By Eleanor Winkler, 2010

There are 5 stages of the filmmaking process:

  • Development
  • Production
  • Post production
  • Distribution 
  • Exhibition

The Producer is the only person who sits across every phase of the film making process.

What is the role of a producer?

They are the person that has the final responsibility for all aspects of the film/video production.

They are responsible for bringing together the creative team, ensuring the financial capital is raised and the management and completion of the project as well as the marketing and securing the distribution of the film.

It is very rare that there is only one producer on a feature film, where other creatives may also contribute to making the film happen, they too are given producer credits.

Other types of producers:

Executive Producer – big wigs with money bags – or friends with money bags … top of the line people who invest in the film, or facilitate big investment and have an interest in seeing the film succeed and make a return to its investors.

Co-producers – on large scale feature films, there is more than one producer because of the sheer scale of the projects, so they would generally divide up roles and responsibilities. Also could be a credit another creative from the project gets as a result of their contribution to the film.

Line Producer– involved in the direct planning, budgeting for the shoot. Not generally involved in the development.

Associate producers/assistant producer – help the producers carry out their function.

On small shoots/projects, the producer can also become the production manager, hence responsible for the organisation of the shoot as well as overall project management.

So … as a producer … what do you have to be good at?

  • Time management
  • Good communicator
  • Working in/managing a team
  • Negotiating
  • Savvy with money
  • Business focused
  • Keen eye for detail
  • Understand film/television – the genres etc

What are your responsibilities?

  • Legal and financial management of the project:
  • Budgets
  • Cash flows
  • Contracts
  • Releases / agreements
  • Delivery of film/video

It is a daunting task, and not for the faint hearted!

For the Stories Project – what does being the producer mean?

PRE & SHOOT

You are all going to be working collaboratively to realise each of the episodes, however, 1 of you each episode or documentations will ultimately be responsible for coming up with an idea, or sourcing a story to document. So it’s the role of the producer to figure out if that story can be bought to life in the budget and time constraints that we have, or make the connection and forge a relationship with community groups or organisations.

It is also up to the producer (in the big bad world of film and tv) to gauge the commercial success of the film, and to be thinking about who the audience for the product is, and how you will ensure that the product finds this audience. This is something you have to start thinking about from the very beginning.

If the script/idea is not strong enough to reach its audience – DON’T PROCEED WITH THE PROJECT!

The producer will be responsible for:

  • budgeting the script
  • locking in the crew
  • locking in cast/talent
  • locking in the location
  • OHS for office/location
  • releases/agreements

The producer will then work with the department heads to ensure that:

  • shot list is completed
  • call sheets are drawn up
  • unit and catering are take care of for the shoot
  • art department (set, costume, props) have everything ready to go
  • gear is booked and will make its way to set

A few easy ways to ensure that you and your heads of departments are communicating is to start a e-group so you can all be conversing online. Also a production meeting or two doesn’t go astray. ALSO do not take for granted that your team is talking to one another without you … don’t take anything for granted. Keep checking in with your team.

POST & DELIVERY

After the shoot happens, and all the footage has been transferred onto the computer and the editing begins … the producer may or may not sit in the editing suite. The producer should take an active interest in how the edit progresses however, and sit in on a few of the edits, or offer notes on the different cuts. Essentially the role of the producer to ensure that the finished product is delivered on time, and in the correct formats required.

The best way I have found to cope with the never ending tasks is to keep writing lists of all the things to be done. Also write checklists of all the deliverables and stick them up on your wall somewhere – this will help remind you!