This is going to be a short post because I’m absolutely brain dead after events across my state. Finding the right producer for you is something that I cannot stress enough. Producers have to be able to leave their egos at the door, remember their strengths, your strengths, what problems they have run into before, what problems they might run into, anticipate someone else’s stupidity, anticipate something breaking, anticipate Mother Nature, etc.
Finding someone who can be prepared, and calm, and works with your personality is amazing gift on both sides of the desk. Remember that this producer is never going to be known as the person behind the camera. They are never going to get the credit for what they do because most people don’t realize how bad a set can be until they run into a great producer.
Producers remove flack from the set. They cannot remove all problems. They can keep your set from racking up union fees but they can also sabotage the entire process. You need to be able to trust them most of all. They need to be able to make small mistakes which will not be assumed to be the tip of the iceberg. Just as you have to trust them, they have to be able to trust you to not lose your shit when they have to present a problem and seek counsel. They want your opinion but if you blow them off, you no longer have the room to bitch.
Many independent directors like to “produce from the chair”, meaning they want to be informed, checked with, consulted with when its stuff they want to deal with. But when it comes to a point where they can throw the producer on the bus to make themselves look good, they will. They don’t want to accept their part in producing when its tough. They only want to make the decisions when it fits their world view.
Work with them. Get to know them. Talk about stuff other than the project. Find out what makes each other tick. Finding the right producer for your project is like finding a spouse. You need to be able to click and argue, and make up without all that nasty exchange of saliva.