WHY SO MANY PRODUCERS? … THE 5 TYPES (I was #5. Which One are You?)
by Dov S-S Simens on August 7, 2019
What’s a Producer? The 5 Types.
The average studio feature film now has 15-20 producers in various forms attached. Just look at the opening title credits and count. And the questions you ask are simple.
Second: What the heck do each of ’em do?
Permit me to answer in my simple, no-bull, common sense manner. But let’s start from the beginning.
So you want to produce? You have this great idea, but you don’t want to direct, and you’re not the writer. But you keep having great ideas and are sure they’ll be Box Office Boffo hits… so you guess that you must be a producer… “you want to produce your idea(s)”
Okay, but there are 5 producer classifications in the credits and you’re wondering which one are you?
And do you even know the differences?
(“Am not promoting him, and I don’t like him, but Harvey Weinstein was, and I emphasize “was”, the quintessential Producer, with a solid Deal Maker mentality”)
There are 5 types of Producers with an OTC (Opening Title Credit) which is usually a single title card (means no one else shares screen space)… For a Single Title Card in the Opening Title Credits is super important marketing-wise to launch and/or maintain your career.
Yes, Hollywood is about marketing, marketing & marketing.
The 5 Opening Title Credit categories for Producers are:
- EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
- ASSOCIATE PRODUCER
- LINE PRODUCER
(1st) PRODUCER (“The Businessman-Dreamer”): No film ever gets made without a Producer. However, 95% of all producers have never gone to a 4-year film school. Why? They don’t need all that unnecessary technical crap. They are businessmen with common sense and a feeling for what is commercial.
The Producer, is a dreamer, a visionary, a businessman who wakes up one day and says, “I have an idea”. He/she then takes that idea and gets the treatment, then the script, attaches actors, gets a budget, and brings it to, or partners with someone for, financing.
Then he/she oversees the shoot, the edit, selects a festival and, hopefully negotiates with distributors.
(“Oprah is also a Producer, both a Dream Maker & Deal Maker, but comes much more from a passionate Filmmaker Storyteller mentality rather than a Weinsteinish bully car-salesman mentality”)
(2nd) EXECUTIVE PRODUCER (“The Deal-Maker”): The XP is usually the person who the Producer goes to, or partners with, when he/she has a completed package (Script, Budget, Talent commitments, Key crew, etc.) and is needs financing.
The Executive Producer, doesn’t write any checks, but knows how to navigate the world of movie money to secure the investors whether from a Private Placement, a Crowd Fund, a Studio Deal, International Pre-Sells, Government tax Incentives, etc.
The Executive Producer, is usually, but not always, an entertainment attorney.
(“Johnny Depp is essentially an Executive Producer, for once he lends his name to the project the money comes forward and financing is secured.”)
(3rd) CO-PRODUCER (“The Checque-Writer”) : Eventually the XP, with the legal work finished to solicit investors, according to SEC rules, introduces the Producer to investors and knows how to close deals.
Now, if the Producer secures a financial commitment (5%, 10%, 25%, 100%, etc) from an investor it is fairly common that the investor, with emotion, will ask “Do I also get any credit?”
What are you, basically-broke-Producer, going to say, “No”.
Of course not, you know darn well your answer will be, “Sure” and what the investor gets is a Co-Producer credit, usually on the screen after the Producer and the Executive Producer credits.
And remember, if you have more than 1 investor you can have more than 1 Co-Producer.
Big-Budget studio feature usually have 1 Co-Producer for Europe, 1 Co-Producer from Asia, 1 Co-Producer from Latin America and 2-3 Co-Producers from America, who are either wealthy individual or networks or studios.
(4th) ASSOCIATE PRODUCER (“The I Know This Guy”): This is the credit that nobody in Hollywood wants.
For everybody knows that an associate Producer basically does “nothing”.
What does an Associate Producer do during Pre-Production, “nothing”?
What does an Associate Producer do during the shoot, “nothing”?
What does an Associate Producer do during post-production, “nothing”?
What does an Associate Producer do during marketing and at festivals, “nothing, nothing, nothing”?
So why do we have this credit?
It’s the freebie credit, the giveaway credit that you give to someone who merely introduces you to money.
It is also for your girlfriend or boyfriend or for an investor who is not smart enough to demand a Co-Producer credit. You can have numerous Associate Producer names on your film and it will not dilute the credibility you want for Producing.
Also, many times it is the person you meet socially who, upon you stating you’re a filmmaker with a project looking for funding, states “I know this guy who is very….”
Remember, when you’re looking for money you literally turn into a whore, and are attracted to anyone who might have money and when someone says “I know this guy who is very…”; you, the whore, want to meet this alleged guy, the potential Co-Producer, and want to be introduced.
Let’s be positive and assume that this person, who has stated “He knows someone with money…”, actually introduces you to Mr Money Man and he, the about-to-be Co-Producer, gives you the money,then what credit do you give the guy you just met who stated “I know this guy who is very…”?
The answer is, the freebie credit that no one wants… Associate Producer.
(“Associate Producer is many times someone who-knows-someone, who-knows-someone, who-knows-someone who might write a check or merely someone with an idea who knows not what to do with it.”)
(5th) LINE PRODUCER (“The Mechanical-Filmmaker”): Every now and then a savvy Executive Producer or Investor who knows that you, a first-timer, really doesn’t know anything about the actual physical making of a movie say, “You know what you need?”
You, of course will respond with, “what what?” And then you will be told “You need a Line Producer”.
In essence, the person is telling you to either associate with or partner with someone who knows how to make a movie.
Someone who knows how to prepare a budget, plan a shooting schedule, secure the vendors, crew and permits and makes sure the film, during production, stays on budget.
This is what I was when I commenced my career in the ’80s.
Now, which one are you?
YOU ARE A PRODUCER… Or Are You an Associate Producer…Hmm?
You’re not “the sugar daddy”, you’re not “the attorney”, you’re not the “line producer” and you don’t want to be just an “associate”.
Therefore you are the Producer.
Now get a great idea. Then get a great script. Then get actors that love it. Then get realistic and drop the budget to a realistic amount and you now own 100% of nothing.
Then partner with an attorney, give away 50%, (you now own 50%) who knows investors who also get 50% and you can now raise the money and you and your Executive Producer have each kept 25%, with you probably giving away 50% of your 25% to cast & crew on deferrals and points, but you got the money.
Bottom-line is you received a salary for 4 months, own approximately 10-15% and have your first Opening Title Credit as a Producer… you’ve done great.
Welcome to Hollywood.
Dov Simens / Dean / Hollywood Film Institute
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