THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR
Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors
September 26, 2005 Scene 6 – Take 9
Published once a month.
Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
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3. Feature Article – “Five Good Producer Skills”
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Welcome to Issue #58 of The Director’s Chair (Sept. 26, 2005)
1) This month’s Feature Article is called “Five Good
Producer Skills” by Angela Taylor. You may believe a
thorough knowledge of filmmaking and the entertainment
industry is enough to make you a good movie producer. While
it certainly helps to know the nuts and bolts of movie
production, and even the details of financing and marketing
a movie, that knowledge is not enough to create a good
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3. FEATURE ARTICLE – Five Good Producer Skills
FIVE GOOD PRODUCER SKILLS by Angela Taylor
You may believe a thorough knowledge of filmmaking and the
entertainment industry is enough to make you a good movie
producer. While it certainly helps to know the nuts and
bolts of movie production, and even the details of financing
and marketing a movie, that knowledge is not enough to
create a good producer. It might make for a good studio
executive, or other job out of the fray, but you need to
develop specific skills, to help you make an independent
The first and most important skill you need is organization.
If you were the kid who kept the minutes of the club
meetings, edited the yearbook, or organized the prop-closet
by era, you already have this skill. It is something that
is hard to teach, but you can certainly learn it, to become
If you are the person who can’t find his keys and has no
idea how much is in your checking account, you need help.
Get organized. There is simply no substitute for it.
Buy a book about getting organized. I recommend “How to Get
Organized When You Don’t Have The Time” by Stephanie Culp.
http://snurl.com/gqg5 Or take a Franklin – Covey course. Do
whatever you have to do, but get organized.
Second, you need to be able to make decisions quickly.
Despite the best planning, things change moment-to-moment
during production. You will have to decide right now
whether to set up the next shot despite the looming storm
clouds, or to move on to another location, completely
disrupting the schedule.
The best way to develop this skill is to completely bury
your doubt. Know that you are in charge, any mistakes to be
made are yours to make and you will suffer the consequences
of bad decisions. If you act decisively, and accept blame
when necessary, your cast and crew will accept your
Third, you must be a good negotiator. You will have to make
deals for every single thing on the set – the equipment, the
sets, the crew, the film stock, everything. Even if you’re
borrowing your mom’s station wagon, you will have to
convince her you will take good care of it, and return it
washed, and with a full tank of gas. Everything will have
to be negotiated.
When negotiating rates, know the maximum you can pay for any
one line item on your budget and try to shave 20 or 30
percent off of it. If they negotiate up, you may still save
15 percent or so off what you expected to pay.
There is one thing you need to know when negotiating: You
can always say no. If you can’t get the deal you want, just
say no. Practice it. No. There is no need to be a jerk,
just make it clear that you will take your business or offer
elsewhere. If a crew member doesn’t want to accept your day
rate, he doesn’t have to. You will find someone else
(assuming you set your rate at a reasonable low-budget
Fourth, a producer also needs diplomacy. It’s surprising
how often a film shoot devolves into a third-grade
playground. In just a few short weeks, cliques form, rumors
start and friendships are formed and ruined. Crew members
and actors will, believe it or not, come tattle to you.
Sometimes you will have to intercede in petty squabbles and
personality conflicts. The trick is to smooth ruffled
feathers while not making one combatant feel like you’ve
taken another’s side. That will only set factions against
you, and that’s the last thing you want on your set.
And fifth, of course, you will need energy. Lots and lots
of energy. Caffeine helps to get you started after only a
few hours sleep, but it is no substitute for real, healthy
human energy. One of the things you must do during
pre-production is get yourself in shape for the rigorous
weeks of shooting. You’re in training, not for a sprint,
but for a marathon.
Working on lower budgets, independent films often have a
much tighter schedule, making for longer days and fewer days
off. Take it seriously beforehand, and train like a
champion. Exercise, eat healthy, and take vitamins and
supplements to build your energy stores, so you can get
After you have these five basic producer skills down, you
will be ready to develop your knowledge of the filmmaking
process and the entertainment industry, by producing a
successful independent film.
Angela Taylor is a Hollywood producer, and a seven-time
Telly Award winner. She teaches Independent Producing at
2005 Angela Taylor, All Rights Reserved. You may forward
this article in its entirety to anyone you wish. Hollywood
Seminars, Box 2449, Hollywood CA 90078 USA
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