Film Producer

Film producers prepare and then supervise the making of a film before presenting the product to a financing entity or a film distributor.[1] They might be employed by a film studio or be independent, yet either way they helm the creative people as well as the accounting personnel.[2][3][4][5]

Responsibilities[edit source | edit]

Film rights[edit source | edit]

During the “discovery stage” the producer has to find and acknowledge promising material.[6] Often a producer must then retrieve the film rights or an option.[7] If the rights owner is worried about preserving the integrity, voice and vision of his/her work, the producer might have to comply with a variety of demands concerning the screenplay, the film director, the casts or other topics. [8] Thus it takes occasionally a lot of time and effort before the actual pre-production can begin. Late German producer Bernd Eichinger is said to have worked 15 years on convincing novelist Patrick Süskind just to agree to a film adaptation of his book Perfume.[9] However, sometimes all effort is futile. J. D. Salinger, for example, refused all film producers as long as he lived.[10]

Pre-production[edit source | edit]

Unless the film is supposed to be based on an original script, the producer has to find an appropriate screenwriter.[11][12] If an existing script is considered flawed, they are able to order a new version or make the decision to hire a script doctor.[13] [14] [15] The producer also has the final say on which film director gets hired.[16] [17] They also have the last word when it comes to casting questions. [18]

Production[edit source | edit]

Producers can’t always personally supervise all parts of their production. The reasons are many. For example some producers run a company which also deals with film distribution. [19] [20] Also cast and film crew often work at different times and places and certain films even require a second unit. Consequently it is normal that the main producer will appoint executive producers, line producers or unit production managers who represent the main producer’s interests. [21] The executive producer for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi was George Lucas himself, the creator of the Star Wars Universe. [22]
Whether the person credited as “producer” or a person credited as “executive producer” has more input on a production is not always clear and is subject to change as the film is substantiated. Since filmmaking is a dynamic process, responsibilities can grow or shift in the process and to-be credits for producers can get adjusted retroactively. For example somebody hired as “line producer” might later be credited as “executive producer”.
Because of these dynamics it is imperative that all involved producers agree on production standards right from the start. It is said that negligence in that matter can lead to a domino effect. [23]

Post-production[edit source | edit]

Among other things the producer has the last word on whether sounds or music have to be changed or scenes have to be looped. But even if the shooting has officially been finished, the producers can still demand that additional scenes are filmed after all. In case of a negative test screening producers might even demand and get an alternative film ending. This happened for example with First Blood. [24] Producers are also in charge of selling the film or arranging distribution rights.

Becoming a film producer[edit source | edit]

From the first draft script, through all stages of production, to the final dub, success or failure rests largely in the hands of the producer. Experience in this field does not come overnight. Rather it is born out of long years of creative and technical know-how, and above all a love for the job and all that goes with it, together with the ability to choose the right talent with which to surround himself.

There are different ways to become a film producer. Stanley Kramer started as editor and writer.[26] Other producers started as actor or director.

Film schools offer degree courses that include film production knowledge.[27] [28] Some courses are especially designed for future film producers, focusing on key topics like pitching, script development, script assessment, shooting schedule design and budgeting.[29] [30] [6] [3] The students can also expect practical training in regards to post-production..[31]

On the occasion of announcing his own film school “L’Ecole de la Cite” film producer Luc Besson admitted that at the beginning of his career he would have appreciated the chance to attend a film school.[32]

PGA[edit source | edit]

In November 2012, three studios: Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Columbia Pictures plus Screen Gems joined DreamWorks Animation and the Weinstein Company in Producers Guild of America certification program which designates those producers that request it “p.g.a.” after their name if a genuine producer.[21]

Notes and references[edit source | edit]

  1. ^ “Summary Report for: Producers”. ONET Online. Retrieved 17 December 2010. 
  2. ^ “Film Job Profiles: Director”. Retrieved 13 March 2013. 
  3. ^ a b “Production”. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  4. ^ “The producer plans the production, hires key staff, organises financial backing and budgets, distribution, etc.”. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  5. ^ “Actors, producers, and directors”. US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010–11 Edition. Retrieved 7 November 2010. 
  6. ^ a b “Production”. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  7. ^ “A screenplay agreement normally provides that the copyright is assigned to the producer”. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  8. ^ “He created a screenplay about a rough-and-tumble thug who struggles for a chance to make it as a professional boxer. According to several reports, Stallone refused to sell the script unless he was allowed to star in it.”. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  9. ^ “A Farewell to Bernd Eichinger: German Film Loses its Leading Man”. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 
  10. ^ “JD Salinger always insisted The Catcher in the Rye was “unactable” and refused to let Hollywood anywhere near his masterpiece”. Retrieved 19 June 2010. 
  11. ^ “writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have been hired to pen the screenplay for producer Dino de Laurentiis”. Retrieved 13 April 2007. 
  12. ^ “Goldman was contacted by director/producer Rob Reiner to write the screenplay”. Retrieved 14 March 2011. 
  13. ^ “He began work on the script. And worked on it and worked on it, pushing it through seven drafts before arriving at a version with which de Laurentiis was satisfied”. Retrieved 11 November 2010. 
  14. ^ “Broccoli insisted on a rewrite, claiming to story was too political for a 007 film. Writer Christopher Wood was brought on board to collaborate with Maibaum and expand upon Broccoli’s personal concept for the film”. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  15. ^ “the producers Albert R Broccoli and Harry Saltzman hired him for two weeks to doctor the Richard Maibaum script of Diamonds Are Forever”. Retrieved 4 August 2010. 
  16. ^ “Next De Laurentiis hired King Vidor, director of Duel in the Sun (1946) and The Fountainhead (1949) to make the movie”. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  17. ^ “He also stuck loyally by gifted American directors when they were out of favour or off form. Robert Altman made one of his less successful pictures, Buffalo Bill and the Indians (1976), for De Laurentiis, who also helped the luckless Michael Cimino back on his feet after the commercial disaster of Heaven’s Gate”. Retrieved 11 November 2010. 
  18. ^ “Cubby Broccoli personally broke his own golden rule and cast her as the mysterious Octopussy”. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  19. ^ “In 1979, Eichinger bought a large stake in the Munich-based production and distribution company Constantin Film, which he ran as a hands-on producer for over 30 years”. Retrieved 14 January 2011. 
  20. ^ “Europacorp studio posted $186 million in revenues last year, making it second only to Germany’s Constantin Film as Europe’s largest independent studio”. Retrieved 10 March 2009. 
  21. ^ a b Cieply, Michael (8 November 2012). “Three Studios Agree to Let a Guild Certify Credits for Film Producers”. New York Times. Retrieved 19 November 2012. 
  22. ^ “Lucas continued the Star Wars saga as storywriter and executive producer with The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and Return of the Jedi in 1983.”. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 
  23. ^ “All the projects that I have been involved with have allowed me to see how important it is to get things right from the beginning. Production standards – good or bad – can cause a domino effect in the chain of command all the way through the process.”. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 
  24. ^ “test audiences nearly rioted after cheering for Rambo and then seeing him die. So the producers went back to Hope, British Columbia, the location for the film, and shot a new ending in which Rambo lives”. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  25. ^ The Avengers Forever: Julian Wintle Retrieved 2011-09-10
  26. ^ “Mr. Kramer began his career in the 1930s as an editor and writer, later forming an independent production company”. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  27. ^ “The MFA Advanced Film Practice programme aims to equip you with the creative, professional and technical knowledge you will need to enter the professional arena as a writer, producer or director.”. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  28. ^ “The training course last three years and the interdisciplinary teaching programme prepares students in the specific areas of directing, scriptwriting, acting, photography, editing, sound techniques, production, set-design, props and wardrobe”. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  29. ^ “Our BA in Film Production is one of our most highly sought-after courses.”. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  30. ^ “Producing seminars teach through practical studies in production, script development, budgeting, and media economics”. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  31. ^ “All student films are developed, shot and post-produced in teams, closely mirroring a realistic industry work process in order to ease graduates’ transitions to the professional environment”. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  32. ^ “Luc Besson launches film school”. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 

External links[edit source | edit]

Further reading[edit source | edit]

  • Lee, Jr, John J. (2000). The Producer’s Business Handbook. Focal Press. ISBN 1136050655. 
  • Simens, Dov S-S (2003). From Reel to Deal. New York: Warner Books. ISBN 0759520763. 

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Film Producer, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.