Producers who have won the most PGA awards for film

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, April 27, 2022

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Producers who have won the most PGA awards for film

Movies wouldn’t get made without producers. Producers largely drive films from concept to screen, and they’re the glue that holds a movie production together.

Giggster took a look at all the Producers Guild of America award winners throughout the organization’s 33 years of awards ceremonies and identified the 15 producers who have won more than one trophy for films. Awards accounted for only include honors attached to specific films, so awards such as the Visionary Award—which honor a producer’s work broadly—were not counted. Awards for television were also not accounted for on this list.

Producers wear many different hats on set, taking on roles across several skill sets. From conception to seeing the final product on the screen, a producer makes sure all of the I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed. Producers can secure story rights, get financing, manage script development, hire the director and cast or crew heads, supervise daily production, work with a multitude of teams during the postproduction process, and coordinate with marketing and distribution. Seem like a lot? That’s why movies often have a team of producers who divvy up the work.

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The Producers Guild of America is the main trade association for film and television producers and advocates for safe and fair practices in the industry. Although the organization has been around since 1950, it didn’t start handing out awards until 1990. Peers within the guild vote on these accolades.

The PGA winners included below are listed alphabetically by last name.

Darla K. Anderson speaks at podium

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Darla K. Anderson

– PGA awards: 3

Animation producer Darla K. Anderson is one of the PGA’s most honored producers with three wins for her work on the Pixar hits “Cars,” “Toy Story 3,” and “Coco.” All three films were also nominated for multiple Oscars, with “Toy Story 3” and “Coco” taking home the top prize for Best Animated Feature.

For “Coco,” she earned a Producers Mark, the PGA abbreviation listed after her name on the credits, which indicates she was responsible for the bulk of the production work. Anderson spent 25 years working with Pixar before moving to Netflix to produce animated and live-action films and series. Although she’s spent her entire career in the entertainment industry, Anderson has a degree in environmental design. Anderson also is a member of the national board of directors for PGA.

Lawrence Bender attends premiere

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Lawrence Bender

– PGA awards: 2

Lawrence Bender is known for producing many of Quentin Tarantino’s movies, including “Reservoir Dogs,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Jackie Brown,” the “Kill Bill” movies, and “Inglourious Basterds.” He has also won two Stanley Kramer Awards from the PGA, which are given to producers whose work raises awareness about social issues.

Bender first received a PGA award for “Voces Inocentes” (Innocent Voices), about a young boy in El Salvador during its civil war in the 1980s. This movie tied with “Hotel Rwanda” to win the 2005 award. His second win was in 2007 for the climate change documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Todd Black speaks at event

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Todd Black

– PGA awards: 2

Todd Black has produced dozens of movies throughout his career, and is associated with films starring Cameron Diaz, Nicole Kidman, and Will Smith. His most well-known and long-standing collaboration may be with Denzel Washington.

Black has produced all of the films Washington has directed, including 2021’s “A Journal for Jordan” and 2016’s “Fences,” the latter of which garnered both men an Oscar nomination as producers of the Best Picture nominee. Their first two projects together as producer and director won the PGA’s Stanley Kramer Award: 2002’s “Antwone Fisher” and 2007’s “The Great Debaters.” Both of these movies were based on true stories.

Bruce Cohen attends premiere of “Rebel in the Rye”

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Bruce Cohen

– PGA awards: 2

Bruce Cohen got his start behind the camera, including an assistant directing stint on the Steven Spielberg-directed movie “Hook.” Cohen has since moved to producing, where he’s become a triple-threat as a producer for film, theater, and television.

The PGA has honored Cohen and his production partner, Dan Jinks, twice. Their first was for 1999’s “American Beauty,” in which he also had an uncredited bit part as a bartender. The duo also won a PGA Stanley Kramer Award for 2008’s “Milk,” the biopic starring Sean Penn about openly gay politician Harvey Milk who was assassinated in 1978.

Dede Gardner accepts award

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Dede Gardner

– PGA awards: 2

As co-president of the production company Plan B, Dede Gardner has worked alongside producers Brad Pitt and Jeremy Kleiner to produce some of film’s most honored pieces.

Gardner won her first PGA award in 2013 when her film “12 Years a Slave” tied with “Gravity” for the top honor. She and her Plan B co-producers also won in 2015 for “The Big Short.” These two films have also won Academy Awards, making Gardner one of the few women who has won more than one Oscar.

Grant Heslov accepts award

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Grant Heslov

– PGA awards: 2

A native of Los Angeles, Grant Heslov is not only a producer, he’s also an actor, writer, and director. Heslov has had a long relationship working with George Clooney, having worked with him in multiple roles on films such as “The Monuments Men,” among others. The two run the production company Smokehouse Pictures.

Heslov’s first PGA win was a Stanley Kramer Award for 2005’s “Good Night, and Good Luck.” He won again in 2013 for “Argo,” which he produced with Clooney and the film’s star, Ben Affleck.

Peter Jackson attends premiere

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Peter Jackson

– PGA awards: 2

When Peter Jackson and his wife and production partner, Fran Walsh, were able to get a green light to bring author J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” to life, they embarked on a project that had never been done before: Filming three movies simultaneously.

The writer, producer, and director brought this fantasy world to life and created one of the most successful trilogies in film history. The last movie, 2003’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” won the best film award from the PGA and subsequently went on to win the Oscar as well. Jackson also partnered with director Steven Spielberg to produce the animated feature “The Adventures of Tintin,” which won the PGA’s Best Animated Motion Picture category in 2011. 

Dan Jinks speaks at event

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Dan Jinks

– PGA awards: 2

Although now working on his own, Dan Jinks collaborated with producer Bruce Cohen for about 12 years on film, TV, and theater productions. Right out of the gate, the duo had a critically acclaimed hit with 1999’s “American Beauty,” which won the PGA’s award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture. Jinks and Cohen also went on to win best picture awards for this movie at the Golden Globes, Oscars, and BAFTAs. Jinks also won the PGA Stanley Kramer Award in 2009 for producing the Harvey Milk biopic “Milk.”

Graham King speaks at event

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Graham King

– PGA awards: 2

A native of the U.K., Graham King has been producing movies for decades, including the recent Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” King is responsible for producing the first three movies in which Martin Scorsese directed Leonardo DiCaprio: “Gangs of New York,” “The Aviator,” and “The Departed.”

“The Aviator” garnered King his first PGA award, and in 2012, the PGA honored him again with the Stanley Kramer Award for “In the Land of Blood and Honey”—Angelina Jolie’s first movie she wrote and directed. Along with his many film awards, King was also appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2010.

Jeremy Kleiner speaks at podium with Dede Gardner

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Jeremy Kleiner

– PGA awards: 2

Many producers like to work in teams to shoulder the load. Jeremy Kleiner is part of the mega-producing team at Plan B Entertainment, which is responsible for the Barry Jenkins–directed movies “Moonlight” and “If Beale Street Could Talk,” as well as “Selma,” directed by Ava DuVernay.

Kleiner has won two PGA awards for best film production. His first was in 2013 for “12 Years a Slave.” He won again for “The Big Short,” which starred his co-producer Brad Pitt. In 2020, Kleiner—along with his Plan B partners Pitt and Dede Gardner—were honored by the PGA with the David O. Selznick Achievement Award for their body of work.

Branko Lustig attends gala

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Branko Lustig

– PGA awards: 2

Croatian-born Branko Lustig almost never made it to filmmaking: Many of his family members did not survive the Holocaust, and Lustig barely made it out of Auschwitz.

After World War II, he became a stage actor then got involved in films behind the scenes. He worked on many projects about the Holocaust and was honored with the PGA Best Theatrical Motion Picture award in 1994 for producing “Schindler’s List” with Steven Spielberg. From working on that film, Lustig and the other producers on it created the USC Shoah Foundation, which records and preserves oral histories of people who have been affected by genocide.

Lustig also partnered with director Ridley Scott on a number of films, and he was once again honored by the PGA in 2001 for Scott’s movie “Gladiator,” starring Russell Crowe. Lustig died in 2019 at the age of 87.

Brad Pitt speaks at podium

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Brad Pitt

– PGA awards: 2

With his studio Plan B Entertainment, Brad Pitt has developed some of the most honored films and television shows in recent history. He’s also teamed with fellow PGA honoree Graham King to bring “The Departed” to the screen. In 2013, Pitt and co-producers Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner tied for the PGA’s best-produced film—their “12 Years a Slave” and Alfonso Cuarón’s “Gravity” shared the honors. 

Pitt entered the spotlight as an actor before taking up his role as a producer, and his career has included top billing in films such as “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Moneyball.” With a decades-long presence on screen, Pitt has not yet left his place in front of the camera. Two years after his first PGA win, Pitt and company won again for “The Big Short,” in which he also played a reclusive genius trader.

Jonas Rivera accepts award

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Jonas Rivera

– PGA awards: 3

When California native Jonas Rivera joined Pixar Animation Studios in 1994 as its first-ever production intern, he worked on the company’s first feature-length film, “Toy Story.” He worked his way up the ladder, eventually producing “Up,” which garnered him many awards, including his first PGA award for Best Animated Feature.

Rivera has two PGA marks on other films, both of which have won PGA awards for Best Animated Feature: 2015’s “Inside Out,” and 2019’s “Toy Story 4.” Rivera also provided the voice for Boost in “Cars.”

Clark Spencer accepts award

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Clark Spencer

– PGA awards: 3

Clark Spencer started his film career on the business side. After getting a degree in history from Harvard, he worked in finance for Walt Disney Studios. He then moved over to film production and produced 2002’s “Lilo & Stitch.”

As a producer, he’s worked on 12 movies, including 2008’s “Bolt” and 2011’s “Winnie the Pooh.” The PGA honored Spencer for the first time in 2013 for “Wreck-It Ralph.” He also won in 2017 for “Zootopia,” and in 2022 for “Encanto”—two movies for which he also has a PGA mark.

Steven Spielberg speaks at podium

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Steven Spielberg

– PGA awards: 4

Steven Spielberg is arguably one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, despite being rejected from the University of Southern California School for Cinematic Arts.

When it comes to entertainment, Spielberg has seemingly done it all. He produces, directs, writes, and has even made a few cameo appearances in front of the camera. Working on both TV and film projects, he’s made some of the world’s biggest blockbusters, including “Jaws,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” and the “Indiana Jones” movies.

Although a master of the summer popcorn movie, Spielberg has also helmed dramatic films such as “The Color Purple,” “Lincoln,” and “The Post.” Many consider Spielberg’s cinematic masterpiece to be 1993’s “Schindler’s List,” which garnered him his first PGA award for Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures. He went on to win the Vision Award for his work on “Amistad” in 1998. The following year, he earned another PGA win for “Saving Private Ryan,” the World War II drama starring Tom Hanks and Matt Damon. Spielberg won a fourth time for film in 2012, when he teamed up with film juggernaut Peter Jackson for the animated feature “The Adventures of Tintin.”

This story originally appeared on Giggster
and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.