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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old May 29th, 2003, 06:43 AM   #1
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So what's a film producer do?

I got into a discussion last night with my brother about filmmaking. He asked what the roll of the producer was and was convinved that all they did was pay with his own money for the movie. It was a very interesting conversation.

So... what do folks here think the roll of the producer is/should be? What are his responsibilities?
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Old May 29th, 2003, 07:10 AM   #2
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Anyone can correct me on this at any time!

I took a class for producing (just to see what it's about) and it was pretty interesting. Yes, the Producer is responsible for the finances of the film, but there can be more than one producer. An Executive Producer is the one who either puts all the financing together or gives the most!

The budget for a film is more complicated than I once thought. Not only does the cast and crew get paid, but you have to budget for all editing, music, props, FX, food, lodging, locations, rentals, travel, etc. This budget is planned and completed before anything is shot.

If working with a treatment, then the producer hires a script writer (within the budget) to write the script. Then hires a Director (within budget). The producer and director then agree on actors, cinematographers, etc. The producer makes sure that all of this stays within budget - or if need be - finds more money (I assume rarely!).

Once the film is completed, edited, etc., the producer then sells the picture to distribution both here, and overseas. Then sells rights to television, cable, video outlets also. Films will make almost as much on the TV/Cable/Video circuit as in the theatres (and some films are made specifically for video).

This is my short-term memory from class, so if there are any additions or corrections, feel free to post!
Mark Moore
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Old May 29th, 2003, 07:18 AM   #3
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I was going to answer your question, by reaching for my copy of "The Complete Film Dictionary' and citing the definition of producer.

But it looks to be about 500 words long.

Which in itself, should explain why you can't get a simple answer. I will however, give you the first sentence.

"The person in charge of all the financial and administrative aspects of a film production, from the very INCEPTION of the film project and its initial planning through all the stages of production,distribution, and advertising."

Depending on the complexity of the project, this can be a very daunting task indeed. The important thing about the description above, is the word INCEPTION.

The producer is the person who STARTS THE BALL rolling. He is the one who decides."I want to make THIS script/book/story into a motion picture." His very WILL to create, starts everything else going. From the fundraising, dealmaking,handshaking... It is the PRODUCER who keeps the train moving forward.

This is why it is the producer who accepts the Academy Award for BEST MOTION PICTURE.

Producers role in the production varies wildly by personal style. Some like to be on the set, and interested in all the technical details... to the point of being PRODUCER/Directors. Others like to delegate different aspects of the job. Hence the terms "Associate Producer... or Executive PRoducer". The title "Producer" is often conferred upon those who give the most money to the project. (Without which, face it... the film could not be "produced").

The term "Line Producer" is the title given to the person who is often the liason between the "Executive Producer" and the director. The Line Producer, makes all the stuff happen on a day to day scheduling basis. He might be called the "Project Manager" in another business. He is the one who finds out where the catering Truck is when it is late, deals with the permits, Hires the office staff.

So... I hope I have set it stragiht, without screwing it up.
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Old May 29th, 2003, 08:13 AM   #4
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Good responses. The point of my post was that I was amazed at the misconception of the general public (my brother) as to what a producer is. And that got me wondering if it was just my brother or if others really dind't know what their roll is. I guess posing the question here isn't really going to get the same response as the 'general public'.
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Old May 29th, 2003, 08:26 AM   #5
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I agree with you Mark, about misconceptions, and it goes alot further than just roles in movie production. People don't realize what goes into pre-production, and that goes for wanna be movie producers, like me.

Permits, lawyers, bankers, locations, releases, actors... And going through 50 wrong people before you are connected to the right person. I really like post production better :)
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Old May 29th, 2003, 12:15 PM   #6
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The problem with nailing down the definition is that there are many different types of producers and getting the producer credit is the plum. It meant that you were responsible for getting the film made. You made the deal, you brought the money, you brought the people and the resources together, you called the shots.

The executive producer is normally the moneybags, the person(s) who got studio backing, funding and was the major negotiator on all the big deals to get the film done and completed. Harvey Weinstein from Miramax for example is listed as an executive producer on the Lord of the Rings films because he oiriginally had the rights and it was his willingness to do the deal with New Line that made it possible for Saul Zaentz and Peter Jackson to manufacture the trilogy production.

(Studios who back productions will also attach their own producers who are there to make sure that their money is being spent well.)

Then there are producers who actually do the job of planning the production and managing the production on a day to day level, making sure that the people and resources are in place when they are needed. When you see a Producer credit, it means someone who is more involved in the creative production of the film including developing the property, collaborating with the director.

A line producer may not be credited as a line producer but in general that person is a day to day financial controller who watches the daily burn.

Assistant or associate producers are detail people who work the phones, run around, monitor, liason, providing the grease of the production.

These are just credits. Throughout the production there are people who do all these things. George Lucas, for example, may be listed as executive producer but have a major hand in the say of the production at every level, even for films for which he is not the director.
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