Sunday, May 20, 2007

What kind of producer are you looking for?

I'm a producer. I can produce your film. There are thousands more just like me looking for a good script.

Here's the catch. We're not Hollywood studios. We can't give you a $10K payment upfront, can't option your script for more than a cup of coffee, can't work with a budget over six figures, sometimes only five figures, sometimes four, sometimes three, sometimes two. We need scripts with easy locations, no extras, just a few major roles. Well, not always. It is fairly easy to find all kinds of actors looking for any kind of work. By the way, I fit into the two figures category. But then you can buy four hours of DV tape for $20 bucks. It's simply a matter of who you point it at. Then you never know. With the right script I could just find a good backer out there.

Here's another catch. Most of us are writer-producer-directors. That means we'd just as soon write and produce our own stuff. A lot less argument, less negotiation. A lot easier to know the story when you write it yourself. Then again, we get writer's block like anyone else. So, anything could work.

What we can do is produce your script. Given the right script we'll make it into a film, maybe get it distributed, shop it at the festivals, maybe even find a studio backer to pump it up into a big Hollywood studio production. Maybe not. But, you run the same exact gamble with the big studios. Where do you think the phrase "development hell" comes from?

The question is, what are you willing to settle for? You can make a deal to have your script done on a limited non-profit basis with an indie like me. Look up the WGA low budget agreements. You can make your demands. Take your money on the back end, if there ever is a back end. If the film makes it to one festival or is shown in one theater, you can have it listed on IMDB. Not a big deal to some, but one credit there is certainly better than none.

You have to walk before you can run. Don't have any big time Hollywood producers knocking at your door? Haven't won any prestigious festivals? Well, here's your chance. Find a producer in the same boat you're in. Collaborate. You think you have what it takes, then show your stuff. Put your money where your mouth is.

One note of caution. Indie producers are looking for even better quality in a script than most Hollywood producers are. The indie circuit works with original, meaningful, poignant, touching stories. Sometimes just original with no story at all. No genre trite formulas. No zany bathroom humor. Not unless it's also very original.  Originality is the key. It's like location in the real estate market. Originality, originality, originality.

Even indie producers will ignore you, not take your calls, not get back to you, not want your script. After all they have the same few hundred thousands of scripts to choose from as the big boys do.

Another note of caution. Not all indie producers are interested in quality work. There are some not worth your time. You're out in the street here. Any joe with a few bucks can claim to be a producer and even shoot a film. The producer might be unscrupulous, dangerous even. But, the same applies to the big players. So, do your homework. Copyright your work. Get an agreement of some kind up front before you even submit a script. This is standard legal stuff. Know your target producer, what they've done, what potential they show, if they've been in jail lately. Then again, some good people have been in jail. Have they won a festival? Big plus! However, if any producer is willing to spend a year or so of their life on your film they must at least believe in themself. That can't be bad.

Anyway, it is another market to consider; one with very high standards where to see any kind of success only the very talented need apply, and even then it probably won't happen.

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