A producer’s fingerprints are all over the productions they work for. They help with every portion of a project’s lifespan, from conceivement to script to budgeting to set location to casting…like I said, every portion.
For movie studios, a producer is normally the first person attached to a project. The studio picks a script, hands it off to one of their many producers, pats them on the shoulder and says, “Go make this movie.” If you’re not working with one of the Big Guys, it probably isn’t going to happen exactly like that. It would behoove you to pay attention to their example though. Getting a producer onto your project early will pay dividends down the road.
The question, which you may have guessed already by the title of this blog, is how do I pick the right producer? While this is not the end all be all answer, hopefully these tips will get you on the right track.
1. Make sure you can work with them
Simple enough, right? If you’re going to be spending a lot of time with someone working on a project you’re passionate about, you want to ensure you CAN spend a lot of time with them. They need to be professional and able to communicate. You may not get along all the time, but that’s ok. Sometimes great creativity can emerge from butting heads. Liking them is a plus, but not what you should base your choice on.
2. Get on the same page on where the project is going
You started this project. It’s your baby. You’ve nourished it in your mind and already see it toddling around, speaking its first words, and graduating Summa Cum Laude from Harvard. Your producer thinks it should drop out of high school and hitch hike across the country.
For a project to succeed, there needs to be a definite plan. What’s the message? What should it look like? Why are we doing this? These are all things you should hash out with your producer as soon as possible. If you’re both not going in the same direction the project could slow down, stall, or just come to a complete stop.
3. Choose a producer with a passion
They want to be there! They have their own ideas and want to talk about them with you. They’re excited about the project and want to do everything they can to bring it to fruition. Passion takes something good and makes it great. Your producer MUST have it.
4. Besides passion, a producer needs lots and lots of contacts
Who do you call when craft services falls through? The location is a bust due to rats infesting the walls…where to next? The star talent really, really needs a venti iced skinny hazelnut macchiato with sugar-free syrup, an extra shot, light ice, and no whip before filming the critical scene. Where the hell do you get one of those?!
The producer knows the answer to all these questions, or if they don’t, they know someone who does. They have backups for their backups and are ready at the drop of a hat to fix any problem. Anything can go wrong on set, and sooner or later it will. The producer will be ready with a Rolodex of a thousand names that can get your problem fixed.
5. Interview everyone. EVERYONE.
This should be a given but its not. Your friend knows a guy who is a producer so you just go with them. Wrong choice. You don’t just go with the first person you come across, even if that first person is amazing. Look around. Actually search. Compile a list of names and interview every single person you can. Find the right producer for you and your project. It can make or break the whole thing.