Producing for the Screen: A Real World Guide, Part 1


Producers are credited on every film, television, and media project made. Producers are crucial—even seminal—to each and every production, no matter how big or small. Yet, even as a pivotal position in the creative and practical process of making a film, TV show, or media project, the title “producer” is perhaps the least understood of all the collaborators involved. What is a producer? This course answers and demystifies that question, examining what a producer actually does in the creation of screen-based media and the many hats one (or a small army of producers) may wear at any given time. Students will explore the role of the producer in the filmmaking, television, and video process from the moment of creative inspiration through project development, proposal writing, financing, physical production—indeed, down to the nuts-and-bolts aspects of script breakdown, budgeting, scheduling, and delivering a film, TV, or video project. Students will gain hands-on experience in developing projects, breaking them down into production elements, and crafting schedules and budgets, as well as learning pitching skills and packaging strategies. Course work includes: logline, synopsis, and treatment writing; script breakdown, budgeting and scheduling; pitching, and final project presentation. Conference projects may include producing a film or media project by a student in another filmmaking production class at Sarah Lawrence College, a case study of several films from the producer perspective, the development and preproduction of a proposed future “virtual” film or video project, and the like. A practical course in the ways and means of producing, the class will consider the current state of producing through nuts-and-bolts production software and exercises, verbal and written assignments, and industry guests currently working in film and television. Designed to provide real-world producing guidance, the course offers filmmakers and screenwriters a window into the importance of—and mechanics pertaining to—the producing discipline, along with a practical skill set for seeking work in the filmmaking and media-making world after Sarah Lawrence College.