The studio executive is typically responsible for all aspects of the film including choosing the projects, overseeing the script, budgeting of the film and hiring all the talent involved. One common misconception is that the studio executive doesn’t write the script or direct or edit the film. Those artists are hired by the studio executives. In addition, he or she works closely with independent producers to manage all aspects of the process. Those producers often sell the projects to the studio and are the more day-to-day managers of the actual film production.
Matthew Signer is one of the most popular studio executives in Hollywood. He has served as an executive producer/studio executive and producer on many films and television shows such as Scream 4, 47 Meters Down, Paddington, Spy Kids: Mission Critical, Amityville: The Awakening, Scream: The TV Series and many, many more. When asked which role he would prefer, Matt said, "I love working as a studio executive and a producer equally. A few times, I actually performed both roles at the same time. Shepherding a project and helping filmmakers realize their visions are where I feel my greatest strengths lie."
Dealing with Pressure
The essential quality of a good studio executive is to deal with pressure every single day as there is a lot of responsibility involved in managing a project of that size and scope. Budgets are often tight and you must do everything possible to help realize the filmmakers’ vision with the resources you have. Also, anyone who’s been on a film set knows any number of things can and do go wrong each day and you must be able to pivot and find a great solution.
Matt said, “Honestly, the job can certainly be intense at times. Making a piece of art and having to fit that vision into a finite budget is never easy. Nearly two hundred people are looking to you for answers and to make sure everything keeps moving smoothly. But, I love my job and I wouldn’t trade it for anything."
Studio Executive’s Involvement During Production
How much does the studio executive get involved during the actual production of a film? Matt believes that his involvement depends on the specific situation. "Sometimes I’m on set for the entire production but more often than not, if I’ve hired the right talent, they should do what they do best. I must trust the people I hired to do their jobs.”
Matt has been in this industry for more than seventeen years and worked as a studio executive at Dimension Films, Awesomeness Films, and Quibi, Jeffrey Katzenberg’s short form, mobile first venture. At Quibi, Matt oversaw the projects Survive, When the Streetlights Go On, Fifty States of Fright, The Now and The Expecting.