It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to introduce you to Executive Producer Jamee Ranta, an award winning film producer, and the CEO of Artifact Content. Her recent successes include producing Halsey’s “If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power” film with international theatrical release via AMC Theaters and a streaming release on HBOMax. She’s most notably recognized for her work as a music video producer working with artists such as Justin Bieber, Cardi B, Selena Gomez, Kendrick Lamar, Halsey, Jennifer Lopez and Demi Lovato.
Los Angeles Post Production Group: You’ve executive produced so many well-known music videos and worked with many of music’s biggest stars. What part of the work gets you most excited?
Jamee Ranta: I am most excited about the initial ideation phase and the ‘why’ factor for each concept we bring into production. There are a lot of concepts that don’t make it to production, but when you find an idea that has a purpose, an intention, or a storyline that aligns with the product or tone and lyrics of a song, it fuels the creative vision and translates for all crew members both above and below the line, bringing unity and collaboration.
LAPPG: How is the role of the Executive Producer different for a music video versus say for a feature film?
JR: I’ve done both. They are very similar when I executive produce, as I am very involved with every shoot creatively. I realize some executive producers on films are more-so investors, but that is not always the case. On the music video side, it’s typically a representative of the company and the EP takes on the financial and legal liabilities and contracts with the label/agency.
LAPPG: What are the three most important qualities someone should have to become a successful Executive Producer and why?
JR: 1. The number one most important quality is having an understanding that structure and culture are separate, yet they are both equally important to a successful production. On the structural side, there are some fundamental business responsibilities & liabilities. A lot of younger producers want to start companies because of the cultural aspects, but they don’t want the responsibilities of what that entails, such as a robust and supportive cashflow, understanding insurance policies, financial planning with a finance team on staff, having a legal team and a sense of reading and understanding legal terms and contracts, preparing for taxes, and understanding union/labor laws and safety regulations. Having this knowledge is fundamental to the longevity of your career, your employees and your company.
2. The second most important quality of an EP is having knowledge of budgeting, project planning, and overall personal & social skills on how to manage a team. I find that quality staff and longevity of creating healthy sustainable relationships are just as valuable than the artwork itself.
3. The third most important quality is having an understanding of the complete filmmaking process from ideation to delivery. Understanding the storytelling process, character arcs and cycles, understanding how to visually and audibly create emotional pulls, understanding the psychology and the juxtaposition of shots linked together and the message it portrays is critical to the filmmaking process. Also having an understanding of focal lengths, and framing as well as light and shadow to tell a story or idea, helps you to be a better filmmaker, which can help in the decision making process when it comes to hiring crew, moving money from line to line and putting it where it matters on a per project basis.
LAPPG: What obstacles did you face in the early part of your career?
JR: One of the fundamental obstacles I faced was my naivety and lack of discernment in my business relationships. I trusted everyone and never watched my blind side. While this is an ideal way to view things, it’s not always how life and business works. This industry is so exciting, and it can be full of positive and healthy environments and transactions, but it’s also full of fraud and false promises. Having a focus on a goal and a strong discernment of character before making business commitments is invaluable.
LAPPG: I’ve heard you speak about a producer having a responsibility as well as performing a service to society. Can you share an example of this with us from your career?
JR: A lot of producers agree to jobs based on budget or on the subject matter of a project.
I won’t get into specifics, but overall, it’s important to pay attention to the messages you are sending, and just like any piece of artwork, others may interpret it with their own perspective and their own lens and not necessarily as the artist intends. One thing we can do in the production phase, is to consider all perspectives on how others may receive the information displayed and do your best to create art that is mindful of the artist’s intention and express it with as much intention as possible. I strive to communicate with the artists I’m working with to make sure I’m following their vision within the constraints of budget and time.
LAPPG: You said, “I failed my way to the top,” in an article I read. Can you share an example of that and also how you use your failures to grow?
JR: Life is what you make it. Unfortunate things happen, and how you handle it is what builds character. I have failed many times and at many things in order to get where I am at today. Everything is either a blessing or a lesson. If you view life in this way, rather than good or bad, you’ll start to experience it differently. Failures are lessons intended to teach you something, and opportunities to grow.
LAPPG: I believe you mentioned that you didn’t necessarily have a mentor, but you work with Filmmakers Academy teaching production and serving as a mentor. Can you tell us why this is important for you to do?
JR: I had to learn a lot of hard lessons through trial and error and distant observations, and it was a painful process. While experience is how you grow, it’s also beneficial to start the growth process by learning under someone who has the previous experience and knowledge of the craft of producing. Having a solid mentor is a cheat code. Looking back on my experience, I wish I had a better understanding of the industry and business aspects of filmmaking. I have joined the team at Filmmakers Academy hoping to provide mentorship to up-and-coming filmmakers, offering them knowledge and tools to help ease the process.
LAPPG: What are some of the benefits to membership in an online learning platform like Filmmakers Academy?
JR: There are many benefits to online learning platforms. Some of the benefits are having the flexibility to learn on your own time, the opportunity to review the information over and over instead of a one-time opportunity, and there’s also the option to ask questions and receive feedback through online platforms.
LAPPG: What do you enjoy doing or bring your life balance outside of work?
JR: Spending time with my family and friends. At the end of the day, relationships and the human connection is why we live.