As a Writer/Producer/Talent Coordinator, I wear multiple hats before, during and after any type of production project. The part played in TV and radio projects is to organize and communicate the pre-production items to the cast and crew, which is kinda like being the ultimate Stage Manager of sorts. From writing the script to getting the talent lined up (and their payment negotiated) to creating a master schedule and sometimes even selecting the location, it’s all done with a passion for making the best production possible and creating a smooth shoot for everyone involved.
But have you ever thought, “What does a Producer do exactly?” Let’s take a look into a day in the life and see what it’s all about.
On the day of the shoot, as the Producer, I will generally answer any last minute cast and crew questions and get the sign-offs for the Talent releases and billing information at the location. When all of the pre-production items are complete, the Writer hat comes back on and I oversee that the script follows the client’s approved branding and messaging, and then quickly switch back to my Producer hat in making sure everything has continuity and makes sense to the viewer. Part of my role is to ensure we don’t forget anything, especially scenes that can’t be recreated after the fact. Following the provided shot sheet and making sure we don’t have any missing pieces come post-production helps with the final checks and balances, if you will.
2. Watching and Waiting…
Producers typically serve as the eyes and ears of the client and the consumer. Like a producer for a recording artist, you have to hear the music as a radio listener and pick out the best sound for your audience. Similarly, in TV and radio production, you need to see and “hear” the video or commercial as a consumer, not a creative team member – remaining more subjective. How would a buyer see this video? Would I want that product the way it’s being placed? How would the client interpret this video from their branding standpoint? Keep in mind that all of this can change while on-set and a meeting of the minds may morph it into something even better than planned. At times I’ll simply watch the actors and listen to their line delivery, not actually looking through the lens. It helps catch those little things that might get missed when the technical conversations and camera set-ups are evolving.
3. Put Me in Coach.
I will often serve as the Assistant Director and talent coach. Here I help with a range of performance aspects like voice coaching, singing, musicianship, interpretation of the script, choreographic movement, acting for the camera and adjusting costuming for realistic effect. For example there are times when the talent might need more background understanding of the company or script, or a bit of fine-tuning in their line delivery. In very rare cases, they might need some toning down, but it’s not typical here in the Midwest. This is where my many years of theater help me assist the actors. Also, as the author of the scripts, I have an understanding of the context of the messaging. Mostly, Producers act as that second line of defense for the Director and Videographer, depending on the type of shoot.
4. Lay Down Some Tracks.
There are even times where my DJ voice is used as the Talent and I will hop in the sound booth to record a voice-over for the client. The Director may also ask me to coach the voice-over talent, throw in an accent or help musicians with intonation, interpretation and rhythm. As Producer, I assist with ideas on final audio mix, write original melodies, pen jingle lyrics, select music beds and make choices from national or regional voice-over artists.
5. That’s a Wrap.
When the production or shoot is over, my Producer hat is hung up by sending in the Talent forms to the Account Manager and returning any costuming or props to the rightful owners. Post-production goes into full swing with the Videographer weaving the story together and the Director advising on the final look and feel of the images and sound.
All in all, the day in the life of a Producer is a busy one. One that allows me to express my passion for commercial arts through branding, video, radio, acting and music, as well as tapping into human emotion of script writing. Having a keen eye, as the consumer, in order to meet the client’s goals should be the highest priority of any good Producer, and the cherry on the top, is to create a really cool, unique and original end product for the client. It’s what the world of marketing and making commercials is all about.