Producers oversee the making of movies, short films, documentaries, TV shows, or other visual media. They are responsible for finding the right crew, getting the necessary funding, and ensuring everything is executed correctly.
Like the CEO of a company, a producer works closely with many other people and often has to delegate and manage a large team of people. With so many different moving pieces moving in tandem, there are many opportunities for something to go wrong.
What Are a Film Producer’s Responsibilities?
A film producer is the person who manages a project, arranges finance funding, hires writers, directors, and key members from the creative team, and handles everything from development to distribution.
Whether you are working on a short documentary or a major tentpole film, here are some of the most common mistakes and roadblocks that a producer may face. Learn from them, and you can avoid these pitfalls when working on your projects.
Not Having a Solid Schedule in Place
A production schedule needs to be created during pre-production – if your video production is to succeed, it needs to be planned. If not, you can expect delays and cost overruns.
Many new filmmakers don’t start planning out their schedule until the last minute, this can lead to mistakes, missing shots, and not having the proper gear. Producers must plan out their schedule early and utilize producer software to help them manage it. While it may be cost-prohibitive to smaller productions, Movie Magic Budgets and Scheduling is the most popular in the industry.
An accurate schedule is critical in creating a successful film or documentary, and to know how long your scenes will be and the time needed to shoot. If you aren’t sure how long something will take, bringing in a good line producer and production manager to break down your script into a schedule can be a very worthwhile investment.
Not Securing a Proper Budget
If you don’t have a budget for your film, you won’t be able to pay for the necessary crew, locations, equipment, insurance, and other costs associated with production. A lack of budget will lead to delays and frustration on your team and is the number one cause of whole projects falling apart.
Producers need to be aware of the average costs associated with their type of project and make sure they budget accordingly. Movie Magic is also the most popular software for budgeting and can help with this but a simple spreadsheet is better than nothing for projects with tight budgets.
While self-funding a project is certainly possible, few people have that kind of money on hand. In order to find outside funding, you will need to meet with investors and pitch your project to them. For them to be willing to invest, you need to be able to show how you will get them their money back or achieve a purpose that they care about.
Spending Beyond Your Means
A significant mistake is overspending during production which can quickly spell doom for your project. It is imperative to keep track of your expenditures and make sure that you stay within your budget. Any good bookkeeping method and software will have ways to record actual costs and compare them with what you budgeted to make sure things aren’t getting out of hand. You don’t want to run out of funds because coming across additional money to keep your project going is not always easy.
Producers often have a lot of creative input on a project and are also involved in marketing and distribution. Producers need to be aware of the entire budget for a project, from development pre-production to distribution and marketing, not just the obvious production costs.
Make sure to take the time to properly plan out your finances, including how much money you need, when you need it, why you need it, and what will happen if you don’t get it. To successfully pitch a film project, you need to have a solid business plan that looks at everything from development through distribution to make sure the project can achieve the intended results without the risk and delay of having to go out and raise funds again.
Failing to Carry Insurance
Not having insurance is a significant mistake that first-time producers may forget to consider. Insurance may appear expensive at first, but it’s a small price to pay when you account for factors like equipment damage, loss of income, or personal injury claims.
Producers should always carry insurance for their crew and cast to protect them from any accidents that may occur on set. It’s also essential to have liability insurance if someone is injured or damages property while working on your production.
Risk increases when working in public areas or with dangerous equipment, so it’s always important to be prepared. On top of that, most locations will not let you use their facilities without proper insurance, so make sure you keep proper records.
Lastly, one type of insurance product that can be important for larger productions is a completion bond. A completion bond is a guarantee that in the case a production runs out of funds and cant be completed, the insurance company will step in to finish the project. While they will usually require that they will get paid back before anyone else, it can still be reassuring to investors that they won’t be left with a huge investment and nothing to recoup it.
Not Assembling a Great Team
A producer is only as good as their team. Make sure to put together a solid group of knowledgeable individuals in their respective fields. Each crew member will help ensure a smooth production process. If you are new to productions, you may not know your crew’s full strength and capabilities.
Even if producing a small project and not having all the money in the world, you should still do your research and put together a team of people who will help make your project a success. While working with friends can be fun and helpful, their skills may not always be up to par.
Incorrect Communication of Project Plans
Communicating effectively with team members, financiers, and other stakeholders is essential to a producer’s success. When multiple parties are involved, people can forget to share vital information, resulting in wasted time and money.
Producers should always create a project plan and update it regularly as the project moves forward to keep everyone on the same page and avoid potential problems. The producer is also responsible for disseminating information to all team members.
Ensure regular status meetings with team members to keep them updated to avoid confusion and surprises during production. For larger productions, it can be useful to include the heads of the different departments so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the direction of the project.
Clashing of Personalities on Set
Problems may arise in a shoot of any size, and personality clashes are often a producer’s worst nightmare. When these clashes happen, they can lead to delays, ruined takes, and create general disharmony on set. Try to mediate any disputes that may arise, and ensure that everyone knows the producer’s expectations.
Unresolved problems can cause tension between cast and crew, affecting the final product. As a producer, it is your responsibility to maintain a positive work environment and handle any problems that may arise.
Problems are inevitable, but they must be handled as effectively as possible. One producer’s responsibility is to make sure that any issues or obstacles are resolved in an organized way. Keeping the project on track will help avoid problems from happening in the first place.
Not Feeding The Crew
This one might sound silly, but not feeding the crew can lead to all sorts of problems. If people are working long hours, you must provide food for them! Not only will this lead to unhappy and unhealthy crew members, but it could also lead to a lack of morale and a hostile work environment.
Good food is a sign of mutual respect and shows your crew that you appreciate their hard work. Craft services are easy to forget on smaller projects, but it is just as important.
Intellectual Property Rights and Clearance
It’s possible to get away with using copyright music and footage for film school projects, but when it comes to distributing your project, you will need to clear all of the rights. It can be a time-consuming and expensive process.
Intellectual property rights include using copyrighted music, images, and other elements in your production. It is also important to show proper chain of title for the rights to make the project as well.
Many producers assume that they can use music and footage from other sources without getting permission, but this is not always the case. Even if the content you use can be considered transformative, not everything can be considered fair use.
Be careful about using logos and trademarks in your project. Often, you will need to get a release from the company that owns the trademark if it shows up anywhere in your film.
In bigger productions with larger teams to manage, it’s often helpful to have a dedicated intellectual property clearance specialist or attorney to take care of this. However, the producer must take on this responsibility for smaller projects and should always act on the side of caution and reach out to an attorney on anything that they aren’t sure about. A quick call with an attorney is much cheaper than a potential lawsuit.
Poor Marketing and Distribution Strategy
Arguably the most important aspect of your film after making sure you have a good project is making sure that people can see it.
As a producer, you need to have a detailed marketing and distribution strategy in place. This will help ensure that your project reaches its target audience. If a producer does not have a solid marketing and distribution strategy, their film or show will likely go unseen, no matter how good it is.
To determine your distribution strategy and what platforms your final product will release on, it is important to take into consideration who your target audience is, what type of marketing collateral you need, and what PR strategy you will use. Without an audience, a film can’t create a return for investors or create any impact.
Producers are responsible for many things, and if they don’t handle them effectively, it can lead to many problems. By avoiding the mistakes listed above, producers can give their projects the greatest chance of success. Remember, it’s always important to do your research and put together a team of skilled professionals. With a bit of luck and a lot of hard work, your project will be a success!