Friday, March 23, 2012

Three Tips For First-Time Producers (Plus a Panel)

I'll be on a panel (yes, again) called "Independent Producing: What Is It, Who Does It?" on Monday, 3/26, 7pm at The New School, Wollman Hall, 65 W. 11th St, 5th Floor.

Also speaking will be Lisa Cortes and Amy Hobby, with moderator Anne Hubbell. It's co-sponsored by the Tribeca Film Institute and the New School, and it's FREE, so please come! More info here.

Leading up to the panel, Lisa and I each posted 3 tips for baby producers on Tribeca's site. Here are mine:

1. Don't be afraid to ask questions. You may feel overwhelmed or insecure about not knowing everything, but it is your job to ask questions, even if you think they may be dumb. I guarantee you'll find most of the time that someone else has the same question; the producer needs to be the one brave enough to ask it.

2. Listen to feedback from others, but be firm in your own decisions. Every decision you make should be a well-considered one that welcomes input from your director, cast, crew, attorney, agent, financier, etc. But remember that, perhaps apart from the director, all of them have a narrower focus than you and will try to get what they want, which will not always be compatible with what someone else wants. So never let the cacophony of voices make you forget that the buck stops with you. Every decision you make should be one that's best for the film, that you can enforce, and that you can live with. If you end up making the wrong decision, acknowledge it, fix it, and move on. There will be many, by the way, that will be wrong. Given that a producer can make hundreds of decisions daily during prep and production--just be sure to learn from them!

3. Respect your director, and make sure he or she respects you. Directors and producers just starting out are often confused about the proper division of responsibilities and oversight. It's important to remember that the director is the creative head of the film, and must answer for all the creative decisions. The public will hold him or her responsible for how the film turns out. It's also important to remember that you are the business head of the film, and must answer for all the business decisions. Your investors will hold you responsible for the film being done well, on time, and on budget, and launched into the world in the best (and most profitable) way possible. Producer and director must respect each other's realm and figure out the best way to mesh them to ensure an equitable and fruitful partnership, and ultimately, a great film.

Read the rest of the original post here.

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