But these are just three sources! There are many other good and great producers who aren’t on this list, including some very established indie producer institutions like Christine Vachon, Ted Hope, Anthony Bregman, Ron Yerxa & Albert Berger, Anne Carey, etc. (you should look at Oscar nominees for those!). Other sources you can research include: Film Independent Producing Lab; Berlin Talent Campus; recent film festival program guides; recent project market guides; graduate producing students at film schools like USC, Columbia, NYU, AFI, and UCLA; personal recommendations from fellow writers and directors; and good ol’ IMDb—start by looking at who produced recent films you’ve liked.
Before approaching producers, remember to do your research on them! If your project is micro-budget you should probably skip the folks who haven’t produced a micro-budget film in the last five years. If the producer has recently gotten a new full-time job as a studio executive, an agent, or the like, she’s probably not looking for new projects to produce right now. (Ditto producers who have left the biz…many of us do!) If you’re looking for a producer to help you develop your script, attach cast, and find financing, make sure he actually has that experience, or at least the smarts and hunger to learn all that stuff on the job. Also, don’t pigeonhole a producer—just because she’s never produced a horror film before doesn’t mean that she can’t or doesn’t want to. And remember that not all “producers” are created equal – some are not actually creative/holistic producers, but rather financiers, managers, sales agents, line producers, or writers. Make sure you figure out what kind of “producer” they are.
Finally, don’t unnecessarily weigh down your project with multiple producers from the outset. Like directing, producing is an art, and too many cooks do spoil the broth. Don’t attach producer deadweight, because it’s hard to unattach. Get your lead producer on board first, then decide together whether it’s worth attaching additional producers.
Finding the right producer can be as tough as finding the right spouse. Best of luck to ya!
Mynette Louie is the president of Gamechanger Films. She is the winner of the 2013 Independent Spirit Piaget Producers Award. She produced Martha Stephens & Aaron Katz’s buddy comedy “Land Ho!,” which was recently released by Sony Pictures Classics; Tze Chun’s crime thriller Cold Comes the Night, starring Alice Eve, Logan Marshall-Green, and Bryan Cranston (Sony/Goldwyn 2014), and Chun’s critically acclaimed Children of Invention (Sundance 2009); Marshall Lewy’s California Solo starring Robert Carlyle (Sundance 2012, Strand Releasing); Patricia Benoit’s Stones in the Sun starring Edwidge Danticat (Tribeca 2012); and Doug Karr’s Art Machine starring Joseph Cross, Jessica Szohr, and Joey Lauren Adams (Woodstock 2012). Follow her on Twitter.