Producers are highly self-motivated individuals, who have the final responsibility for all aspects of a film's production. There are so many ways of being a Producer. Very often the Producer is the first person to become involved in a project, even before the writer, or they may be the agent-style Producer who focuses on the deal. Generally though, the Producer shepherds the film from inception to completion and beyond, starting long before the film-making process and continuing to talk about and sell the picture long after everyone else has gone on to other projects. Top film makers work with the same people over and over again, which is why it is important for those who wish to make a career in the Production Office to gain respect by being a reliable, trustworthy and enthusiastic Production Assistant or Runner.
The Producer's is role to turn story ideas into profitable cinematic entertainment and to persuade others to share in his or her commercial and creative vision. The Producer's responsibility is to the production company and the Executive Producers who are appointed to supervise the production on behalf of the Financiers and Distributors. All in all, the Producer is the person who must remember what the central vision and goal of the movie is and to be fiscally and creatively responsible for that.
What is the job?
Producers have overall control on every aspect of a film's production, bringing together and approving the selection of the whole production team. Their primary responsibility is to foster an environment in which the creative talents of the cast and crew can flourish - Producers are therefore ultimately accountable for the success of the finished film. The many responsibilities of the Producer span all four phases of production:
Development - Producers are often responsible for coming up with the underlying premise of a production, or for selecting the screenplay. Producers secure the necessary rights, select the screenwriter and story editing team, raise the development financing and supervise the development process.
Pre-production - Producers typically select and bring together the key members of the creative team, including the Director, Cinematographer & Production Designer and potential key cast members. They assist the Executive Producers to raise finance for the production and, once the initial finance is in place, they select other key production office personnel as well as the essential Heads of Departments. Producers also approve locations, studio hire, the final shooting script, production schedule and budget. More time and money spent in pre-production can reduce time and money wasting in production.
Production - Producers are responsible for the day-to-day smooth operation of the production team. Producers are also in constant communication and consultation with the Director and other key creative personnel, on and off set. Producers approve all script changes and cost reports, continuing to serve as the primary point of contact for all production partners, investors and distributors.
Post-production and marketing - Producers are expected to liaise with the Director and post-production departments, including editing - both picture and sound, music and visual effects. The Producer will deal with the finance and distribution companies in planning the marketing and distribution of the finished film.
It is rare to find one Producer who has the expertise and vision to exercise personal decision-making authority across all four phases of production, but they are usually supported by a hand-picked production office team whose key people will have worked alongside the Producer on several film projects.
For recommended pay scales and helpful guides on contracts, tax guides etc you should refer to the Advice & Resources page of the BECTU (The Media & Entertainment Union) site www.bectu.org.uk/advice-resources
Producers must be good businessmen, strategists, motivators, negotiators and creative visionaries, with the ability to spot and deal with potential problems before they materialise. They need an extensive knowledge of cinematic narrative and a thorough understanding of all the creative processes of filmmaking as they are in ultimate control of the overall planning of the production including sales and distribution. The Producer's responsibility for the project continues for as long as the film is shown globally.
- ability to secure finance for the production
- ability to prepare and control the production budget
- excellent communication skills
- ability to work well under pressure and motivate the production team
- legal responsibility, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, to prepare health and safety procedures for the workplace
- ensure compliance with regulations and codes of practice
As the Producer will already have worked in the film industry for some considerable time they will have the necessary driving licence and valid passport.
There are no set qualifications for the grade of Producer - however, as the head of a team of both accounting and creative personnel, the Producer has to have an extensive understanding of the nature of film production as well as a strong grasp of business and financial issues. He/she must have experience of working in the film industry, preferably as part of the Production Team.
As part of Creative Skillset's and the BFI's Film Skills Strategy, A Bigger Future 2, a network of Film Academies has been approved as centres of excellence in education and training for film. In addition, Creative Skillset-accredited courses in certain subject areas are available. For more information visit http://courses.creativeskillset.org/pick_the_tick
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