How to Navigate the Film Director / Producer Relationship

Hosted by Tai Duncan

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Tai Duncan

Webinar hosted by: Tai Duncan

President of Production at Zero Gravity Management

As President of Production at Zero Gravity Management, Tai Duncan oversees film projects from inception to completion encompassing all aspects of development, casting, finance and production. Zero Gravity is a production and management company based in Los Angeles that boasts a strong client list of screenwriters, directors, actors and financiers for feature films and television.   Tai Duncan recently produced PROUD MARY for Screen Gems starring Taraji P. Henson and HOW IT ENDS for Netflix starring Theo James and Forest Whitaker, HONEST THIEF starring Liam Neeson and THE MARKSMAN starring Liam Neeson. Zero Gravity produced the Warner Brothers, Ben Affleck starring action/thriller THE ACCOUNTANT, the drama A FAMILY MAN starring Gerard Butler and Willem Dafoe and Executive Produced the hit Netflix television show OZARK starring Jason Bateman.   Prior to his time at Zero Gravity Management Tai was a producer and Senior Vice President at Paul Schiff Productions, contributing to the feature films: MONA LISA SMILE (Sony Pictures Entertainment), WALKING TALL (MGM), HOOLIGANS (Odd Lot Entertainment) DATE MOVIE, and EPIC MOVIE (New Regency/20th Century Fox).   Prior to working with Paul Schiff, Tai worked as an executive at The Donners’ Company, primarily focusing on identifying and procuring new projects and contributing to the creative aspects of the following films: TIMELINE (Paramount), CONSTANTINE (Warner Brothers), XMEN 2 (20th Century Fox) and OUT COLD (Buena Vista/Spyglass Entertainment).   Before his time at The Donners’ Company, Tai started in the agent trainee program at the United Talent Agency (UTA). Full Bio »

Webinar Summary

History is littered with the bones of many failed films which fell apart due to conflicts between the director and producer. While you'll often hear how important it is for a filmmaker to have relationships with all the vital players and department heads on his or her set (and it certainly is), the reality is that the relationship between the director and the lead producer is the one that will begin the earliest and last the longest throughout a particular project. A healthy, cohesive relationship between the film director and the producer will show the cast and crew that a united front has been formed and that everyone is pulling in the same direction. An unhealthy, bifurcated relationship will put the cast and crew on their heels, which will inevitably hurt the project. 

Directors and producers are often people of vision and power. Harnessed correctly and collaboratively, that combination can bring out the best in everyone and help to make a project stay on time, on budget, and on message and voice.  Harnessed incorrectly, ego and hubris take over. It may seem obvious that communication is the key to assuring that the relationship flourishes, and that's not totally untrue. But the key to a productive and positive relationship between the director and producer is understanding all aspects of what needs to get done, recognizing what the other person's needs are, defining what's worth standing up for and what's worth letting go, and recognizing that at the end of the day, you're both fighting for the same result.

As President of Production at Zero Gravity Management, Tai Duncan oversees film projects from inception to completion encompassing all aspects of development, casting, finance and production. Zero Gravity is a production and management company based in Los Angeles that boasts a strong client list of screenwriters, directors, actors and financiers for feature films and television. Tai recently produced PROUD MARY for Screen Gems starring Taraji P. Henson and HOW IT ENDS for Netflix starring Theo James and Forest Whitaker, HONEST THIEF starring Liam Neeson and THE MARKSMAN starring Liam Neeson. Zero Gravity produced the Warner Brothers, Ben Affleck starring action/thriller THE ACCOUNTANT, the drama A FAMILY MAN starring Gerard Butler and Willem Dafoe and Executive Produced the hit Netflix television show OZARK starring Jason Bateman.
 
Needless to say, as an on set producer, Tai knows a thing or two about the director/producer relationship including the pitfalls and the paths to glory. Beginning with pre-production, Tai will take you what steps you will need to take from moment one to forge a productive relationship that will last through post and beyond. Tai will talk about the steps you need to make to assure you are communicating clearly and effectively. He will talk you through script notes, casting, hiring crew, location scouting and scheduling. Moving on to production, Tai will teach you how to keep things smooth on set, how t manage disagreements, scheduling and money issues, and the push and pull between what a director wants and what he or she has in the can. Tai will then move on to post, and how to manage expectations during the assembly cut and the director's cut. He will discuss scoring, sound and color, sales and marketing, festival approaches, and even distribution strategies so that everyone is fully communicating and staying on the same page throughout.
 
"Don't allow a failed relationship, miscommunication or misplaced ego sabotage all the work and effort that's gone in to putting a project together. Cohesiveness begins at the top and must continue throughout the project. I'll show you how to get it done."
- Tai Duncan
 

What You'll Learn

 
Navigating the Relationship During Pre-Production
  • What steps you need to take to make sure that you're communicating effectively
  • Script notes and development
  • Casting
  • Hiring crew
  • Location scouting
  • Scheduling
 
Navigating the Relationship During Production
  • How to keep things moving smoothly on set
  • What to do if disagreements happen
  • What happens in a director wants a shot, but the production needs to move
  • What to do when/if money starts to run out
  • The push and pull between what you want and what you have
  • Setting yourself up for success in post during production
 
Navigating the Relationship During Post-Production
  • Managing expectations on what goes into the assembly cut
  • How to manage a director's vision for the cut film when time needs to be trimmed
  • How to work through the score that everyone can agree on
  • When to take over the movie
  • Sound/color
  • Sales/marketing
  • Festival approaches
  • Release and distribution

Q&A with Tai

About Your Instructor

As President of Production at Zero Gravity Management, Tai Duncan oversees film projects from inception to completion encompassing all aspects of development, casting, finance and production. Zero Gravity is a production and management company based in Los Angeles that boasts a strong client list of screenwriters, directors, actors and financiers for feature films and television.
 
Tai Duncan recently produced PROUD MARY for Screen Gems starring Taraji P. Henson and HOW IT ENDS for Netflix starring Theo James and Forest Whitaker, HONEST THIEF starring Liam Neeson and THE MARKSMAN starring Liam Neeson. Zero Gravity produced the Warner Brothers, Ben Affleck starring action/thriller THE ACCOUNTANT, the drama A FAMILY MAN starring Gerard Butler and Willem Dafoe and Executive Produced the hit Netflix television show OZARK starring Jason Bateman.
 
Prior to his time at Zero Gravity Management Tai was a producer and Senior Vice President at Paul Schiff Productions, contributing to the feature films: MONA LISA SMILE (Sony Pictures Entertainment), WALKING TALL (MGM), HOOLIGANS (Odd Lot Entertainment) DATE MOVIE, and EPIC MOVIE (New Regency/20th Century Fox).
 
Prior to working with Paul Schiff, Tai worked as an executive at The Donners’ Company, primarily focusing on identifying and procuring new projects and contributing to the creative aspects of the following films: TIMELINE (Paramount), CONSTANTINE (Warner Brothers), XMEN 2 (20th Century Fox) and OUT COLD (Buena Vista/Spyglass Entertainment).
 
Before his time at The Donners’ Company, Tai started in the agent trainee program at the United Talent Agency (UTA).

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