There's a very good chance you've found yourself, at one time or another, discussing the numerous roles of film production over coffee with friends. You explain in varying degrees of detail the tasks of a director, a screenwriter, an editor, and composer like the knowledgable and tireless film ambassador you are. And then someone asks you to explain the role of a producer.
Stumbling for an accurate description (and to one-up the friend who challenges you with the "don't they just secure the money?" remark), you find yourself at a loss for a proper definition. In a new informative and humorous video by Sareesh Sudhakaran of the invaluable wolfcrow, the occupation identified as film producing is addressed head on. Some key takeaways below.
The producer isn't always getting paid from the onset
Before production on a film can begin (and before the film can even be greenlit), the producer works to assemble a team (i.e. a director, cast, etc.) that will help make the project a reality. These steps help to not only put the film on its feet conceptually, but financially as well. Potential investors are only interested when the project grows more developed and can be seen as a worthwhile idea to help spearhead into reality, and there may not be any actual money on the table at this point. The producer's goal is to make the entire picture clear for the investors and that can be a gamble.
The producer foresees potential hurdles before they arise
The producer has to always think three steps ahead of everyone else, and it's because they do that the rest of the team is able to think more freely and focus on their sole obstacles of the day. The producer plans and double-checks as much as possible so that disturbances to the creative process aren't hindered at the worst possible time. What prep goes into this? As Sudhakaran lays out, "the producer has to set up a legal team and accounting team to keep track of all the bills, all the money, the intellectual property that gets created, marketing material, contracts, release forms, rights, insurance, permissions, health checkups, you name it."
"The producer is the only person who cannot completely abandon the movie."
A producer's work doesn't end when the film is made available to the public
A wrap party often turns out to be a wrap in name only. As Sudhakaran makes clear, "the producer is the only person who cannot completely abandon the movie and walk away until his death or until he has sold its entire rights to another entity....the kids get to play in the grass because someone tends to it."
In many ways, the producer is the parent of a film, the person (or group of people) who constantly assembles, views, and guards all aspects of production. Each person is assigned a specific role on a film set, and the producer makes sure that they're being taken care of and their time accounted for. After the crew finishes their work, the producer remains a present constant, making sure those who put their effort into the work gets rewarded down the line.
What did you think of wolfcrow's video? Are there crucial examples missing that would further help describe the importance of a producer? What's the best way for a director to communicate and work with their fellow producer? Tell us down in the comments below.