The Producer’s Business Handbook by John J. Lee, Jr., Anne Marie Gillen

Reviewed by: Anya Karlin

As the book’s title implies: it is ALL about the business. If you are looking for a “how-to” for an actual shoot day—look elsewhere. That being said: if you want to know the business and legal side of how to put together a film that has a chance of being seen by a greater audience than your family and friends, and if you want to make sure you’re paid for your work (and can afford to make another film), this book can act as a great guide. It provides a very thorough introduction to the ins and outs of what it takes to be a capable, financially successful producer for independent features. It is a comprehensive overview to the business side of producing: financing, distribution, legal matters, investors, etc. Its focus is to explain the many issues producers need to be aware of in getting their product financed and distributed effectively to maximize the film’s profit.

The book opens with a brief overview of how the market side of the film industry functions. It then breaks that down further, going into the details of how to work with: U.S. theatrical distributors, international territories, and ancillary marketing, internet and DIY marketing, contracts, development and motion picture financing, the team needed for actual production, talent and talent agents/agencies, production company structure, accounting, negotiations, entertainment law, and a brief overview of a producer’s position during a shoot day.

While this book definitely gives you valuable and thorough information about the business of being a producer, it is not a good introductory text. The detail this book goes into is extensive, and it doesn’t take time to explain terms and concepts: it assumes a certain level of knowledge. However, if you know a little bit about the industry—then the Producer’s Business Handbook is an invaluable resource to understanding the full range of a producer’s duties to himself and his picture.


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