The business of film
The business of film

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The business of film

1 The producer’s role: ‘make our days’

In the first part of this week, you’re going to take a look at who does what on a film production. To get started, let’s meet some of the most influential people involved in the making of a film.

Ollie Madden has appeared a few times now – he is the producer of Spooks: The Greater Good. He describes his role in the production process from scheduling through to the production itself. You will also hear from Simon Bowles, the production designer, and finally, Clare MacClean, the post-production supervisor. They will describe their roles in the making of the film.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 2 Ollie Madden, Simon Bowles and Clare MacClean describe their roles in the production process
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Transcript: Video 2 Ollie Madden, Simon Bowles and Clare MacClean describe their roles in the production process

From a fairly early stage in the process of raising finance for Spooks, we realized roughly what the market could bear in terms of the cost of the film. And that gave us an approximate sense of how long our schedule could be. Which ended up being seven weeks, give or take a few days here or there. And when we were looking at that schedule and refining that schedule, there were some key people that I worked with. Most notably, Stu Renfrew, our first AD, whose job it was to prepare the schedule. Jane Hooks, our line producer, and Simon Bowles, our production designer, who also oversaw the location management on the film.
 It's an incredibly complicated process of figuring out where and when and how you're going to shoot the film. And making sure that a very ambitious schedule where, in the case of this film, you're across four different countries. You have the whole film unit moving from country to country with really only a day in between to get yourself set up and reestablished and be filming again. It means that there's very little margin for error. So a huge amount of the pre-production and the planning of the film is about making sure that you can work to that schedule and stick to it.
Well, there are lots of different kinds of producers. Some like being on set. Some hate being on set. I love being on set, and my relationship with Bharat Nalluri, the director on this, was such that he wanted me there and I wanted to be there. So it was also a film that- so I was there. It was also a film that was under a lot of budgetary and time pressure, because we had a lot of action, a lot of different locations, four different countries to shoot in. And it was vital, I felt, that I was there to help make sure everything was running smoothly and everyone was working well, so that we could make our days, as the phrase goes.
 So that we could complete what we needed to complete every day according to the schedule. Every day, a new challenge, a new, unexpected obstacle would come up, in terms of a problem with a location or a problem with a particular stunt we were trying to do, in terms of a new creative idea that had come up that we needed to execute, a change in availability of an actor, so that we had to rewrite an element of the script to still make our schedule work. These are some of the things that you have to deal with on an ad hoc basis as you're filming.
 And as a producer, I think the best way to achieve that is to be right at the centre of things, there every day, and really know what's going on. So that you're not having to play catch up when a problem arises, as it inevitably does.
As a production designer, I think I have the best job on the whole movie. Because when I'm reading the script, I kind of see the sets and the whole look of the film. And I kind of see the colours and the textures. And it's my job to kind of like turn that into a reality. It's amazing. Like I say, reading a script, laying on the back in the middle of a park and reading this great action story. That then, four months later, is a physical being. It really exists. Designing a set from scratch is exciting. As a production designer, I work very closely with the director, the producers, and my large team that I have.
 Within my team, I have construction people and props people, special effects people, visual effects department who do all the computer wizardry. I kind of embrace them into my department as well. And also everything I do has an effect on all the departments, whether it's wardrobe or makeup or hair, the director of photography. It's a big job that leads everything else, in a way.
Post production supervisor is brought on board, sometimes at the beginning of a shoot, actually prior to a shoot, to schedule the film for its post production process, which is after the film is finished shooting. We assess the budget of post production to make sure there's enough money there. And that's looking at quotes from the post production houses and making sure it's all right. Then we normally are not involved during the shoot. And then once post production starts, which is the first day after the shoot, we are brought on board. And our role is to ensure the film stays on schedule as best it can, stay on budget as best it can.
 Organise, troubleshoot, and manage all the people within the post production process, and eventually deliver the film to the broadcaster or the distributor.
End transcript: Video 2 Ollie Madden, Simon Bowles and Clare MacClean describe their roles in the production process
Video 2 Ollie Madden, Simon Bowles and Clare MacClean describe their roles in the production process
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Next, you'll take a brief look at how people get paid in the film business, before moving on to other roles involved in the production process.


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