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Time and time again, I get the impression that the “Film Industry” generally does not value producers. I suppose I shouldn’t deduce that The Studios’ abandonment of Producer Overhead First Look Deals means that the business doesn’t value Producers, and just that The Studios need to control costs or that they have other ways of accessing content, but…
- Producers bring new investors into the business, both in terms of sourcing them, and structuring deals that make sense from an investors’ perspective
- Producers look out for investors’ needs (substantially more than distributors do), as Producers think long term and need private equity to stay in the game.
- Producers provide development supervision to get the scripts right — and they usually get a lot more writing done without additional costs — because the authors know they are doing it to get the best movie made, and not just to justify their jobs.
- Producers inspire talent to embrace work for affordable yet just rates — because everyone knows that the producer is doing also for the love but for a whole lot longer.
- Producers counter-balance industry pressure to increase costs and keep movies’ budgets at levels that make sense — which is good for the industry.
- Producers innovate — be it in the search to deliver a better film or to control costs, innovation is in their blood.
- Producers develop talent and take the chances on emerging artists.
- Producers keep in touch with the audience, weighing where their tastes and habits are.
- Producers bring content, talent, technology, audiences, investors together.
- Producers help show the business and the culture where they might aspire to be going.
I wasn’t at DIY Days. If I had been, perhaps I could have saved some time that I just spent brainstorming and writing it all down. Dang.
I am prepping a new film with the shortest amount of time I have ever had to prep a movie. It is also one of the more ambitious projects I have been involved in. There is so much to do I can’t afford to squander any time (luckily I have been prepping some blog posts in advance, so this doesn’t take time — it expands time!). The short prep is also unfortunate because now is a time that the producer has to do even more than ever before.
- Recognize it is about audience aggregation: Collect 5000 fans prior to seeking financing. Act to gain 500 fans/month during prep, prod., post processes.
- Determine how you will engage & collect audiences all throughout the process. Consider some portion to be crowd-funded — not so much for the money but for the engagement it will create.
- Create enough additional content to keep your audience involved throughout the process and later to bridge them to your next work.
- Develop an audience outreach schedule clarifying what is done when — both before and after the first public screening.
- Curate work you admire. Spread the word on what you love. Not only will people understand you further, but who knows, maybe someone will return the good deed.
- Be prepared to “produce the distribution”. Meet with potential collaborators from marketing, promotion, distribution, social network, bookers, exhibitors, widget manufacturers, charitable partners, to whatever else you can imagine.
- Brainstorm transmedia/cross-platform content to be associated with the film.
- Study at least five similar films in terms of what their release strategy & audience engagement strategy was and how you can improve upon them.
- Build a website that utilizes e-commerce, audience engagement, & data retrieval. Have it ready no later than 1 month prior to first public screening.
- Determine & manufacture at least five additional products you will sell other than DVDs.
- Determine content for multiple versions of your DVD.
- Design several versions of your poster. Track how your image campaign evolves through the process.
- Do a paper cut of what two versions of your trailer might be. Track how this changes throughout the process.
- Determine a list of the top 100 people to promote your film (critics, bloggers, filmmakers,etc)
- Determine where & how to utilize a more participatory process in the creation, promotion, exhibition, & appreciation process. Does it make sense for your project to embrace this?
- How will this project be more than a movie? Is there a live component? An ARG? An ongoing element?
- How can you reward those who refer others to you? How do you incentivize involvement? What are you going to give back?
- What will you do next and how can you move your audience from this to that? How will younot have to reinvent the wheel next time?
- What are you doing differently than everyone else? How will people understand this? Discover this?
- How are you going to share what you’ve learned on this project with others?
As an indie film producer, what can you do to show appreciation for all those that are helping you make your film?
- Do your job well. Make a film everyone is proud of. Give the team memories that they were lead well.
- Provide timely information and decisive actions, as clearly as possible. Don’t try to hide anything. Don’t sugar coat; speak truthfully about the situation — reality may not be pretty, but presenting it clarifies your mutual trust.
- Recognize how well your collaborators do their jobs and show how much you appreciate them. Show respect. You can’t make this film without them; they chose to join you and you are fortunate to have them.
- Learn everyone’s name. Learn something about them. Take interest in their lives. Remember & celebrate their birthdays. Thank them for their work.
- Demonstrate that you are concerned for your crew’s health. Provide vitamins and sun screen. Can you provide flu shots on set? When someone is sick, send them home.
- Have a true commitment to safety. If working long hours on location, provide overnight accommodations. Don’t let people drive when they are over tired. Really have a safety meeting each day.
- Good food is quickest route to someone’s heart. Provide thoughtful craft service: healthy food, fun food, new food, fresh food. Work with your caterer to make sure people are getting what they want.
- Provide a constructive work environment. Keep the workplace clean and orderly. Don’t joke around camera. Don’t let people read in view of others. Give everyone access to information.
- Don’t contribute to a bad world. Help your team recycle. Don’t force them to waste due to their work situation. Use less paper.
- Bring some fun into their world. Provide entertainment or education at lunch breaks. Do “dollar days” at the end of the week.
- Let them help the world at large. Organize a blood drive at lunch during production, a toy drive, or coat drive during the winter months. Get absentee ballots when they will be working during election periods.
- Adopt and post/display strong anti-discrimination, anti-sexual harassment policies.
- Help them enjoy themselves. On location, provide an extensive entertainment list for all visiting crew and cast, including restaurants, theaters, medical, specialty stores, massage, and directions. Organize some group outings during non-working hours.
- Go that extra distance to make things better for the team. On location, provide laundry service. In booking travel, always enter everyone’s Frequent Flyer miles. Provide direction books in all vehicles.
- Recognize everyone as a key part of the process. Get them the tools they need to do their work well. Screen dailies and invite everyone. Create a blooper reel to screen for crew. Give them posters, DVDs, t-shirts. Inform them as to the progress of the production. Allow them to comment on the website.
Of course, not being on this list does not mean, the film is not good-looking. The only criteria here was that I harvested the suggestions from my twitter and facebook feeds, and I knew of the movie (*not actually that I saw the movie).
In celebration of Arin Crumley & Keiran Masterton‘s success using Kickstarter to fund development of OpenIndie.com, I thought I would launch my annual grants. Or rather my annual promise of grants. Money! $ For Films! Free!*