Everybody starts somewhere. If you’re thinking about producing your first short film, congratulations! You’ve got an interesting journey up ahead.
As a film producer, you will be responsible for bringing together different aspects of the filmmaking process. You’ll need to find a story, along with the cast and crew, to do the project. Here’s a quick primer on what you need to know when it comes to taking on a producer role.
Types of Producers
There are various producer roles in a film project. Some are relevant while others seem to be throwaway titles for those who helped to move the project along. The major titles you need to be familiar with include:
Executive Producer – Someone who funds the film or helps secure funding for the film. Those who write the check are sometimes given co-producer status during production.
Line Producer – This person is responsible for making sure the video or film project moves along as scheduled and within budget.
Associate Producer – Usually someone who has helped make connections or move the project along.
Don’t worry if you’re only doing a small production. If you are, chances are, you’ll be working multiple jobs and wearing several titles including that of producer, director, actor, etc.
Once you have the roles sorted out, to make your film, you need to have a great story. If you’re a writer, then awesome! You might already have a story or script you want to film. But if not, you need to come up with a good enough and solid story so the screenwriter can create an interesting script. Think of your character, your major plot, the key moments, etc. Work with the writer, offer feedback and review revisions until you are ready to start filming.
Assembling Your Key Crew
Let’s say the script is ready. Now, you need to gather a crew. Pick the right director to match your story and can do it justice. Once you have the director, you can then decide to gather the rest of the crew. Some directors will specify certain cinematographers or gaffers they like. Try to secure them as well. You want your director to be motivated enough to bring your story to life. Of course, don’t feel pressured to fill in every position yet. At the very least, just have your director and cinematographer locked down first.
Hiring Lead Actors
While the director helps bring the story to reality, it’s the lead actors that bring those characters to life. As a small production, consider what your options are when it comes to actors. You can check your local theatre or a friend or local talent. Just make sure you are satisfied with their performance and that they fit the role.
Getting the Budget Right
It’s important to get your money right prior to shooting the film. Think about the bare minimum budget you need and the maximum budget you require to give the story justice. One thing to note though is that a maximum budget should have an end cap as well. It’s the amount you need to get the project done right. This includes payment for the production, cast and crew, equipment rentals and other items for production.
Big studios will have a business plan in place and go around looking for individuals and businesses to help raise the funds. If you’re a small production, chances are you will be pocketing the budget or crowdfund it from friends or family.
Making the Movie
Once you have the major things sorted out, it’s time to create a realistic schedule for shooting the film. If you have a line producer, they usually take over from here. If not, you have to do it as well. If your film is too short, you might not have time to shoot everything you need. Take too long and the crew you will be working with might hesitate to commit.
If it’s a short film, two or three weekends might be enough. The great thing is that if the cast and crew realize your talent and you treat them well they will be more than happy to invest more time in your production. In the end, when you have a happy cast and crew, it will make for a smooth production. This also goes for post-production as a lot of short films end up suffering in post.
As a producer, you need to be organized and have the capacity to handle different tasks at once. If possible, having a line producer by your side will be helpful. Regardless of your route, being a producer is rewarding and will help you gather more experience as you explore the world of filmmaking.