How is it that some smart executive hasn’t recognized the benefits of offering their cinematographer a hand in producing? Along with the Line Producer, UPM and First AD, we are acutely sensitive to the money-time-equipment-manpower conundrum. With so many critical elements under our control – and a profound understanding of how the pieces fit together under fire – we are the greatest of undiscovered gems in this arena. A good portion of our prep time is already spent huddling with directors and the rest of our collaborators in a producer-like role. Officially recognizing us as such would sanctify the relationship and encourage a more refined appreciation of our varied contributions.
Supporting this wisdom is a powerful incentive: the more focused our management skills, the more likely our photography will shine. On the post-production side, the cinematographer’s understanding of the technology not only enables clear communication with lab and digital personnel but insures the quickest path to completion. It also guards the director’s original intent for the look of the project.
At some point we’ve all seen a production become victimized by some anonymous, mid-level functionary whose only purpose seems to be stepping on dollars to pick up pennies. A Cinematographer\Producer would put an end to that nonsense and will also guarantee something that makes every executive smile – meaningful savings of time and money.
To my knowledge this idea has never been floated within the industry. But it warrants serious attention!
There are many cinematographers who also direct and directors who also produce. The step from cinematographer to producer is indeed very narrow. So what’s the big deal? The only downside would be one more name added to what already seems an endless list of producers on the crew sheet.