Being a Film Producer

danica.jpgWhy be a producer?

Think back to when you were watching the Academy Awards. There is an award for best director, best actor, best actress, but wait, there is no award for best producer, right? Wrong! The biggest award of the night is the best picture category and who receives that award? That’s right, you guessed it! The producer! The producer is really the most important person in a film production because without a producer, there would be no film. If you are the producer of a film, you have final responsibility for all logistics and creative aspects of the film.  

What is the role of a film producer?

The producer of a film in most cases is the first person to get involved with the project. A producer handles all the logistics of a film production, making sure that every aspect of the film runs together as efficiently as possible. Producers also put their creative input towards the film to make sure that the final product is of the highest standard. The finished product and its success are accountable to the film’s producer. Producers are fully involved in all four stages of a film; pre-production, production, post-production and distribution.

danica2.jpgThe biggest part of a producer’s workload is during the pre-production stage of filmmaking, as during this time, the producer must organise and approve locations, studio hire, permits, insurance, legal documents, budget, the final draft of the script, as well as assembling the best cast and crew possible for the production. It is important for the producer to pick a team that is highly skilled, passionate and determined, that work well together while pushing their creative strengths to the best of their ability. The more time that a producer spends in pre-production can truly save a lot of wasted time and money when shooting the film. All loose ends must be tied before the film goes into production. 

During the production stage, it is the producer’s responsibility to make sure that each day runs smoothly and accordingly to schedule. Producers will constantly need to approve any financial and script changes along with all other main creatives of the production. The producer’s hard work should have already been done in pre-production so a producer just needs to supervise this stage of making a film.

When in comes to post-production, the producers should start nailing down anyone that will be associated with the distribution of the film. Producers will approve the final cut of the film with the director and post-production crew.

Once the film is complete, the producer must finalise test screenings as well as marketing and distributing the film.

Show me the money!

Handling the film’s budget is a major responsibility for the film producer. The producer must organise and give the final estimated budget for the film. Producers will find executive producers and help raise the money for the film. Once they have been granted with the full budget, they must work out how much money can go to each department on the film production, making sure that the production has a 15% contingency as it is extremely important to have money aside in case of any emergencies. Producers need to be smart on how they are handling the money. If the producer has done their job right, there really shouldn’t be any budget issues, but if problems do occur, it is up to the producer to find a solution. Going over budget is extremely risky and puts most independent filmmakers in debt. 

Skills of a good producer

  • Respect – Getting the respect from your cast and even more importantly your crew, will benefit the entire production. Directors often forgot who really runs the show on a film set. It is quite often that the director and producer will run into a few disagreements but it is important to stand your ground as a producer and listen to what everyone has to say. If you give your crewmembers the respect they deserve then they will give you respect in return.
  • Self-confidence – Being a new producer can be quite daunting as there is lots of pressure and responsibilities to handle. Keep a clear head and tackle one problem at a time. Remember to stand your ground and don’t let other crewmembers push you into doing something you are not fully confident with. Remember at the end of the day you are in charge of every aspect of the film and the final product lies with you.
  • Organisation – It is important to not only keep your work organised but also making sure that all other cast and crew are sticking to their schedules. Running over time is never a good thing. Slowing down a production on a professional film set costs thousands of dollars, sometimes even millions and this all comes down to how well the producer was able to organise the production properly. 
  • Working under pressure – The film industry is all about deadlines and being able to work under pressure efficiently and calmly is one of the greatest skills to posses as a producer.
  • Communication – Communication is key! Keep all cast and crew in the loop! Always keep on top of phone calls, emails and letters. 
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