Project Involve (LA): An evening with Line Producer Chris Stinson

Since we are now ready to embark on making our shorts, Line Producer, Chris Stinson, came to advice us on producing them.

Chris talked about breaking down the budget, obtaining permits for locations, buying insurance, dealing with the Unions, working with minors, product placements and keeping the crew happy.

Chris rightly presumed that we won’t have above-the-line expenses, namely we are not going to pay cast and crew. Thus he concentrated on down-The-line expenses, which includes Camera, lighting, set dressing, transportation, locations, production and post production sound, production and post production film labs, insurance, permits, unions, catering and taxes.

He also stressed on obtaining permits when shooting on Location in LA, for otherwise we could risk being stopped by the Police. That also goes for insurance, which is not only a necessity but an imperative, for unions and vendors require it. He suggested avoiding Unions (SAG, DGA, WGS, IATSE) if we can, for they can be costly, but sometime you can’t avoid them.

He also recommended exploring production placement, by which we could get a lot of free perks from companies who are eager to get their products on the screen. Some of those companies send food, some send costumes, and some send completely irrelevant items. On one feature, he received so much product placement, he couldn’t literally fit it in the office.

Chris’s talk made me wonder, if he does all this work, what is left for the producer to do? “Sit back and have a drink,” he quipped. Once a line producer is hired, he takes over the running of the production until it wraps, after which a postproduction supervisor takes over. The producer’s job is to deal with the investors and keep the money flowing.

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