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Old September 26th, 2007, 12:01 AM   #1
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Craigslist producers

Has anyone ever been able to get a producer off craigslist for a short of extended project? And if so, where?
I see the ads all the time: seeking producer, someone experienced who can get funding etc.

Do they work?
I had my own ad running for a co-producer/filming partner for a garage level B movie sci fi project, though i had enough money for it and wasnt seeking a fundraiser or distributor, but I got a few con types and lots of flakes..including one really scary one.

CL a bad place to look or am I just unlucky?
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Old September 26th, 2007, 12:21 AM   #2
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It's a bad place to look for "producers", since that term can be used to describe lots of duties, you're likely to get people have done a job called producing from many different walks of production.

Plus, I think the title is a magnet for wannabe types. I think CL can be good for finding people when the job or duties is clear, and aprticularly for certain job types.

But for your situation, I'd reach out in the personal network first.
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Old September 26th, 2007, 10:26 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nate Weaver View Post
Plus, I think the title is a magnet for wannabe types. .
Bingo.

People who can actually produce aren't trolling Craigslist looking for gigs.
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Old September 26th, 2007, 12:24 PM   #4
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Yeah I discovered pretty quickly that advertising for "producer" was like advertising for "movie star." But I also tried co-op boards and an indie organization (though i didnt get flakes, just 0 responses).

My instinct was to use friends and family as others in the same scale were doing but my personal network was small and not into it at all.
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Old September 29th, 2007, 09:16 PM   #5
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Hi Kelly,

You should maybe try http://www.wheresspot.com/ . They're a great community facilitating reputable people and resources in the industry. Best of luck in your search!

Simone
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Old September 29th, 2007, 11:49 PM   #6
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Simone,

Wheresspot is for working professionals, moreover working in the advertising business. I imagine you know this, but suggesting a non-pro post in there looking for something they don't "do", in my opinion, is tossing Kelly "to the wolves".

Kelly, I would look to meet/pitch your project to a producer that has a credit with an indie movie in the nearest big city. If you're earnest and humble, you'll either gain somebody who has done it before and willing to become involved, or valuable advice.
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Old September 30th, 2007, 01:48 AM   #7
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Kelly,

Producing is a labor of love. It's very hard for someone to come onboard someone else's project effectively. I've flaked and I've had good people flake on me. Without feeling like the project is really yours, it's very difficult to dredge up the kind of attention to detail necessary to get a picture started or finished. If someone comes to producing the picture organically - like if one of the cast members decides to thrown in - you'll likely find a far more dedicated team member. The only way I know to get around this is to hire a real hard core professional and pay them from the get go.

I've produced several indie features. If you'd like to write, I'd be happy to help in anyway I can.
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Old September 30th, 2007, 07:13 PM   #8
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Hey Nate,

Sorry, I assumed that Kelly was already in the industry locally and was looking to expand her network of resources.

Simone
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Old September 30th, 2007, 08:55 PM   #9
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Thanks for the further feedback.

And "he" isnt in the industry at all. :)

I'll have to see what major city and what indie producers are close by.

I did think the "organic" approach was my best bet--that people might gravitate to the project in some capacity like acting and then help out in other areas, but I was trying to do things in a systematic way and be as professional as possible...find some help on the managerial front, then crew, and then casting last(once I had the other pieces in place and a firm schedule). I didnt want to just talk and not be able to deliver(though maybe that wasnt entirely the best approach given the nature of my circumstances).


There were a couple of small specialty parts cast and I had some crew interest but nothing major.

Funny enough, there was a local production /venture capitalist company that offered additional money and resources if i could show something promising, but that didnt help me in the immediate, and in checking them out I saw they had no credits to speak of--it looked like some guy had made money in a real estate software company and then went and set up an office to go into film production--but he had only one credit as an associate producer -- I think they were just hoping to get some $$$ out of it after I did all the work. I got bad vibes from it. And they didnt respond to any updates I sent them either so i dont know what they thinking.


But after that encounter I planned to shoot a couple of demo scenes from the script that didnt affect continuity(no major casting etc). Try for additional funding like others kept suggesting, and if that didnt work, I would proceed with the little money i had. Get to major casting etc...

My last flake producer really spooked me off things for a few months though. I had some odd ones, but this one made me paranoid.

It was an actress-producer, I had encountered a few of them--all bad, she did have her own small production company and won a local film festival award for some short drama(but she won it with 3 other producers so i dont really know what she did exactly as "producer"). I had been warned about producers who basically did little more than answer a phone.

I met with her a few times-as well as a sleazy director friend of hers who had made a couple of higher budgeted indie horror films. He spent the time trying to discourage me from making it! :) That was a red flag but she repeatedly apologized for him being such a jerk. She seemed very sympathetic and would be easy to work with.

She was tough to read because when she said something that raised a red flag, she would say something else that would lower it, and I still had some things I needed to finish before I could get to the casting/filming stage for the demo so it didnt come to a head for 3 months.

She had said she had made some garage level films with her friends--they did their own catering etc. She mentioned how sometimes it was good to say you were doing a student film so as not to get higher rental fees from locations etc. She did seem somewhat knowledgeable and it jived with things I had learned--she also went to a big broadcaster's conference held in Banff.

But one red flag was that I told her i believed in "worst case scenario" planning, and she said she believed in "best case scenario" planning. *Maybe* I could see that if you had a million dollars but not on something like this. Am i wrong? Shouldnt I be thinking in terms of doing the most with the least!?!

So we decided to shoot a demo for about a $1000 or so. The scenes were pretty modest, an indoor scene in a couple of dark rooms and an outdoor scene that tested a costume and an fx technique. She talked about how we could get lots of freebies here and there, and how people in the industry were willing to work on stuff that was local as a form of charity since most of what they did was foreign.
I was skeptical about that--but I didnt know what connections she had so, I had a wait and see attitude to see what she would deliver.

When she had first contacted me she asked if it was volunteer or paid--it wasnt volunteer but how much i could pay as a fee depended on what she could do, how much i trusted her,(and how desperate I became). She ultimately said she didnt want anything for the demo--and that if we couldnt get additional funding, she would get an assistant to help. She had said she was a freelance producer for some local company. In fact--she had found a job off craigslist the same day she saw my ad.

We were a few days from casting a couple of parts for the $1000 demo and a very important costume test, when she sends me this demo budget that was $4600.

And she acted like everything was all fine.

It had $50 for stills(what? we couldnt take our own pics????), $500 for catering for a 1-2 day shoot(so much for home catering), she underpriced the material needs for the set design i was doing(camera, sound and lighting I am not good at, other creative stuff-costume, set design, prop making--I knew well and was able to reduce the costs by several thousand by doing it myself).

I knew $1000 was probably a bit low and i was willing to up it to $2000 or $2500, but $4600!??! Am I right to be alarmed?

It wasnt even the money(well, it was partially), it was the trust. if she was like this now, i knew that as soon as we hit a snag she would be out of there and probably blame me.

And sure enough--when i said I needed to hold off on casting until i examined things, she ensures me she didnt want to rip me off--then a day later she says she got busy and couldnt help--besides we had a communication problem.

We sure did!
But she knew it was $1000.
Anyway--I had met people who were just talkers and bs artists--but this one. I still shudder to think about it. Was she putting on an act for three months? What did she get out of it? Was she mentally unstable?
I didnt pay her anything. I just dont know what to make of that.

It killed my incentive to proceed with the project.
So now I am thinking to do something small and unrelated--try to build relationships for that-and then go back to the other thing. I have to focus on learning some computer graphics related things anyway.

I think i did meet a couple of real indie producers who didnt go nuts on me--but they werent into the subject matter.

Anyway thank you for the offer of help Lori!

After reliving that horrid producer incident I feel rather scatter brained but once I recover... lol At least I got a chance to vent.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 12:59 AM   #10
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Not to burst the bubble but you get what you pay for...$1000 aint gonna get very much. And she may very well be a respected person in the industry, who knows!?! Obviously, we outside the situation know very little about the specific details, but it seems to me that she was trying to be generous with her free time to work on something outside of her normal genre. As for the budget, her approach may be a bit unconventional - a simple phone call telling you that your numbers won't work would probably be a quicker solution than a full budget. But if you have costumes, effects, and catering...I think your $1000 budget may still be wishful thinking. How many actors and crew are you feeding? You could certainly do the cooking yourself, but is that worth your time? $500 for 2-days of food sounds pretty cheap to me. But thats beside the point.

This is your baby, and its obviously hard to delegate trust to others, especially when their ends are uncertain. But unless you have a proven track record, or a lot of personal cash to throw at it, you probably wont find venture capitalists with mile-long credit lists willing to sign a blank check. More likely, you'll have to beg borrow and steal to scrap together enough to make your picture. The venture capitalist may be the kind of person who genuinely wants to get into the business, and if he's willing to back your picture, its an option you should probably explore. Don't take it as an insult to your skill or vision, think of it like credit. People don't get loans if they don't have any credit, regardless of their moral fiber or fiscal responsibility. And you're absolutely right, the reason people financially back films is because they hope to make returns on their investments. You do all the work, they pay for it, and they (hopefully) make money on it. There's obviously more to it, but if you have a potential financier, you're ahead of 90% of those looking to make a picture.

Reading your post is interesting to me because I sometimes trawl craigslist and pick up small gigs here and there for fun and to basically promote steadicam. I work generally 6 days a week on various productions, all television, so sometimes its fun between shoots to volunteer on shorts or other genres outside my usual form. I understand that my rate is significantly more than the production can afford, so I often choose to volunteer my time, in order to hold a precident of what that position is worth. By volunteering and offering insight that may not have been gained otherwise, I know that I can help indie or student producers understand the value of my position, while providing for them a service they otherwise could not afford. The hope is that on future productions when they do have budgets, they understand not only why our positions are valuable, but also why we command the rates we do. And I'm certainly not alone. I know a number of steadicam ops and other working crew who volunteer a project or two every year, to try something different or just to educate up and comers. BUT, schedules change.

Someone who was willing to work on your project for free for a week may be off the next 12 weeks getting paid. Its not necessarily shady behavior, it's kind of the way things work for freelancers, especially when you say "we may have to hold off". I've shown interest to volunteer on shorts that had specific shoot dates, only to find that the dates kept moving, or the shoot was postponed by a few months. It's hard to turn down fully paid work to keep a couple days open "just in case" a volunteer or low-pay gig decides to shoot, especially one that seems disorganized. If you give exact dates to all involved and you actually stick to them, you'll find that it's a lot easier to hang on to volunteers or partially paid staff. If you have $1000 and need to make your test for that budget, find a way to do it. But be decisive about it. If you have a commitment from a producer, and she wants to use too much money, tell her exactly what she has to work with and be firm. Its your project, and you can definitely get what you need without being rude. But responding with utter surprise probably won't help move things along. Just my 2c
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Old October 1st, 2007, 01:57 AM   #11
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Experienced producers know how much things cost.

As my own experience has grown with concert shoots, I have worked with my own producer from the beginning.

As HIS experience grows, when he budgets projects, he now knows what can go wrong and puts line items in for them. It is now difficult to feel safe doing a concert for less than $20k as a result, and many are $40k+, but we also know with relative certainty we will not be surprised by anything like having to pay for a fire marshall for 8 hours at $50/hr (don't laugh, we got bit by this once).
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Old October 1st, 2007, 10:14 AM   #12
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you need to listen closely to the red flags and deal with them as soon as possible. it sounds like you were spending more energy on hope and more energy ignoring the facts than on attending to what your gut was actually telling you. that's fatal to getting projects completed. the first thing i learned about producing, is that getting the job done is almost *never* about what the other guy is doing, it is almost always about what you are doing...or not doing.

it's your project, you decide the terms. if the personnel refuses to meet you on the terms, find a new person.

that said, as jaron has already pointed out, the only people who will step out the door for these prices will be doing it for the experience, period. that means find a good student worker or else find someone who loves your project as much as you do, who loves the concept and can't wait to get started on it. if they don't fall into one of these two categories, they will be frustrated and so will you.

good luck on it--it sounds like you really have a heart for this project, and if you can work through the issues of finding good personnel, you will reap some big rewards.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 10:43 AM   #13
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My bubble was already burst. I said I suspected $1000 was probably low-but she was the one who said it was realistic(and her experienced director friend, who at first told me to spend $30000 on a 3 minute demo but then by the end of the conversation changed it to $1000 for some reason ). I was thinking around $2000.

I didnt attack her for it--or scream or anything--I said, we better hold off on things until I examine it--and then she said: I am not trying to rip you off!

I said I know--I just have to check it over--which you know, she had told me to do when she sent it. :)

Then the next day she just flaked out. You had to be there--but it was weird and disturbing.


Yes--I think its difficult for someone to come along and be involved in something like this unless they really dig it, and helped create it. and it was awkward since I was doing everything I could, including most normal producing duties(not by choice but when you want something done...). I suspect she didnt even phone anyone other than those that I had provided her off a list of contacts I had made over the 3 years of working on it.


My suspicion is that whatever she did as producer was not in the type of area that I needed help with. In all her other jobs she always worked with other producers. maybe she was in charge of casting. She wanted to try something new--which was fine, but she didnt act responsibly IMO.

At this point, the more I can do myself the better, but I cant do everything unless it is entirely computer graphics.


"you need to listen closely to the red flags and deal with them as soon as possible. it sounds like you were spending more energy on hope and more energy ignoring the facts than on attending to what your gut was actually telling you."


**you're absolutely right.
But to be honest--in order to keep my motivation up for the project, I had to put out feelers. If I wasnt making progress on the recruiting front, it would make me re-evaluate what i was doing(which was the most work I had done for any art related pursuit--and I had done alot of things). The response was mostly good-except when it came to this one area of help--which was 100 percent bad(though i got some good advice here and there). And I felt without it, there was no reason to do casting or crew searches.
So even though she was raising red flags--I used her apaprently positive response as incentive to keep going on the project--since I had some things to finish(3 years of work). but when i did finish them, and then this budget thing happened--it zapped my energy and incentive away almost completely. I got paranoid.
I might have bene better off confronting her on day one, but I didnt want to be rude either--since I was happy anyone was willing to talk to me about it. I guess I was afraid to confront the red flags in case it turned out I be right with my cynicism.

Last edited by Kelly Goden; October 1st, 2007 at 11:54 AM.
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