Hi and welcome to the Production area of the film. This is the engine room of the production. All key decisions run through this department and the Key production staff manage everything that you will see on screen – as well as all the things you won’t. It is a shed load of work, but, to be completely honest with you, I’m having the time of my life. Scott Vickery (Producer)
In this area we will be describing and showing what we are trying to do – and what we are learning along the way, and remember, this is our first feature – So we’re bound to make mistakes. There are also links below to things we have found interesting and helpful – its worthwhile taking a look.
If you are the Producer – then get set – you have a lot of work to do. I decided to get into film in late 2010 – and I am currently poor – there is no other way to describe it, in fact a lot of the team are living lean to be able to focus on their passion for film. This does bring with it a certain clarity that benefits you as a creative force.
I recommend that you read – you are going to get a lot of scripts coming your way, so if I was you I would read a few books on Producing / Directing / Camera and importantly Writing. I have made a short list below – and if you are serious you will devour everything. I have read many more – but these are a good place to start, in my opinion.
1. What a Producer Does: Buck Houghton
2. Producer to Producer: Maureen A Ryan
3. Directing Actors: Judith Weston
4. The Writers Journey: Christopher Vogler
5. Save the Cat series: Blake Snyder
6. How to write a Movie in 21 days: Viki King
7. The 5 C’s of Cinematography: Joseph Mascelli
8. Shot by Shot & Cinematic Motion: Steven D Katz
9. The Conversations: Michael Ondaatje
10. All of the Screencraft series.
11. All books by and about big league players, Robert Evans, Michael Deeley, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, Michael Mann, David Lean, Akira Kurosawa, Francis Coppola, Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg, Luc Besson etc.
In addition to these excellent works, I would also submit that you should be going to the cinema at least once a week, you should find the time to watch at least 4 DVD’s and you should read at least 2 scripts of the movies you love. I can’t stress enough how important it is to read scripts of great films – read Chinatown this week for instance – its a classic, and you will learn a lot from it.
OK – So what to do when you are going to get started.
1. Getting the team together. Getting a fully harmonious creative team does have its challenges, especially if you want all team members to bring forward their best for the project. The main things to look for are are shared outlook / interpretations on what the story is by people who are wanting to be on the team – if one wants it to be a rusty old cowboy looking for redemption, and someone else wants it to be an alien prequel -you may face difficult challenges.
The Producer, needs to find the right material first – don’t take on work for the wrong reasons – if it doesn’t resonate with you, how can you possibly convince someone else to join you in making it. This is important as you will need to have people behind you when the chips are down, and there are always times when they are. Remember its good advice not to make a film by committee – it won’t work at all, it creates negativity and disharmony. A clear, coherent and shared vision from the Director / Producer is a must.
A rough outline of the project path should look like this to start things rolling.
A: Find the material (story)
B: Work with Screenwriter to develop story
C: Find suitable Director for material
D: Start to build team with Director – First the Key Department Heads
(Prod Manager, 1st AD, Art Director, DOP, Sound Designer, Editor, Marketing, IT)
2. Finding the right Director. This was actually easy for us as Marty knew Andrew from things they had worked on together before. Andrew comes from the Sydney Film School so we sort of scored a 2 in 1 with him as director, as he is also great with a camera. His interpretation of the script was extremely close to that of the Producer – so a good harmonious outlook was establish from the first review together. Andrew of course has his own takes on how it should be filmed and the way it should look. It is the production teams job to help him achieve that.
2. Finding Key Department Heads. This is something that you should be working with the director on. He or she may have idea’s that they know will be suited to a particular department head, but also, some directors won’t care – to them its just a job to be filled – if so take a very considered approach – Who best suits the material? In either case look for people who will bring something to the project, if you have strong feelings about people positive or negative – bring them up early. There is nothing worse than knowing in your gut its not a good fit for someone and being convinced otherwise – only to watch things unravel later. Be smart fix it before it needs fixing. That being said – I have been quite lucky so far, we have a great team for Margin.
The persons who are on top of the overall project are the Producer, Associate Producer, Production Manager, and the 1st Assistant Director. These 4 together in conjunction control the whole operational outlook of the production. If these 4 can work well as a team your half way there really. Also an Executive Producer, if available, will be able to guide the team with their great experience and contacts.
3. Getting all the Departments Organised. Everybody performs better if they know what everyone else is doing – it saves time and it also allows you to cross reference idea’s across departments quickly and efficiently. In addition to that it allows a quicker change of direction if required.
EG. (a totally new location, thats absolutely brilliant for the film, but, its only available tomorrow, for instance).
The P, PM & 1AD should be on top of this.
On this project, we have had monthly meetings for all of the crew, we have been having them on the AFTRS campus in Sydney (thanks everyone there.). Generally these last for around 4 hours – but could go on for days. In addition to this each department has its own meetings. (As Producer – I would highly recommend that you go to as many of these departmental meetings as is humanly possible – as you can then filter down the findings or ideas generated from each of these meetings to the other departments heads and staff.)
Ok so you’ve got some work to do – and so have we. Stay tuned updates will come through roughly once a week.
Just checked out Stacy Parks excellent distribution pages and info, you can check it our here, Dissecting Distribution , it has a wealth of great idea’s and should encourage you to go for more as well.
Also check out the great work by Thomas Mai – he is an inspiration.
I’ll check back in soon to write some more.
All the best,