Explaining Hollywood: How to get a job as a producer

www.latimes.com
7 min read
fairly easy
Film producers will tell you that there's no typical day in the job -- and there's no single path to becoming a producer. But there are traits you can develop and entertainment industry paths to follow that will set you up for a career in Hollywood.
Growing up on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Siena Oberman thought she might want to be a doctor. Then she took a high-school elective that allowed her to go off-campus.

"I thought, 'Oh, sweet, I can leave class and go to the beach,'" she said.

Instead, she fell in love. The class was in filmmaking, and Oberman started making movies with her friends using a Flip camera. No beach bum but in fact an overachiever, Oberman quickly assembled a resume of internships more varied than most careers: IM Global, an international sales firm; Route One Entertainment, an indie film company; Plan B, Brad Pitt's production company; Paramount Pictures; United Talent Agency.

In her sophomore year at Loyola Marymount University, she wrangled a meeting with a senior executive at Warner Bros. "He told me if I wanted to be successful, I need to get really good at one thing," she remembers. That one thing was making movies happen — producing.

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Oberman transferred to USC and began taking her small movies to film festivals — from Outfest to Cannes — and going "to every networking event I could," she says. "I realized that if you can bring an actor or money or a big director, if you could make certain connections, then you could get involved in projects by bringing value to them."

By age 26, Oberman had 13 producer credits to her name, including four as lead producer. When I watched her in 2019 on the set of the fourth, "The Birthday Cake," an indie mob picture set in Brooklyn that was released this month , she was nimbly juggling a dozen tasks at once, including a balky financier in South America; a set overcrowded with hangers-on and Val Kilmer's personal documentary crew; an unexpected delay in Paul Sorvino's arrival; conked-out Wi-Fi; and a crew member who wasn't up to the job. I asked her if this was a typical day on set. She said there was no typical day. "For me the priority is: What's the biggest emergency?"

Just as there is no typical day in a producer's life,…
Boris Kachka
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