Last week, the Producing Department at the New York Film Academy hosted an evening with producer Carla Singer. The event was moderated by NYFA NY Chair of Producing Neal Weisman.
Singer is president and executive producer of Carla Singer Productions, an independent production company that has produced over 30 television movies as well as documentaries and reality series. Her credits include “Freshman Father,” a Hallmark Channel movie, and Disney Channel films “T*witches,” and “T*witches Too.” For TNT, the company executive produced “The Portrait” starring Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall, as well as “Forgotten Prisoners: The Amnesty Files.” At TBS Ms. Singer produced a documentary “The Black West,” which was nominated for a Cable Ace award. She also produced “A Refusenik’s Diary” for PBS, for which she received an Emmy.
Her extensive credits include the made-for-television movies “A Marriage of Convenience” starring Jane Seymour, “Indefensible: The Truth About Edward Brannigan” starring Brian Dennehy, “Taken Away,” “Angel Flight Down” and “Cold Heart of a Killer.”
Singer became vice president of drama programming for CBS Television at a time when hardly any women were accepted into upper management at the networks. As a female pioneer for the network, and the industry in general, Singer helped create the extremely successful drama series, “Murder She Wrote,” as well as “Scarecrow and Mrs. King” and “The Equalizer.”
However, Singer’s career certainly wasn’t handed to her. Beginning her career in Israeli TV, Singer recalled working as an assistant director, but was credited and paid for the role of a PA due to the fact that she was a woman. Her career would continue to be an uphill climb due to her gender, but Singer kept one foot in front of the other and pressed on to tremendous success. While she feels there is still gender inequality in film and TV, Singer does acknowledge the progress since her beginnings.
“You have to be very persistent,” said Singer. “You have to be risk tolerant. You have to take that risk — even if it’s scary.” Singer recalled two times in her life where she took a pay cut in order to work in a position that could propel her career into the direction she was confident would lead her on the right path.
Singer advised students to appreciate and take advantage of the creative talent around them. After all, the people you’re working with now are going to be your network, and are going to climb the proverbial latter with you.
While many of us get caught up in the creative aspect of filmmaking, Singer did advise producing students that, “It’s a business, and you need to make money. Even though that’s a bit crass. You should keep that in your head.”
“Carla Singer proved to be an inspiration to the cross section of NYFA Producers, Screenwriters, and Actors who attended the event,” said Weisman. “Emphasizing the need to take career risks and seek mentors, her wisdom gained from decades of television experience was both informative and motivating.”