September 13, 2022
 min read

The Producer's Business Handbook, 4th Edition

While technology continues to stunningly revolutionize production, it even more-so radically redefines producers’ relationships with their audiences. Producers’...

The following contains excerpts from the introduction to The Producer’s Business Handbook, 4th Edition, co-authored by our principle partner John Lee:

While technology continues to stunningly revolutionize production, it even more-so radically redefines producers’ relationships with their audiences. Producers’ have direct contact with their audiences via social media and other internet connections for audiences to test their concepts in development. Further, producers can use social media to brand their products through feeding target audiences project pre-release teasers and to directly receive premier and in-release screening comments from their audiences. Additionally, producers can directly distribute their content to audiences via their own and other distribution portals. Also, producers can monitor fully transparent income and audience reports from distributors. Technology is re-inventing each producers’ access to production funding, content branding, monetization and income participation.

This edition delivers updates to worksheets, spreadsheets and documents, expanded global funding and distribution resources, and provides new bridges that facilitate the success of low-budget and short-form content to studio grade theatrical release features. Some will find especially beneficial (in Chapter 5’s Ancillary Arenas, Rights and Products) the fresh opportunities revealed in the continued global stampeeding conversion to OTT (Over the Top) television-everywhere systems, the new and trending evolution of VR (virtual reality), AR (Augmented Reality) 360 and gaming.

Though powerful new tools will continue to surface that vastly improve the financing, branding, distribution and other business aspects of producing, the business fundamentals remain constant. Every production worthy of the resources necessary to produce and release it, is worth planning its packaging, funding, global partners, exploitation, branding and distribution - during its development phase - each a crucial part of successful independent production.

The Unique Need For The Producer’s Business Handbook

Even the expansive and exploding-growth of the five second to five minute projects niche, challenging producers to blow audiences away that view them on the smallest mobile screens to the biggest jumbo-trons - even each of their successes rests upon the necessary balance of exquisite story, passionately produced and melded with imaginative business planning, masterfully executed. When either business or creative holds the other captive, the project, audiences and producers suffer. Yet, when genius creative and business are combined, there is the sweet celebration of success.

Successful producing is this book’s wheelhouse. It is its purpose. For everyone related to content creation in the entertainment industry, who are committed to the success of each of their projects, this is the book that can enable and assure all stakeholders their most successful outcome.

We enjoy doing what we are good at, and most independent producers are typically strongest at production. By the significantly greater number of motion pictures around the world, at every length and budget, that are produced but either are not distributed at all, or recover far less than their costs, it is clear that those responsible for them would have been significantly benefited by becoming as able and committed to the business aspects of their projects as they were to their creative.

Encouragingly, there are independent producers who operate solid, amply funded, all projects distributed, and consistently profitable production companies. The success of these companies is not attained by accident but rather through the application of solid creative and business principles and practices that drive their ever-growing libraries and producing/ branding/financing/sales/distribution businesses.

This book provides producers the needed business tools and tutoring to be successful. Your projects, teams and partners all deserve it.

Specifically, this book demonstrates how the business of the global entertainment industry optimally works, with clarified reveals of funding, marketing and distribution – from the smallest projects to major studio releases. The principles are the same, though the execution and partners are usually different.

This book is a global orientation to the business relationships that the most successful entertainment producers have with the various participants in the industry. This includes how these producers direct their relationships with domestic and international distributors and sales agents, talent agencies, attorneys, talent, completion guarantors, banks, and private investors.

These most successful producers are “Balanced,” giving equal weight to the creative, audience, investment/profits aspects of each of their projects. Early in each project’s development they begin with its end in mind.

This edition does not cover content creation pre, production and post processes. There are many excellent books well addressing this genius-required work. We recommend Focal Press’s The Complete Film Production Handbook.

The Producer’s Internal Greenlight

As there is no natural relationship between the production cost of a project and its earnings capacity; this book provides a thorough orientation to the producer’s business evaluation of each project. The center of this process is each picture’s producer’s internal greenlight analysis and is the discovery of the proportional relationship of the producer’s share of global profits, compared with that project’s all-in production cost: its earnings-to-cost ratio. Each picture’s internal greenlight results indicate its business feasibility and point to its likely funding sources, global distribution processes and partners, optimal release time of year, distribution costs, global target audiences, ancillary products, branding and marketing strategies.

This volume also contains the producer’s thorough orientation to planning, organizing, and operating an entertainment production company. This necessarily looks at development, production, and distribution as overlapping yet separate operations, almost always costed separately and most effectively operated by the producer’s production holding company through its separate entities. The business aspects of these processes are articulated from solicitation of literary properties, through to direct rights sales and the management of global distribution relationships. Also presented is an in-depth discussion of the team needed to accomplish these operations, as well as how to find and attach them.

The Book’s Website Resources

Additionally, there are worksheets and instructions for the business processes of development, financing, and distribution, which are used by some of the industry’s consistently profitable production companies.

To assist readers in a deeper understanding and for use within their own companies, a website has been created for your use. On it you will have access to down-loadable copies of the following files:

1. Picture Campaign Signature Analysis

2. Comparative Picture Analysis

3. Producer’s Global Income Share Analysis

4. Production Funding Worksheet: Financing Plan

5. Project Development and Production Activity Projection

6. Project Development and Production Cash Flow Projection

7. The Production Company Model

8. The Development Company Model

9. Most Successful U.S. Motion Pictures of All Time

10. Literary Release Sample

This book provides both instruction and worksheet support to independent producers at all levels of industry experience. Specifically, to:

  1. Provide experienced producers (as well as directors, writers, and other entertainment professionals), the entertainment industry business understanding, structures, and tools that well match their already hard-won creative experience, abilities, and resources. Often the difference between success and failure hinges on an inspired producer’s ability to dynamically and equally engage formidable creative prowess with the full spectrum of business resources and relationships within their reach. This book opens to producers the full-aperture view of the entertainment business and provides the tools and instructions they need to engage all aspects of funding and exploiting their projects. It provides the capacity to operate predictably profitable production organizations.
  2. Arm entry-level producers with an understanding of how the entertainment industry operates, plot their most promising path to achieve their independent producing objectives, and provide documentation as well as relationship and operational support they will need to succeed as a Balanced Producer.
  3. Provides those with vision and who may be asking for it, (A) an unprecedented opportunity to get in front of the content demands of the technologies that will redefine the most powerful means of telling stories worthy of their audiences, and (B) to retell some of the greatest stories ever produced, and some that are yet to be produced, in a manner they have yet to be told- using current technology.

New to the 4th Edition:

  • Included are the latest opportunities created by the rapid global conversion to OTT and changing technologies’ impact on branding, monetizing, funding and globally releasing content. Also included are new opportunities from the explosive growth of VR, AR, 360 and gaming.
  • The new Production Financing Worksheet is a producer’s must-have.
  • Comprehensive new media, financing, and distribution updates of all chapters
  • Expanded global focus and references
  • Internet marketing & DIY distribution
  • Financing sources
  • Access to a website providing spreadsheets available nowhere else: Financing Worksheet, greenlighting worksheets, film comparables, activity and cash flow projections, and more.
  • Gain a comprehensive understanding of the business of entertainment and learn to successfully engage in all aspects of global production. Learn how to cultivate relationships with key global industry players including studios, agencies, attorneys, talent, completion guarantors, banks, and private investors.
  • Completely updated production financing worksheets – an essential tool for producers.
  • Expanded information for low-budget independent producers, internationally-based producers, producers using government funding, and film school students alike.
  • Coverage of China’s changing entertainment landscape, including their entertainment consumption and their commitment to produce content for the big global territories.

Producer’s Business Handbook Reviews for the 4th Edition

“As a die-hard independent producer of over 700 TV shows and 15 movies, I wish this book had been available at the start of my career! If so, I would have avoided a decade or so of discovery from the school of hard knocks. Whether you are producing for the big screen or the smaller ones, I recommend you read, study and use this latest edition of The Producer’s Business Handbook as part of readying your projects for the myriad of possible revenue streams that will make all your hard work much more rewarding. John Lee and Anne Marie Gillen’s book is a brightly-illuminated path through the otherwise very murky waters of finance and distribution.”

—Steve Ecclesine, Independent Producer of 15 Motion Pictures and over 700 TV Episodes

“This is the single best work on financing independent films. The landscape of the film business is changing rapidly, and this is one of the only books addressing two of the most difficult aspects: financing and distribution. There is more to financing a film than developing a business plan. This book shows practical, in-depth information, efficiently written and presented.”

—Don Smith, Associate Chair & Associate Professor, Film & Video Department, Columbia College

“This is a timely book, detailing a proven method for success and providing relevant data for both investors and filmmakers.”      

—Jillian Alexander, Managing Director, Conduit Consulting LLC.; Former VP of Corporate Development, Sony Pictures Entertainment; Member of Sony US Ventures Team

PurchaseThe Producer’s Business Handbook.

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