Published September 2023
Aqsa Arif, Margaret Salmon and Georgina Starr respond to five set questions on the subject of ‘Working with a Producer’.
Aqsa Arif is a Scottish/Pakistani artist based in Glasgow. She uses the interdisciplinary mediums of poetry, photography, installation, printmaking and film to construct complex structures in which she explores the surreal nature of the human psyche. Her work draws from cinema as a medium, as she uses its architectural and spatial characteristics to represent states of mind which cannot be fully understood through rational study. She experienced life with the split of two cultural identities and this polarity underpins her work and is manifested through her use of film.
Graduating from Glasgow School of Art in 2019, she received a First-Class degree in Painting and Printmaking. She served as founder and committee member of SaltSpace Co-operative from 2019 – 2022 and is now the Production Manager for Alberta Whittle. Exhibitions include, that sinking feeling, Gallery of Modern Art, Her Wild Reflections, Jupiter Artland (2021), RSA New Contemporaries 2020 and ‘Come Together’ at Tate Modern, London.
Born in 1975 in Suffern, New York, Margaret Salmon lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland. She creates filmic portraits that weave together poetry and ethnography. Focusing on individuals in their everyday activities, her films capture the minutiae of daily life and infuse them with gentle grandeur, touching upon universal human themes. Adapting techniques drawn from various cinematic movements, such as Cinema Vérité, the European Avant Garde and Italian Neo-Realism, Salmon’s orchestrations of sound and image introduce a formal abstraction into the tradition of realist film. Margaret Salmon won the first Max Mara Art Prize for Women in 2006. Her work was shown at the Venice Biennale in 2007 and the Berlin Biennale in 2010 and was featured in individual exhibitions at Witte de With in Rotterdam and Whitechapel Gallery in London among others.
Georgina Starr is a British artist best known for her video, sound and performance artworks. She emerged in the early 1990s with a series of complex works exploring fragile phenomena through audio, text and moving image. With a focus on female identity, memory, alchemy and film history she creates multi-layered theatrical events, sculptural installations, films and fictions.
Starr has exhibited widely over the last 30 years in galleries and museums both in the UK and internationally, from the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney and Tate Britain to Kunsthalle Zurich and Museum of Modern Art in New York. Recent exhibitions include the sculpture/performance commission Moment Memory Monument presented at Palazzo Reale in Milan in 2017, a survey exhibition Hello. Come here. I want you. at Frac Franche-Comté and a live performance commission Androgynous Egg for Frieze Projects in 2017. Her latest film work Quarantaine (43mins) was commissioned in 2019 by Film & Video Umbrella (London), Hunterian (Glasgow), Art Fund (Moving Image Fund), Glasgow International and Leeds Art Gallery. The film premiered at Glasgow International (Gi 2021) in June 2021 before travelling to Leeds Art Gallery. Starr was shortlisted for the Film London Jarman Award 2021.
Aqsa Arif: My first encounter working with a producer began when I was selected for the Little Pictures programme, an opportunity hosted by GMAC in Glasgow. The program’s main goal is to give emerging artists and filmmakers a chance to make their first commissioned short film with GMAC’s guidance and support over a year. During the program, GMAC paired each director with an early-career producer so I didn’t have to find a producer for this project.
As an artist from a contemporary art background, I was used to working on every aspect of the filmmaking process myself so didn’t quite understand how important it was to choose a producer that you creatively meshed with and was invested in your concept. Due to this lack of understanding, it meant that it wasn’t a constructive collaboration and we had to part ways during post-production. I made the decision to bring one of the other producers I had since met through GMAC to help support me. This was a good learning opportunity and I now ensure that the producer I work with is excited about the project and has time and energy to dedicate to it.
It is important to note that Little Pictures operates as a development initiative, with the budget exclusively designated for the film’s production. This setup is so that both the director and producer have an opportunity to learn and gain experience together. Neither the director nor the producer typically takes a fee, but there’s an option to allocate a ‘token’ fee, similar to what cast, and crew members might receive. From what I have experienced in the realm of low-budget filmmaking, it seems to be a normal occurrence for neither the director nor the producer to take a fee due to budget constraints. Therefore, finalising the film can take longer and directors and producers often invest years of their time, ushering a project from its conceptual inception to its final screenings without getting paid with the hope that the film does well during festivals.
This way of working is not sustainable for everyone, and I personally had to work on other projects and paid work alongside creating my first short film. It is important to have the conversation with potential producers about your time, budget and abilities so that they can reciprocate and let you know what is possible. A good producer will make this clear from the very beginning before taking on your project.
The producer can also help find additional funding from which they can pay themselves and you a fee. This is dependent on time, experience and resources and may not be the case when you are beginning your foray into filmmaking. It’s helpful to know that you are most likely to find a producer who is roughly working at a similar level as you are in terms of your budget and experience. I would recommend trying to find someone with a little more experience than yourself, so that you don’t accidentally take up their role and overwhelm yourself.
A good way to find a producer is to go to local film festivals or find their programme of films and look up the names of the producers online. This is a great way to find out more about their work, where they’re based and their contact information. Another way is to contact film organisations such as GMAC, Screen Scotland, LUX etc and see if they can recommend anyone to you. If you can get an introduction through someone else that will help the process but it’s still vital you come to them with an idea (even if it’s still rough), your previous work, and a bit about why you think you could be a good match. Take your time and don’t necessarily pick the first person you talk to, this match will determine how smoothly the rest of the process runs so it’s important to get it right!
Margaret Salmon: The word producer is complicated in filmmaking, as it can mean so many things.
Ideally a producer would help to raise money and support a project from its onset; in fact, in commercial film funding you cannot access money without a producer. At Screen Scotland for instance, a successful producer with a ‘track record’ (this doesn’t mean financial success or visionary skill necessarily) will put in an application for funding and they control the production from the beginning – hiring the writer, director, etc…. or at least they do on paper.
These types of producers have a lot of power and can make the film ‘happen’. I’d classify them as gatekeepers; professionals who control opportunity and are working for profit, in an industry of sorts.
Some independent filmmakers and even artists attract the interest of a great film producer; one who has a cultural vision, is willing to take creative risks and can raise big money. Derek Jarman experienced this, more recently Richard Billingham. Wow, if you work with such a producer, consider yourself lucky. Thank them for their determination and please make challenging vibrant films together; I’ll come and watch them.
In art funding streams it’s a bit different, more flexible, but… remains undefined, which can be a good thing, or can mean it’s confusing. Many artists are producers, whether they realise it or not. They make a budget for their production, find collaborators and raise money, build networks, pay crew, file the taxes.
(I think art schools should teach more economic skills and awareness. Being an artist is running a small, or big, business. In fact, many artists open a ‘company’ to handle studio income and spending. Oh Capitalism, you strike again.)
(But can artists-producers model alternative modes of exchange? And/or operate ethically? Can they choose not to support neo-liberal practices and money laundering from toxic industries in the art market? Is the film ‘industry’ actually a more progressive economic community, where entertainment/culture is made and sold to a general population, not wealthy patrons? What kind of economic system do you hope to encourage through your work?)
(Does money corrupt?)
An artist who has secured funding to make a film or received an institutional commission might choose to hire a professional producer to collaborate with. Sharing producing labour is a big relief when you are trying to make creative decisions and stay human. Most of us have to work other jobs as we make a film, so hiring a good producer can be a practical and efficient use of time and resources.
About 10 years into my art career I realised that to secure creative freedom and to generally make things happen, I need to be acknowledged as a producer on my films.
So, I became a producer too. And with my producer’s hat on I can raise larger sums of money, make key financial decisions and activate a project. I started a feminist production company, Housework Films, and have, officially, produced my own work since 2015.
Sometimes I need to hire someone to produce the work with me and their role depends on the size of the project and the budget. But it’s usually the same workflow: I raise the money and then find a co-producer. If you look at film credits, you’ll see evidence of other creatives doing similar… someone might be a writer/producer or producer/director etc.
When I have a smaller budget, say from 1k to 10k, the producer is paid by the day, which usually is measured in hours that they keep a tally of. In the past I’ve also paid an overall fee for the project, which can work out similarly, but I find that most people want to work by the day/hour now.
(Artists generally don’t budget their fee by the day. This is something to consider when you plan – is the producer getting paid more than you? Is that a fair tally of the labour involved? If the film is a result of your vision do you absorb some magic ego currency from that process that cannot be monetized but should sustain you? Are you expected to sell the work later and make up your fee in the ‘art market’? Or does it mean you’ll never get to buy a flat or retire at 65 but will forever retain the joy of having made a film that contributed positively to society and culture? Food for thought.)
The producer I hire has responsibilities which we discuss before they start and can be worded in a contract; we also plan time to assess roles and tasks as the project continues. In all of these areas we plan together and they will repeatedly check in to discuss what’s happening.
Some of these responsibilities are:
maintaining the budget (income and spending) and all production documents in a shared folder online
negotiating film and processing/scan costs & timings
hiring & contracting crew and equipment
researching insurance and securing a policy for the shoot (I currently have production insurance for the year, arranged by a producer)
maintaining production releases and fees with participants
supporting location recces, location permissions and casting calls
organising/negotiating colour grade and sound mastering
This might equal a week or more of work, it could be less, and won’t all happen at once. It’s a lot of researching then emailing/ringing and waiting for replies. On a low budget shoot a producer needs to have semi-flexible hours and usually does other jobs in parallel. It’s really important to plan for them to be accessible during crucial points in the production: like on the day when equipment is collected and payments need to be made/insurance confirmed, or the film is mastered and files are transferred from sound mix to picture grade (and mistakes can happen!).
On larger budgets, I might work with a producer over months or even a year, and they would do all of the things listed above continuously over multiple shoots, also providing more elaborate documents for filming (a shooting schedule and a daily call sheet) and oversee a larger network of production (pre and post). Usually this entails location permissions, complex travel and accommodation, and contracts for all crew, collaborators, etc.
There are government tax cuts and incentives that commercial film producers can organise; I’ve not dealt with this before. Another general difference between art and commercial film production to note is… in commercial film the producer is the responsible party – when the money runs out, they are left pushing through, finishing the project. They also might make money (profit) if the film is successful. In the art scenario the producer doesn’t work when the money runs out. Though the artist owns the film as their creative work, and can sell it as an edition later, this means that they really need to plan and use the producer’s time wisely. I find it important, though not always possible, to save money for final accounting and final funding reports.
Georgina Starr: I worked with a producer on quite a few of my larger projects over the years. For the most recent film Quarantaine (2020) I worked with the producer Elizabeth Benjamin. The film was commissioned by The Hunterian (Glasgow) and Film & Video Umbrella. FVU had a number of producers in mind and they set up meetings. When I met Elizabeth we just clicked immediately. She had worked on films with FVU before and was paid directly by them and their co-commissioners in this particular case.
Aqsa Arif: Since my experience with Little Pictures, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with other producers and production companies on various film projects. Working with a producer has significantly transformed my approach to directing, particularly within the constraints of short films and limited budgets. Producers should provide a structured framework for a project. They set timelines, manage resources, and ensure that the production runs smoothly. This level of organisation can be particularly beneficial for emerging artists who might be navigating the complexities of their first commissioned film work. The producer’s ability to handle these practicalities has enabled me as the director to immerse myself more fully within the artistic vision.
Here are some specific ways in which collaborating with a producer has enabled what wasn’t possible before:
Supporting and taking on issues that come up: Having a producer by my side has been invaluable in addressing conflicts and challenges head-on, ensuring that the project is progressing smoothly. A producer will also take on the responsibility of any tough or awkward conversations when they come up, which frees you to solely focus on the creative side of the film.
Setting creative and work boundaries: My collaboration with producers has also taught me the importance of setting boundaries, both creatively and logistically. This helps define the project’s scope and values, ensuring that we remain on track and aligned with the original vision. Working with so many collaborators in the making of a film means you must ensure that there is a clear understanding of expectations and timelines and the producer can set these clear with everyone involved.
Ensuring a professional standard: Having a producer by your side ensures a standard of professionalism throughout the project. Therefore, it is vital that both of your working values align so that they can maintain this way of working. They will ensure a transparent and structured framework, from budget management, contracts and scheduling, guaranteeing that the work environment remains professional and organised.
Enhancing collaboration and expanding networks: One of the significant benefits of collaborating with a producer is the opportunity to expand my networks and forge new collaborations that might otherwise be challenging to establish. Producers often bring a wealth of industry contacts to the table. These have broadened my networks further and introduced me to talented people that I have brought on other smaller projects where I didn’t need a producer. This has completely changed the way in which I work as I now regularly collaborate and bring other people to help on projects. These relationships have been vital to my growth and within the ambition of my work.
Providing Ppeace of mind: Knowing that a producer is handling administrative tasks and project logistics allows me to relax and focus on the creative aspects of my work. It provides me with peace of mind, ensuring that I don’t have to be on top of every detail.
Gaining deeper insight: Through regular discussions, feedback and notes, I have been able to gain a deeper insight into my own creative ideas and the vision I want to pursue. I’ve been able to refine and develop my concepts from scriptwriting, to development, production and post-production. The work is constantly changing and evolving and it’s so helpful to have someone else along that journey with me.
Keeping you on track and maintaining focus: Producers help me maintain the project’s focus, ensuring that the original concept and vision do not get lost in the complexities of filmmaking. They have served as a guiding force and kept the project on course with regular check ins and discussions. I find it easy to go on tangents and lose track of my ideas. It’s been invaluable to have someone who also knows your ideas inside out that can help explore with you but ultimately steer you in the right track.
Margaret Salmon: There are many ways in which a co- producer lightens my workload… I’d not be able to articulate them all here, but I find having someone else negotiate costs with suppliers a great relief. I really hate bargaining, and often feel embarrassed or anxious asking for a discount or lower rate; but in film production most costs with suppliers – like rental houses, film stock, processing and post-production, even crew are open to discussion. Many companies are sympathetic to lower budgets in the cultural sector and their support is given on a sliding scale – what a rental house might charge ASDA’s latest dog food advert is very different to what they would charge my community film. I’m grateful for the support ☺ but having another person handling these negotiations makes other discussions simpler and less hampered by economic entanglements.
Overall, it’s so helpful to not be alone working through the finances. To have another set of eyes on the figures and spending and administration. When I’ve worked with a producer, I’ve felt less isolated and overwhelmed. I reckon most small business-owners would support this statement – it’s good to have someone capable in it with you. If that needs to be a producer or perhaps an artist’s assistant, studio manger, production manager, accountant/bookkeeper is another question.
(Is your home the centre of your economic activity? The root of the word economics is the Ancient Greek oikos or “household” and nemein or “management and dispensation”. There’s an interesting article by academic and author Dotan Leshem that holds there is a difference between our apparently neutral approach to economics and the Ancient Greeks, who believed that ‘an action is considered economically rational only when taken towards a praiseworthy end. Moreover, the ancient philosophers had a distinct view of what constituted such an end — specifically, acting as a philosopher or as an active participant in the life of the city-state.’ (1) Hmmm.)
(1) Leshem, Dotan. 2016. “Retrospectives: What Did the Ancient Greeks Mean by Oikonomia?” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 30 (1): 225 – 38.
Georgina Starr: It takes a huge amount of pressure off and allows you to focus more on creating the work rather than being overwhelmed by all the organisational side of it. Elizabeth was in charge of the budget from the very beginning, this meant that all the financial aspects of the project went through her and she had to make sure we didn’t over over budget. She was engaged in finding the crew, hiring equipment, helping find locations and also assisting me with casting — pretty much every aspect of the project wherever and whenever I needed help and assistance. We worked very closely and spoke every day during the development and then during the actual shoot she was in charge of everything running smoothly on set. Having her onboard meant that I was able to focus on writing, story-boarding, choreographing, scoring, making costumes/props, rehearsing and working with performers. On the actual shoot I could focus on filming and directing, knowing that everything else was being taken care of.
Aqsa Arif: If you have never worked with a producer, it’s important to think about what you want from a producer. There is a crucial distinction between an administrative producer and a more involved creative producer. Some producers have a more hands off approach with the creative elements whilst others play a more significant role in shaping the project’s creative vision. I personally prefer the creative producers as they are usually much more invested in the idea and I enjoy having someone to bounce ideas with during the process. It’s important to note that when you bring a producer into your vision, it is now a shared vision and they should be just as invested in this work as you are. It is also important to note that they are actually liable for the production, that means you need to be able to trust them wholly.
Some other things to consider if you have never worked with a producer:
Consider their location: It isn’t impossible to work remotely but it is vital that they are good at communication and what they can dedicate to in-person time as well.
Investment in your idea: Seek a producer who genuinely believes in your project and is passionate about bringing your creative vision to life.
Ambition: An effective producer should be ambitious in their role, striving to push the project’s boundaries and achieve ambitious goals.
Extensive contacts: Look for a producer with a broad network of industry contacts. They should be well-connected and able to leverage these connections to benefit your project.
Strong rapport: Building a strong working relationship is vital. Engage in meaningful and productive conversations about your project. Your producer should ask thoughtful questions and provide constructive feedback.
Organisational skills: A good producer needs to be highly organised. They should efficiently manage budgets, schedules, and resources to keep the project on track.
Dedication and time commitment: Ensure your producer can dedicate the necessary time to the entire project. Being available and committed throughout the process is crucial.
Effective communication: Open and transparent communication is key. Establish clear lines of communication and update each other regularly.
Network building: A producer should not only have a strong network but also be eager to expand it further for the benefit of the project.
Generosity: Look for a producer who is willing to share their insights, contacts, and industry knowledge generously and isn’t trying to guard them closely. Collaboration should be a two-way street.
Margaret Salmon: I usually ask my peer group when I need to find a producer to work with – canvassing crew, other artists, curators. I look for someone sympathetic to the project and its ethos and ethics; their enthusiasm, dedication and positive support for the film is essential – especially when you’re working long hours and with a tight budget. Experience producing other films and film contacts is important as well as providing references you trust. Good negotiating skills and administrative know-how/attention to detail, fluency on Excel and accounting software are important practical skills to have.
Obviously, you might not notice all of this in your first meeting. It’s essential to plan stages for the work and to check in on how things are going. A good producer can process critical feedback, adjust their methods when needed and work with self-awareness.
Georgina Starr: It’s important to really like the person you choose and to have a good rapport as you will spending so much time together. For ‘Quarantaine’ it was almost a year from starting the project to the final edit/grade, so you need to really trust and enjoy working with the person. You also need someone who can multi-task like a demon! Someone who doesn’t get stressed easily, is super smart and enjoys rising to a challenge. You have to try to always be honest with each other, so if there are any big problems you can talk things through without freaking out, someone who stays calm is definitely a bonus. At the same time, you want someone who isn’t always sharing every single hitch or problem, you only need to know about complications if they are unsurmountable, otherwise it’s not really taking the weight off you. For example — after shooting ‘Quarantaine’ I found out that some terrible crisis had been averted the night before the shoot. Elizabeth didn’t tell me about it until she had successfully solved the problem and the shoot was done. If I would have known about the problem the night before the shoot it would have been a huge distraction, this is a sign of a good producer.
Aqsa Arif: While working with a producer can significantly enhance a project’s ambition and streamline its execution, it’s essential to evaluate whether the project and your goals align with the benefits a producer can provide. Producers can bring a wealth of expertise to the table, but the decision to collaborate should be tailored to the specific needs and scope of your work. It might be that you need some key film crew, and you can handle the administration of it as it is a smaller scale project. But if your ambition and collaborators start to increase, you might then want to consider bringing a producer on board.
The usefulness of working with a producer can vary depending on the project and its stage of development:
Early stages (research and development): Involving a producer from the earliest stages of research and development can offer the most creative freedom and exploration. It ensures the producer is deeply invested in the project’s vision from the outset and that you can decide early on what your vision is, the values within your work and your working environment as well as the timeline.
Production phase: Producers are typically most active during the production phase, overseeing logistics, budgets, and resources to ensure a smooth shoot.
Fundraising: Producers can be instrumental in fundraising efforts, securing financial support, and sponsorships. Their involvement can be crucial in securing the necessary resources to bring a project to fruition as they will have more specialised knowledge and networks into various routes for film funding.
Distribution and touring: Beyond production, producers can support the distribution and touring of a work, ensuring it reaches a wider audience.
Margaret Salmon: I have hired a producer on a number of short and feature length films – for a few days’ work or longer and it usually happens after I have funding. On a small film I find it most useful to have support in pre and post-production as I do the filming bit on my own or with an assistant. On larger films it can be very useful to have that same support but also the producer on location with you. This is probably the ideal scenario in most cases, as they can problem solve if something goes wrong, make sure everyone has food/drink, collect releases, keep the shoot on schedule and do some of the driving. But this is budget reliant. I might want to work with less or no people on location for other reasons, which has been the case in a few films.
I’ve had many curators support fundraising (a curator is a producer too) or facilitate funding and distribution/touring of a work, but not a producer that I’ve hired myself. Recently I’ve worked with a producer on a special screening, but this was funded separately from the main budget for the film.
Georgina Starr: I worked with Elizabeth from when ‘Quarantaine’ was green-lit in March 2019 until the film was finished, edited and graded the following March 2020. We were also in contact a little during the planning of the exhibition at GI and other screenings, but not so intensely, she was there for advice if I needed it. I worked with her again on my next project ‘Gelato Balleto!’ in 2022 which was quite different — a large scale theatrical live performance. This was a much bigger budget so more intense (for her) in terms of managing the financial side and more intense for me in terms of the amount of people involved (22 performers plus the same amount of stand-ins (because of Covid) plus an enormous crew and production team). This kind of project would not have been possible without having a personal producer. More recently we have been meeting up to talk about how I might try find funding for my next film idea, so it’s an ongoing working relationship which is great.
Aqsa Arif: As mentioned in the previous answer, bringing a producer on board should be a considered decision. Does the scope and ambition of your project need extra help and organisation, or do you just need a camera person/a performer/sound recordist? With some smaller or more experimental film projects where you want to have more freedom in the filming process, having a smaller and more tight-knit team without a producer could be a better approach. As soon as you bring on a whole team, your way of working becomes much different and can feel more structured which could be an uncomfortable feeling and potentially detrimental to your project.
Other frameworks that work, could include close creative friends as your collaborators, sharing skills and building each other’s knowledge to make a film. I have worked like this in the past and still incorporate this way of working as a more low-key way of trying new ideas. When you already have relationships with creative people, it can be a quicker and easier way to be more spontaneous. These collaborators have then come with me on bigger sets, where there is a budget and contracts, but it means you have built an understanding of how you work together that can feel comforting when you’re in a larger team.
Feedback is a crucial and important part of the creative process, and a producer is a great bouncing board to have with you for this but if this is all you need then there are other ways of building this into your practice. Firstly, having key creative friends that you respect, can share your work with and talk about is helpful and will go a long way in the development of your practice. Another great way that I will get feedback is by asking arts institutions, creative organisations, old tutors, curators that I’ve previously worked with for specific notes on my work. They will already know a bit about your practice and therefore the feedback they give will usually be relevant and useful. Ensure you ask different people for feedback on the same things as this can help you focus on the recurring themes.
Margaret Salmon: I’ll go out on a limb now… and with all due respect for producers, I think most artist filmmakers don’t need them to make work. It’s healthy and important to maintain independent filmmaking without the burden of finding and hiring someone to get funding or to facilitate a hands-on project. And there are numerous precedents of incredible (often the best!) films made outside an industrial production model – by artists working alone or with a community of friends, neighbours and family.
As I’ve said, most filmmakers ARE producers! We might be terrified of excel (not necessary for a film budget, by the way) but if you’ve sorted out a camera to film with, bought production materials, applied for funding, paid a friend to do sound recording (or not paid them in cash but made them some dinner and walked their dog…), written a production agreement/release (or downloaded it off a free website), tallied spending on a production and paid crew – well then you’ve done a producer’s job.
If you can do all of that, then you can invent your own working model. It might be that you only need critical feedback from peers or require production support for certain aspects/stages of the work. We can build our own networks, but we need to understand what our goals are. Is it to be rich and famous? Is it to support yourself through your practice? Is it to make work that contributes to culture and society – small or large scale? To find what you need you have to think about what it is that you want to do, and ‘how you want to be in the world’.
This means engaging with economic concepts and being pro-active about your relationship with money and production models and ethics.
These days, I tend to try and find ways to minimise production apparatus and to dedicate more resources towards the quality of the filming and support for community I’m working with, including crew. I think it’s important to question industrial models and roles within artists’ film and to challenge institutional administrative (commercial and often sexist, racist and ableist) logic that might be applied unnecessarily to a creative social process. I find inspiration in alternative, politicised productions from the past that combined an ethical considered approach to low key, hands-on, non-hierarchical filmmaking.
We’re not being radical when we say artist filmmakers do things differently – there are so many precedents and histories here in Britain, and across the globe, that reinforce our multiple methods and identities. Pick and choose what works for you.
Georgina Starr: You have to work out what jobs you actually need help with. Sometimes it might just be an assistant you need rather than a producer. If it is quite a big film project then you really need someone who has experience — knowledge of how to find good film crews, locations, rehearsal spaces, camera equipment resources, catering etc. If you are not able to get direct advice from the commissioning partners on finding a good producer then I would suggest asking around to other filmmakers for recommendations. You also have to think about your budget size and what you can afford and whether the fees should be fixed. ‘Quarantaine’ was low budget, so the fees had to be fixed for everyone. The producer you choose for a low-budget project has to really love the project and not be so financial driven. If you can’t afford a producer I would suggest having a part-time assistant for very specific jobs like managing the budget, or locating the crews/equipment etc. Also, we found that for the shoot (because the budget was low) we were able to find people that were happy to volunteer to work for the experience of being on a film set. If you can pay travel and food then this could be a way to develop a project without having an enormous budget. You have to be ‘creative’ on every level when making artist films especially as funds are dwindling in this area. I was lucky that I got to work on a project with a more substantial budget after making ‘Quarantaine’ so was able to employ some of the volunteers I had worked with on the film and get them better fees this time.