Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tip # 3: The Producer

By Anant Mathur (October 25, 2011)

A producer is usually the first person involved in getting a story to the screen, it's his vision. It is the producer who finds a script worthy of being made into a film. Sometimes he gets an existing script from a writer, other times it's an idea he has or a book which is adapted into a film by a writer. But until the producer is on board not a single frame of any script can be shot, no matter how brilliant it is. Once the producer has decided on a certain script it is his job to set a budget and hire the best actors and technicians (the budget will allow) for the job. Once he has the primary star cast and technicians in place he approaches investors for the film. Based on the talent attached to the film he is able to attract money from various investors.

No matter what anyone tells you, the most important person involved in the making of a film is the producer. I know that most people believe the director is the most important person associated with a film, but the fact is, that's not true. I'm not sure who made it possible for directors to get so much importance in the making of the film, the truth is a good cinematographer (or director of photography) is more important for a film than a director. The director's job is fairly easy (if the writer has done his job correctly) it's all in the script. The director just has to... wait for it... direct! He has to get the best possible performance out of his actors based on the instructions in the script. The rest is the responsibility of the other technicians on the sets.

You may have heard many producers say that they don't like to interfere with the director and are very hands-off when the film is being shot. This is the wrong approach, a producer needs to be heavily involved in the daily shooting of his film. The producer works very hard to get money for the film from a variety of investors, when a director asks for more money a producer needs to know exactly where it's going and if his vision for the film is being met.

For example, when a producer is hands-off, a director might want to re-shoot a scene several times if he's not happy with it, and may delay the film by several days because he's unable to get the performance out of his actors. If the producer lets this director be in control, chances are there will be many such situations, the film will be significantly over budget, won't meet the producer's expectations and won't work at the box office. At this point the producer has only one option - firing the director. Had the producer been involved in the day to day shooting of the film - the film wouldn't have gone over budget and he would've realized the director is wrong right from the start. A producer who is hands-off is a bad producer and is not doing his job correctly.

The award for Best Picture is the most important at any awards function and it goes not to the director but the producer... why?... because he's the most important person involved in the making of a film. A good producer gives the director what is required but keeps track of everything; making sure his vision is being followed. At the end of it all a film needs to be what the producer saw in the script and not necessarily what the director can do. When a director is given too much control there are creative difference. If a director wants to follow his vision he should produce the film himself, but unless he can do that, he has to remember that it's the producer's vision, he's paying the bills and has a right to take a film in any direction he wants.

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.


Mrinmoy Jyoti said...

I stumbled on your blog and I must say it is very good. It is better than many top film critics'. Got to know many things. Good work.

Anant Mathur said...

Thanks Mrinmoy, I appreciate your feedback.