How do you become a producer?

  • The Match
  • Produced the first Resident Evil
  • Alien vs Predator
  • Eragon
  • Hellboy and the golden army
  • Halo: Forward into Dawn (with 343 (which replaced bungie))

First TV show was Black Sails. Now working on The Alienist

Most producers can’t draw, luckily I can because I went to art school (Bournemouth, Bath as a fine art painting student)

Started making music videos in the 90s, basically in that time all everyone was were tryng wsa get on MTV. Production Manager for Propaganda Films (Started by Michael Bay, David Fincher, Spike Jonze)

Managing director of Propaganda Europe. Resigned after two years, Propaganda gave me The Match to produce. People want to be in TV because that’s were the interesting, long stories are. Movies have become more about spectacle.

What does a producer do?

There are lots of different types of producers: Some find the money, some find the content (scripts, books). People who produce indie movies have a super hard job bringing the money together from different sources. I come in when the show is basically greenlit: Here’s the money, here’s the script, go make the show.

I guide the production, control cost, make the best possible film with the money that’s available. Making sure different departments work together.

  • Build the shooting schedule
  • Based on that, do the budget
  • There’s never enough money, so you start making compromises: What does the story need to be told?
  • Hire heads of department (costume designer, production designer)
  • Build a production plan

TV can be more challenging than movies: You may have 10 scripts, different directors, often the writing isn’t completed when the shooting starts.

Black Sails: Building Nassau

Black Sails on IMDB

Prequel to Treasure Island, with real pirates from history in it. Pirate shows are set on the sea - The first rule of shooting sea-based shows is to not shoot them on the sea. So instead you build Nassau 1720 so you can shoot physical interaction between boats, water and people. Decided to do thing in Capetown - close to a real beach, good weather, local production people - you only fly in the people you need. (Presumably also not much regulation). Built a whole beach with sand, fake palm trees etc.

If you look out to the sea, it costs money because you have to do set extensions. The job of the producer is to stop the director from doing that too often.

We also needed to build ships. They built a “full ship” (on wheels) and a “half ship” (which floated). The one ship was repainted in different colours throughout the show to make it look like they had more ships. The mast is a set extension.

Black Sails pirate ships

Wolf Kroeger was the production designer.

How do you shoot a storm sequence?

  • Efefct of gravity on people - ship is rolling and yawing.
  • Storms are dark - do oyu shoot at night?
  • Huge amount of water to be dumped on expensive film kit
  • Wind is the main problem

Here’s a cool breakdown:

You build a custom wind machine with a v8 truck engine, 4 rotors but that wasnt’ strong enough. Figured out that Squall (Ridley SCott) and mastr & commander had used jet engines. Managed to get 7 old jet engines into South Africa.

The Alienist: Recreating New York 1896

The Alienist on IMDB

Period New York doesn’t exist anymore. Budapest was built during the same time, using the same materials. Lots of empty houses to shoot in. Started out planning a limited height set, but turns out to be cheaper to build a full height set.

Another breakdown: