By Shannon Mullen
I’ve never produced a movie before, but the projected budget for my first feature film project is $20M-50M. A lot of people ask me how I know what I’m doing. The short answer is I don’t; I’m learning as I go, so it’s a good thing that “nobody knows anything in Hollywood,” as one of my mentors (an accomplished screenwriter and novelist) often reminds me.
There’s no substitute for experience, but I believe you can learn a lot about producing by reading about it (or at least enough to fake it until you make it).
For about four years now I’ve been reading books, magazines, trade websites and blogs, etc. By this point enough people have asked me about my list that I thought I’d share what I’ve found to be the best of it here:
- “So You Want to Be a Producer” by Lawrence Turman
- “The Hollywood Economist” by Edward Jay Epstein
- “Bankroll: A New Approach to Financing Feature Films” by Tom Malloy
- “Getting the Money” by Jeremy Juuso
- “Dealmaking in the Film & Television Industry” by Mark Litwak
- “Aristotle’s Poetics for Screenwriters” by Michael Tierno
- “The Art of Film” by Howard Suber
- “The Pocket Lawyer for Filmmakers” by Thomas A. Crowell Esq.
- “The Big Picture: The New Logic of Money and Power in Hollywood” by Edward Jay Epstein
- “Filmmakers and Financing” by Louise Levinson
- “On Writing” by Stephen King
- “The Portable Film School” by D.B. Gilles
- TheWrap.com (a must!!)
- The Hollywood Reporter (daily headlines and alerts)
- Company Town (the LA Times blog)
- Issues, Innovation & Creativity (blog of the MPAA)
- Research Wrap Blog by Baseline Intelligence
- Produced By (official magazine of the PGA)
- MovieMaker Magazine
- Movie reviews in the New Yorker, the NY Times the Boston Globe and the LA Times
I also recommend the article that sparked my interest in producing – “We Are Not the Enemy: The Truth About Producers” by Larry Turman (see page 28) in which he succinctly sums up the qualifications for the job:
The best producers have the taste and creativity of an artist, the mind-set of an entertainer, the people skills of a politician, the business acumen of a CEO, the insight of a psychotherapist, the ebullience of a cheerleader, the tenacity of a pit bull, the charm of a snake-oil seller, the delegating ability of a five-star general, the malleability of a chameleon, and the dedication of a monk.
My experience to date suggests that Mr. Turman nails it.