Making a film is hard. Making a film and raising a child is harder. However, I did find that by becoming a mom, I learned new and more efficient skills to be a better producer. Who else could function on almost no sleep, change a diaper in less than 30 seconds, change your child’s clothes with one hand, do the laundry, make dinner and make a movie all at the same time? Many of Hollywood’s top producers such as Emma Thomas (pictured with 4 kids with hubby Christopher Nolan, produced Inception, and the new Batman franchise) and Kathleen Kennedy (two kids, President of Lucas Films) are moms as well as leaders in their field- and here’s why:
1. They are used to cleaning other people’s shit
I don’t think I need to get too graphic on the mom duties here but as a producer there are countless times when you have to clean up someone’s shit. Actors cancel or are late, costumes don’t fit, caterer brought all meat dishes for your vegan cast etc. and it’s your job to make it all run smoothly.
2. They are Queen organizers
Bills, recipes and parenting magazines filed away neatly in the closet; baby’s room has a separate boxes for books and toys; colour coded footy jammies stacked in the drawer. Organization is a necessity for moms to keep the house from looking like a train ran through it. Without this skill as a producer, your film will not come together as the artistic equivalent of tidily tucked away onesies. Strong organizing skills will ensure your film gets in the can on time and on budget.
3. They can negotiate
Lets see Bruce Willis try to talk a toddler down from watching her tenth consecutive viewing of Dora the Explorer . As a producer, you must make a deal for everything on set from the equipment to crew to locations etc. Even if you’re using your brother’s car, you need to negotiate with him to let you use it and trust you that you wont crash it.
4. They know how to say no
When it’s time to say no a mom knows how to even when her toddler throws themselves on the floor and cries. Producers do this every day. Your job is to say NO and make sure that everything goes to budget and time. God knows that at times it may feel like dealing with a bunch of toddlers! No, you can’t have that helicopter in that scene, No, you can’t have 2 more hours to shoot with this actor and No, you can’t have private masseuse in your trailer!
5. They count to 10 and take a big breath in
This is something that you quickly learn is an asset to not make yourself go stir crazy when dealing with a child at any age. They change their minds in less than a second and throw tantrums for everything and anything. Patience is not only key for producers, but it is essential. There is no other way to be sane when dealing with the weight of all of the people who are involved in making a movie. How else can do deal with your diva DP who wants to use a dolly and a crane for every shot??
6. They eat humble pie
Looking at your child walking her first steps really puts life in perspective. Ego goes out the door and you surrender yourself to this beautiful creature you have created. Use this is your work. Ego will almost always get in the way of your work. Being humble will bring you a long way. I used to think that I was able to do it all on my own and what I thought was the best idea. I quickly learned that listening to others ideas and taking advice can help you and make your project better. Plus people will like you better and will want to work with you again.
7. They are creative thinkers
Being a mom must be the most creative job there is. You are constantly finding new ways to get your child to eat, get your child to sleep, get your child to stop crying and get your child to go to the potty! Producers are also the most creative of the bunch. They are the ones who make that micro budget magically stretch into a super budget, convince top quality crew to work for low quality money and get that top location that no one else has.
8. They perfect the art of multitasking
Time management a concept – making breakfast, changing diapers, going to play dates, nap time, more diapers, more play dates and what the fuck am I going to make for dinner??? As a producer, multitasking is essential for your 25 hour day. Doing 10 things at once is a given. Having mommy skills to do it makes it a walk in the park… without your baby.