CRAFT: FORUM - Should production companies be run by directors or producers?

JO GODMAN

JO GODMAN



MANAGING DIRECTOR GODMAN



A production company is as good as its directors. The more talented the

directors, the more successful the production company. The most

brilliant producer is nothing without a good director. However,

directing today can be extremely demanding. Intense preparation and

long, exacting post-production sessions make directors’ involvement in

the day-to-day running of a company a total misuse of their talent. But

a vital contribution directors often make to the continued success of a

company is their ability to spot talent.



Running a company is similar to producing an ad. There is a budget and

the tighter the control of cash-flow, the safer the production and the

safer the company. Busy directors, whether hired, partners or owners,

must like nothing more than to know the company is being run by someone

they trust, respect and like.



In the most successful companies, directors direct and strong producers

run the company. The Paul Weiland Film Company might be the exception

but Paul has Mary Francis by his side, an excellent producer and the

managing director.



A production company name is not of major importance. Owner names have

succeeded and so have frivolous names. The aim is to create a name that

represents quality.



PAUL ROTHWELL



MANAGING DIRECTOR GORGEOUS



It varies from company to company. I came from Weiland where Paul always

ran the company. He was a great producer, very intuitive about what

would work and what wouldn’t. I ran things day-to-day but the big

decisions were made by him.



It’s very important for directors to have strong management in

play.That’s what Tony and Ridley Scott did. They had Jo Godman there to

ensure everything was in place when they were doing movies. That’s

really important.



As a generalisation, it doesn’t matter which way the company is run.



There will be some directors who are not people who could run a company

and others who are. Take Ridley. He’s got quite a business empire now,

not just commercials but a restaurant and an interest in Shepperton

Studios.



He’s clearly a great businessman. Then there will be directors who

aren’t.



As a company, it’s a huge help to have a star director because they will

attract others, but they don’t need to own it. Take, for example,

Jonathan Glazer at Academy. However, it’s probably true to say that

directors who are starting out are more likely to get input from a

person like Chris Palmer, Frank Budgen or Paul Weiland than directors

who aren’t owners of their company.



It’s not in their interest to help others.



KAREN CUNNINGHAM



JOINT MANAGING PARTNER, PINK



We are producer-led because we don’t want to provide a lifestyle for an

individual director and we don’t want a company that lives or dies on a

particular director’s personality. We wanted to create a brand for a

business which was Pink. As a producer-led company, we are in it for

longevity. We wanted to create a brand that could evolve with time and

fashions. We have fantastic creative talent with first-class production

back-up. With the exception of one of our directors, all are

home-grown.



We found them on our own and didn’t steal them from others. When a

director joins us, he buys into the Pink philosophy. It’s not a

one-person led company. Everybody works with everybody and we all help

each other.



Bash (Robertson, joint managing partner) and I see ourselves as

marketing people who have an overview on people’s careers, not just

line-producers on people’s jobs. We have a game-plan for all our

directors and, in that way, are more like agents.



I spent a long time in ad agencies and was very conscious about brands

and building brands. Production companies have been very bad about doing

that for themselves. We chose the name Pink because it was generic. It

doesn’t mean anything and it’s not dependent on Bash or me.



PAUL WEILAND



DIRECTOR THE PAUL WEILAND FILM COMPANY



I am a director-producer, although day to day Mary Francis (managing

director) runs my company. I want to produce other directors’ talents

and take them on. It’s very satisfying. Otherwise you just become

selfish and egotistical. If they do well, I am really, really happy

It’s good for a director to be able to talk to another director without

feeling they are in competition with them. If they want nurturing - some

do and some don’t - then I have a lot of experience to offer. A producer

might not know enough about the ins and outs of editing. Only a director

can talk to another director in that way.



As a director, it’s now not cool to be seen as a businessperson. But

when directors and a producer work hand-in-hand, it can produce a very

great company. You can put your ego to bed for a bit. But that’s

probably why there are not many director-led companies out there. It’s

no good if you couldn’t take someone doing better than you. It’s quite a

bitter pill to swallow. You’ve got to feel confident with your own

ability as a director.



If I had my time again, I wouldn’t put my name on the company. As it’s

grown, I have often wished I had a more anonymous name. It is my company

but it is made up of a lot of people. Calling it Blink or Pink is

easier.



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