It isn’t as easy as lights, camera, and action!
Producing a film isn’t as glamorous as it first sounds: it isn’t all red carpets and beautiful dresses. I spoke to amateur film producer Jennie Hall, who works on short films, which when completed are entered into film festivals and competitions. She explained how the final 15 minutes of a perfectly polished and edited short film are only possible because of the integral hours of planning and preparation prior to filming.
Q. What is the main role of the producer in the creation of a film?
A. During pre-production, the producer’s job is essential. Once a script has been selected it is my job to organise all the physical details needed to bring it to life. This period usually lasts up to three months and everyday typically involves ringing or visiting locations, negotiating prices for equipment or getting permission to use a certain space. This whole process can be extremely troublesome and time-consuming as frequent knock-backs from potential venues and actors can be very frustrating.
Q. But I am guessing that your job doesn’t stop there?
A. There is definitely no room for rest once the filming is underway. On set, the producer has an overseeing role, ensuring everyone sticks to the schedule as we often have a location for a short period of time. Keeping a happy crew is the most important thing to me and often leads to boosted productivity. Yet, filming days are tough and long! Regardless of only shooting for six hours, a typical set day for a producer can last up to fourteen hours, with frequent 5am starts! A film set is a high-pressure environment, but it can also be a lot of fun when everyone is getting on and working well together.
Q. What about once the filming has finished?
A. Although the producer over-sees the editing of the film during the post-production phase, at this point I am concentrating on how to distribute the film to festivals, which can be difficult and very competitive as well as costly.
Q. Are costs an issue for short film production?
A. Short films are notoriously hard to fund as the government has severely cut the majority of funding for them. My job requires me to generate a complete break down of potential expenditure and when the final funding for the film is received, allocate the money accordingly. I have to keep an eye on spending throughout production in order not to exceed the strict budget. Often, funds come from the crewmembers’ own pockets, or that of their friends and family!
Q. The work sounds extremely demanding, what’s your main inspiration for pursuing this profession?
A. Yes, days are long and work is stressful, but there's nothing more rewarding than seeing something you've been working on for so long, that you've had such a clear image of in your head come out looking beautiful on screen. It is a fantastic feeling and this sense of achievement makes all the hard work worthwhile.
Q. Finally, what advice do you have for others wanting to follow a career in the film industry?
A. Do it because you love it and make as much as you can! Make films at home with your video camera or with friends. Research local production companies and see if you can be a runner on set of one of their films, giving you experience of how a film set works before you want to run your own. Just get involved with everything you possibly can as you will meet like-minded people and make good contacts.
After listening to Jennie explain the process of producing a film, it has allowed me to better appreciate anything I view on screen as I am more aware of the intense behind-the-scenes work that goes into creating the final product. It shows how hard work and dedication is the recipe for success. As Jennie said, and this rings true for any profession or hobby, you should do something because you love it, and this will ultimately drive you to success.