Finding the right producer (or any producer for that matter) for your film can often mean the difference between seeing it blossom or wither away into obscurity. A distinguished player herself, Producer and President of Gamechanger Films Mynette Louie has not only compiled and shared a list of over 100 independent producers that have track records of getting behind successful indie films, but also offers some excellent advice for those in need of guidance as they search for the right person to back their film.
This is a guest post by Mynette Louie.
Perhaps the question I am asked most often is "Can you recommend a producer for my project?" In light of this, I've decided to share this list of 100+ American independent film producers I've compiled over the years. It comes in handy whenever I'm looking for a producing partner on a project, or more recently, for a trustworthy producer to lead the charge and take care of the money on films that Gamechanger may want to finance. Note that this is not meant to be a "best" list; it is merely an objective compilation of all of the producers who have been Independent Spirit Producers Award nominees, Sundance Creative Producing Lab fellows, and Rotterdam Lab fellows from the U.S. (so you should do your homework on each of them).
But these are just three sources! There are many other good and great producers who aren't on this list, including some very established indie producer institutions like Christine Vachon, Ted Hope, Anthony Bregman, Ron Yerxa & Albert Berger, Anne Carey, etc. (you should look at Oscar nominees for those!). Other sources you can research include: Film Independent Producing Lab; Berlin Talent Campus; PGA Diversity Workshop; Gotham & Spirit Award nominees; recent film festival program guides; recent project market guides; graduate producing students at film schools like USC, Columbia, NYU, AFI, and UCLA; personal recommendations from fellow writers and directors; and good ol' IMDb—start by looking at who produced recent films you've liked.
Before approaching producers, remember to do your research on them! If your project is microbudget, you should probably skip the folks who haven't produced a microbudget film in the last five years. If the producer has recently gotten a new full-time job as a studio executive, an agent, or the like, she's probably not looking for new projects to produce right now. (Ditto producers who have left the biz...many of us do!) If you're looking for a producer to help you develop your script, attach cast, and find financing, make sure he actually has that experience, or at least the smarts and hunger to learn all that stuff on the job. Also, don't pigeonhole a producer—just because she's never produced a horror film before doesn't mean that she can't or doesn't want to. And remember that not all "producers" are created equal - some are not actually creative/holistic producers, but rather financiers, managers, sales agents, line producers, or writers. Make sure you figure out what kind of "producer" they are.
Finally, don't unnecessarily weigh down your project with multiple producers from the outset. Like directing, producing is an art, and too many cooks do spoil the broth. Don't attach producer deadweight, because it's hard to unattach. Get your lead producer on board first, then decide together whether it's worth attaching additional producers.
Finding the right producer can be as tough as finding the right spouse. Best of luck to ya!
This post originally appeared on Mynette Louie's blog.
Mynette Louie is the president of Gamechanger Films. She is the winner of the 2013 Independent Spirit Piaget Producers Award. She produced Martha Stephens & Aaron Katz’s buddy comedy Land Ho! which was acquired at Sundance 2014 by Sony Pictures Classics; Tze Chun’s crime thriller Cold Comes the Night, starring Alice Eve, Logan Marshall-Green, and Bryan Cranston, and many others. Louie serves as an advisor to the Sundance Institute, SXSW, IFP, and A3 Asian American Artists Foundation, and has consulted for international sales agent Visit Films. She was named in Ted Hope’s list of "21 Brave Thinkers Of Truly Free Film" for the hybrid distribution strategy of Children of Invention.