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Video craze creates new job: DVD producer
By Mike Snider, USA TODAY
Success brings new pressures ó and that has never been more true than in the phenomenal success of movies on DVD.
As sales of the video discs have skyrocketed, buyers have come to expect the kinds of goodies ó mini-documentaries, directors’ commentaries and behind-the-scenes footage ó that had once been reserved for a select few top releases. (Related story: A-list occupation: DVD producer)
And those who can create just the right extras to supplement a DVD movie are gaining clout in Hollywood. Today there are a dozen or more DVD producers at the top of their craft, and many more are honing their skills. With about 6,000 new releases this year, there’s a lot of producing to do.
“A few of them have become so prominent … that they are highly sought by studios and/or film producers and directors,” says Scott Hettrick, editor of Video Premieres and Video Business magazines.
Fueling the demand:
* 31 million homes ó more than 25% of U.S. households ó have at least one DVD player.
* DVD owners buy an average 16 discs a year, three times the VHS rate at its peak, the DVD Entertainment Group says. The billionth disc was shipped to stores this summer.
* Home video sales are increasingly crucial to Hollywood’s bottom line. Last year, such sales and rentals totaled $10.9 billion, compared with $8.1 billion at the box office.
Talent agencies are courting DVD producers, too. “We’re trying to form relationships so (a DVD producer) can become branded like a cinematographer or director (with) a certain style or approach,” says Tad Lumpkin, an agent at International Creative Management, which represents five DVD producers.
In the past, DVD extras were created after the fact, but recently the process has begun at the same time as the movie shoot. For A.I. and Minority Report, due Dec. 17, Steven Spielberg asked special-features producer Laurent Bouzereau and DreamWorks DVD producer Mark Rowen “to please come on the set,” Bouzereau says. “We were reading scripts before they started shooting.”
Top-notch DVD producers may have budgets as high as $500,000, but that can include the outlays for menus, film crews, editors and processing of the movie itself. In the end, a producer’s cut might be 10%. Some payments on lesser titles are below $10,000.
So the title of DVD producer is hot but not necessarily lucrative ó yet. “That’s why we look for projects we are passionate about,” says Van Ling, who is producing Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones.