WE DON’T HAVE MONEY FOR THAT… are words a Showrunner never wants to hear.
As a Line Producer you probably pride yourself on being able to control all aspects of the production. In reality there are two areas you’re not ‘EVAH’ going to fully control; the weather and the creative. Like beautiful clouds forming an unexpected thunderhead anything on a production can change at a moments notice. Just as you’re about to get that exterior shot not only can the weather change but- the creative can change too. Those changes affect the budget and your bottom line, the one ‘you swore to uphold and protect’. When a Showrunner or an Executive Producer are immersed in the creative – they’re not thinking about the budget. They’re there to make a great series. Your job is to figure it out how to keep your bottom line and give the exec’s the creative they need.
There are several do’s and don’ts in situations where the creative has changed or you need more of what you never budgeted for, or even when the talent has needs you could NEVER have anticipated, or , or, or….
3. Make others panic or sweat
4. And most of all DON’T be a fugitive from accounting (they are your friends and can help you)
1. Remain calm
2. Make friends with accounting – long before you get into any trouble.
3. Make sure you’ve got all your Purchase Orders up-to-date and are keeping an accurate cost report
4. Go through your budget line by line and see where you’ve stashed the bucks. No, no, don’t tell me you don’t have secret stashes – there isn’t a line producer alive who doesn’t have a secret stash. Go to your hiding places, and line-by-line begin creating the scenario that gives your showrunner the ability to create the show s/he needs to create.
As a Line producer you’re there to get the series in on time and on budget. But if creatively the series sucks – there is no second season. Second seasons are important. So if the Showrunner needs that extra – somethin’, somethin’- to be able to take the episode or series to the next step – then it’s your turn to be creative, and make the money appear in a Houdini like fashion.
If, by some odd happenstance, you’re working with someone who just has consistent and unrelenting money demands that challenge even your magical abilities… then it’s time for you to have a chat with your Showrunner. But never start the conversation with – “we don’t have the money”. When the money truly has run out – then help them come up with a solution on how else they might get what they need given the financial challenges you now face.