So, what exactly does a film producer do?

Thu Jan 21, 2010 11:56pm EST
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By Alex Ben Block

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Six years after the Producers Guild of America first defined what a producer does, its Producers Code of Credits has become an invaluable tool.

The code not only helps explains who should be credited with an Oscar or Emmy, but it also gives everyone in the industry a way to determine what qualifies someone to hold the title of producer on a movie or television show.

It also happens to be a handy, credit card-sized document that unfolds into three pieces.

"So when someone says, 'I'll finance your movie, but I want a producing credit,' (filmmakers) can literally pull out this little card and say, 'Actually, financing is more of an executive producer credit,'" says Vance Van Petten, the PGA's executive director. "They love that they can say, 'No.'"

For years, the role of the producer was undervalued because almost any manager or financier who wanted to be one could muscle a credit. That was something the PGA fought passionately to change, culminating nearly five years ago when the movie Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences ruled that no more than three producers could be Oscar-nominated for any one film (a rule that has since become more flexible).

"The arbitration process at the PGA is extremely thorough," says Laurence Mark, producer of "Julie & Julia" along with last year's Oscar telecast.

"They not only get statements and questionnaires from the producers involved, but also call on costume designers, creative executives at the studios, the editors, casting directors and others to literally get a full range of opinions. They are extremely conscientious and thorough."

Limiting credits has "cut down on the abuses," says Van Petten. "It still happens but much less."   Continued...