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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



Interview with PGA Producer Kayvan Mashayekh on 'Producing Without Borders' @ 69th Cannes Film Festival

Kayvan Mashayekh's PGA Panel Producing Without Borders @ 69th Cannes Film Festival

Middle East and North Africa Representative for the PGA (Producers Guild America) Kayvan Mashayekh brought his 2nd annual 'Producing Without Borders' panel, hosted by the Royal Film Commission of Jordan, to the 69th Cannes Film Festival. Due to its major social media and Cannes success, the RFC/PGA co-branded event is set to be a mainstay that will now take place twice a year, both at Berlinale and Cannes Film Festival.


I interviewed PGA producer Kayvan about his panel shortly after Cannes. Here is what he has to say:

This year in Cannes you held a PGA panel in the Jordanian pavilion. Can you tell us about that?

KAYVAN: The RFC/PGA co-branded event (Producing Without Borders) was created out of the frustration of many independent filmmakers who are looking for guidance on how to take their project from conception to distribution. Since it echoed many of my own experiences in writing, producing, and directing a major independent production in five cities and three continents, I was keen on assembling a group of individuals who could educate "Multi-Hyphenates" on the salient issues facing any film production. Personally, I would have loved to have been the beneficiary of the wisdom dispensed by my panelists before I shot a frame of film.

This was the 2nd year running. Will you do it every year?

KAYVAN: Absolutely! As a matter of fact the Second Edition was so well received, we are planning to hold at least two per year, one in Cannes and one during the Berlin Film Festival. The live streamed event recently was the No. 1 most viewed video clip EVER on the Official Producers Guild of America Facebook page (as of late May 2016).

What are some of the highlights of the panel?

KAYVAN: The panel consists of a group of international producers, attorneys, filmmakers, and distributors coming together to share their knowledge and experience on how to best partner up and collaborate with each other to launch a successful project. International film projects demand careful cross border planning and preparation from financing, clearance and copyright issues, location management, talent participation, distribution commitments, and local knowledge of what content has the best chance of success with each respective territory. The role of the producer is the vital glue that holds it all together. As more and more projects are "packaged," how do we define a successful package internationally? Our panelists discuss an array of necessary tools to navigate a cross platform media project, whether the ultimate outlet for the story is film, television, or the web. 

How do you pick your panel speakers?

KAYVAN: Panelists are hand picked by me based on their specific areas of expertise and thankfully their wonderful reputations after being in the business for years.

How has the participation of Cannes and Jordan Film Commission helped make this panel possible?

KAYVAN: This panel would NEVER have happened without the RFC and the amazing support of Mr. George David, The General Manager of The Royal Film Commission of Jordan. His enthusiasm for this discussion was paramount to having the PGA on board.

There are a lot of mixed opinions on whether producer should join PGA or not. Can you tell us about its benefits?

KAYVAN: The PGA, above all, champions the art and craft of producing by bringing together the best in the business to collaborate and learn from one another. The benefits far outweigh the annual nominal cost, because of the numerous workshops on filmmaking, a huge "Super Bowl" of producing event we do in LA and NY, our famous Awards show (which almost always telegraphs the Best Picture Oscar), Awards screeners (a favorite of many members during Awards Season), and the networking events that bring together our 7000+ strong creatives who are the best in the business.

You're a producer and you come to Cannes every year. Can you speak why you think it's important for producers to attend Cannes?

KAYVAN: Personally for me, it's the No. 1 must attend event on my calendar. Where else can you find out and see films in all stages of production, meet, network and possibly put together deals from a selection of 11,700 colleagues from over 100 countries and learn who the real players are in the business?

What have been past films you have made?

KAYVAN: I started out with short films at various film festivals, notably two called "Hassan" (Iranian/American film) and "The Tip" (German/American film) before moving onto the world of Features. I've been involved with many projects where the credit was never recognized, but the Major motion picture which I wrote, produced, and directed was called, "The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam."

What are you working on now?

KAYVAN: Working on several international projects at different stages of development and production. I'm not allowed to publicly discuss the details until the projects are completed.

How was Cannes this year, being that it was the tightest security ever? Was it a success in your opinion?

KAYVAN: It was my 13th Edition and I love it more and more each year as my network grows, the friendships get stronger, and my professional associations solidify. Simply finding my balance during the circus around me is the most satisfying aspect of it all. Cannes is a success if you know how to manage your expectations and focus less on negativity and more on the opportunities that present themselves for future fruitful collaborations.


PGA panel, hosted by the Royal Film Commission of Jordan, to the 69th Cannes Film Festival.

Kayvan Mashayekh's PGA Panel 'Producing Without Borders' @ 69th Cannes Film Festival

John Hadity, Steven C. Beer, Kayvan Mashayekh, Jeremy Zimmermann, Gareth Wiley.


Interview conducted by Vanessa McMahon

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