How Important are Movie Producers?

Executive Producers of The Mandalorian — these people make a huge creative difference

Let’s talk about movie producers.

First, we must understand what a producer on a film does, Or at least what s/he is expected to do anyway.

He shepherds the production from start to finish. In a typical arrangement, the producer develops an idea or script with a writer and secures the necessary rights. He often hires the director, supervises casting, and assembles a crew. Additionally, the producer oversees the budget and then coordinates the postproduction work—everything from editing, to commissioning music, to encouraging the film’s stars to plug the movie on talk shows.

What does a Hollywood producer do, exactly?

So the producer doesn’t typically put up the money. They are like the general manager in a restaurant, not the owner. The studios put up the money, or rather the bank or financing people and the producer organizes and manages the overall filmmaking process, including making sure the film stays on budget.

What does the executive producer do? Is that like an even more senior general manager of the film? Yes, and some of them do participate in the financial backing of the film and, therefore, at least some of the risk.

In films, executive producers may finance the film, participate in the creative effort or work on set. Their responsibilities vary from funding or attracting investors into the movie project to legal, scripting, marketing, advisory and supervising capacities

Executive Producer via Wikipedia

How Producers Impact the Creativity of the Film

Some producers have the final creative say in the execution of creating a film as to where it will be shot, stunts and the like. The producers are essentially the check and balance for the director.

This is what makes me wonder most about producers impact on the quality of the film. How do we know creatively what the producer did or didn’t do? Was s/he a producer in name only or was the person actively involved in the creative direction of the film?

Executive Producer
Steven Spielberg

What does that mean above? Steve Spielberg was involved and/or endorsed the film. He might have managed the film behind the scenes, but as a moviegoer, here is what I’d rather see:

Directed By
Steven Spielberg

Now my interest in the film has ratcheted up considerably.

I’m more interested in the director than the producer(s) of films

For example, what exactly did James Cameron do as a producer to better the finish product of Terminator: Dark Fate ⭐️⭐️½ ? He fought with Tim Miller, or maybe it was Tim Miller who fought with him. The end result suffered, regardless. It sounds like at least some of their arguments were pedantic. A line of dialogue or two here and there? Argh, don’t get me started on how utterly disappointed I was in that film.

Steven Spielberg? I’d rather see him in the director’s chair than producing. I don’t care if he does both, but am vastly more excited by who is directing a film than who produced it.

And yet you always see the producers prominently displayed on a movie like as moviegoers we’re supposed to be impressed, excited or eternally grateful. None of those apply.

Bottom line: I pretty much don’t care who produces the movie. Don’t care who finances the movie. Don’t care what studio puts out the movie. Yes, if it’s Disney or Blumhouse or STX, Warner Bros., A24, I know to expect a certain budget, but that’s about all. Disney might mean a more family-style film, as to fit with their credo and image. The smaller studios can and usually are more open to edgier material. But, beyond that, I don’t care who’s behind the financing and producing the film.

Definitely, I care who is starring in the movie, who wrote the screenplay and directed the movie. A screenplay by a well known author elevates the film. Well-known and/or actors I like will interest me more in a film. A director who previously pulled it all together in a unique and creative way like Quentin Tarintino does also increases my interest.

But producers? Executive producers? No.

TV Producers Are Very Important

I’m not saying there should be no producers and I think TV producers are even more important. Like where would The Mandalorian be without Jon Favreau (see the image at top of post)? TV spans multiple episodes, writers, directors and a ton of actors and somebody needs to maintain the continuity of the creative vision in tact. A producer is a very logical and important position for TV series. I definitely see the value there.

But what about movies? How important is the producer there, really? How important are they to you, the moviegoer? That’s my question in this post.

Of course somebody needs to be in charge. I can enjoy shopping at a grocery store, but don’t need to know who the manager is there. And I can have a good shopping experience at a store with both a good and bad manager in charge.

So, the answer to the question posed in the heading for me is: producers are important behind the scene to the process of getting a film produced, but they are not as directly responsible for whether or not I’ll like the film than the actors and director and writer(s). How the story is told, how and where it is shot, the music and sound effects used are what determine how entertaining a movie is to me.

Knowing that Steven Spielberg said, “yeah, put in more robots with emotion!” into a movie is not going to make the film as good as Spielberg on the set directing, showing and saying, “put this robot here, that robot there, make this robot do this, and that one do that.” I think some producers are that hands-on (probably to the dismay of the director), but suspect most film producers are being used for the marketing sizzle of their name.

What does the producer on a film mean to you?

5 thoughts on “How Important are Movie Producers?

  1. Thanks for admitting producers are not bankers or financiers. Too many dolts on FB think they are. Those are the same ones who use the word ‘investor’ and ‘donations’ in the same sentence. They also think all films are 100% equity. Not even close. Especially if one does not have any securities that comprise equity. Some one the other day had the gall to call debt a scam based on an article written in Forbes from a film lawyer. Reality; most films are bundled with 65% debt/ABL funding and 35% equity if at all.

    Liked by 1 person

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