On a set, the director and the producers have some of the most important jobs. Often a production will have more than one producer because there are so many moving parts to producing a film. The producers are in charge of the business of film making while the director handles all creative decisions.
Before you can figure out how to combine the power of director and producer it’s important to understand the difference between their jobs and what each person will bring to your set.
What is film directing?
So, what is film directing anyway? Of all of the film set jobs, the director is at the top. They are in charge of the production which is why certain film directors and their styles are recognizable. Like Steven Speilberg or David Fincher.
When directors are directing film and tv they are focusing on working with actors and coordinating with the 1st AC, film set slang for 1st assistant camera, who is in charge of the camera department. Directors work in preproduction by interpreting scripts and setting the tone of the film, they also work with the producers to storyboard and plan out the creative direction of the film.
If you’re looking for some resources to storyboard your own project the website Boords has some great storyboard templates here. And some of the best storyboarding apps are Storyboarder, Plot, Frameforge Storyboard Studio, and Studiobinder.
Also in pre-production directors work with the heads of all other departments. To determine the look of the film they work with producers and assistant directors to make decisions about things like film set lights and what kind of set up they should be in, for example a 3 point lighting set up might be ideal for some scenes. They work with producers and other department heads to determine the production value of the project.
Working with Actors
Another unique aspect of the director’s job is working with actors. It is important that actors feel comfortable on set and when acting so that they feel they can able to really deliver in their performances and give you as the director something that feels real.
There are plenty of answers to how to practice film directing. Even if you use a script that’s already been produced and set up a camera in front of your family you can become a film director by giving them direction and seeing what they can give you in return. Sometimes it is rewarding to work with people who are non-actors and its a great way to improve film directing skills.
Another way to practice the crucial part of working with actors is to study film directing, film schools often have classes on directing or working with actors and that experience is so valuable to those that want to direct. It also offers great opportunities to build a film director’s resume while still in school. If you don’t think film making is for you, here are some great books on directing you can read instead.
What is Producing?
Now, let’s talk about what the producer does. Producers do a lot of work in the pre-production stage, as they are the business managers of the production. Firstly, they are in charge of securing funding for the project from things like film grants or fundraising. If you’re a producer looking to fund your project you can submit to one of our very own film funding opportunities.
Once financing is secure, some of the producer’s duties film-wise are scheduling and allocating funds. They have to remember to set aside money for film set catering and paying extras, all of these details are on the producer’s plate. Some of the other film producer jobs are to hire cast and crew, manage post-production, and work with marketing and distribution. Producing film and television is no easy feat and producers are often involved with all aspects of the project from its inception to its premiere.
It may seem hard to get a film producer job, but if you have good organizational skills and are passionate about your ideas, others will want to follow you. Similarly to directing, film school is a great way to study film producing and gain practice and experience. Student films are always looking for help with producing. If you’re looking for a film producing for dummies breakdown, this a great article about the differences between directors and producers and their perspective jobs.
How To Do Both
So, we’ve outlined what a producer and director do- let’s talk about why it can be beneficial to be someone who is both: producer/director. The two jobs already work so closely together that it can help to have someone who is able to do both. It takes a mind that is both creatively and business-driven to do both jobs.
When you’re on set as a producer-director, you don’t just have to think about getting the shots and performances you want to achieve your vision. You also need to think about each department, if you’re under budget, how much daylight you have left, if the food is on time, etc. Now, on bigger sets, each of these roles will be managed by a specific person, but in indie film, you’ll wear a lot of hats.
Being a producer/director on a small independent film set is extremely challenging. You have the distraction of set operations in addition to providing creative direction. In a sense, you’re your own boss. You’re the one who has to reprimand yourself for going into overtime. It’s a lot like being an entrepreneur.
The best way to managing producing on set and being a director is to be insanely over-prepared. If you know everything that needs to happen down to the frame, you’ll be able to wear these hats much more efficiently. You can do this by using software in pre-production to make sure all departments are on the same page.
It is important to have some collaborative film producing software that everyone can use and collaborate on during pre-production. Some good examples can be found here.
If you love producing and directing it can be very rewarding to be able to work with all aspects of film production, and who knows, maybe you’ll win a film producing award. So go out and get producing/directing!