Monday, June 9, 2008

What is a creative producer?

When I was little, I loved playing pretend. My family lived on the edge of a forest preserve, and my young friends and I would race through its foot paths playing "SWAT" or pretending that we were on dangerous quests. Said quests usually required hiding, climbing trees and chain link fences, running across fallen logs straddling small streams, skipping rocks, finding crawdads, and kicking the caps off the giant mushrooms that dotted the forest floor.

I started my first business the summer I was 18. My family had moved into a town-home community in Colorado Springs that was bordered by busy roads and heavy traffic. I didn't have a car, and the closest commercial establishment within walking distance was a Circle K. If I was going to earn any spending money, it was either Circle K or start my own gig. So, I made fliers, got clients in the town-home community, and cleaned houses for the summer.

I didn't know it then, but I was laying the foundation for a future of creative producing in movies. Dream things up; make things happen.

There are all kinds of producers. Presently, I consider myself to be an entrepreneur whose business is independent movies.

It's taken me about 12 years to figure this out, because I didn't know if I was an actor, writer, director, producer, or something else entirely. I had co-founded a software development company in my late 20s, which was the most exciting, ambitious thing I could think to tackle. And, it was. And, then it wasn't. Long story short, making a go of that company (and it still exists, as part of another software development company these days) made me realize it wasn't truly my heart's desire.

My heart's desire was movies.

So, I tried on every artistic hat (except cinematography - I know my technical limits) over the years, while founding and running separate businesses on the side to subsidize my "education:" a gardening/landscape design consultancy, a non-profit screenwriting contest, and finally, an independent film production company with two partners.

I love all of it, especially directing. But, what I've learned I love most of all is the one thing that always came so easily to me -- producing. Making it all happen. Seeing the big picture. Bringing all the pieces and personalities together toward a common goal: a movie that inspires, that entertains, and that hopefully, is timeless, too.

Presently, I'm "on sabbatical" from actively developing any projects. My current full-time production is parenting my year-old baby daughter. But, I teach classes and coach indie filmmakers and screenwriters. And, I can't stop reading about, talking about, and thinking about producing, making movies, finding cool stories, raising money, what's going on in the industry, etc. So, my outlet's going to be this blog.

I hope you'll join me in my obsession and check in and comment occasionally. :)


Marc Lougee- Producer/Director said...

Brilliant, Lorie.
Thanks for sharing, and I plan on visiting often. Hope you get some time to visit here- and all the best with your latest, most important project.
Cheers, Marc

Lorie said...

Happy to make your acquaintance and thanks for sharing your comment! I look forward to visiting your site.

Willie said...

Lorie, I am a 17 year old boy from Reno Nevada and as it is, my situation is nearly identical to the place you were when you were my age. I am so excited to see your post because you are so similar to my self! Thank you for taking the time to share that piece of yourself with the world!

Seeing Heaven Production Team said...

Great, sounds very interesting, im the Creative Producer behind the new Gay Arthouse movie "Seeing Heaven", or blog

im also a freelance photographer and model:

and i also paint

i am currently an architect full time, but i used to be a proffessional ballet dancer for many years,

so i know where you are coming from, what does one call oneself hehe,

its very exciting indeed,

have a look at the sites, and let me know what you think,

looking forward in hearing from you,

and great work,


Lorie said...

Hi there, Gentlemen. I'm happy to meet you, and thanks for reading my blog. Please continue following me at my new site - I wish you both inspiration and fortitude. :)

alfred said...

I randomly found your blog just by asking the question "what's a creative producer?"
I'm wondering if you might be able to help me with a few questions of my own.

I'm currently a film student at the university of texas at arlington and i have produced three shorts (one wasn't too difficult and was barely a short..more like a min or two..but i got all of the equipment and crew together) another the same situation-both were for video contests and put together in about a day or two.
the third was the only short vie produced that was for a really indie short. the ad did most of the call sheets but i helped get the crew and cast together. the dir did all of the equipment this time.

my question is since im also an did you know you could be a creative producer?

I enjoy acting a lot but i guess it's ok to do all (directing, acting, writing,directing) at once in this business?

i've never put a business together..but maybe i should try my hand at it..

any advice would be great.


Lorie said...

Hi Alfred. It sounds like you already have the makings of a producer, the way you've pulled together the resources for your past few projects. At baseline, producing is about making things happen like that. Creative producing goes beyond that into material development and securing financing for projects: it's definitely entrepreneurial. Each project I commit to is like a start-up business.

I think it will likely come down to what jazzes you the most -- as an actor, your "product" is YOU - your look, your acting ability, the roles you've played. As a CP, your product is your project - the whole shebang: the quality of the material, your ability to scope it well, attach value elements to it, your ability to manage expectations, lead others, and stay on top of legal and financial issues.

Do you want to be a virtuoso or a conductor?

Hope this helps.

JJD said...

Hi Lorie,

Thank you for sharing your story. I too am a creative producer (among a million other jobs in entertainment)currently working in New York theatre and film. As you know it is a long road to coming to define yourself as a Producer of any kind. It is refreshing to come across your story and to know that in this journey I am not alone.
I would love to hear about your projects and connect with you at some point if you feel so inclined. I believe the relationships we cultivate always bring us to the next step.
Wishing you the best!

Lorie said...

Hi there, JJD - thanks for reaching out! Feel free to jot me an email at lorie at lostinsunshine dot com. BTW - I write current blog postings now at Forwardmarsh dot net, as well as producing-related posts at lostinsunshine dot com. Come visit there, too!

NYcanes said...

You have a lot of energy ... pretty cool.

Lorie said...

Hi NYcanes. Thanks for visiting and commenting. I've been rather quiet on the blogging lately, b/c I've been quite busy with the producing! I don't post to this blog anymore, but I do post to my other two blogs (see comments above) - albeit sparsely these last 6 months. I do plan a 2012 revamp for my site and upping my posts there again. Hope to see you there. :)

lg said...

Hi Lorie,

So funny! I'm giving a speech for the second time already, here in Spain about being a creative producer!!I feel we are so much alike!! I'm also a creative producer! And guess what?? I'm also Lorrie ;)

Lorie said...

Hi Lorrie - thanks for the comment! I visited your sites today and posted a comment there to say "Hi," myself. Are you aware of producer, Ted Hope's blog - Hope For Film - at Indiewire dot com? Lots and lots of inspiring stuff there!

xoelena said...

Hi Lorie,
I'm grateful to stumble upon your blog. I've been struggling with what to call myself these days so after reading your entry about being a Creative Producer I let out a much needed sigh... ahh, I'm not the only one with their fingers in more than one thing! Like you, I can also look back and see that my passion for all of these things was evident from the start! I hope you are involved in some great projects. Wish you the best!

Lorie said...

Hi xoelena! Thanks for visiting and commenting, as well as for the good wishes. I am working on some really cool stuff right now, including being in the final round for the Sundance Creative Producing fellowship with a feature drama called, "Smuggling For Gandhi." !! I'm currently in the throes of getting its website up (end of April 2012), and I'll learn about the Sundance status in June. I'm also producing a micro-budget feature drama called, "Born Good" and worked last autumn as Story Producer on Lance Weiler's - check it out. :)