INFLUENCER: Frances Royle, Founder of Royle Productions, on the responsibility and accountability that comes with ‘the best job in the world’
Reacting to Louisa Thomson’s recent ‘The Increasing Need for Great Producers’ article, Royle Productions founder, Frances Royle, explains why the role of the producer remains so vital, and reminds up-and-coming producers to ensure they understand the responsibilities of their position.
I really enjoyed reading Louisa’s piece, and it got me thinking more broadly about the job a producer does and just how much the demands have evolved.
We lead the charge in all things execution. Our stealth and diplomatic leadership enable a creative collaboration with all of our amazing creative partners. Our hats change frequently, from account man to producer, creative, lawyer, A&R, diplomat, negotiator, talent scout or IP specialist, but ultimately we are the “Creative Problem Solvers”, here to make the impossible possible - and that’s the best challenge!
But what makes a truly great producer? Prior to Royle Productions, during my time at BBH, I was lucky enough to work with, and develop, some of the industry’s best producers - a legacy that has delivered at least 10 ‘Heads of’.
Whilst there are many great producers established in the industry, there seems to be a dearth of properly trained producers rising up through the ranks. Somehow, everyone seems to have “producer” as their title these days! Be it integrated, content, creative, super or project producer, many seem to be ‘Jack of all Trades’ with minimal experience to merit the title.
A producer’s role comes with massive responsibility and great accountability. Firstly, we’re responsible for breathing life into an idea… or killing it! Can it be made in the time? And within budget? Will Clearcast even approve it?
Brands trust us with their money, regardless of what end of the budget spectrum it is. If it’s a TV commercial, then the sum is usually the biggest spend after media, and producers should know how to skilfully negotiate - not just accept the first price given - as well as possess the expertise and knowledge to fully dissect a 14-page production company estimate. Believe me, that’s a skill.
Without wanting to sound like a dinosaur, when I was being trained back in the early '90s, we were assisted and mentored by our producers for up to four years. We were sent on every relevant course possible (presenting, negotiation, APA, IPA), but these days, judging by the copious amount of CVs I read, it seems like the training period has been skipped and, rather than climbing the ladder, people take one step up to earn the producer title after their very first production project.
Like any specialism, producers need to earn their stripes and it takes time, passion and dedication to become great. Along with the creative vision, leadership, a can-do attitude and encyclopaedic knowledge of global directors from decades past to the current day, experience is the key. Whilst transforming an idea into a brilliantly executed spot is so exciting, there is huge risk and endless pitfalls, which require knowledge, rigour and a PHD in common sense and initiative to navigate. Without them, significant sums can be squandered, extravagant extras incurred and lawsuits brought, whether it be passing off a music track or infringing copyright.
Producing is the best job in the world. In my early days I would be reluctant to go on holiday as I loved my job so much. It’s a passion that I hope will never fade. But as more pressure is placed at our door to deliver faster and cheaper, with no compromise on quality, only the best producers will be able to adapt and, ultimately, deliver.
I want to continue to employ and train the best producers in the industry, given the impact they can have on our clients’ business as well as the work. So to the aspiring producers out there - learn your craft, stay calm, question everything, add value and remain positive at all times!