What does it take to be a great producer?

We can all learn to draft a simple budget or to hire a small group of technicians, but the best producers know how to start the right projects in the right way, with a strong creative sense and commercial purpose – long before they ever get to that point in the process. The key to becoming a producer who is attractive to creative collaborators and financiers alike is an understanding of the whole process. An understanding, in short, of the market, the business – and of yourself.

All producers must have a wide range of skills, from creative and organisational intelligence to financial prowess and marketing insight. The aim of this new six-month Certificate course is to develop your skills and judgement across the entire cycle of a feature film’s life.

This course, meeting weekly in Glasgow in an evening class format, aims to help participants develop discover their own producing strengths by teaching technical producing skills and using real case histories.

Industry speakers on the course include: Angus Lamont, ProducerStuart Murdoch, DirectorChris Young, Producer, Colin Monie, Editor and more. 


What you will study

This course is designed to help new producers enter the world of professional filmmaking.  Over 24 weeks, and across four modules, we explore the key components of development, finance, production/post-production, sales & distribution, seen from a producer’s perspective, whilst developing the individual strengths of each participant.

During the course you will develop an understanding of which projects have the potential to entice and excite audiences; hone your ability to work with writers to achieve a screenplay that can attract director, cast, finance, and distribution; develop the ability to package those creative and financial elements to an industry standard; acquire an understanding of how to run cast and crew; and learn how to manage the expectations of finance and distribution partners as you take the film through post production and delivery – all while keeping a firm grip on the sales, distribution and marketing opportunities to ensure the film can reach the widest audience possible. 

The six months culminate in the presentation of a market-ready proposal for your own feature film, including an outline of the film’s talent, finance, and sales/distribution package.

Module 1 – Development

Why do you want to be a producer?  How do you choose the right projects? What films work in the current marketplace?  What stories are you passionate about?  How do you source the best stories?  How do you secure or option rights? (We work with an industry lawyer to make sure you understand how to do that contractually, to industry standard).

How do you develop those stories into saleable screenplays? How do you write effective loglines for your projects and hone your pitching skills?  How do you develop your network and manage your relationships?  How do you source development finance?

Module 2 – Packaging and Financing

The director’s engagement.  Creating an overall proposal.   Key questions to ask before proceeding.  Attaching cast and working with a casting director.  Sales agents – researching them and finding out who is right for a project, and why.  Distributors – the cornerstone of your financing?  Which companies fit which projects and what are their criteria?  We explore funding sources and finance plans, working our way through the spreadsheets in order to understand and be able to construct recoupment schedules and waterfalls, and understand collection agreements and contracts.

Module 3 – Production and post-production

Closing your finance plan and achieving greenlight. Essential agreements, rights and liabilities.  What are your rights and responsibilities as producer?  Crewing up; scheduling and budgeting. The pre-production countdown. How to manage production and ensure a smooth-running, efficient and enjoyable shoot.  Editing and maintaining the vision of the film throughout post-production.  We explore the key steps in this process, including technical post, music, and deliverables.

Module 4 – Distribution, Sales and Marketing

How to execute a distribution plan across all platforms and windows.  How to develop a film festival strategy.  You may have a distributor on board, but how do you ensure the best marketing and PR campaign for your film?  And if you don’t have a distributor or sales agent on board, how do you achieve this?  Social media campaigns, artwork, awards.  Managing the release, and maximising the audience. How to move on to the next film.

Course Leader

The course will be led by producer Carole Sheridan. Carole has worked in the film & TV industry for over 20 years and her most recent films include Dirt Road to Lafayette which premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June 2018 and God Help the Girl which had its US premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2014 and European premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in February 2014.  God Help the Girl has been sold around the world by prestigious sales agents, Hanway Films.

Working at Scottish Screen, Carole held posts as Short Films Executive and Development Executive where she worked on films such as Dear Frankie, Hallam Foe and Red Road and Head of Talent and Creativity where she managed a small team who oversaw the development and production of all the film and TV projects awarded Lottery Funds. Working with many of Scotland’s most established talent and companies some of the films Carole was involved in during this period include:  NEDS, Donkeys, Valhalla Rising, Perfect Sense, The Awakening, Stone of Destiny.

In 2011 Carole left Scottish Screen and established her own company Singer Films.  In 2013 she was asked by US Producer Barry Mendel (Bridesmaids, Sixth Sense, The Royal Tenenbaums) to produce the musical God Help the Girl, Stuart Murdoch’s (lead singer of Belle and Sebastian) directorial debut.  This was Carole’s first role as an independent Producer.

In 2015 Carole went on the produce Dirt Road the Lafayette, written by Booker prize winning novelist James Kelman and directed by Kenny Glenaan (Gas Attack, Yasmin).  Set primarily in the US, Dirt Road to Lafayette was the first Scottish/US independent feature.  The film follows the story of a young boy and his father when they travel to the United States for the first time to visit relatives in Louisiana.  The film showcases Cajun and Zydeco music and is steeped in black African American culture. 

Carole’s experience as a Production Manager, Development Executive, Executive Producer and Producer has allowed her to gain knowledge across the whole delivery of a project and what is required of a Producer creatively, financially, legally and practically.

Fees and funding options

Fees for this course are as follows:

Home/EU/EEA £3,450

This course is only open to UK and EU/EEA applicants.

A non-refundable deposit of £500 is required against the cost of your fees on confirmation of your place.

Bursary Information

Bursaries, supported by the Scottish Government, are available for those who are eligible.

To apply for a bursary, please download the Certificate Bursary Application Form to submit via email with your course application.

Plese also read the Certificate Funding Information.

If you are not eligible for an NFTS Scotland bursary, please read our Alternative Funding Avenues document which points you in the direction of a few other places which may be able to help.

Entry requirements

We’re looking for people who are passionate about filmmaking and eager to pursue a career in producing. You should have a good general education, but no other specific educational requirements or producing experience are needed for this course. Application to the course is competitive.

Successful completion of this course will lead to a guaranteed interview for those who may be interested in applying to the 2-year full-time MA Course in Producing at the NFTS. 

If you have any questions, please email scotland@nfts.co.uk

How to apply

Application deadline: Contact Registry

In addition to completing the online application form, applicants must submit the following:

  • Please tell us about any relevant experience you may already have, if any, in theatre/film/TV(300 words max.)
  • What characteristics do you have that you think make you a good producer? (300 words max.)
  • Summarise a story idea that you want to make. (300 words max.)

Please register your interest to be advised of future dates.