Thursday, July 31, 2008

On the Road Again

We are off to Atlanta for the 2008 National Book Club Conference. We expect to have a ball—as we have in the past and it will be our first opportunity to read from our new book, What Doesn’t Kill You—which will be released in January. We’ll let you know how HOTlanta went when we get back—we’re not exactly sure of our return date. It’s one of the luxuries of a road trip (yep—we’re hitting the highway again—the tunes are packed, we’re warming up to sing)—you can change your departure day or time just because you want to, without a penalty. Being in the car also gives us lots of time to think and talk about the book we’re working on for 2010. AND this time we remembered the tape recorder!

In the meantime, we’re re-posting another of Sherri James’s blogs. Unless you’ve never read our blog before, you know that two of our books are being made into films—Tryin’ to Sleep in the Bed You Made and Far From the Tree. We’ve been talking/writing about this for the past two years and one of the things we keep getting asked is “where’s the movie?” like we just take the idea, add water and voila! it’s on the screen at your local multi-plex. NOT! Even in Hollywood, with major studio involvement, it can take years and years to get a movie to the screen. So part of what we are doing by writing about what’s going on—is to keep you informed, let you know how things are progressing (or regressing—hopefully not) as we continue on this journey with our friends and partners on these two productions because as we said from the beginning—these are YOUR movies and we intend to keep you in the loop. Besides—your encouragement keeps us all on task! So help us help them.

While we’re gone read, drop Sherri & Jessica a note and we’ll see ya when we get back!


So Much Fun, It Feels Like Play
By Sherri James email:

Nothing gets under my skin more than producer credits being handed out to writers, directors, actors, talent managers and the like without any or only some of the real work of a producer being done. True producing demands a charismatic leader who can find the money, attach the talent, shepherd the script writing process until the lump of coal becomes a diamond, work with the Director to make what she sees in her head real, manage the technicians that then execute that vision, collaborate with the Director and Editor to turn the resulting footage into a movie worth watching, negotiate with the distributor so that the film is properly positioned in the marketplace, and join forces with the marketers to help the film find its audience. Few "producers" actually handle ALL the responsibilities that come with the title. Most tackle one or two areas – i.e. attaching talent, securing financing, etc. – and think their job is done. And, while those two pieces are very, very important, they only represent a portion of the work required from a true producer.

The role of a true producer begins with the germ of an idea – i.e. a book, a newspaper article, a short story, a funny one-liner – and it doesn't end until there are bodies in seats at local theaters, enjoying the picture she helped bring forward. Her effectiveness lies in her ability to successfully manage all the moving parts required to make a movie – writers, actors, electricians, production designers, sound designers, composers, stuntmen, marketing execs, distributors, exhibitors, lawyers and more – for the sole purpose of enabling the Director to accomplish her creative vision.

It isn't easy but when it's done right, good producing looks effortless. Perhaps that's why many people want to call themselves producer. It's sexy to be the leader. Unlike sculpting or painting or even writing, producing requires a veritable army of artisans to deliver a finished product. And, who doesn't want to be the general at the head of this corps, marshaling this team of technicians that will produce a product that can possibly take in millions upon millions of dollars at the box office.

Putting all these pieces together well enough to be profitable is truly an art form – an unusual one but an art form nonetheless. I cannot imagine a more fulfilling discipline than producing. The process is very labor intensive but when it's successful, it creates a personal high that nothing else can match. For me, it's so much fun, it feels like play.

As a producer, I get to engage with artists in a very real way and, at the same time, I get to talk shop with businessmen about the profit potential of my projects. For someone whose instincts are both artistic and business-oriented, producing is very satisfying work. Whereas the pure artist feels boxed in by the need for her art to be profitable and the pure businesswoman feels weighed down by the need to consider the creative demands of a project, I get turned on by the challenge of balancing art and commerce.

Becoming a true producer requires one to become a student of both the worlds of filmmaking and finance. Learning to produce well takes time. It's not a gig that you master with one, two or even three projects. With every movie you uncover more and better ways to deliver a film. You learn what works in the marketplace and what doesn't; you develop an instinct about what makes a good movie and what's merely a cute idea. When it's all said and done, the mark of a true producer can be found in how much she has stretched as both an artist AND a businesswoman with each new movie she brings to the marketplace. email:

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posted by DeBerry and Grant at 12:32 PM


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