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01/12/2001 - What Is A Producer?

How to Produce Movies for Television

Many people wonder what producers actually do and how they go about doing it. We're here to help demystify the process and to also dispel common stereotypes.

What's a producer really all about? The web site home page of the Producers Guild of America quotes the legendary impresario Oscar Hammerstein's definition of a producer:

"An idealist, a realist, a practical dreamer, a sophisticated gambler and a stage-struck child."

Producers are all of these things and more. Dedicated producers truly care. They're passionate about their projects. Successful producers also share the following traits in common:

They're enthusiastic, persistent, and trust their instincts.

Never allow anyone to dissuade you. Always remember that some projects are timeless. They have a life of their own. Quality books and scripts need to be nurtured. A confident producer knows this and is prepared to fight for what he or she believes in.

To borrow a title from playwright Eugene O'Neill, the producer's experience often involves a "long day's journey into night." Most projects of merit are not overnight successes. For example, Richard Attenborough's multiple Academy award-winning motion picture, "Gandhi," took almost 20 years to reach the screen. We owe Mr. Attenborough a debt of gratitude and our admiration for his refusal to give up.

"Gandhi" is not an unusual scenario. The majority of "Best Pictures" were turned down numerous times before the cameras finally rolled.

Are you still interested in becoming a producer? Do you have the staying power to fight for what you believe in? We'll point out in future columns how to avoid the pitfalls and the minefields that you'll encounter along the way.

You're undoubtedly familiar with the expression that "film is a collaborative medium."

Astute producers recognize that no one ever does it alone. Producers need to be in concert with people who share their vision. This includes interacting on almost a daily basis with.writers, directors, stars, personal managers, agents, suppliers and buyers.

In future columns, we'll discuss the role of the Associate Producer, Line Producer, Producer, and Executive Producer.

We'll also introduce creative tools and strategies which you'll be able to apply whenever you're pursuing, acquiring, developing, selling and producing properties.


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