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Filmmakers.com

THE FILM PRODUCER Page 6

View Spec Screenplays
 Preproduction 
Paul Lazarus, a long time Hollywood producer states, "Everything begins with the written word. An idea may spring up in a number of ways, but a movie begins to take shape when words are put on paper." Keeping this in mind, it is not a hard realization that one of the most significant responsibilities that a producer has is selecting a screenwriter for their film. 

To find out what writers have written which projects in the past, such organizations as the Writers Guild of America, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences have current listings of writing credits that they all publish annually. Of course more popular writers require a larger fee, and therefore if the producer is independently financed they will have to narrow their search in terms of affordability.

Much of the time, a writer will be hired by a producer because that particular producer is familiar with their work. In any case, once a writer is chosen and all deals are set, the writing of the script can finally begin. First and foremost, the fundamental parameters must be clearly understood by both the writer and the producer so as not to create problems later on in the project. Next, it is important for the writer to be given the freedom to explore various options that may arise within the script that concern both the plot and the characters. The producer must of course remain involved in this process, but the level of involvement must be decided upon mutually between the writer and the producer.

Normally the first draft of the script will be completed approximately 16 weeks after the writer begins. Once the first draft is completed, it is then handed over to the producer for review. The task of the producer is to read the script and make suggestions on how to improve the story. In addition to making suggestions about the plot or characters, it is the producer's job to be the financial supervisor of the script. It may be necessary for the producer to make suggestions to the writer on how to trim down certain scenes in order to reduce the expenses that the script will incur.

After the completion of the final draft of the script, most writers will move on to another project. There have been many exceptions of course, especially when the screenplay is an original work. There may also be cases where the director asks for continued collaboration with the writer. This can prove to be either beneficial or disastrous depending on the persons involved. 

Estimating the size and demographics of the potential audience may be very helpful in determining the financial outcome of the film.
Preproduction may just be the most important period resulting in the success of a film. At this time, a producer will perform a wide variety of managerial responsibilities Preproduction is the precursor for production of a film, and lays the foundation for both the creative and financial aspects of the film. During this period of preproduction it is also crucial for the producer to maintain a high moral and a happy working environment for all crewmembers.

It is wise for the producer to come up with some sort of production strategy for the film. This strategy should consist of at least (but not limited to) three steps. The first is defining the goals and objectives of the project. It is important to specify the goals and objectives of the project during preproduction to ensure that all members of the production team agree on the purpose of the project. 

The second step is assessing the potential of the audience. Although audience appeal will be discussed in more detail later, it is important to note that estimating the size and demographics of the potential audience may be very helpful in determining the financial outcome of the film. These estimations can be quite complicated and are never completely foolproof, estimations can help to determine the best format for conveying information to reach target audiences and assuring program effectiveness. 

Another step in production strategies is researching the topic. As stated by Gorham Kindem, careful research can make the difference between promoting and exploiting misinformation versus carefully examining the key issues and stimulating a reasonable debate.

Scenes in a movie are rarely shot in sequence, but rather are shot in an order that will be the most cost efficient.
Some producers have had experience in production management and are known as "Line Producers." These producers are generally interested in daily operations rather than putting the projects together. Line producers are responsible for such tasks as making sure things are built on time, making sure all the costumes are made, etc. 

Studios generally hire them and independent producers to run things to make sure daily processes are on time and within budget. The production manager will break down the script and lay out the blueprint for the film on a production board. Scenes in a movie are rarely shot in sequence, but rather are shot in an order that will be the most cost efficient. Determining this sequence is a job of both the production manager and the producer himself. Upon completion of the production board, the producer will be able to determine when each actor will be working during the course of the filming.

Because there is such a wide range of prices asked for by different actors in today's film industry, the casting of the film is a great factor in determining a films budget and visa versa. In an ideal situation, a producer and director will pick the best actor for the part.
 The Production Process 
Production is the time when all the collaborative efforts of the crew start to become visualized and concrete. This is the time of greatest opportunity for those making the film. Unfortunately, it is also the time when most of the cost of the picture is incurred, and therefore the time when those who have put their money behind the film are most at risk.

Production management is crucial in maintaining an effective film production. Production management includes the supervision, acquisition and scheduling of staff, equipment, and facilities for the production. Part of production management includes the script breakdown. This helps the producer to estimate the budget and time needed to shoot specific scenes of the film. 

The breakdown will tell the producer such things as when certain props are needed and when the actors need to be on set. After the breakdown is complete, breakdown sheets are filled out which lists in more detail props, costumes, actors, and equipment needed for each scene. A producer will further be able to determine a shooting schedule in which the total number of days needed to shoot the project can be determined.
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