If there was ever any part of the filmmaking process that has more sub-titles than a foreign film, it would be that of the producer. Does anyone really know what one does? I didn’t think so. But, if Goeffrey Macnab and Sharon Swart have their way, you’ll at least get to learn of the trials and tribulations that come with the title. As part of the FilmCraft series — which has now covered Cinematography (Mike Goodridge and Tim Grierson); Editing (Justin Chang), Production Design (Fionnuala Halligan), Costume Design (Deborah Nadoolman Landis), and Directing (Goodridge) — here’s the chance to lift the veil of the most mystifying position in the industry.
Covering a wide range of prolific producers, probably the only name that may be recognizable to a broad audience would be Lorenzo di Bonaventura. Yes, this is the man behind the recent Hasbro toy-based films for better (the first Transformers film and G.I. Joe: Retaliation) and worse (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra but mostly Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen). The producers’ films are more recognizable than their names which will come as no surprise. From Tim Bevan (whose IMDB page speaks for itself) and Bill Kong (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), to Lauren Shuler Donner (Mr. Mom, Free Willy, and every X-Men film), the team of Ron Yerxa & Albert Berger (Little Miss Sunshine, Election), and Andrew Macdonald (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later). Macnab and Swart also include the “Legacy” sections covering some of the biggest producers of days gone by including David O. Selznick (Gone with the Wind) and Dino De Laurentiis (Conan the Barbarian).
While Producing may not necessarily be something you sit down and read from cover to cover, every chapter is full of the featured producer’s own stories. As far as entertainment factor goes, Bill Kong takes the cake supplying an endless amount of humorous anecdotes. It wouldn’t surprise me if most readers would skip a few of the chapters, flipping to whoever is of more interest, which will surely vary greatly from person to person. Working the same way as Directing did, it comes off as either an informational coffee table book or a more entertaining version of a school text book. Either way, if you’re looking for an informational behind the scenes look into the world of Producing, Macnab and Swart’s addition to the FilmCraft series is certainly one of the more intriguing.
(Cover art courtesy Focal Press)