I’m one of the partners here at Marketing In Color, but what I really spend a lot of time doing here is serving as a Video Producer. Telling others that I’m a Video Producer is often met with a blank stare. So, as a public service, I’m going to offer a brief peek inside the glamorous world of video producing.
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The word “Producer” is a word derived from the latin “Prod,” meaning to nudge along and “Ucer,” which is short for ulcer.
So, the literal meaning is that every day you produce a video, you’re nudging yourself closer to an ulcer. I’m exaggerating, of course. Sure, much of video production involves the stresses and demands of constant problem-solving, but way more often than not it’s a rewarding, and even fun, experience! (Why do I suddenly sound like a commencement address?)
Before I dig this hole any deeper, let me start by comparing what I do with other types of producers you may have heard of.
Film (Movie) Producer
Film producers are often men who spend most of their time going back and forth between their Beverly Hills plastic surgeon’s office and various furniture stores shopping for discounts on casting couches, leaving female counterparts back at the office pounding on the glass ceiling as they actually do the work.
In the world of movie-making, there are many levels of producers. The Executive Producer is the cigar-chomping guy or gal who pushes money around from project to project. This person’s goal is to secure financing and, along with the visionary Producer, get a movie “green lit” by a studio.
The Producer (the one without “Executive” in the name) is a movie’s boss overseeing the hiring of the Director, casting, scriptwriting, production, and who to blame when the picture goes over budget. And even though I use the term “boss” to describe the Producer, when it comes to the person who really has the most impact over the finished product, that’s the Director. How many movie Directors can you think of? Steven Spielberg, Oliver Stone, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Woody Allen, George Lucas, Ridley Scott, etc.
Okay, now how many famous Producers can you name?
Oh, and then there’s the Associate Producer, the Supervising Producer, Co-Executive Producer, Line Producer, Consulting Producer, Coordinating Producer. To explain what all these people do, please contact my good friend Wikipedia.
In television, today’s Executive Producers are called Showrunners. The Showrunner’s main job is to drink more coffee than anyone else connected with the program so they can stay alertly on top of every aspect of a TV show including assigning blame when a show’s ratings nosedive. Imagine having to have your hand in virtually every facet of production, from approving (or even writing) scripts to coddling stars’ egos to dealing with meddling network suits on a weekly basis 18-20 hours a day and you begin to see where the “ulcer” part of a TV Producer’s title comes into play.
Unlike Film Directors who tend to hold most of the power over a theatrical movie’s finished product, the Showrunner is where the buck stops in television.
That’s because a hit series has so many episodes to produce that a show typically works with a different Director from week to week. And if every Director was allowed to bring his or her own vision to a program, well every TV show would morph into an incomprehensible David Lynch film.* Ultimately, the Showrunner calls all the shots, so a show remains consistent throughout its run. The exhausted, beleaguered Showrunner then checks into rehab during the off-season hoping his or her show gets cancelled before production revs up again.
If you want to know more about the TV industry, read Ken Levine’s daily blog. Ken is a comedy TV writer known for working on shows including Mash, Cheers, Frasier, Becker, and others. He’s had a varied and interesting career. In addition to comedy writing, he’s been a radio DJ and an announcer for professional Major League Baseball games. His blog provides a lot of behind-the-scenes stories about the TV industry, general musings on pop culture and L.A. life, and other experiences he’s had.
*I’m aware that calling any David Lynch film incomprehensible is a redundant statement.
Okay, let’s say you’re a Producer, but not a high falutin Hollywood movie producer type nor a hit television series Showrunner. Chances are you’re what I am. A Video Producer.
Video Producer is the catch-all term for anyone who produces corporate videos, music videos, live event videos, news videos, instructional videos, YouTube videos, sales videos, cat videos, sports videos, nature videos, web videos, wedding videos, Jumbotron videos, etc. The guy who oversees the creation of videos to catch shoplifters at Macy’s? Eh … I’d just call him a security specialist.
With so many types of videos out there to be produced, no two Video Producers out there are exactly alike.
Dave Dietz is another Video Producer here at Marketing In Color. Unlike me, Dave’s more hands-on with a lot more technical know-how than I have. He’s got great vision as well, but he doesn’t really fancy himself a scriptwriter. Me? I’ve always considered myself a Writer-Producer, because I write scripts and then work with other more talented people to bring my vision to life. I supervise video shoots and edits, but I don’t actually press the buttons, so to speak. There are people out there much more qualified for those sorts of things than me.
Video production is a team effort, requiring on-camera talent, voiceover talent, video crews, graphic designers, video editors, audio engineers, food, animal wranglers, and more.
As the Video Producer, I oversee all aspects of the production, from an initial meeting with the client to determine needs to shaping the story, overseeing production (shooting), and finishing with post-production (visual and audio editing).
Between Dave and myself, and other freelance producers we work with, we can manage most any sort of video production challenge thrown at us. And although we’re not a full-blown post-production house, we do have editing capability right here in our office.
I hope this little dissertation has cleared things up for you. If I’ve inspired you in any way to join the ranks of us Video Producers, please hightail it to Hollywood and see what you can do about making anything … ANYTHING … other than another superhero movie!