Although a film is a collective creation of actors, writers, editors, and artists, the producer is the one who initiates the creation of a film and sees it through to distribution. Because producing requires a variety of skills, it is not obvious how a movie is produced. Let’s take a look at some of the key steps in producing a movie.
Finding An Idea Or Story
Just as entrepreneurs need to determine what kind of business they want to start, film producers have to determine what kind of film they want to produce. A common source for a film is a novel, short story, or screenplay. The producer’s job at this stage is to secure the rights of the story from the author and to negotiate any demands the author may present.
Preparing A Script And Finding A Director
A story is rarely ready to be made into a film, so the producer has to find a screenwriter to turn the story into something filmable. The producer also has to find a director to realize the screenplay and guide actors through the filming process. The director has a significant impact on the tone of the film.
Given the same script, Tim Burton and Steven Spielberg will create two different movies.
Producing a film from start to finish requires enormous resources, so one of the key duties of a producer is to secure funding from a film. Usually, funding is secured from a large studio, but some high-powered producers finance their own films. In the past few years, crowdfunding on sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo has become another way to fund a movie. For example, the movie Veronica Mars received over $5 million from its Kickstarter project.
Generally the last step before a movie begins filming, actors are auditioned and cast. A producer is not necessarily involved in this step.
Because a producer may be working on several projects at once, the task of overseeing the filming process is often delegated to sub-producers, or executive producers. Indeed, most films have several producers who oversee different stages of a film’s production. A good case in point is 2012’s The Avengers, which was produced by Kevin Feige and seven sub-producers.
Although producers usually are not involved in editing a film, they wield editorial control over the finished film and can make decisions about how a film ends or what scenes it should include or exclude. Some films are tested to gauge audience reaction, and a film may be adjusted accordingly.
If the producer is satisfied with a film, then he or she distributes the film. A common way to distribute a film is through an established studio, which in turn distributes the movies to cinemas across the country. However, direct-to-video distribution is becoming more common, especially for smaller companies and independent studios.
Although direct-to-video movies traditionally have carried a stigma as being inferior in some way, many direct-to-video movies are profitable and well-received. For example, Warner Bros. Animation has released several successful direct-to-video animated movies set in the DC Universe, such as Justice League: New Frontier.
Producing a film is no easy task. It requires both creative and entrepreneurial skill, as well as persistence and attention to detail. However, producers have the satisfaction of knowing that a successful film would not have been possible without their efforts.
Our one-year accelerated MA in Producing program focuses on creating a learning environment dedicated to teaching students the step-by-step process of creating, financing, and distributing works of film and other media from beginning to end.