Describe your job – what does a producer do?
One of the things that I love about it is that there’s no such thing as a typical day. Every day is completely different. So I’ll work on – well, today is probably as good of example as anything else. So I started the day working on finalizing an album project for a band – the final stages of mixing the last couple songs, and getting that all together before that goes out for mastering.
Then I jumped into a music search for a documentary film. They are looking for music from both independent artists as well as needle drop library music. We do a lot of licensing of both of those kinds of music. Music supervision is the job role [there]. And that’s one of my favorite things to do. It’s really fun. I do it more often for ads than for films, but it’s really fun to get to do it on films. I got to supervise the music for this full feature that we are going to finish tomorrow, and it’s just – it’s really fun to get to sort of just have that much creative control over a film, ‘cause it really – the music totally steers your emotions. And especially this was a really emotional topic. It was about school teachers who go travel to Africa to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, and they go visit orphanage, and all sorts of other things. It’s one of the most creative parts about the job, and I just love being able to do it. And we’ve done probably 7 or 8 features already this year, which has been great.
Then I spent the afternoon doing, what? Let’s see. Choosing music for some web videos for just a travel company. And there’s always a lot of communication that’s a part of the producer job, so I’m on the phone a lot, talking with potential clients or bands who want to come in and record, and people looking for information about the process and all that sort of thing.
Business development is the other part of my job. Reaching out to film production companies, advertising agencies, basically anybody who can use high-end audio services. I wouldn’t quite call it sales, but it’s – there’s a component of that to it, definitely. It’s a lot of different things. And it makes it challenging to try to focus on anything, because I’m rarely dedicated to one thing for more than a few minutes before something else interrupts. It’s amazing how many people believe they have audio emergencies. So there’s a lot of putting out fires. But that’s part of what makes it fun. There’s never been the same day twice. There never will be. And yes, it’s always interesting. And I get to work with really smart people, whether it’s the filmmakers or ad agency people. For whatever reason, that those – the industries that we interact with tend to attract really smart people. It’s stimulating to stay on your toes all the time.
Would you consider this job to be solitary or collaborative?
It’s definitely collaborative. I bet in a typical 10-hour day, I have maybe 1 hour total where I’m not interfacing with at least 1 other person, whether it’s an engineer or a client or another producer. Whatever. It’s always partnering up with somebody in one way or another.
What’s the best part of your job?
Just being able to come in to this place – and people are paying lots of money to get the privilege of coming in here. To come in here and get paid to do stuff that I love to do is ridiculous. It’s totally ridiculous. And everybody in this building feels the same way. Everybody here is a lifelong employee. The other thing that makes it probably better than most recording studios is the culture here. We’re about 10 people, and everybody shares in the profits of the studio. The founder of the studio distributes profit sharing every quarter to everyone. So everybody kind of has a little bit of skin in the game, and nobody’s punching a clock. I think that helps too, knowing that all anybody cares about is the success of the project and the success of the studio, and nobody’s looking to get out of here at 5:00 or just bring home a paycheck.
What’s the worst part?
Probably the scattered nature of it. Just how fragmented my day is. There’s – while it keeps things interesting, it’s also really challenging sometimes, if I’m trying to do music supervision on a feature length film and I can’t even get through 5 minutes of it before a phone call comes in, that’s really challenging and occasionally frustrating.
A good challenge to have, though.
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Too much going on is a good thing.
Is there something in particular that you think someone in this job has to enjoy doing, and that if you don’t like doing this thing you should just avoid it entirely?
Probably that very thing [the distractions]. The ability to jump from A to B back to A to C back to B to A to – just being able to jump in and out of things all day long. And that might be something that’s not necessarily typical of other recording studios, but because we stay so busy and because we try to stay lean – we don’t want to overstaff, so everybody is very busy all day long, and you’ve got to be able to just jump around and turn on a dime all day long, especially with the advertising projects. The turnaround times are insane. And it often requires really late nights. There are some times where we’ll be working on a 30-second TV commercial that will take all day long and then go into the night, and then a few hours sleep, into the next day, and into the next night. It can be pretty grueling.
What’s one of the coolest things you’ve gotten to do in your job?
One of the last films that we just worked on won an Oscar for best documentary, and that was pretty awesome. So just being – even though I wasn’t a major part of that, – I was the producer on it, and that was pretty amazing. And getting to work with musicians, whether they’re famous musicians or local musicians, and with actors. People, whether they might be just sort of local level voice over actors or Denis Leary, Brooke Shields; all sorts of people in here doing commercial work or television stuff. That’s pretty neat too.
I remember you posting that Henry Rollins dropped by.
Yeah, that was right up there. He was one of the coolest people we’ve ever had in. He was just awesome, as you’d expect.