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03/30/2001 - The Proliferation of Producer Credits

How to Produce Movie for Television

"Life is the acceptance of responsibilities or their evasion, it is a business of meeting obligations or avoiding them. To every man the choice is continually being offered, and by the manner of his choosing you may fairly measure him."

-- Ben Ames Williams

The Proliferation of Producer Credits

How many producers does it take to make a movie? Punch Line: As many as will fit on screen.

The more, the merrier seems to be the modus operandi of the day. Sad to say, it looks like the undeserving wannabes are winning the battle.

The numbers don't lie. Remember the summer hit, "Scary Movie?" That film had listed 11 producers. And it doesn't end there. Recently, another feature film starring some name actors credited 17 producers -- 7 Executive Producers, 3 Producers,
3 Co-Producers, 3 Associate Producers, and a Production Manager, who had also doubled as a Line Producer. The art of producing movies has lately been reduced to one overblown sick joke.

To counteract this, The Producers Guild of America has initiated a campaign to stop "Credit Fraud." Who are the culprits? They include the personal managers of stars, some of whom never even visit the set of the movie, fledgling dealmakers whose sole function is having introduced the property to funding sources, powerful publicists who are often revered and even feared by their peers as well as their star clients, and even an occasional hairdresser, therapist, or massage therapist to the stars.

Why has this been allowed to happen? One reason may be because the role of the producer has never been clearly defined by management. As long as there's money to be made, management will often look the other way. As a result, obtaining a producer credit has been reduced to a hunting-we-will go open season. The name of the game is anything goes, take your chances, and share in the booty.

"Gladiator" was about "strength and honor." Now, more than ever, producing is unfortunately about "leverage and power."

How to Produce Movies for Television Page 2.

Who is responsible for allowing this sham to mushroom to epidemic proportions?

The studios and the mega media conglomerates that now run the motion picture and television business are bending to the power that is wielded by superstars and equally super powerful directors who are calling the shots.

Let's face it, the high powered managers, agents, and attorneys who represent the top stars and directors are only the messengers. Shooting the messengers isn't the answer. Studios indulge stars. And in the end, stars rule.

Do the studios mind caving into the unreasonable demands of the all-powerful megastars and directors? Of course not. It costs the studio more money to make a film. And many studios have to answer to their shareholders. So it becomes a vicious circle.

Fighting Credit Fraud

The Producers Guild of America has urged the studios to use the guild's own certification mark -a laurel leaf with the initials "PGA - an on-screen recognition following the names of those who perform the majority of the producing functions on any given motion picture or television programs. This acknowledgement is structured to distinguish the real producers from the phonies who are bleeding the industry coffers.

Will The Real Producers Standup?

The Producers Guild of America has developed its own list of standards, defining the various producer categories and determining who performs most of the producing work on any given project. The guild also has an accreditation and arbitration process for resolving any disputes which may arise. This allows guild members to be self-regulating. It also sends a message to others that the producers are making every effort to preserve their good name.

In future columns, we'll elaborate on the role of the producer: defining the functions and responsibilities of Executive Producers, Producers, Line Producers, Co-Producers, Associate Producers, and Supervising Producers.

The Producers Guild of America has spoken out to right the wrongs. The guild realizes that in today's current economic climate it's going to be an uphill battle to defend their position on this ever-growing problem.

How to Produce Movies for Television Page 3.

We're rooting for the PGA to achieve their worthy goals. Hollywood and New York -the two meccas of the entertainment industry - are comprised of both people who care and those who couldn't care less.

It's important for the real producers to speak out on this ever-growing issue. They need to form a united front and to standup and fight for their rights.

-- "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies,
but the silence of our friends."

-- Martin Luther King


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