Interview with Film Producer - Muireann Price

Muireann Price is Film Producer based in London UK. A Film Producer oversees the making of a film, they are present throughout the whole production process from finding the screenplay to distributing the film.

In the following interview Muireann shares her love of the job role, how to get started and her advice for students hoping to pursue producing.

 
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Why did you decide to be a producer above all other industry job roles?

Producing was something I discovered as I began working in television and film. I didn’t really know what the job was before, but the more I dipped my toe in, the more I learnt that it was something that I was good at, enjoyed and found interesting and rewarding.

I often describe the producer as being the overarching umbrella of a production. A producer will be involved in every department and will help balance creative ideas against budgetary demands. I’ve always enjoyed the collaborative aspect of filmmaking and working with people. As a producer, you’re in close contact with pretty much everyone on the shoot. A producer will typically be involved from the very start of the project to the very end, which is something I really enjoy.

It’s so rewarding seeing something grow from a germ of an idea, to the big screen. Because the job is so vast you often get different types of producers. Technical producers will draw up the budget and make sure the shoot doesn’t go over. Creative producers are more focused on the script and help sculpt the story (whilst making sure nothing is written that can’t actually be achieved). I do a bit of both. I like that the job can be shaped, to a certain extent, from person to person and job to job.

I often describe the producer as being the overarching umbrella of a production

Did you attend film school or study film at university?

I studied Theatre, Film and Television at Bristol University. I actually began University thinking I wanted a career in theatre. I did the course because it was considered to be a good one at the time. I was really worried about how I’d deal with the film and TV elements because I ‘wasn’t technical’, but decided to just give them a go and drop as many of those modules as I could. It may have been because the theatre studied at Bristol ended up being mainly ‘performance art’ (no judgement, just not my bag!), but I started to realise that I enjoyed the film and TV modules much more.

And not being technical didn’t seem to be a problem as I learnt there were tons of jobs that meant I didn’t have to operate a camera. I also met my best friend on the course and we started writing a sketch show together. We thought that a prime-time slot on the BBC would be perfect for us (!) and so I began to look into jobs in television, which then lead to film. A lot of people I studied with actually ended up with very different careers to what they first hand in mind.

What was your first job in film and how did you progress to producer?

My first ever job was as production secretary on series 2 of The Inbetweeners. I got it because the commissioner, Caroline Leddy at Channel 4, agreed to have an informal chat and give me some careers advise through a very tenuous, mutual contact. I went into meet her in the C4 canteen wearing a full-blown power suit my Mum had bought me to ‘make an impression’ in interviews. Worth noting that most people in film and TV dress very casually so this was a little off point to say the least!

Caroline told me that she’d just commissioned a second series of The Inbetweeners and I should meet one of the writers, Iain Morris, as he was looking for a new PA. After meeting Iain and various other people at the production company they offered me the role of production secretary on the show. I found out, years later, that Iain hadn’t actually been looking for a PA at all. He’d been late for a meeting with Caroline and blamed it on being ‘between assistants’. He agreed to meet me so as not to piss her off/ reveal his lie and luckily for me this meant I got my first job!

After that I spent a lot of time working in production as a production secretary and then as a coordinator. While I was working on a drama about the London riots, the director and I came up with the idea for a low budget feature. I then did one more coordinating job and saved up some money so I could take the Summer out and work for free writing and producing this low budget feature. I was able to pool together the people I’d met on the TV jobs and bought in assistants looking to step up to HODs (Heads of Department). It was the most amazing experience, spending a Summer being our own boss and having the creative freedom to make a film, on a shoe string budget, about exactly what we wanted.

Love me till Monday ended up being my debut feature and surpassed all our expectations critically and commercially. The crew and cast also became friends for life and I’ve gone on to work with them time and time again.

It was the most amazing experience, spending a Summer being our own boss and having the creative freedom to make a film

What film projects are you working on right now?

I now work in house at Double M Films with filmmaker Marcus Markou. Last year we set up the company Movie Collective; a film financing venture with the public, with the aim of getting more independent films made. We launched this with Hollywood Producer Cassian Elwes and so we span both London and LA.

The first Movie Collective feature, Utopia Road, is set to shoot in the Spring. We are also currently developing a whole host of projects including Crazy Blue – a feel good, British film about the unlikely friendship between a forgotten pop star and a wayward teen, a TV reboot of the 80s film Oxford Blues and, most recently, a film about a 15-year-old Syrian refugee living in Yorkshire. 

What advice would you give to those hoping to pursue a career in producing?

Firstly – give yourself a producing job! It’s unlikely that anyone else will initially so go off and create your own work and prove that you can do it. Get together your writer, actor, camera friends, the people you know who want to be make-up and costume designers etc. It’s amazing what you can do with next to no money, the right people and the right attitude. It doesn’t need to be a full-blown feature; go and make a short film with your friends. It doesn’t matter if it’s a disaster – it likely won’t be and, if so, you will have learnt what not to do next time. The more of these ‘passion projects’ you do, the more you learn, the more your confidence will grow, you’ll build up a body of work and hopefully soon you’ll be hired in to produce or receive funding for your work.

My second piece of advice is to have a B job that will add a string to your producers bow.  When I left University, I was in a position where financially I had to work. It didn’t feel like it at the time but looking back it was invaluable. I worked as a production coordinator for many years, which I hated at the time, but it allowed me to gain a good overview and understanding of all departments.

The more of these ‘passion projects’ you do, the more you learn, the more your confidence will grow

It’s often difficult to balance your B job with what you actually want to do. As a coordinator, you work crazy hours and sometimes 6 day weeks when a project is shooting. The upside is that the jobs are contract based and so it’s good to try and take time off, in between, to work on your passion projects. I later went on to work in casting, between producing jobs, and worked as a casting associate on big budget films.

This has been an invaluable skill for producing and something that not every producer is able to do. It wasn’t strategic at the time but having those B jobs really helped me become a better producer.

You can follow Muireann on Twitter Here

Websites - Double M Films | Movie Collective

Resources - How to be a Film Producer Complete Guide