Being a good producer takes a lot of guts.
Generally speaking, I think film and TV producers get a bad wrap. We envision them as ruthless, mercenary sharks with no respect for the creative process, just the bottom line.
But good producers couldn’t be further from that stereotype.
(And that’s not to say there aren’t bad producers. There are definitely bad producers.)
A good producer is an adaptable beast with business savvy and creative instincts in equal measure. A good producer is a guide and leader who knows how to bring people together, knows how to inspire confidence and does everything they can to ensure everyone on their team has the space to do their best. It’s a demanding gig.
Most importantly, though, good producers respect themselves.
That may sound strange. I would argue however that self-respect – and the ensuing self-confidence and self-belief borne of this self-respect – is one of the fundamental differences between ‘good’ producers and ‘bad’ producers.
Self-respect is different from being self-centred, self-involved or arrogant.
When you have self-respect, your decisions aren’t driven by fear, anxiety or entitlement. You can be encouraging and inclusive rather than dismissive and defensive.
When you have self-respect, you can appreciate and foster the strengths of others because you are confident in the strengths you bring to the table.
When you have self-respect, you have the space to appreciate the creative process and the people and apparatus that come together to make that creative process viable. You can concentrate on the big picture, and show the enormous trust that is absolutely vital to the collaborative endeavour that is screen storytelling.
Poor producers spend a lot of time second-guessing themselves, second-guessing their team and operating from an adversarial base that pits them against everyone else. They make assumptions about the needs and desires of their colleagues rather than being open to constructive, mutually beneficial dialogue.
As it is for any of us, developing respect for one’s self takes time and mental fortitude. And often a leap of faith. In a creative industry that relies on close relationships and emotional commitment, it can be easy to forget that you must first have faith in yourself before you can have any kind of open and honest faith in other people. Self-respect means understanding your weaknesses as much as you embrace your strengths, giving you the foresight to plan accordingly.
It means knowing, when you look your collaborators in the eye, you are participating in the conversation, not looking for ways to get out of it.