Producing is all I do and the only credit I get. The meaning and value of that credit erodes all the time as financiers and packagers and directors seek to share it. I do something very specific though that none of those other collaborators do. I am there from the very beginning until the very end doing my best to make sure that the best team assembled, best environment created, best film made, full potential realized, best release and marketing strategy conceived, and maximum revenue (within those other considerations) achieved. It is my role to make sure that all options are considered and the ramification of each choice considered in advance.
I contribute to the script but take no credit -- yet people comment how "my body of work" has common themes and threads. I help design the production, from the look, to the cast, to the crew, to the rhythm, to the tone, to the marketing -- yet people don't think my credit is a creative one (because it has been undervalued by all those that glom on to it). I strategize how to make the film go from an idea or concept into reality -- I make the film inevitable, with attachments, with financing, with distribution, with an audience, yet somehow the industry thinks producers are interchangeable. The industry encourages that I do a volume business so that they can "service" their clients, yet they give me no support, be it financial or just reinforcement (if a project is not ready or a collaborator not a financial asset, I am the one that must deliver the news -- and even if they agree with me, they take the side of the client).
Six years ago I was one of two key witnesses in the successful anti-trust suit against the MPAA and Studios' Screener Ban. One of the reasons we won was that the judge recognized that my livelihood was dependent not on singular films, but on the perception of my key creative role in a string of films that had a critical, commercial, and cultural impact (and how the added boost screeners gave my films was essential). Since that time, I have witnessed the devaluing of the producer credit as never before.
We are in incredibly tough times for "quality" projects. Fewer get released. Fewer get financed. The budgets come down, and with them come lower fees. It has never been this hard over the last twenty years. When I ask myself "how am I going to survive making the kind of films I do, the kind of films I love?" my one real hope is a deepening understanding of what I bring to a project. And to me that is a deepening understanding of what it is to produce.