Producer’s Corner: What is a Movie Producer

What is a Movie Producer?

Around the first of the year (2012), I asked Facebook people if they would like to see me do a blog called, “Producer’s Corner.” I had a lot of people say yes, so this is the beginning. The first thing I want to add here is that I am not an expert Producer. These are the things that I have learned on my own, through research, through my valuable mentors who are experts that I personally know and the other experts who I don’t know but value the interviews I read.

If you have to ask a Producer questions on running your movie (short or feature) – hire them either as a consultant or as your Producer. It will in fact, save you a lot of time, money and conflicts later on with your film.

Above all things – a Producer is the face and voice of your production.  The Producer must have excellent and genuine customer service, marketing, administrative and business skills and knowledge. They cannot come across as a used car salesperson or trying too hard. People see through each other and get vibes, so being genuine is the key. Another time-related quality a Producer will acquire is thick skin. Their role is to think about the audience.

Producers are your pre-production geniuses. They do not like to look at a script, film it the next weekend, and slap it together for show ‘n tell to have a ‘then what’ moment.  That’s not what good Producers do.  A lot of planning goes into a script – what is the target?  Art or something marketable. Decisions like that are important.  The final cut should go through the Producer who may have decisions that all may not like unless they too are hired as a Co-Producer or by a production/studio who have the final decision whether it is right or wrong.

Producers have financial and administrative control the production – they own the rights to the script because they bought it.  The Producer’s job is to raise the money needed and to keep the production within that budget. The producer is responsible for ultimately turning a profit for the investors providing it’s not a short film that is used as a calling-card – some will enter film festivals and hope their film is good enough to be purchased.

Movie Producers may be employed by film studios or they may work independently. Studio Producers usually turn towards novels, especially bestsellers, buy the rights and they often become successful plays and motion pictures.  Independent film Producers will get indie scripts and read through them but the finances are much different from a studio Producer.

The Producer (with the Director) hires/fires the staff—actors, designers, and other workers. A large staff often includes several Production Assistants, Associate Producers, or Assistant Producers who are in charge of various parts of the production.  Yes, believe it or not, Production Assistants are not always just an ‘on set’ job.

Most Producers work very closely with the director but it does vary in each case. Some producers have very little contact with their productions, while others go to every audition and rehearsal. The producer of a low-budget documentary film may also be the director and may even operate the camera but remember, you are your own customer service at that point.

Producers are also involved with post-production.  They are there for the best interest of the film in the long run. Again, their role is to think about the audience.  Should there be a budget for marketing and festivals, it is the Producer’s job to get the movie out there.

In short – this is what a Producer is:

To learn more about other crew positions – here are a couple of links for job descriptions:
http://www.moviestaff.com/crew.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_crew

Want more info?

American Film Institute
2021 N. Western Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027-1657
(323) 856-7600
http://www.afi.com/

Association of Independent Commercial Producers
3 W. 18th St., 5th Fl.
New York, NY 10011
(212) 929-3000
http://www.aicp.com/

Producers Guild of America, Inc.
8530 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 450
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
(310) 358-9020
http://www.producersguild.org/

Cheers!

Gina Lockhart
Producer/Director/Writer
DISCLAIMER:  When I write blogs, they also teach me a lot of things.  So when it seems I’m pointing fingers at people, I am a firm believer in looking in a mirror.   So my blogs also teach me things to better myself as a human being above all, to keep me from being an egotistical narcissistic nightmare, a better fillm maker, friend and colleague.

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