Line Producer Varun Verma Talks On-Set Problem-Solving

Producers often slip through the cracks when it comes to recognizing the efforts of professionals in the entertainment industry.

For many Producers, their moments of public visibility are limited to acceptance speeches during awards ceremonies, and even then, directors or actors tend to gravitate toward the mic first.

It’s an unfortunate reality, especially given the knowledge that Producers are in fact some of the most crucial members of any production, from commercials to shorts to feature films.

Producers’ responsibilities can vary widely, depending on the production company and the production itself. But for the most part, it falls to Producers to make sure that the job gets done as efficiently as possible and in a way that will yield the best results.

Without Producers, shooting locations don’t get secured, vocal coaches never arrive, and the overall tone of the project vacillates wildly, leaving audience members confused and disoriented.

To help get a better handle on what Producers have to handle from day-to-day, we got in touch with Varun Verma, an experienced Line Producer currently working with Replay Collective, a brand and production house he helped form.

Verma has worked on music videos, commercial projects, and has even collaborated with social media influencers to create unique content that stands out from the competition.

He shared his expertise with us during an in-depth discussion that wound its way through many different aspects of content creation and the modern entertainment industry, along with all of its challenges, quirks, and opportunities for innovation.

What do you see as the core mission of Replay Collective? What about the Collective excites you?

Replay Collective is more than just a production service company. The company was formed by Chapman College grads and all of us built the company from scratch. We’ve always felt like a big family. The mission of the company is to support the passion and creativity of individuals. By investing in upcoming talent, we help them grow and provide the entertainment industry with new content.

Our policy is to treat crew fairly by paying them well, feeding them well, and supporting them in any way we can. The term “collective” itself means coming together and working towards success as a group, and that’s what excites me most about Replay.

When working as a Line Producer with YouTubers, do you have to make use of different methods than you would use on a commercial project or a feature?

The very basic job of Line Producer is to make sure we are under budget and on schedule. For me, it’s always a numbers game rather than a creative demand. Creativity tends to put a project over budget. This applies to all types of content, including commercials, music videos, features, web series, etc.

Influencers generally have a wide range of content. I have done mostly music videos and short films. Their projects are usually easy to work through thanks to the flexibility of the schedule.

Can you tell us what it was like to work with Shane Dawson?

Shane Dawson is a very interesting and successful influencer. When I worked with him he was very professional, down to earth, disciplined, and passionate about his craft.

He understands production elements and sets protocols. He met his call time every day and was ready to deliver without any questions.

What do you think is the most important aspect of working as a Line Producer?

Line Producing is a highly stressful job on any production. The pressure of keeping the project under budget and on-time is enormous. As a Line Producer, I also have to be the bridge between executives and the production team. On bigger narrative projects, the Line Producer is also responsible for scheduling talent and making sure their availability fits the entire production schedule. Any changes can cost a lot.

Overall, it’s about juggling creative elements with budgetary and scheduling requirements.

How did you first decide to become involved in producing, rather than other aspects of film/video?

I attended the New York Film Academy to complete an MA in film and media production. During the program, I found myself more interested in the business side rather than just the creative side. I loved playing with numbers and making impossible goals possible.

I started producing my fellow classmates’ thesis projects, and that’s when I actually decided that producing was what I wanted to do.

During one of these projects, I collaborated with Replay Collective. They offered to let me work on a few music videos as a freelancer. The rest is history.

As a Line Producer, do you often involve yourself in the day-to-day production and postproduction of a project?

Line Producers have more involvement in day-to-day production. A Line Producer has

to physically go to set every day and supervise the production. On set, I have the authority to approve any expenditures that weren’t planned.

I also have to closely check with department heads and assistant directors for daily reports. If we are lagging behind schedule, then we need to decide how we can finish the project on time without inflating the budget.

What is one lesson you’ve learned since beginning your extensive career as a producer?

Being disciplined and respecting schedules is the most significant lesson I’ve learned. Experience teaches everything. The more mistakes and failures I had, the better I became because I learned from those mistakes and became a pro-active thinker.

As a Line Producer, I have to anticipate problems and eliminate them before they can become a reality.

Time is money, and respecting deadlines helps everyone keep their jobs and create something that we can all be proud of.

by Giorgio Chang

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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