Writer IN Charge Writer as producer
By Ken Robinson
Who the heck wants to be a producer!
In the film industry they’re the only person on the creative team that doesn’t get to be creative. Unless you count creative accounting, and I wouldn’t suggest it unless you want to join the country club where the windows are lined with iron bars.
The producer runs around like a chicken with it’s head cut off, trying to get and then keep a production productive. Here is a sample day for a producer:
Trying to come up with the money to pay everyone; while keeping makeup from tearing wardrobe's head off; while trying to find out why the construction crew painted the set walls puke green instead of the puce green; and motivating your lead actor who has decided halfway through the shoot that he's bored with it all.
And to top it off you have the writer standing behind you saying, “That’s not what I wrote. It should be white beans instead of brown beans. The metaphor loses all meaning if you use the brown beans in the soup.” But then again that’s probably why they bar the writer from the set. However, if the screenwriter wants to be there to make sure the beans are white instead of brown, she's going to have to produce or direct the movie herself.
This rule should apply to everyone who writes: produce your own work whether it be poetry, short stories, novels, or plays. And how do you do this? What is producing anyway?
It comes down to networking, schmoozing, and more networking. In other words, get to know people who can help you in your career trajectory. Now you're asking, “Why is that important? If I’ve just written the next great American novel, all that needs to happen is someone has to read it.” Before it can become the next great literary masterpiece, someone has to read it. Do you know how long most great American novels took to get published? Especially from no one anybody had ever heard of before?
You never know who is going to be able to help you along in your artistic endeavours whether it be technically, artistically, or with connections. Someone may be able to get your manuscript read by their friends fourth cousin who is an assistant in the publishing company and they’re looking to get their name made. Or someone's great aunt four times removed can help you with the fourth stanza of your sonnet that has given you writers block for the last four years. Or maybe this someone knows who is catering for Cats as it passes through town, and they know just what sweet will get the producer in the mood to read your play.
So we all have to be producers of our own work. Who else is going to have the passion to get your work out there and keep pushing when it doesn’t become that overnight success that none of the great American novels were initially? It has to be you until you get that big agent. Even then, you’re still your biggest promoter as there is only one you but the agent has a bursting stable of very talented people they’re trying to keep in the lime light.
Relying completely on other people is a recipe for writer's oblivion. Like a movie producer, be on-site for the success of your book. Take charge and Write On!
Ken Robinson,IN's Write On! columnist, winner of Bare Bones Int'l Film Festival Best Screenplay Award, has written over 10 screenplays, 3 episodes of TV series West Law, is executive producer for the feature Sacred Bloods, board member of the Oklahoma Film Society, founding member of Oklahoma Movie Makers. His email address is: Krobinson104@hotmail.com