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Useful Producing Bromides, #s 1 – 4

Working as a producer over the years, one is given pieces of advice about the job that initially seem vague, counterintuitive, or just plain silly. But as time passes, these pearls of wisdom ultimately prove their worth… if one is smart enough to apply them. Here, then, are a few thoughts people have passed on to me that may read a bit Erma Bombeck-ish but which I think are worthwhile if contemplated correctly.

1. From producer and Focus Films co-president James Schamus a long time ago: When seeking financing for a film, don’t get people to say “yes.” Get them to say “no” and move on. (The one time I ignored this advice — the one time I convinced myself that a somewhat flakey person’s “yes” was truly a “yes” — I was burned very badly.)

2. From French producer and now head of Euro script development org Moonstone International Jean-Luc Ormieres: Producing a film is like taking a train. You have to be at the right station at the right platform at the right time. (This one was repeated in my office today, but I won’t say the context…)

3. Another one from Ormieres: When producing a film, you can gamble on the script, the director, or the cast — but only one.

4. And finally, one from me: During moments of creative confusion, revert back to the director’s first instinct. It’s usually the correct one.

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