PRODUCER – BRIAN COBB
Brian began his career as a performer and actor and graduated from the Australian Academy of Dramatic Arts in 2002. Over the years Brian realized that he had lost the desire to perform and that he now wanted to utilise his skills in other ways. This lead to his interest in Producing.
In 2010 Brian was accepted into the Producers / Business course at the Australian Film Television and Radio School – graduating in 2011.
During his studies there Brian had completed two student productions. One being “A girl and a Unicorn” and the other being “The last Match”. The Last Match was selected at Cannes 2012 “Cinema Des Antipodes”
Since leaving AFTRS Brian has focused on securing funding a second season web series – Australia’s 1st GAY drama. Fortunately he has been able to source funds from the AIDS council. In addition to this he used the Pozible fund raising site to secure more funds. Currently “the Horizon” is now going into production.
Making a living out of producing can be very difficult and it is not uncommon that people have other means of making a living. In Brian’s case he hosts Trivia nights.
In fact this coming Saturday night – 15th Sept, at Paddington RSL Brian will be hosting a Trivia night to raise more funds for his project.
His other achievements include opening his own Production Company called Cobbstar Productions. As with most producers he is also working on other projects – that being a theatre project.
The following challengers that Brian explained to me are relevant for all producers
1. Finding the right people that you can trust
2. Funding your project
3. Getting the right mix of people to work together
4. Being able to be tolerant and being able to get work with a variety of personalities.
5. You also need a lot of energy, as you are there from the very beginning till the very end of the production process.
6. Being a good communicator and able to troubleshoot problems quickly.
7. Being able to Budget and use the available funds wisely
8. As a Producer you are always juggling priorities and therefore you need to be flexible and open minded to new possibilities and opportunities.
The role of the producer is to make sure that everything runs smoothly. Often Producers are dealing with a variety of situations.
They need to be good at mediating and counselling, and are often the peacemakers on the production. Every day new problems can present themselves and you need to be able to deal with those problems in a quick and effective manner.
The producer’s first function is sourcing funding. This can involve approaching government agencies such as Screen Australia. It may be through getting the funding from fundings sites such as Kick starter, Pozible.com or etc. In a small production they may take on other roles such as being the Production Manager and managing the budgets, securing location permits, sourcing talent and hiring crew.
As a producer you are the one that has to have the full picture in your mind all the time. It is the producer’s responsibility to keep the vision of the film alive and in the right direction. Therefore producers will work with the writers and the director to ensure that the vision remains in tact. I know that on “A girl and a Unicorn” a number of rewrites had been made to the script in order to ensure that it could be produced in the three shoot days allocated. In addition to this Brian ensured that the script mirrored closely the short story, presenting the same characters and situations.
Sourcing material can come in a number of ways from reading stories and scripts to watching theatre productions that may be translated into a film medium.
Because producing is so labour intensive requiring a huge commitment it is advisable that a producer work on projects that they are passion about. Some may work on projects that have a huge marketability but at the end of the day it is the public who will be the one to judge your success or failure.
As a producer it is best to work out what genre you are comfortable with. Some like to specialize in horror films whereas others like comedy and or romance etc.
Producers will often like being on set, as this gives them the opportunity to trouble shoot any problems. It also gives them an overview of what is happening on the set, time taken for shoots, controlling costs etc.
With Brian the short film he produced “A girl and a Unicorn” was first developed from a theatre play, which had performed at various pubs and that successfully played to a live audience. Brian always had in the back of his mind that he wanted to make this short story into a film. At AFTRS this desire become a reality and he was able to finally bring the story he had performed onto the screen.
A producer has to be a good collaborator, as he is working with the full team from the director to the crew. The producer will often be there at castings and will hold regular production meetings to discuss the budget, hiring of staff, locations, will do recees to check suitability. I know that in “A girl and a Unicorn” he was also the unit manager on site, setting up the tea and coffee for crew and making sure that everyone was feed each day, with plenty of water and lollies on hand to keep the crew working effectively.
As a producer your role includes marketing your film, so it will involve going to festival to secure a sale. In the case of “The Last Match” Brian was in Cannes networking and meeting possible future collaborates and selling his services.
Due to the nature of producing and meeting various timedriven deadlines the job is highly stressful so you need to be able to remain calm and have the energy and drive to meet all the challenges that filmmaker will offer.
Another element of the job is not only monitoring people performance but also having to terminate those who are not able to perform their duties as required. As time on a production is very precious, those that are unskilled or difficult will often be faced with the real possible of being replaced and their employment terminated.
Consequently getting work in the industry can be difficult when you first begin as those that are highly skilled will always be the ones securing the work. There is no room for learning on the job. Fortunately student productions offer the opportunity of learning as you go, and help build your networking opportunities. It is often from these opportunities that future collaborations are made, where you are able to connect with like minded individuals to work towards a shared vision.
At UTS the opportunity of working with students is offered as a means of furthering your skills and developing possible future opportunities.
AFTRS also offers a volunteer program which is an excellent way of getting the opportunity of working with future directors, producers etc. It also gives you the opportunity of working on set and helps you understand the production progress.
METRO television is another option that offers a site where volunteer opportunities and internship are advertised.
Of course generating your own projects and advertising for volunteers can be another means of developing your production skills.
As a producer you also need to constantly keep abreast of what is currently being viewed by the public and what is proving to be successful. In this way you can avoid perhaps developing a project that may have already been screened recently. Producers are always looking for fresh ideas, new angles, interesting stories and characters.
Included in producing is also securing the rights to the story. So being able to negotiate with the relevant parties is important, understanding media law would also be a bonus.
When securing rights producers will often try to secure “exclusive world wide rights covering as many media mediums as possible for the longest period possible”.
They do this to increase their profit margin.
So the producer will be across the contracts that are being produced for the production, the costs being paid to talent and crew, length of employment and who will be hired.
In smaller projects the producer may also be the writer and the director. Often this is seen in short films and student productions. From my own personal experience I have produced, written and directed my own short films. This can certainly be advantageous in that you have far more control over what is being made. It also is cost effective in that it one less person you have to hire.
So the life of a producer is certainly interesting and challenging and it is very evident from this blogg that being a producer you need to have certain personality traits in order to succeed. Perseverance, belief in your project, troubleshooter and peacemaker only just begins to describe the role of a producer….