What is the role of a film producer?
The role of a film producer is often described as ‘easy but difficult to define’ as the role is something that is constantly changing and evolving. In the past, people were confronted by the idea of a producer being a ‘cigar-smoking tyrant’ (Spicer, McKenna and Meir 2014) or as Independent film maker Rebecca O’brien once thought – ‘Big fat men with cigars and lots of money’ (The Independent, 2008). This stereotype was driven from Irving Thalburg, who in 1922 went into a battle with one of Hollywood’s most powerful directors and in return cemented a high reputation for himself as a producer. Alongside this newly-profound fame, ‘producing power in the studio was personified’ by Thalburg from the big cigars, big desks and eventually – big round bellies (Spicer, McKenna and Meir 2014). However, this stereotype is something that is no longer seen in Hollywood, with producers now being both male and female and from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. So, what is the modern definition of a producer? David Puttnam (Spicer, McKenna and Meir 2014) describes a Producer’s prime role to ensure ‘that we’re all making exactly the same movie’ which is highlighting that the main role of a producer is to make sure everyone has a shared sense of vision. Mervyn LeRoy defines two types of producers, one of which is a ‘creative producer’ and the other a ‘business administrator producer’ (Spicer, McKenna and Meir 2014). The former, dealing with the artistic aspects of a prodcution such as casting, script etc and the latter are those who are responsible for the financial running of the production and handling business matters – two completely different types of producers in relation to film. However some would argue that a film producer needs to have a combination of both as other definitions highlight the specifics in a producing role as having both the ‘creative instincts about script, casting design…’ and ‘an iron-clad grasp of logistics, scheduling, marketing, costs..’ (Spicer, McKenna and Meir 2014). Overall, having creativity and artistic understanding alongside financial and logistical knowledge is universally acknowledged as the perfect combination for a film producer.
Quentin Tarantino’s is a famous award-winning film producer/director/writer who made his first big success with Reservoir Dogs in 1992 which was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The film gained a lot of attention and soon enough Tarantino became a phenomenon. Two years later, Tarantino followed up the success at Cannes Film Festival with Pulp Fiction – winning the coveted Palme D’Or Award. It was also nominated in various categories at the 1995 Academy Awards, winning Best Original Screenplay (IMDb, 2013). In an interview for The Independent (2010), where Tarantino talks about his success as a film producer, Tarantino says ‘All my movies are achingly personal’ meaning that as producer; Tarantino aims to produce content that connect with audiences on a personal and emotional level. Janine Marmot, who was a producer for many years talks about how a producing role requires needing ‘to know how to spot a great story when you see one’ (The Independent, 2008) which alongside Tarantino’s vision emphasizes that skilled producers are not only those who can identify which stories will be successes but also understanding the effect these stories have on audiences.
In conclusion, the role of a film producer has come a long way from it’s rooted stereotypes and although the exact definition of the term ‘film producer’ varies amongst people, the characteristics that make a successful film producer is something that is widely agreed on. From my research I have learned that film producers are the ‘creative brains’ behind a movie, in understanding the artistic elements that make up a film in relation with practicalities such as finance and execution – as well as abstract concepts such as storytelling and audience reception.
2013, DEATH_IS_GOOD CREATED 27 SEP 2013 | LAST UPDATED-27 SEP, IMDb: The Most Successful & Powerful Filmmakers (producers, directors…) – a list by Death_is_Good [viewed Oct 27, 2017]. Available from: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls052049585/
It’s less glamorous than directing, but film producing can be the reel 2008. [viewed Oct 27, 2017]. Available from: http://www.independent.co.uk/student/career-planning/getting-job/its-less-glamorous-than-directing-but-film-producing-can-be-the-reel-deal-800908.html
SECHER, B., 2010. Quentin Tarantino interview: ‘All my movies are achingly personal’. -02-08
SPICER, A., A.T. MCKENNA and C. MEIR, 2014. Beyond the bottom line : the producer in film and television studies. New York: Bloomsbury