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November 13 at 8:15am

On Producing, Directing, And Why Our Industry Needs To Change

By Ted Hope

Colin McCormick did a really great and in depth interview with me for SAGIndie.  We covered a significant amount in pretty substantial detail. Suffice it to say that this excerpt is just the tip, and you will want to read the whole thing. But to begin with check this excerpt out on the similarities between producing and directing, and how they demonstrate everything has got to change:

I often say that there is the role of the producer and there is the role of the director that are remarkably similar. The producer comes in and has to extract the big vision, the dream of everything that you want to accomplish, and then cut the legs out from under it and say, “That’s where we’re going. But with these funds, with this story, with this cast, we’re only going to be able to capture forty percent.” And then through work and through structure, hopefully [you can] achieve a place where you get another twenty or twenty-five percent. And then through good engineering, having built a structure where serendipity can occur, where the miraculous might be achieved, you get something more. And then to be able to sit and help the director recognize that you still may not have hit that full vision that you had before you ever shot, but you have something very unique and distinct that you were able to capture.

And from the director’s side, it’s really starting with the ability to articulate the vision, the common sense to recognize what is practical, the mindfulness to see what you’re actually getting; but [also] the willingness to adapt to that situation and that presence, the capacity to acknowledge what was actually accomplished in post, and then still the showbiz attitude to sell what is inherent in that movie that might bring people into it. Both of these requires a constant shift and negotiation. It’s very different from how we set up the business of film, but it’s still predicated on selling the invisible. Of [selling] the pitch. I know that each movie is going to include 10,000 compromises and 1,000 decisions a day, and leading a team of 250 people, and though I’m pitching this idea to you now and expecting you to [get] behind it to fund it, there’s no way in hell that the [budgeted] math is going to lead to what I’m telling you I’m going to do today. But that’s still the system that we have and that we enjoy.

To me it points out why we really do need to change. And how there can be many benefits from embracing something much closer to [economic] reality. Documentary films rarely get sold on the dream. Instead, they have many different stages of their financing, where basically you deliver a proof of principle, your trailer reel; that gets you to your next stage, which is your financing reel; [that] gets you to your next stage, which is your rough cut. You go through these different stages. And what’s the biggest difference between the documentary creative class and the fiction creative class? That in the documentary world you have gender-proportionate representation of the directors. Fifty-four percent of the directors in documentary are women. And six percent in the narrative world. Why is that? Well, one gender has been trained since birth to speak knowingly and arrogantly about something they can’t have any control over. And we’ve created a system to reward it. [Gender parity is] not the only change that would come from [a stage financing model]. When you look at stage financing, it’s deployed across many industries. It delivers better predictive results. It delivers a secondary market for financing. Right now who finances movies? Only the people and corporations that can afford to tie their capital up for three years. If we had a secondary market, some people might take chances that their investment today would be something they could extract in six months for a profit. Folks who needed greater liquidity could play in [the film market]. And stage financing essentially is a tool to build that.

 

There is a whole lot more to that interview so check it out.


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