What is the true director/producer relationship?

My director and I completed a screenplay which we are in pre-production. We anticipate filming late May. I am financing the movie, obviously believing in it's success, I am also producer on the film.

I have always had a take charge attitude, owning another company also. This director is very good and great with helping me complete my script.

How can I light a damn fire under him? What is the director/producer relationship? I don't want to disrespect the man, but once filming starts, he is the boss. Right?

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Just remember -- what Conroy wants, Conroy Getz!

(somebody had to say it)

No, dude. The producer is the boss. At all times. For a successful production, in most cases, I'd think it's probably best for the producer to let the director do his thing. But that doesn't change the fact that you are head-honcho, from beginning to end.
How do I let him do his thing and me be in charge? Maybe I'm asking how to fit 2 lbs. of bologna in a 1 lb. bag. Thanks for your reply. I really know no one in the business besides him, like I said, I hooked my movie to him. He is a very busy individual and hopefully just a bad communicator. Maybe just venting, this probably happens alot when men battle for power.:D I'll be OK. Thanks.
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maybe hes just not into this stage.. its a lot of talk and maybe hes getting bored. "Shooting in late May" can seem like a long way off. Find him an assistant do all the crap work.

Have him shoot some tests, start filming auditions etc.. shoot something man!

Or be could be a complete a$#.
I have worked with only one producer on a consistent pre through post basis (three projects) although I've dealt with a number of others during audio post. From my experience the producer sets the parameters inside of which the director must work; this is what is meant by "the director is boss, but you are the head honcho."

You also have to keep in mind that there are various flavors of producer. There are producers who believe in a project and simply supply financing to get the project done. At the other end of the spectrum are line producers; their job is to handle all the technical aspects of a project - keeping the project on schedule and on budget, and handling all of the other technical but non-creative aspects of the project. Quite often it comes down to the director saying "I want" and the line producer figuring out how to cram it into the budget or saying "no" when s/he has to. In other words, a line producer keeps the artist (director) grounded in reality - and happily working, if that's at all possible.

Preproduction is a very involved process, especially for a feature (you haven't mentioned the project length). You have your script, so now it's time to work on the shooting script, story boards, selecting locations (and getting permits or permissions), casting, choosing key crew (who often have people with whom they like to work and need to schedule), wardrobe & make-up, and a ton of other details; you should even be thinking about post (editing, CGI, color correction and audio post) and marketing after completion. And, the most obvious, budgeting for all of these. If it's a feature you only have three months, a very short time in which to prepare, but you should be doing this even if "it's only a short" as this will prepare you for the rigors of doing a more involved project.

This should be enough to keep your director busy and interested. A thorough and complete preproduction makes for a good shoot, as you should have left very little to chance. If your director doesn't understand this and doesn't want to participate then maybe you should be looking for another director.
I would think of it like the relationship between a GM of a football team, and the head coach. The GM is the boss, and can fire the head coach, at any time, or can tell him that he needs to specifically do this or that.

However, during the game, it's probably not a very good idea for the GM to meddle in the coache's affairs. Yeah, he can if he wants. But the coach needs to be able to do his thing, and if the GM doesn't trust that the coach will deliver, then he needs a new coach.

I don't think it's such a black/white issue, though, in the indie filmmaking world. I don't think it's unusual for the producer to take an active role on the set, and in private, you might make suggestions to the director. I think it'd be a bad idea to micro-manage, though.

As a small-time no-budget indie producer, I've only once produced someone else's work, and I was also DP/camera on that set. I was a little more than DP, almost more like co-director, and I wasn't afraid to make suggestions, here and there, but ultimately, during the shoot, I did defer to him to have final say. Technically, as producer, I was boss. But as boss, I chose to defer authority on the set, because it made for a more productive shoot. I trusted him, and he delivered. :)

Have you seen "Super 8"? I have a hard time believing that Spielberg wasn't extremely hands-on for that production (probably mostly in pre, but whatever). That movie's got Spielberg written all over it.
I insist on being the “boss” on set. But I do not work in a
vacuum. I understand the needs of the producer and of the
production. I would never do anything to piss off a producer. And
I would never “battle” a producer.

Sure, I have disagreed with producers, I have fought with
producers, I have been fired and I have quit projects when we
cannot come to an agreement, but bottom line, it’s the producers
project. As the director it is my job to get on film (or tape)
what the producer wants.

There is nothing more foolish than staying with a “bad
communicator” just because you know no one else in the business.
This guy is going to walk all over you, make your life miserable,
make the shooting miserable and is very likely to make a miserable
movie. If you cannot hand over the reins when production starts
with full confidence then you are in for a miserable experience.
If you are battling for power you will never fully trust this
director will have the overall needs of the production in the

The reason I can be the “boss” on set is because I earn the trust
of the producer.
Thanks for your replies. All your answers and comments make total sense. In this new world of mine its hard to figure out what all these titles mean. I really don't give a shit what my title is, I just want to make a killer film. I want to be in on everything. He's a great guy, great director, don't think for a second that I'm upset with him. Just, in a pissing contest, I like to know where I stand. Filming an epic indie film this Summer. Hitting screens this winter! Feeling Lucky! Peace.
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Like somebody noted earlier, if he's behaving this way now, just wait until production start -- it'll be multifold more difficult. You don't need to be lighting a fire under him, instead FIRE him. There are literally thousands of directors who already have the fire you're looking for. Dump this dud.
Ahem, uhh.... just thought I'd toss it out there...

I am an experienced low-budget director, with a feature under my belt. I don't live far from Philly, I fully-understand the producer/director relationship and am pretty good at communicating ideas (communication being arguably the most important job of the director). Summer is really slow at my "day job", so I can easily take a month or two off, and I'll work for cheap! :D
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Go to your local library, check out a book or two on "Motivation", see if there's something in there to make him do what you want.

I'll echo the others saying to find yourself a new director. If he's not into it, it won't get the attention it needs if it get's finished at all. That is, find a new one after talking. Politely let him know where you're at, what you're expecting and ask him if he can get it done. There's a real chance it may not have been communicated clearly. If not, no hard feelings. Let him know he's getting credit for the writing or whatever he's helped with so far and that you'll be hiring someone else for the project.

Don't burn a bridge. You obviously like the guy, even if he doesn't do this project he may be super committed to the next. I think it's true at any level, but especially the low/no budget level: you need people on the team who feel a sense of ownership of the project. When you own something, you do whatever it takes to make it happen. That's one of the main factors we consider when we ask people to be a part of our projects. We have have people at every level of the production "hierarchy" including PA's, AD's and camera ops who use the word "our movie" instead of "your movie" or "the movie" and the commitment and level of attention to detail you get out of them is amazing. Wouldn't trade it for anything.