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Deepak Verma - Producer

Deepak Verma, Skillset Film Futures Beneficiary
Why did you become a producer ?

It was the only way to take full creative and logistical control of my own ideas.

My background is a creative one - I'm an actor. Being creative, I've always got stories that I want to show and tell. But I've always had to rely on other people - in particular producers - to take forward these stories.

A producer is essentially someone who will make the idea for a film happen. But when that happens with one of your projects, you find that everyone wants to take control themselves and move the project in their own direction.

So I soon realised that I wanted to become one of them - a producer. It was the only way to take a real grasp of my career.

At first it felt like it was a bit of a mysterious land. But through my existing contacts, I delved a bit deeper and found one or two people who could help. One of them was the well known producer Nik Powell, who I met at a party. He's become something of a mentor to me. It's a small industry and once you are affiliated with a credible partner, then others get to know about you and the networking doors fling open.

What kind of skills do you need ?

Being a producer is a tough job. You really have to be able to do everything - from the creative side to financing and logistics.

It's a bit like being a builder who can do plumbing, electrical work and plastering as well. I've been finding out all about budgeting, having to develop scripts, understanding how facilities companies and post-production will work once the project is up and running.

For me the really challenging thing is flexing those muscles in the left hand, non-creative side of the brain. There's lots of politics and dealing with people's egos. I say what I think, and that isn't necessarily the best way forward- I've had to learn to be a politician. People skills are very important. A touch of psychology also helps!

Try NLP for dummies, a great book.

The key strength of a project is the idea, and my strength is the ideas.

Certain producers know all about the technical side and budgets, but they don't have the ideas. It's worth taking the time to really develop, research and be sympatico with your idea. You should be able to pitch it back to front, inside out when a broadcaster/financier asks you questions about it. So you have to work out what kind of producer you are and knowing your strengths and weaknesses and working accordingly. If for instance you know about ideas and not about the actual production side, then its always good to get an experienced partner, otherwise you will never make the film.

How did you get into the business ?

I went to drama school and then worked on EastEnders for six years. The next logical step seemed to be working in film. It's a big jump and there are questions of perception; can a soap actor really produce and star in a movie for the big screen?

I've got a project I'm working on called Johnny Bollywood, which is a romantic comedy that I will star in and produce. I'm determined and persistent, two important qualities that you need as a producer. I'm working with Nik Powell on the project. Various people are interested and I'm currently looking for an exciting director.

What training have you had recently ?

I'm doing an EAVE course, a European media training programme involving workshops and seminars for producers. There are three week long residential sessions held over the course of a year.

It's essentially about how to take a project right through from the development stage, through financing and then to the production stage.

The first workshop was about developing a project - how to get the money, how to develop the script and how to get the best from writers. I've got one more workshop to do: the second was about production and the third will be about financing.

EAVE is one of few facilities that can focus the skills of producers.

It's like going back to school. There are experts to talk to and to run our problems by - I've been really excited by it. I will continue to develop my skills through this course and my next course will be ACE, an advanced course.

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