The Film Business

5 Reasons Why Future Film Producers Should Attend Business School




photo by: Art Poskanzer

1 – The yucky, yucky accounting stuff.

We all hate it (well, except accountants) but we all need to know about the subject, especially producers.

If there is one person that could truly ruin your business and leave you with a huge debt, is a bad and corrupt accountant. As producers we need to be able to understand, at least, the basic concepts of accounting, we need to understand our accountants’ language.

If you don’t know what the next concepts mean, you need some accounting 101 ASAP: assets, liabilities, equity, income statement, balance sheet, statement of equity and statement of cash flow.

2 – Business networking

If I could only give one reason on why I recommend business school for film producers, it’s networking! Your classmates are most likely to be future business leaders. As a producer, you need to breathe, eat, and drink networking. If you don’t know the key players in the industry (and out of the industry), your path to success is going to be longer and harder.

You never know who that shy, nerdy guy will become in the future…

3 –Strategic planning and management.

As a great teacher of mine, Ken Ashdown, says, “If you fail to plan, plan to fail.” It is of utter importance that we all know how to create a well-rounded business plan and, of course, how to execute it. Business school gives you all the tools you’ll need to create any sort of business plan.

As a film producer, you won’t get the investment you’re seeking for and the interest of distributors and sales agents, unless you create a professional and “business type” plan for each of your films.

4 – It’s all about being a balanced producer.

I’m currently reading the third edition of “The Producer’s Business Handbook” by John J. Lee, Jr. and Anne Marie Gillen and found a concept I loved: balanced producer. They divide producers in two main categories, the creative protectionist producer and the balanced one.

The approach to making a film for the first group is the famous “festival” path. You find or write a script you’re passionate about, pool all the money you have, borrow from relatives and friends, ask for loans and max out credit cards. When the film is finished you enter it to as many festivals you can and pray to the universe you’ll be able to pay back your debt.

Balanced producers work a different route; we seek the balance between business and creativity. This type of producer does the pertinent research to verify the potential gross profit of the film and see if it covers the production and distribution costs. We seek distributors before green lighting our projects to see if the story were something they would be interested in. This type of mentality is something you learn in a good business school. It’s not all about the $$$$, like in life… it’s all about a balance.

5 – Elevator pitch, 30-minute pitch… Pitch the world away!

We all know it, if you want to produce a film you need to be badass when it comes to pitching. The only way you’ll achieve the level is through practice, practice, and more practice. Because the business world is also all about pitching, business schools focus a lot of their time in making their students experts and fluent in their pitching abilities.

P.S. Just to clarify, I’m not saying that the only way to become a professional and balanced producer is by attending business school; however, I do believe that if you are intending to enter a film program (and wishing to be a producer) for you to consider these types of schools, instead of the classic film programs.

You could consider going to a normal MBA or attending a program such as “Entertainment Business Management” at Vancouver Film School, or the 3-year MBA – MFA at New York University (these are just a couple of examples).

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MasteringFilm, powered by bestselling Routledge authors and industry experts, features tips, advice, articles, video tutorials, interviews, and other resources for aspiring and current filmmakers. No matter what your filmmaking interest is, including directing, screenwriting, postproduction, cinematography, producing, or the film business, MasteringFilm has you covered. You’ll learn from professionals at the forefront of filmmaking, allowing you to take your skills to the next level.