Lettter To The Under-Appreciated Producer (aka One & All)

by Ted Hope
April 20, 2011 11:29 AM
13 Comments
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Do producers ever get enough love? Is our work acknowledged for what it is? I hear from other producers, and when they speak openly and honestly, they often say no.

It's not a constant song, but it is a refrain I know quite well. It is not self-pity. Producers don't wallow, but still t happens so much: a producer -- sometimes a stranger to me, sometimes a close friend -- tells me their experience of making their film, their labor of love. The movie comes out, and now it is only about the director. They were once so close, virtually married or the bestest of best friends, but now, it feels like they never really knew each other.

This is my letter to the under appreciated producer; maybe it is the letter I wish someone sent to me.

Don't be so hard on yourself! You worked to make it better. That effort is what we all need allies on, and you gave that to that film and the world is better off for it. Remember that.

Who knows whom the work will touch and why? You improved the truth of the characters and their world. We can't get things to where we really hope that they really need to be, without all the steps from all the directions, over and over again. You made it better, but they didn't see. You made it better, but they forgot where it once was. You made it better, and only you now know what else it could have been.

Sometimes it seems like it is to no avail, but sometimes it is quite the opposite. Yet, we the audience, we the creators, we still all overlook what has occurred. Don't expect those that were with you to be any different. They have moved on and are looking for something else. They needed you when, but now they need something else.

Recognize your contribution and hold it close to you -- even if it was something you tried to give to another, and they failed to acknowledge it. That's what it's going to be again, and again, and again and again and again. You know the truth. Try to let that be enough.

There won't ever be anyone to truly appreciate your gifts other than your family and those that love you. That sucks. And it's wonderful too. Truly.

Do it for yourself and those that recognize it -- sometimes it will filter through to the bigger world, but don't expect it to.. Don't expect, or even ask or hope, for those that you directly gave it to, to notice. They won't. Don't expect those around the film, to be any different either. They aren't interested in your contribution; they are thinking now about how to keep their job or find the next one. It's the film biz after all!

We who know you, love you and know who you are and what you did. Ah... if only that was enough! The world has changed for what you've contributed, but everyone's focus is elsewhere. Live and comfort in the secret of the truth that you know. Let it be. Move on.

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13 Comments

  • James Devereaux | November 26, 2011 4:58 PMReply

    Yes, I really identify with this, especially the part about colleagues worrying about thier own jobs, and where the next one will come from. It took me years to realise my own accomplishments weren't the centre of thier lives, just as theirs weren't in my life. Do it for yourself - very sound philosophy.

  • Teresa Decher | April 21, 2011 5:46 AMReply

    Great post. I agree it is easy to get caught up in hype, yet it is always good to be reminded why we, as producers, work so hard; the best pay-off for hard work is seeing the film you've poured your sweat and blood into come to life. Seeing that finished product and being happy with what you've made is worth way more than the attention (although attention can definitely be nice).

  • Gretchen Somerfeld | April 21, 2011 4:01 AMReply

    thanks for the little ray of light tonight. tomorrow, it will keep me going...

  • James Macgregor | April 20, 2011 8:54 AMReply

    I empathise with everything you say, but don't forget, the Academy gets it right. When they hand out the Oscar for Best Picture, the producer collects, not the director or anyone else. The downside is that it takes a lot of cash to get a best picture nomination and the competition's tough, but that's life baby...

  • Phillip Marzella | April 20, 2011 8:54 AMReply

    This is sarcasm, right? I mean the reverse is probably the default many films don't do as well as predicted. In such an instance the producer disowns it, blaming it all on the director/writer...

  • Jason @ Filmmaking Stuff | April 20, 2011 8:08 AMReply

    This could be said of all folks living in the freelance world.

    Jason Brubaker
    Filmmaking Stuff

  • PK | April 20, 2011 7:48 AMReply

    I teach in a couple of film schools and labor mightily to dispel the notion that a producer is simply a wealthy, cigar-chomping string-puller. (You're not a cigar afficianado, are you...?)
    As I point out to them: those people walking up to receive the Best Picture statues?

    Those are the producers. And rightfully so.

  • Bec Smith | April 20, 2011 7:47 AMReply

    Not a truer word was spoken.

  • DL Willson | April 20, 2011 4:09 AMReply

    Thus I have tough times with "a film by" credit.

  • Natasha Carlish | April 20, 2011 3:40 AMReply

    How very lovely to read such a great post. As an indendent producer juggling numerous projects alongside paying the bills this was like a great big warm validating cyber hug-THANKYOU!

  • molly Mayeux | April 20, 2011 3:24 AMReply

    Thanks. I needed that.

  • Cutter Jones | April 20, 2011 3:00 AMReply

    Great post, Ted!
    The same could certainly be said to editors. I've tried to take the mindset that my reward is getting paid to do something I love doing.
    Now if I could just figure out how to get paid appropriately...

  • Brian Koppelman | April 20, 2011 1:15 AMReply

    Ted,
    That's a great post. And a necessary one. Totally accurate. Emotionally true. Great to see it up here.

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