Tips For Attaching The Right Producer To Your Project
Many independent writers and directors today make the naive assumption that it’s going to be easy to find a producer that will get their film made. In reality a huge amount of filmmakers fail to bring their projects to life as a result of teaming up with the wrong producing partner.
Attempting to produce your own film (if you are a writer/director) is typically a poor decision. Taking on too much work yourself, especially if you’re primarily a creatively minded person, will always lead you to spread yourself too thin…and let your project suffer. But simply deciding to team up with a producer isn’t enough. So often filmmakers will choose to partner up with a friend or close colleague simply out of convenience, and end up paying the ultimate price down the road when they realize that they should have put in the extra legwork to find the right person for the job.
Assuming you already understand the huge importance of bringing a dedicated producer on board for your film, below are three huge tips that will help you find that perfect fit.
1. Manage Your Expectations
There are two very common issues that I see all the time with independent filmmakers as they attempt to partner up with a producer – both of which are related to their expectations. On one end of the spectrum, you have the director that mistakenly assumes their best friend is going to be the ideal producer for their project, because they ‘get it’ and have a good personal relationship with them. And on the other side of the spectrum you have inexperienced directors that assume they will be able to attach an A-list (or name) producer, by virtue of the fact that they believe they have the perfect script.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to partner up with a friend, or shooting for the stars with regards to approaching a renowned producer, but you need to manage your own expectations. If you are working with a friend, be very aware early on that it’s not going to be as easy as you think, and look out for potential red flags before it’s too late. If you want to go after a big name producer – by all means go for it. Just don’t be discouraged when they don’t get back to you, or tell you they don’t love your script. Never rush the process, and always be conscious of the reality of your position in the industry.
2. Understand What Type of Producer You Need
Many writer/directors (especially first timers) don’t seem to understand the huge differences between various types of producers that are out there. Assuming you have been able to find a producer that satisfies the first point on this list (and is a good fit in terms of their ability and willingness to take part in your project), the next step is to identify how they fit into the context of the story you’re telling.
You need to ask yourself important (but basic) questions, like: Does this producer actually make films that you too are interested in making? Fit is crucial. Why would you collaborate with someone who specializes in producing horror films if you write dramas?
While we’re on the topic of genre, it’s worth making the point that you’re going to want to avoid producers who seem to constantly switch from one genre to the next. While there are some brilliant producers that are able to do this masterfully, the vast majority of producers on the lower level of the indie spectrum that take this approach simply are taking what they can get as a means to make a living. At the end of the day, you as an indie filmmaker will be best served by finding a producer that takes pride in their creative choices too, as opposed to one that is solely driven by money and just wants to pay the bills.
3. Gauge Their Passion
Finding a passionate producer is, in my opinion, the number one criteria when bringing someone on board with your project. Let’s face it, funds can be quite limited at the indie level and when money can’t talk, it’s passion and hard work that will fuel your project. It’s vital to the development of your script that you find a producer that isn’t motivated by money alone. Yes, you want a producer that understands the financial end of things (after all you want to make your budget back and then some, so you can actually make another movie), but there needs to be much more to the arrangement than that. This is especially true if you are looking for a producer that is going to be involved heavily in the creative process, as you want your producer to understand the bottom line while also understanding the importance of the creative.
Forging a solid career for yourself in the film industry has just as much to do with the people that you surround yourself, as it does with your own skill set and knowledge of the craft. Arguably the most important person on your production is going to be your producing partner, so don’t make the mistake that so many directors make and skimp out in this department. After all, it doesn’t matter how great your story is or how skilled you are behind the camera, because if the backbone of your production isn’t there to pick you up when things fall apart (and they will), your project will never be a success.