A film producer sets movie scenes, initiates, co-ordinates, supervises and controls the fund-raising, hiring of key personnel and arranges for distributors for a movie. The producer is involved throughout the film-making process from inception to completion of the project.
The producer is the key that turns creative ideas into practical or marketable concepts. They get the studios to finance projects. Producers do not have any union or guild that governs the jurisdiction of producing like in other professions such as writing, directing or acting. There are different categories of producers who are named according to the nature and extent of their responsibilities, such as, Staff Producers, Independent Producers, Executive Producers, Associate Producers and “producer hyphenates.”
The producer engages with several persons, institutions and service providers in the massive process of movie production.
The first step a producer takes towards the production of a film is to select a story or theme to film on. Once a producer has determined the material to be used for the movie and its rights status has been ascertained, optioning its rights forms the next step of production. When producers option a script, they are purchasing the right to buy certain rights to intellectual property. By optioning the material, the producer is gaining the right to acquire something by the subsequent payment of additional money. These Option and purchase agreements are far from casual documents, and a may require a lawyer’s involvement.
Contracts for an option will specify the length of time the option is valid for. If the producer cannot have their project greenlit in the time specified in the agreement, the option will expire. The rights holder can then put the previously-optioned rights up for sale again. The contract may also allow the producer to renew the option for a certain price.
To further safeguard the interests of the movie players, the producer obtain an insurance policy known as an errors and omissions policy (E and O policy), that protects the film and its supporters from claims of copyright infringement once the film is made. It is normally drawn up by an attorney and carried by the picture.
One of the key players for a producer to be successful is the agent. The producer is required to enter into contracts with several agents for services provided for producing the film.
Producer’s next step in production is to sell the script to a studio to get the project made. Once the script is purchased, studios usually insist that the producer signs over all rights they have for the screenplay. Several contracts between producer and the studio are required at this juncture. Contracts with actors and other crew are the next area of engagement for the producer.
Being the producer, supervising the picture’s public relations or supervising publicity for the film, also involves contracts with service providers for the same. Contractual relations with the editor and composer come next.
Once a picture has finally been completed and is ready for the viewing public, the responsibility of selling the film remains. Distribution of a film involves another set of contracts.
Commercial “tie-ins” for the film including everything from t-shirts to toys to books, records, posters, dolls and games is another important area of producer’s negotiations with distributors and which help to further increase the profits of a successful film.