Creative Producing – tautology and balancing act


An update from my last blog as promised.

After a provocative discussion with writers, producers and directors yesterday at Mountview, joined by the eminent David Glass, I am more convinced than ever of the need to continue with the rather , some would say unnecessary, tautological name for our Mountview course – the MA in Creative Producing. The gathering came at our invitation following a heated but respectful debate on Facebook between, creative producer, Daisy Hale and director David on the state of the world and the role of the producer.

David arrived with a self-confessed agenda, grapes, some balls and a wish to provoke. The MA students arrived to meet a man they did not know with a challenge and an open mind,   After a quite heated exploration the session began to reveal the creative passion and skill of a number of those present. Others chose to quietly watch the respectful but powerful debate about the making of art now and into the future.

Why is our course needed for “creative producing”. As David said of his friend Pina Bausch – she didn’t get up each morning and decide to be creative. And of his friend David Hare, he doesn’t describe himself as a creative writer – although the courses he may teach on may be called creative writing courses.

For at least some of those present there seemed a genuine misunderstanding of the role of an independent creative producer. As Julius Green reminds us in his excellent, if harrowing, book on being a West End Producer, the dictionary definition of a producer is someone who creates something, and a director someone who moves something around. Not as was being suggested, a producer sits on the left side of the director and focuses on sorting out meetings and budgets. Meanwhile the director sits on the right to engage the creative brain in a meeting.

I so look forward to sharing my passion for creative producing with other MA students and courses who, in some cases, see the role as a later addition to the creative process. I’ve not had that chance yet.

There was a fascinating counter argument about the role of director/writer and producer working in close partnership to make stuff happen.   Yes of course there will be times when a producer is appointed to work for an artistic director as a deliverer and exploiter of the director’s creative vision. But that means applying and getting a job – and the joy of the independent creative producer is that they can make their own work, and make jobs happen for others.

Stephen Lowe told me today of a conversation he had with legendary director William Gaskill as they walked the Hoe in Plymouth.  Stephen: “What makes Talent?”  Bill: (after a pause) “It’s finding the work?”   Directors, producers, and writers can, and must, be prepared to find (and then make or conceive) the work, hopefully working in creative collaboration.  A balancing act between producer and director/writer with mutual respect and dependency.

For us at Mountview, and I am sure the creative producing courses at Birkbeck and Central, we are nurturing and championing the independent creative who can make their own way, changing the world one tiny step at a time.

In our one hour session we touched on Philip Gaulier, Messrs Bausch and Hare, Augusto Boal, Jeremy Corbyn, The Matrix, Angelina Jolie, Columbia, Germany, Portugal, Bournemouth, The West End, Thatcher and her legacies over 30 years, unemployment, Starbucks and creativity. Those with 5 decades, and those with less than 5 years in the business, showed their passion and desire to get up each morning and be creative.

I hope the discussion left the writers returning to their room to create with some great provocations, and the director returning to their rehearsal room to marshal the forces with some new thoughts. It definitely spilled over to our next producer session with passion and strong debate inspired by David’s visit and fuelled by his grapes.

For me there is a lot of work to do across the creative industries before we can afford to uncouple the word creative from the word producer.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *