Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem
I have cried. I have bled. I’m sweated. I’ve fought. This script has cost me money, time and a whole heckuva lot of peace of mind.
But I’m finally going to do it. I’m going to make a feature. Specifically my ode-to-my-mother romantic comedy Whose Wife Is It Anyway.
For the few – or many – of you, who have never heard me talk about it, this is the logline:
When her terminally ill mother asks her to get married before she dies, a Muslim female comedienne dives into arranged marriage again, but with a new twist – she tests her suitors with improv games.Whose Wife Is It Anyway is like Bridesmaids but they’re trying to plan love badly as opposed to trying to plan a wedding badly.
What I need most right now is a producer.
Where does one find these miraculous creatures?
This very long 27-minute article has a few tips. And I’ve decided to summarize it for you.
Finding a producer is like falling in love. (Oh. I thought it was going to be hard.)
When I am an established director with my own production house…pfft, I can produce anything I want in-house. Though I might go after certain producers to fulfill certain ends like funding or getting access to stars.
What is a producer’s role?
Producers will have to know the film’s value in the market. Based on budget, they can attract foreign and domestic buyers. Script, director and cast all have to be calibrated towards that goal.
However first time filmmakers’ films are rarely presellable. They are what is called ‘execution dependent’.
Producers have to think from the outset how to distribute if a traditional distribution deal does not happen.
So what exactly does a producer do?
Helps ‘make’ the film.
Rides point on distribution.
Also controls marketing.
These roles can be divided or shared based on each individual’s strengths.
I should think about what kinds of skills I need for my specific project.
I do need to find that creative soulmate though. This is a peer who’ll be with me in the trenches.
Executive producers are good in the outset for money and for those extra credits.
To find a producer, take these steps.=
Step 1: Understand your project’s
AND why? Why this genre? Why this tone? Why this audience?
Step 2: Look for comparisons.
What films influenced me to make this film? Reach out to those filmmakers.
- Who’s making the kind of film I want to make, especially in terms of size and scope?
- Which people are working in the region I want to work in?
- Which producer would be familiar with my mode of production?
- Who has experience attracting cast and crew?
It’s a good idea to follow these people on Twitter.
Watch their movies.
Read their press.
Consider the motivations of each producer.
We can discern tastes from Twitter, track record, etc. But also from the producer themselves or their assistants.
What we are looking for is not content similar to our film, but thematic and emotional similarities.
- Hollywood creative directory
- Industry mentors.
- Agents who are interested in my short films might facilitate meetings.
Step 3: Make a presentation package.
This includes a:
- Mood reel
- Director’s vision statement
I should know reference points in film, literature and theatre as well.
Personal connections to that person are always the best. This helps cut through the pile. Because birds of a feather flock together.
Timing is key to meeting with producers. Festivals and markets are good – we’re taking a zillion meetings anyway. However, just going to film festivals to support other filmmakers is great too.
Other ways to meet:
- Producer speed dating.
- IFP Project Forum
- Sundance Film Lab.
- Film Independent Lab
- Filmmaker magazine.
- Tribeca All Access
- “Script development markets — i.e., CineMart, Sundance, IFP, Tribeca, Film Independent, Berlinale Talent Campus
Step 4: Submit: Follow submission protocols on their website.
If there aren’t any, email or LinkedIn.
Step 4: Send a reminder after a week.
How to conduct electronic communication:
Write a three or four-sentence email with logline. The email should describe what films they have produced that inspired me. What is it about their approach that beckons me?
If requested, send a 1-page treatment and look-book.
Don’t act helpless.
Don’t act gimmicky.
After I find my producer:
Plan different budgets at different tiers.
Producer can get me into the room – but I’m the one who is going to have to inspire.
What is a film collective? Directors and producers banding together against the system.
What if I just want to make a film with my friends?
This is a viable option. But that may or may not look good enough to move the needle.
Another possibility: Work with someone who has never produced but a) is passionate about the project and b) is super organized.
We can also work with a producer after the film is made to get good marketing and distribution plans in place.
If anyone has anything to add to this discussion, as you might have guessed, I’m listening VERY closely.