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How does one become a Producer and make a movie?

There isnít a magic recipe. In the old days, the producer had to have an eye for the material, raise money and be the general contractor for the project. These days, I read a book or a screenplay to review a new project. I look for unencumbered material, then take the idea and approach all of the studios. Itís critical to have the backing of a supportive studio. Studios want projects that will make money. An early part of my job is to deliver the screenplay to the studio executives. That pitch usually takes only 15-20 minutes.

How is a Screenplay developed?

We outline a movie into a 3-act structure, then let the writer develop the characters. I work closely with the writers to find the right combination to fit the studioís expectations. I donít give make it black and white, I want to let the writer be creative. A good screenplay can take six months to six years. Sleepless in Seattle was quick, it took less than two years to develop. Some projects are development hell.

How do you choose the main players to begin production?

You have to find a director and actor that the studio approves of. The studio has a big say as to who works on a project. They also have a list of directors, actors and writers they like to use. Also, how you plan to market the project is important.

Why are there always multiple producers?

I have a partner. Sometimes a director or actor is hired that has a producer theyíre comfortable working with. Producing credit is the highest credit in a film. Thereís an arbitration process that producing peers use to decide who gets credit first. Those who work hard donít want the credit to go undeserved.

What is your favorite movie youíve produced?

Itís really hard to pick one. Sleepless in Seattle is the first big picture that I produced. Working with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan was the greatest. Everyone was on the same page and really cared about the movie. There were no ego problems on that set. Tin Cup was another movie I enjoyed making. Iím a golfer, so that made the movie dear to me.

How much of a movie gross is in theatre vs DVD?

Before a studio commits to a movie, there are tables they run. Home video is usually most profitable. Some movies are made just for DVD potential. Itís all part of the big picture for the studio. Less than 50% of movies are profitable. Home video and international sales have become the number one and two profit centers.

How much money does it take to make a movie?

Each project is different. First you have to prepare a budget which can be a bit of a game. There is almost always a negotiation with a studio. After haggling over the budget we all agree to make the movie for a certain price. Itís like creating a new business with all of the creative and financial aspects that entails.

Do you get a percentage of profits?

Sure.

We heard you attended Semester at Sea?

I attended Semester at Sea the last semester of my junior year of college at USC. It was life changing for me. The course lasted a little over three months, and I made friends for life on that trip. It was an amazing adventure and one of the greatest experiences of my life. I highly recommend students to take advantage of traveling abroad.

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