Producer to Producer, A Step-by-Step Guide to Low Budget Independent Film Producing, 2nd Edition by Maureen A. Ryan
Review by Beverly Nault
“If you are producing a film and need a guiding hand, this is the book that will be dog-eared and worn at the end of your journey.” Fritz Staudmyer, filmmaker and professor, Quinnipiac University
“Producer to Producer” is a practical how-to textbook with actionable advice, definitions, cautions, and explanations of lingo and terminology, concentrating on helping the first-time producer of a low-budget short, pilot, or narrative or documentary feature.
Tired of pitching and trying to find someone to buy your screenplay? Have you considered producing your own project? You’re not alone! More and more independent filmmakers are producing their own low to medium-budget projects than ever before.
Several developments have made the dream of page-to screen even more possible than ever before.
The transition from celluloid filmstock to digital meant the end of expensive processing that added to the cost and impeded productions with their temperamental, time-consuming development. Digital cameras, from cell phones to more sophisticated, professional equipment, have made the process easier and cheaper.
Anyone who owns a laptop or even a cell phone can access computer software specific for screenwriting. Sophisticated film editing programs provide crucial tools and special effects capabilities previously only enjoyed by large studios with unlimited resources and huge budgets.
Streaming platforms hungry for content demand shorts, features, and series suitable for both traditional mainstream and niche audiences in increasing volume. Binge-watching, small-screen capabilities, and the world market have opened opportunities for more and more filmmakers to find their audience.
However, the production process can be complicated and daunting. Many books and websites offer self-help for beginning or experienced producers.
One of the most comprehensive and revered books is the second edition of “Producer to Producer” by Maureen Ryan. An experienced producer herself, she’s compiled detailed advice from prepping a screenplay through each pre-production phase and into post, final wrap, release, and beyond into marketing.
Twenty-two chapters are separated into step-by-step details (as the title advertises), concentrating on the nitty-gritty with checklists, templates, and spreadsheets.
For example, in Chapter 3, Budgeting, she covers items such as how to break down a shoot, keep detailed spreadsheets, generate production estimates, and track cash flow.
Not a resource for creativity or camera shots, the book is a boots-on-the-ground roadmap. Beginning with a sample business proposal for fundraising to “Why a wrap party is important,” her advice includes ideas, pitfalls, and advice learned from years of experience.
Ryan also includes many relevant links and case studies. Each chapter ends with a recap of important steps covered in that section. Templates are available on her companion website, producertoproducer.com.
Ms. Ryan’s book and her website are dedicated to supporting independent film producers by sharing helpful and essential information about practical film production.
Maureen A. Ryan is an award-winning, New York City based producer. Her producing credits include Man on Wire, Dick Johnson Is Dead, Becoming, Project NIM, Stanistan, Bomber, The Gates and Red Flag. Maureen emphasizes the practical production side of film production and believes that line-producing skills are the vital foundation for any great producer. As the Director of Production/Associate Professor at Columbia University’s Film program, she oversees all student production at the MFA program and has written three books, including Producer to Producer: A Step-by-Step Guide to Low Budget Independent Film Producing, 2nd Edition and Film + Video Budgets, 6th Edition.
About Beverly Nault: Beverly Nault was a technical writer for an aerospace software company before she began writing creatively for publication. In 2011, her first novel, Fresh Start Summer, and memoir Lessons from the Mountain, What I Learned from Erin Walton, written with actor Mary McDonough, both released. Since then, Bev’s had ten novels and several short stories published. She’s been a freelance editor for fiction and non-fiction writers, a first reader for a literary agency, and staff acquisitions editor for the literary journal, Eastern Iowa Review. Bev lives in Mesa with her husband Gary where she dabbles in tennis, and excels at spoiling their three grandchildren.