Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What is a Producer?

The Writer's Guild and Director's Guild have clear cut guidelines to what a writer and director are, but the Producer title is much more vague. It's is a funny term, because it encompasses a bunch of jobs. But here is an overview of the different types of producers and their functions.

A Producer....
  • Organizes and INITIATES a project.
  • Options rights to a book, finds a writer, goes into a studio, pitches, develops the screenplay, and gets paid a fee.
  • Gets the money for the film, either from studios or outside funding.
  • Gets a project off the ground
  • Walks on stage to get the Academy Award for Best Picture!
Most producers spend much of their time in an office, either buying and pitching, so once a film gets greenlight, they start on their next project and the film gets passed to....

The Line Producer....
  • This is a former production manager who has worked their way up. They know union agreements, when you have to break for lunch, how many tracks the camera crew needs, and know when you have to stop spending. They deal with a lot of numbers.
  • Oversee everything and make sure all the bills get paid.
The Executive Producer...
  • This is a person who brings name recognition to a project;
  • The one brought in to finance a project;
  • Or the person who brought the whole project together.
The Associate Producer...
  • Might be the Line Producer;
  • Or could be someone who has never done anything but brought a script to the film;
  • Or someone who works for the Producer;
  • Or even just the Producer's girlfriend.
  • This is a flexible title and can mean a lot of things.
The Writer can also get a Producer credit...
  • Often times in turnaround or other unique situations the Writer will say they want more.
  • Example: In Shakespeare in Love, Mark Norman got the Writing and Best Picture Academy Award.
A Manager (or an Actor or Writer) can get a Producer credit...
  • This is often done as a little gift or kudos to the manager
  • There are a lot of people who manager Writers and they don't make much money, so this money is how they stay afloat.
  • Agents CANNOT get producer credits though.

Keep in mind that everything is different in TELEVISION. In Film, the most important person is the director; but in TV, the most important person is the Writer...also known as the Executive Producer or Showrunner.
  • Executive Producer/Showrunner is usually the writer of the Pilot...if not, then its probably the person who hired the writers.

So there is a little overview, hope that's helpful!

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