The first position we will tackle while exploring careers in music, film, and digital media is Producer. The name alone just makes you sound important. Sometimes I wish credits would come up after most of life’s routine activities just so I could see my name next to that title.
(Appearing separately fading in and out because I hate scrolling credits)
Weekly Shopping at Trader Joe’s
Created by Hunger (a.k.a unnamed artist)
Producer – Seamus Harte
Director – Brian Raslin
Cashier – Steve Wilcot
Bagger – Amy Rolsen
Now as silly as that may seem, it actually does give us an idea into what a Producer, or even Producer for that matter, actually does. We will focus specifically on what a Music Producer or Film Producer or TV Producer does in individual blogs to come. For this one, let’s just focus on the general duties of a “Producer”
A Producer does exactly that PRODUCES. It is the producer’s job to make sure that a project gets done in a timely manner that is on budget and within the original scope of the artist’s intentions.
Let’s use the idea of me shopping at Trader Joe’s to further explore this point.
Let’s say someone hungry came up to me and said, “Yo man, I’m hungry, here’s $37.84, can you make me not hungry?” Let’s say this unnamed hungry man is the artist and him being “not hungry” is his artistic goal. He has given me artistic direction and there is a source of funding (his own $37.84) I have just become the Producer.
As the Producer I now have the goal of getting “unnamed artist” his artistic goal achieved of no longer being hungry within a budget of $37.84 and an unspoken time frame of “sooner than later”.
I have some decision to make. That is my job.
We assume I’m going to Trader Joe’s because that is what I said earlier but let’s say I just found out that the closet Trader Joe’s is 40 miles away and the closest Whole Foods Market is around the corner (arguably more expensive but equally if not superior quality of food)
I could go to TJ’s but this is going to cost me for a cab ride not too mention the time I lose traveling the 40 miles and TIME IS MONEY. As the Producer I decide to get the project rolling and save time and travel so we go to Whole Foods instead. Plus the money I save on not having to pay for transportation will make up for the mark up in price at Whole Foods. First Decision Down.
We’re in Whole Foods and it’s time to get to work. “Unnamed Artist” (who at least now get’s each word capitalized) mentioned something about sushi. I could dart for the premade California rolls by the Ready to Eat Edamame, but my artist wants to be original and so I decide to start from scratch and we will make our own rolls. Second Decision In The Bag.
Now I’m a Producer not a sushi chef so I decided to employ some outside consulting. I ask the cute girl in aisle 3 what she knows about sushi. “Nothing” she replies and points out the not so cute older boy version of her in aisle 4. Bummer. But the show must go on. “not so cute older boy version” (he doesn’t get capitalization….yet) kindly explains all of the ingredients I will need to purchase to prepare a fine California Roll and points out where to get them in the store. Third Decision. Bam.
With the freshest ingredients in hand and still under budget (total cost $32.67) I head back to the “Unnamed Artist’s” house to complete the project. Upon arriving to the “Unnamed Artist’s” pigsty of an apartment I quickly make a decision. “Do you have a girlfriend.” “Yea…” he replies in interest of inquiry. “Does her kitchen look anything like this?” “No” he exhales “her apartment is the cleanest thing I’ve ever seen.” “Good” I say, “Let’s head over there.” Fourth Decision. On The Run.
We make it to his girls place. We put together an amazing California Roll and we enjoy our meal while watching reruns of Adult Swim on Cartoon Network.
This is the life of a Producer.
I took on a project and I PRODUCED results. I didn’t know what questions would come up or what issues would need to be resolved. I rolled with the punches while keeping the end-goal insight and I produced the final product in a timely manner that was under budget and most importantly true to the artist’s vision.
If you recall in the beginning of this blog when I was imagining my name next to Producer credits, I also mentioned some other people in the production process. In a confusing step I then proceeded to explain the production process when a Producer is essentially doing everything and is the only one involved, this would typically be something you see in a low budget production. In the next blog I’ll explain the differences of a Music Producer, Film Producer, and TV Producer. Until then…
Become your own Producer when you attend “Come Together: Music and Video Production” this summer at various locations and learn how to produce your own ideas from concept to delivery.
Sign up for the classes I’m teaching in Stanford and maybe I’ll bring in some homemade California Rolls with ingredients I bought fresh from Whole Foods.
Probably not though.
But I will teach you how to Produce some cool music videos.