NYU Stern School of Business

Undergraduate College


Spring 2012

Instructor Details

Badal, Sharon




Mailbox in 721 Broadway, 11th Floor


Lieberman, Alvin



Tuesday 12:00 – 2:00 PM

Tisch Room 903


Course Meetings

T, 3:30pm to 4:45pm

Tisch T-200


Course Description and Learning Goals


This is a specialized EMT course within the Entrepreneurship Center designed to provide students with a framework for understanding the dynamics of producing (as a business profession) a finished creative product in the entertainment & media industries, developing a business model, and generating an income stream to repay and provide investors with a profit.

The course is designed to educate the student in the process of feature film and long form television production from the initial concept of the story, through script development to completion of the project. The course will cover the most important steps in the production of an independent film, a studio project, a network TV or cable show, a radio program, a Broadway production and an advertising television commercial.  The course will explore all the elements a producer must know, understand and eventually become skilled through mastery of development, including script selection, finance, budgeting, timetable development, team building, talent selection, salesmanship, contract and union negotiation, regulations, technology and other relevant core competencies.


To provide students with a framework through lectures, case studies, and readings of articles and selected chapters of relevant texts of the critical problems and opportunities facing the contemporary producer, both specialized and generalist.

To learn the basic concepts, terms, principles that apply to the role of producer in the entertainment & media industries.

To analyze the activities of the producer within the specific job functions that are required to effectively, and efficiently complete a project.

To build a body of knowledge and information through understanding the various disciplines that cut across all the competencies required for the producer to effectively function as a key member and in most cases, the leader of the creative and business team, assembled to complete a project.


Course Outline

THE BUSINESS OF PRODUCING: Entertainment & Media

WEEK                   DATE                                    SUBJECT

1                       January 24                 INTRODUCTION TO PRODUCING: FRAMEWORK

Professors Al Lieberman & Sharon Badal

WHO IS THE PRODUCER: WHAT ARE THE PRODUCER’S RESPONSIBILITIES: WHY IS THE ROLE IMPORTANT?    The Role of the Producer   Platforms and Pipelines   The Timeline of a Project

The producer is the consummate entrepreneur for the entertainment and media industries. He/she is the business person who initiates finding the creative concept, assembles the creative team, and arranges the financing to transform the concept into a finished retail product. The producer is often responsible for finding distribution,guiding marketing, licensing ancillary rights and needs all the skills required to develop the product into a revenue producing enterprise. A producer is very often ultimately responsible for the budget, timetable, obtaining production insurance, non-performance (or arranging for a completion bond) as well as managing the legal issues surrounding the products development.

It is the producer who usuallysets up the production company when a start-up entity is required or heads the executive team when a new product is being developed by a major film studio, cable operator, radio or television network, record label, “Broadway” Theatrical company, or advertising agency. In the new technology environment, it is often an entrepreneur with producing skills who initiates the partnership or enterprise which gives birth to an interactive media company, web-site, software or game development company. As we cannot cover all of these various permutations of the entrepreneurial producer; we will focus on feature film, radio and dramatic long form TV programming (TV Movies and Miniseries), and advertising via commercials. We will study the similarities and differences between the job responsibilities and the career role of the producer in these various mediums. We will discuss the skills which must be developed through training and experience which help a producer to raise his odds of completing a project profitably.


2                       January 31                    FILM AND TELEVISION MATH                        

Sharon Badal

Film Math:

Understanding and analyzing grosses and ratings

Above the line and below the line structure

Breakeven vs. Profit


3                 February 7             DEVELOPMENT & PRE-PRODUCTION

Professor Badal & Lieberman  

Development:   Protecting your work

Adaptations and options

Rights and clearances


4                      February   14                  FUNDING & FINANCING

Sharon Badal 

Funding and Financing:

Investor Incentives

Setting up your company

The Big Five Investor questions


5                    February 21                  THE FILM FESTIVAL CIRCUIT

Professor Al Lieberman & Sharon Badal

The Film Festival Circuit:

The Festival Calendar

Submission process and materials you need

People who can help you


 6                      February 28                     PRODUCING FOR THE ADVERTISING INDUSTRY

                OPRAH CASE DUE with discussion of Producing/acting and the OWN new Oprah Network

Professor Al Lieberman

The opportunity to make mini-movies running: 30 seconds in length, or even shorter to: 15 and: 10 second ID’s is all part of the Advertising Agency producer‘s career challenge. The productions can include live action, animation, talking heads, all moving type, or exquisite photography and music costing the equivalent of a low budget independent feature film. Some agency producer’s start out as art directors, some producers become TV commercial directors and some go on to be movie directors. We will examine the responsibilities, training, product, and disciplines required to turn out 100 or more commercials a year for major Agencies, as part of the interpretation and development of a creative team’s concept for a product or service.


7                          March 06         PRODUCING for THE BROADCAST INDUSTRY                

Professor Al Lieberman


Network Television:   Where have the audiences gone/New Networks

Television Syndication:  Barter, stripping, and independent sales.

The business model for Television differs significantly from Feature films. Using case studies of very successful network mini-series and TV movies we will come to understand the economic constraints of television production and how an entrepreneurial Producer operates in a fixed cost environment.

Key discussion points will include:

Long form dramatic television versus reality and                        Foreign Television and Split Rights

game show programming                                                             Return on Investment

Cost efficient production techniques                                            Syndicated Television

Networks and Major Station Groups               


                    March 12-17, 2012                  SPRING RECESS


8                       March 20                        PRODUCING FOR THE DIGITAL MARKETING COMPANY  

Professor Al Lieberman

How to organize the team, developing storyboards, pitching the clients as part of the producing team, budgeting, pre-production, post production, understanding the importance of the brand, building the social networks utility, funding the space, creating a digital media plan.


9                    March 27                PRODUCING FOR LIVE THEATER (Broadway or Off Broadway)

Professor Al Lieberman

This session will introduce and discuss the Pitch, selling your idea, and understanding the markets in which to sell your product. We will discuss the character and methods of most of the major worldwide marketing events for Touring. We will explore what they mean to a producer who is raising money for one’s own productions or selling the product after completion with differing sources of financing

Discussion of the Pitch Proposal – How to Develop

Denise Di Novi Case due


10              April 03              PRODUCING FOR THE CABLEINDUSTRY

Professor Al Lieberman

 Over the past decade Cable Television in all forms has become a major competitor to the Broadcast Networks in terms of Original production of TV movies and Miniseries and a new source of opportunity for the entrepreneurial producer. As we continue to survey the television landscape we will again use a case study to bring home the differences between producing for Cable and producing for Broadcast TV. There will be a case study for this session  

Key discussion points will include:

Types of Cable Television, Basic, Pay and Pay per View   

Production budgets

Advertisers and Commercials, Production economics and budgets

Standards and Practices, What can you show and say?  

Call Sheets

Production Reports

Cost reporting


11             April 10              TAKING THE PITCH TO THE NEXT LEVEL

Professor Sharon Badal  

Taking the pitch to the next level:

Creating a business plan

The Art of the Pitch – verbal and written


12                April 17                   PRODUCING FOR THE MUSIC INDUSTRY

Professor Al Lieberman


When we think of the major music industry, the bulk of a $40 Billion dollar industry worldwide is represented by the Big Four: Warner Music/EMI, SONY/Columbia Music, BMG/RCA Entertainment, Universal Music/ Polygram. These are the major players in the development, distribution and marketing of recorded music in almost every genre with labels specific to certain important music sub species. The producer needs to understand these new issues:

Genres….Demos….The Talent Pool….Recoupment….The Contract….The P&L Statement….Expert Support….Creative Process….Multi-Functional Approach

The New Paridigm: MP3….The A&R Fuction….Distribution Channels….The Producer’s Function….Radio Plays….managing Ethnic Music, Cross Overs….The power and Influence of MTV, VH1…..Film Soundtracks….International



13                           April 24                STUDENT PRESENTATIONS: 05 Minute TWO PERSON TEAM PITCHES

Professor Al Lieberman


14                           May 01                STUDENT PRESENTATIONS : 05 Minute TWO PERSON TEAM PITCHES

Professor Al Lieberman


Required Course Materials

TEXT REQUIRED:    What A Producer Does by Buck Houghton, published by sillman-james

CASE Reading: Denise Di Novi: Movie Producer         Stanford GSB, OPRAH HBS

TEXT STRONGLY RECOMMENDED: SWIMMING UPSTREAM: By Sharon Badal, Published by Focal Press A lifesaving guide to short film distribution.


Assessment Components


Class participation will be extremely important, since much of the study of the role of the producer will be obtained from specific lectures, articles, assignments, video clips, some selected texts, and experienced guest speakers.


The class will be graded on the following basis:

Class Participation/Attendance             15%

Oprah Case  “cases distributed in class   15%

Treatment/                                           10%

Pitch Proposal Document/                    20 %

Presentation                                         25%

Final Case Denise Di Novi                     15 % cases to be purchased 

                        Total                            100%

Instructor Policies:


Late assignments are not accepted.  If you miss any assignment deadlines, i.e., at the start of a class period on the due date, you forfeit a grade on that assignment.

Absences/tardiness will lower your class participation grade significantly.

Class Preparation:

Topics for each lecture are identified in the syllabus.  It is critical that you do the assigned reading for the week in advance of the lecture since that session will build on the reading material.  There is a case study for some of the lectures.  It is recommended that when you are preparing for the class, read the assigned chapter(s) from the text.

Class Participation:

You will be evaluated on class participation by both the professor and lecturers.  It is pertinent we learn your names for fair grading and interpersonal interaction.  Do be sure to complete the information sheet.  

Please contribute to class sessions – not just talk, and be ready to disagree with others and develop your own position, and engage others (rather than just the professor) in lively discussion.

In a good class session, the majority of the learning comes from each participant attempting to understand the issues, limitation of theory, case problems, alternatives, etc.  If successful, your increased insights and understanding will come from within   and from your interactions with one another rather than from the instructor.  Please continue with the reading assignments as scheduled regardless of whether the class activities at times fall behind schedule.



At NYU Stern we seek to teach challenging courses that allow students to demonstrate their mastery of the subject matter. Assigning grades that reward excellence and reflect differences in performance is important to ensuring the integrity of our curriculum.

In general, students in this elective course can expect a grading distribution where about 50% of students will receive A’s for excellent work and the remainder will receive B’s for good or very good work. In the event that a student performs only adequately or below, he or she can expect to receive a C or lower.

Note that the actual distribution for this course and your own grade will depend upon how well each of you actually performs in this course.


Stern Policies

General Behavior
The School expects that students will conduct themselves with respect and professionalism toward faculty, students, and others present in class and will follow the rules laid down by the instructor for classroom behavior.  Students who fail to do so may be asked to leave the classroom. 


Collaboration on Graded Assignments
Students may not work together on graded assignment unless the instructor gives express permission. 


Course Evaluations
Course evaluations are important to us and to students who come after you.  Please complete them thoughtfully.


Academic Integrity

Integrity is critical to the learning process and to all that we do here at NYU Stern. As members of our community, all students agree to abide by the NYU Stern Student Code of Conduct, which includes a commitment to:

The entire Stern Student Code of Conduct applies to all students enrolled in Stern courses and can be found here:

Undergraduate College: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/uc/codeofconduct
Graduate Programs: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/studentactivities/involved.cfm?doc_id=102505

To help ensure the integrity of our learning community, prose assignments you submit to Blackboard will be submitted to Turnitin.  Turnitin will compare your submission to a database of prior submissions to Turnitin, current and archived Web pages, periodicals, journals, and publications.  Additionally, your document will become part of the Turnitin database.


Recording of Classes

Your class may be recorded for educational purposes


Students with Disabilities

If you have a qualified disability and will require academic accommodation of any kind during this course, you must notify me at the beginning of the course and provide a letter from the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD, 998-4980, www.nyu.edu/csd) verifying your registration and outlining the accommodations they recommend.  If you will need to take an exam at the CSD, you must submit a completed Exam Accommodations Form to them at least one week prior to the scheduled exam time to be guaranteed accommodation.


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