There are a few basic principles to keep in mind when taking on the role of producer. I play the role of producer in my production company. I produce a handful of television programs broadcast on various platforms domestically and abroad. But in a sense, I also play the role of producer in my responsibilities as the worship and media pastor at my local church.
Here are “5 Things to Remember when Playing Producer.”
1. Always keep the WHY front and center
Simon Sinek has compared the success of Apple to their reverse thinking. In this video, he points out they don’t have access to more money, greater programmers, or some secret marketing company. Their success is because everything they do is to accommodate their “why.” The “what” and the “how” simply facilitate that.
Producers need to know why they are doing what they are doing. Everything needs to line up with that. If they are simply trying to create good art, everything needs to be for the artistic value. If its to communicate a message, that is the #1. When producers forget this, they end up adding things that detract from their main intent. As a Christian, anything I am responsible to “produce,” whether at the production studio, in a graphic design piece, or at the church, is being produced with the intent to communicate or facilitate greater communication. Everything I do needs to be intentional in that regard.
2. Be Confident Enough To Make Decisions
Good producers have to be able to make tough decisions about the direction of a given project. Sometimes the decisions are solely based on the creative aspect. Other times, that decision might be a result of the budget or the time that you have to work with. When the time comes to call that shot, be confident in your ability to do just that. Be willing to live with the consequences when it was the wrong call. And take those “wrong call” opportunities to learn from.
In many productions, there are several different team members – each of which has an opinion about how things should go. Their ideas may be great ideas, just not great in facilitating the “why” of your production. Sometimes, calling a shot that differs from the opinion of the team can be met with some friction. That’s okay. That doesn’t mean its the wrong call. It could just mean that it isn’t based on the same thing that the team is basing their opinion on.
A great example of this for a worship leader is who gets placed on the team in a given band position. If your main goal was to build a team, you might put a band member on an instrument who isn’t as good as another band member. The service may not be as strong as it would be with that other band member. But your main goal at that time might not have been to put out the best quality service. Disclaimer: We should always put out our very best when doing it for God. I just think what “very best” means could be different for different people.
3. Trust Your Team
Good producers are excellent multi-taskers. They are used to juggling numerous things and dealing with things coming at them from all directions. They handle stress very well as a result. However, it is easy for this to create a lack of delegation. The old saying, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself” is a true statement. It just isn’t always appropriate and good producers have to learn how to delegate and trust their team.
Humans will be humans. Occasionally, they might make a mistake. More importantly, sometimes you might feel you can do something better or faster than your team member. A good producer has to learn to let the team members play their respective roles. The producer is only one person. He or she needs to build up (or inherit) a team that can play all the many roles in any given production. When a member of the team screws up, use it as a learning experience and move on.
You also don’t have to know how to do each job of each team member. In larger productions, its something that isn’t possible. In 2007, I built my home. I served as the general contractor, or “producer.” I had to work with all sorts of different members of the “team” and had to keep the main “why” in my head the entire time. Certain members of that “team” would have various suggestions but they didn’t have to answer to the bank for the costs of those suggestions. They also didn’t have to answer to my wife for the delays that they might cause. However, there were times that the expertise of a given “team” member was such that I took their suggestion and was more than willing to live with the consequences.
4. You Will Make Mistakes
Getting better and growing in your area means that you are stretching yourself. If you are never attempting things that stretch you, you are likely never growing and getting better. If you never fail at anything, you aren’t trying new things. Let’s take that a step further, if you never try things so big that you have to trust God for success. You might be trying to do too much on your own. Try things so big that success is only possible with God. When you fail at things, learn from the mistake for next time and help others not repeat the same mistake.
5. Produce For Your Audience
Know your audience and produce with them in mind. You will communicate better and your produced content will be more widely received. If you are producing a television program on The Church Channel, but it is geared towards children, you could be missing something.
The same notion goes for your church services. Worship team members sometimes complain about a specific song choice or they suggest a song that they absolutely love. The song might be an awesome song that you want to sing, but it may be awesome for a completely different audience. I know God is our audience in worship. However, if my job is to lead a group of people in worship of God, it is prudent to try to meet them where they are at in some respects. I’m not going to sing a song in Spanish in a church gathering that speaks English. Why is it so hard for people to understand that being sensitive to where a congregation is might be a wise thing?
So there you have it. You may disagree with some of these thoughts or even have questions. I’d love to engage with you in the comments. If you don’t already, I’d also love for you to follow me on twitter @scrapper24