RealJobs: Michael Rossi

People always wonder what a Producer actually does. As the Producer of a film or a television series, you are basically in charge of pulling everything off, top to bottom. What I like about it is that you are involved with every step of the process, from research and development in pre-production, to managing film crews on set during production, to continuing on through post-production to manage the process of editing. There are plenty of niches in each of these stages and the size and budget of the production determines how many people are around to assist with all of these tasks. Big budget feature films are very complicated to make, and they require a lot of people to do very specific jobs efficiently and at a high level. That is why you see such a huge list of credits at the end of major motion pictures.

Documentary film is a much more intimate filmmaking experience for a number of reasons. First off, the budgets are smaller, which inherently creates a smaller footprint of equipment and crew. Working with a smaller budget also means you have to learn and do more than just one thing, which I really like. I’ve always been interested in cameras, so I enjoy doing cinematography on my films and other projects when I can. I also enjoy editing, so I’ve made sure to keep perfecting that craft since starting my career. Most of all, I enjoy telling stories, so producing and directing are very important to me creatively as I am able to make personal connections.

Last month I began working on another historical documentary for the PBS series American Experience about the construction of Pennsylvania Station in New York City. Having just relocated to Brooklyn two years ago, I’m excited to be working on a story about the place I am living in. We are in the very first stage of pre-production, where we are researching the topic from as many angles as we can. This means lots of reading and many trips to the library – I usually have hundreds of books checked out in my name from various libraries for a one-hour film. I love this stage, because it is when I begin to make the personal connections with the voices that will be in the film and the images that will populate the screen. The fact that I am able to relate with the subject matter given my proximity to the epicenter of the story makes it that much more compelling. It’s impossible to relay the experience I have from working on these projects in a blog. But the hope is that some of the emotional interaction finds its way through the medium in the final film.

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