annual list of the female players pulling in box office billions, running the streamers, sealing innovative deals and charting the future of an industry in flux.

Men are in Trouble and Hollywood Wants to Help
From “The Irishman” to “Frozen 2,” male characters are working on their issues and feelings in stories about masculinity. But their solutions often leave out women.

Golden Globes Once Again Nominate Only Male Directors
In a year distinguished by a record number of hit movies directed by women, from “Hustlers” to “The Farewell,” the Golden Globes once again nominated five men in the best directing category.