5 Things to Know Before Approaching a Producer
Updated: Jul 17, 2021
Time is money and content is king. Your life is busy and so is a producer's. No matter what kind of content you want create, whether it's a film, promotional video, or a live-event, there are 5 things you should know:
1. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO PRODUCE
Feature film or short film? Live-stream or pre-recorded show? YouTube video or Instagram video? 2min or 5min? In initial conversations, I have found that about 50% of my clients do not know what they want to produce. It is okay to not know all the details on how to make your content, and that's probably why you reached out to a producer in the first place. However, a producer will need to know these things before they can gauge the scope of your project and how much it will cost (Note that there are different types of producers who specialize in certain media. On LinkedIn, I get recommended for all sorts of producing jobs for which I have no experience. If you know what you want to produce, this will certainly help you find the right person)
TIP: Do the research and pick out content you want to emulate. When the time is right, send the producer links to the media you'd like your content to look like.
2. KNOW WHAT YOUR GOALS ARE
You should always have a solid idea of where you are going, what you are doing, when you want to do it, and WHY. Break it down, write it out, and store it somewhere. Should only take 15 minutes to do. The answers to these questions are going to propel you to finding a producer that aligns with your vision and aspirations.
TIP: Be ask specific as possible! The more honest you are with yourself here, the more successful the entire project will be. Examples:
"I want to create a series of 15 cooking videos, starring me, with the goal of getting 1,000 subscribers, so I can monetize my videos."
"I want to direct a 10-12 minute short documentary about my summer in Morocco and get into the Sundance Film Festival next year."
"My company has a new product and I want a 2 min promotional video to be used on all of our social media channels, highlighting what it is, how to use it, and our sale going on next month."
3. KNOW THE STORY YOU WANT TO TELL
Everything has a story (yes, everything) and it's a producer's job to make that story come alive. You should be able to tell your story in 5 - 10 seconds or in 2 - 3 sentences. The key is simplicity. Why? Because you want people to relate to your content. Audiences relate to stories that are simple to understand and evoke an emotion. Just like the 3 Act Structure, your content should have a setup, a conflict, and a resolution. Once you have the simple foundation of your story, you can always build upon it creatively.
TIP #1: Story is not the same as your message. Your story is the action that takes place on screen and your message is what people relate to subliminally. Take for example a promotional video for a new delivery app. The story might be about a father who can't leave the house because he's helping his child build a science project that's due tomorrow. But it's getting late and they are both hungry. So he orders a meal to be delivered to his home. The message is "you don't have to stop what you are doing in order to get food. Just use this new delivery app."
TIP #2: If you seek to create a film, try to write your story in one sentence, better known as a log line.
Of course, there is A LOT more to story than this and it is an industry of its own. Depending of the type of content you would like to create, you may need to do more writing research or hire a writer specific to your industry. For filmmakers, I also offer hour-long virtual script consulting sessions, so feel free to reach out.
4. KNOW YOUR BUDGET
This question will come up in a meeting with any producer: "What's your budget?" Again the more open and honest you are with this answer, the more successful you will be at finding a producer that fits your needs. Do the math, know how much you want to spend, and make it clear. I find I have the most comfortable discussions about client's budget when there is a range. Working within that range, I'm able to offer my client's several packages to choose from.
Additionally, if a producer is used to doing projects for 50K - 100K, that producer may not know how to do a similar project for 5K - 10K. But the same can be said the other way around as well. I have found myself in both of these ranges. A good producer will be a problem solver. Even if they choose not to work with you based on budget, a good producer will recommend another producer that may be able to fit your project. But be upfront about the money you have access to. Starting any relationship off on a lie is not only unprofessional, but it can lead to an incomplete project with people not getting paid.
TIP: If this is your first time creating content, it is best to do your research on budget. Google "How much does a high-end video camera cost?" "How much does it cost to hire an actor for one day?" "What is the average rate of a boom operator and a video editor?" Now of course these won't be the final numbers at the end of a project, however, this will prepare you for the ballpark figures your content may need. Research anything you want! Drone shots? Music licensing? Boat rentals? Fog machines? Dog actors? Have fun here. The savvy producer will work to get you these things for a better deal.
5. KNOW THAT THE STRATEGY CAN CHANGE, BUT EVERYTHING ELSE STAYS
A producer is the person who plans, coordinates, and executes the content you wish to create from start to finish. However, it is a team effort and can not be done without a proper strategy in place. As you search for the right producer for your project, each one will approach it with a different strategy to achieving your goals, within your budget. However, as we were reminded this past year with the international COVID-19 pandemic, we can not predict the future. Changes may need to happen during your production. The location might fall through, the actor can't make it, or there was a delay in the check that was supposed to be processed. It happens and all parties should communicate these issues as soon as possible, with a focus on the solution, not the problem. What you want to produce, your goals, your story, and your budget range, will all stay the same (a good producer will always place a contingency in the budget for these issues).
TIP: Once you find the right producer, make a contract and set the deliverables in black and white. This should include action items that are measurable, payments and rates, due dates, rights to the content, and a cancellation policy for both parties. This way, when changes occur, you and the producer can cross reference everything that was agreed upon and update the contract accordingly. Teamwork makes the dream work!
Finding the right producer takes a little bit of work, but if you know these 5 key points, it will help you connect to the right person.