April 22, 2024

How Producers OUT EARN everyone in the Film Business

Published June 11, 2023, 10:20 a.m. by Bethany

Why are Producers usually the highest paid person on a film set? What makes their contribution so valuable? Are power, control and money such significant influences?



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so welcome to the crimson engine my name

is rubidium today we are looking at

why producers are the highest paid


on a film set and why everybody wants to


one now you won't be surprised that

those two questions go together

it basically breaks down to power

control and money

so you may have noticed when you're

watching some movies with some big stars

in them

that the stars end up

getting a producer credit on the film

now why is that

why does brad pitt want to be a producer

of his own movies or why does

christopher nolan want to produce the

movie he's directing

and why does kevin feige who's the

president of marvel studios

want his name as the producer on all of

the movies that he

creatively directs um surely he's a


is he really coming to sit every day and

you know working out where they're going

to buy

lunch and you know solving uh power

supply problems or

you know dealing directly with the

unions all of these people want to be

producers because

that is how you make the most money on a

film there is a great quote from sean

connery uh when he started acting in

bond movies in the

60s he said that i would go to actors

houses and i would see pictures of them

on their wall

and then i would go to producers houses

and i would see picassos and renoirs on

their wall

the idea being that producers even

though actors get all the exposure they

get all the fame

producers walk away with a lion's share

of the budget

now why is that well a budget for a film

is either agreed upon or negotiated or

basically uh put forth by the financiers


in hollywood the studio so they say we

have 60 million dollars to shoot this

film we have 100 million dollars to

shift the spell

the producer then goes and as the person

responsible for the day-to-day finances

of the movie goes and creates a budget


he or she asks okay costume designer how

much will it cost

how much can we get the actors for and

puts together line item budget

and the studios that hopefully uh is the

amount of money that the studios said

that they can donate

to dedicate to the project then

the producer is given not that amount in

a lump sum but usually that

that amount over the time that they're

going to need it and they spend the

money and deliver the film

if they go over or they look like

they're going to go over they may

be fired even but if they go under they

essentially get to

keep that money as profit

say they make a 60 million dollar film

for 40 million dollars

because uh the the quotes that they got

turned out to get be lower or the amount

of days that they shot

turned out to be less they keep the


not always directly into their bank

accounts but they

you know as long as they come under the

amount of money that they budgeted

no one's going to look too hard where

the money is going so if they have an

extra if they come under for the

cinematography budget and then they put

that money into

a million dollars in c47s uh the studio

isn't really gonna

look twice at that c47s are actually

closed pegs

uh they're called c47s because studios

wouldn't pay

uh money for closed pegs because they

thought they could just buy them at the


but producers got very good as the ones

controlling the budget

at allocating money in a way that

benefited them

and if the studio is getting a 60

million dollar

film for 60 million dollars why do they

care where the money goes

as long as the film doesn't look cheap

um or

people don't complain usually no one

will look

too hard at where the money was spent as

long as the product is delivered for

that amount

so that's why producers can be

notoriously stingy and difficult to get

paid from and they negotiate really hard

because they're essentially working with

their own money

meaning that if they can save a dollar

here and a thousand dollars there and a

million dollars there

it ends up in their own pocket now

they're also going to get a producing


and their production company will get a

production company fee to cover those


they also might have a development deal

if they're big producers meaning they

get a certain amount of money

every year from the studio to you know

option projects and develop projects

but you can see really easily how uh the

person who's controlling the budget

the producer has what you would call

moral hazard in

allocating that budget meaning that they

have the incentive to allocate more to


and less to the film this is why

pretty much big stars and big directors

are always producing their own movies

it's not necessarily because they want

to make money on the side though i'm

sure some do

it's because if they're the producer

that means they're signing off

on where the money is going and it stops


you know another producer from trying to

make their movie as cheaply as possible

and then pocketing the difference if

you're if brad pitt's the producer of


of world war z for instance everyone


on the production team is going to be an

employee of plan b his company

um or a friend of his or someone that he

trusts it means that

the film is the money is going to end up

on the screen

or in his pocket this is so you don't

end up with

you know cheap looking cgi you know

badly mixed sound

bad music all of these things that the

producer could potentially have budgeted


a million dollars music and then turn

around hire the cheapest bid

and keep the difference for themselves

producing really boils down to control

who has the ability to decide where the

money is spent

yes the director is the ability to say

okay you stand there and you say this

and i want the wall

green and i want the light to come from

this direction

but without a say in how the money is


he or she only has the resources

available to them so it's hard to make

you know lawrence of arabia if the

producers only got you

ten extras you need a thousand or

ten thousand extras to make that so it's

not uh the director obviously has to be

involved with the producer

but if the director is a producer as

well they can

guarantee that they're going to be able

to allocate resources

where they think that's important to

make the movie that they want to make

as a little aside you may have seen

those pga behind

different people's names you know kevin

feige pga

interestingly enough the pga is the

producers guild of america and

it was formed to stop

people who aren't involved in the

production of the film getting

producer credits so basically

the p to get pga after your name you

have to be

you know paid used to the producers

guild and you have to have been on set

a certain number of days say 80 percent

of the days of the film

now if you're a star or you're you're

tom cruise on mission impossible brad

pitt on

uh world war z you're always going to be


80 of the day so that's not a problem

for them to get the pga

but kevin feige i think is really

interesting because you know if he's

producing six films at the same time how

is he on set

for all of them the only way you can do

that is if they're all shot in a central


like you know atlanta studios or

whatever it is so that he can you know

just drop in for an hour

of every day of every film and get his

pga credit which allows him to get

i think residuals in the same way the

actors get a whole bunch of other


there's also the interesting thing of

credit jumpers which is

people who angle for a producer credit

even though they didn't do any of the


they didn't raise the money they didn't

sell the film they didn't uh

contribute in a meaningful way to

producing the film they were just

you know either someone at the studio

you know they wrote the book the film's

based on

they have the power to negotiate a

producer credit even though they weren't

one um

harvey weinstein was notorious for this

he wanted to be

listed as a producer on every movie that

miramax and later the weinstein company

did even though he had

uh he was really just writing the check

to start with

and the reason was so that if the film

won an oscar he

had the ability to get up on stage and

accept the oscar in front of the whole

world and

convey this image of parent success that


allowed him to get away with his crimes

not the worst thing that harvey

weinstein did but uh

definitely a big thing in hollywood and

something that the pga was formed to


of legitimate producers who actually

work really hard for years on these


only to have to share a credit with like

seven other people

who you know put money into the film or

introduce someone

that really is what the executive

producer credit is for that is my

breakdown of why producers get paid so

much on films

more than everybody else usually

thank you very much for watching uh if

you're interested in filmmaking directly

check out canonmasterclass.com i have a

bunch of

paid courses there that will teach you a

lot about the inside of the film

industry and practical skills in

cinematography lighting directing

thank you very much for watching i will

see you next time



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