by Matt Woolner
Question by Joe S: Independent Film production?
What type of experience do you need to become a film producer?Is it something that can be developed,or is it something that requires prior and formal education?Im currently working overseas and when i come back to the states,i want to persue film making on an independent level.Im starting late,my age is 35.I finally have the money to go to school and also the money to fund my projects.Can someone give me advice?
Answer by mande
I’m an indie filmmaker, have made some shorts, and one feature.
(Actually, I need a producer, so let’s talk).
Anyway, it’s like anything else in the entertainment business, schooling helps, but virtually nobody turns anyone away, if they have the skill, because they don’t have a degree or whatever.
You can certainly learn it though, but I have to warn you, there are a lot of what I call ‘legal scams’, so you have to be careful.
There are tons of books you can (and should) read. Try to avoid the ones that are along the lines of “make a film for use car prices!” (that’s an actual book, I’m not Making it up!) and other gimmicky titles.
Understanding how the industry works is very important, and don’t try to hard to ‘buck the system’ and think you’re going to ‘do it better than Hollywood’ – they’ve been doing it for 100 years, and have a system down that works pretty well. Like the old saying, learn the rules so you know how to break them.
Anyone can be a film producer.
But if you don’t know what you’re doing, you will not be a GOOD film producer! So, the more knowledge, the better, and in my opinion, you gain more practical knowledge, and gain it quicker, by actually making films, than going to school.
Anyway, a producer’s basic function is this:
1. Get the material (a good screenplay).
2. Get the money.
3. Hire those required to make the film.
(Not necessarily in that order!).
In independent film, this is the order, but in bigger films, a producer will try to get a ‘star’ or someone that is notable, to use to raise money for the film.
A well known actor, director, writer, or cinematographer (in that order) will excite investors more than an unknown cast & crew.
There is LOTS to know, so get your hands on everything you can read on film production, talk to people who have done it (like me), etc.
You’re not too old, I’m older than you are.
PM me if you want to start a dialog. I can give you MUCH more information than I’m able to put here.
I produced my feature, as well as wrote, directed, cast, edited, etc., and I learned a lot, and know a lot of the mistakes first timers make.
I also have learned many, many shortcuts and tricks to make films on a smaller budget, and I own almost 100% of the gear required; cameras, lighting & grip equipment, audio gear, Steadicam, etc., and I’m also a composer so I can do the score as well, and I have a complete editing setup (although I’m not that crazy about editing anymore!).
What do you think? Answer below!