Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Producer's Work and Relaxation

I want to talk a little more about the work (and relaxation) of a producer. In my last post, I went over some of the craziness and large amount of work on my plate. I realize it's alarming to read about the sheer quantity of work. But, what I am doing is no different than what my producer colleagues are doing. I'm really glad to be talking about this as a producer's work is often hard to comprehend.

What I failed to mention in my last post is that part of a producer's job is fitting in the relaxation amidst the madness. As the rain of work is pouring down, we must take those breaks and get away. And I am. I am heading to wine country on Friday and returning one day before filming starts on my next film.  

As producers, we have to figure out how to get the work done and still have a life. When I get together with my producer friends, we blow each other's minds with the amount of work we have going on. A lot of eye bulging occurs at many breakfasts, lunches and drinks. I think that's why producers often feel underappreciated. Not many understand or could handle the workloads we have. It's just not comprehensible to many.

I talk about the work I do to help open the eyes of others to what producers are dealing with. There is a real dearth of information on what full-time producers really do. It is extremely hard work but we do it because we love movies and we do have a drive that helps us barrel through the daily responsibilities associated with moviemaking. 

It is very much the reality for film producers to have a ton of different projects going in various stages of development and production. When I worked for Akiva Goldsman, he often had films he was producing in production while writing one or even two for the studios. I used to be in awe with the amount of work he could complete. He is extremely talented and has learned how to juggle the life of a producer. He's not perfect at it but he tries just like the rest of us. I saw the strain of the lifestyle on him and we would do our best to help ease that strain. 

And I watched and learned from him. I owe Akiva for showing me how to get a producer's job done. I'm still working out the kinks but I do have a strong foundation for navigating the rough waters of producing.

Lucky for Akiva, he has a studio deal and a staff to help him. However, I have to point out that there's only so much work his staff can do for him. At the end of the day, the studios want to work with Akiva, not his staff. So he must juggle multiple projects daily and contend with the pressures of the high level studio world. 

Producers need to learn how to relax. It is not easy. You have to learn to say no -- a lot. And you must learn how to prioritize appropriately. Producing is not a job; it's a lifestyle. And there is never enough time in the day to get the work done. You have to learn to walk away and leave it behind -- even in the middle of the madness. 

You need to hone in on what you need and respect that. Personally, I know I need at least 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night. And I get it. I also know I don't like working on weekends. So I work hard to ensure my weekends are free. If I do work on the weekends, it's because I choose to do so -- not because I feel guilted into it. Set boundaries and stick to them. 

I do take time amidst the craziness to break away for rest and relaxation. I had to learn how to do it. Early on, I would often forsake my vacations or time off for the job. I've missed family reunions because of films and I refuse to do that anymore. At the time, it made sense because I was still new to the work of a producer and felt I needed to be there. But now, with experience, I know the work will go on without me micro-managing and I know that I need to take time for myself. 

So this weekend, as the other film is wrapping and I am gearing up to start production on Tuesday, I will be drinking wine under oak trees and riding my tandem with my husband. And I will not be taking my computer!  


Jentri said...

Love it!!

Lorie said...

Don't forget your helmets for the tandem after that wine consumption! Yours was a great post for me today, b/c I'm feeling the pressure of the 87 million things I'd like to have marked off my list TODAY. This was a reminder to step back and breathe...

The Kid In The Front Row said...

I think a key thing is knowing how to stop when you don't need to be working. I mean, no matter how busy you are as a producer, there are going to be times when you can say "right, tonight - after 7pm, I'm going to do nothing. I'm just going to sit and breath; it's going to be nice". And you can make sure you do that.

The problem with a producer is, you get addicted to the buzz of the busy, addicted to achieving. So even a little browsing of the internet turns into throwing together important emails and finding information. You need to learn to not do that. That's how I've always felt about it. You actually get more done when you involved some rest time. You need the freshness.