Hi everyone! CA Jimmy here to talk about my experiences as a student producer for the FT 468 Production III course. It’s the highest level film production class you can take at BU. Each student applies to the class as a different role – director, editor, production designer, director of photography, sound, etc. (I applied as a producer!). I’m currently working on two very different films:
“The Badge” – a drama about a child who idolizes policemen he sees on TV struggling to reconcile his mother’s criminal streak when she takes him along on a drug deal
“It Came From Above” : a thriller about a sci-fi geek who is visited by a seemingly docile robot from space – and the consequences he faces for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The process has been very demanding, but also very rewarding. Here’s some of what I learned so far.
The Producer is the glue of a production
You’re like the shepherd that keeps everyone on the same page, but also an octopus that has eight arms to do different tasks at different times, but also a Nostradamus that can foresee problems in the future and adjust accordingly. The director has the vision and the story, but the producer must facilitate the circumstances for everything to run smoothly. Scheduling, budgeting, securing locations, and casting are all big responsibilities of the producer. There are also many day to tasks like reaching out to actors, arranging a crew, and checking on progress with the director. You should always be thinking a few steps ahead.
The work will follow you outside the class
80% of the work I’ve done has been out in the field in my own time. It feels great to be professional and achieving stuff in the real world, but it’s also been a lesson in time management when you have to balance 12 other credits of an academic schedule (I had to drop my rowing PDP; sad reacts only).
Email is your best friend and worst enemy
By this point in the semester, my fingertips are just about worn down to the bone. Because it’s the most ~professional~ form of communication, you’ll be emailing nonstop to put the project together. Everyone from actors, to production designers, to location owners, to BU risk management, to rental van agencies, and even random restaurants on campus for donations. For funsies, look at the subject lines of the last few emails I sent today
“Youtube Link—Audition Video”
“MA Law: Minor Work Waiver”
“Prod III Squad Car Follow Up”
“PROD III FILM NEEDS ROBOT ACTOR”
“Filming at the Cottage: Follow Up”
Shooting a scene takes a LOT more time than you’d expect
Who knew that 2 pages of dialogue can take up to 4 hours? I didn’t! When you work at higher levels of production, lighting and camera setup can take up to 30 minutes per shot. This also means that the gear you’re working with is much more higher quality and needs to be taken out in advance.
Food is important
Hungry crew = poor work. Feed your cast and crew good food or there will be a MUTINY on your set.
You’d be surprised how many people are excited to help with a film
For “It Came From Above,” I had to rent an airbnb in the middle of the Massachusetts wilderness. The couple who owned the cottage were absolutely thrilled to have us there, and were just generally excited to meet a film crew. They discounted the rental price, and threw in another trailer for free for our crew to stay in. Movies are cool! If you ask, people are always willing to chip in a little bit to help with something new and exciting to them.