AMC networks first summit was dedicated to explaining and appreciating fandom, empowering and recognizing the kick-ass women on and off screen in AMC series, discussing the process and development of turning a book into a pilot, and insight on the creation of the network’s series; Better Call Saul. After breakfast, the event was divided into four sections, three of which featured different panelists, who aimed to speak on the realities of their crafts and participate in a Q&A with the audience.
Susan Kresnicka, President of KR&I, led a discussion on the power of fandom based on her social science research done, in part, by asking people, “What does it mean to be a fan? Do you consider yourself a fan?” After sharing that 78% of Americans claim to be fans of something, Kresnicka breaks down the possible relationships fans have with their object(s) of fandom (OOF). With this knowledge, it became easier to understand why The Walking Dead is the highest rated series in cable history, due to the passion-driven fans that followed the comic turned series.
The first panel consists of seven women: Lorraine Toussaint (“Cressida” Into the Badlands), Julianna Margulies (“Kitty Montgomery” Dietland), Angela Kang (Executive Producer, Showrunner, Writer of The Walking Dead), Marti Noxon (Executive Producer, Showrunner, Writer of Dietland), Jenna Elfman (“June,” Fear the Walking Dead), Rhea Seehorn (“Kim Wexler,” Better Call Saul), and Melissa Bernstein (Executive Producer, Better Call Saul). Each woman shared their experience on what it’s like to play enormous roles in both AMC’s success and on the series they work on. Themes of gender equality, age, and race were touched on in reference to struggles each professional encountered at some point. Kang expressed, “When I was a kid, I didn’t think this was a job I could have. I didn’t think there were Asian women who could run the show, that wasn’t a thing,” she says. “Now, there are so many more women who are showrunners and that’s exciting. It means the next generation can and go – hey, of course, this is a job I can have.”
The next panel opened up to the audience on the process of bringing a book to television. Present was, Sarai Walker (Author, Dietland), Scott M. Gimple (Chief Content Officer, The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead), Jami O’ Brien (Executive Produce, Showrunner, NOS4A2), Stephen Cornwell (Executive Producer, The Little Drummer Girl), and again, Marti Nixon. The panelists spoke on the art of adaptation, and how the choices they make affect fans of the original text; a great connection to the intro to fandom.
During the final part of the afternoon, some of the cast from Better Call Saul taught a master class on what goes on in the field of the costume designer, Jennifer Bryan, director of photography, Marshall Adams, the production designer, Judy Rhee, executive producer Melissa Bernstein; and more. While keeping their audience in mind, each creator expressed their need to recreate original stories with a twist in order to keep fans happy and filled with suspense.
With new things to look forward to in existing shows, AMC also wants us to look forward to their new series The Little Drummer Girl, which is currently in the works.