Karen Khoo-Toohey, in her 40s, Executive Producer, Chuan Pictures
When a film wins Best Picture at the Oscars, the award is often handed to the producers. Not the director, not the on-screen stars… the producer. That’s testament to how powerful production is to a film’s success. But what does a film producer really do anyway?
“For movies, the executive producer is the person that brings in the money. I don’t technically do that at Chuan Pictures; I do that more for our television commercials, but it’s mostly the same thing because I still have to watch the budget and make sure we don’t go over,” says Karen.
Budgeting concerns aren’t the only thing on Karen’s plate. Producers are often in charge of tasks like choosing the cast, negotiating film rights, driving the marketing, being the occasional naysayer and the film’s biggest cheerleader all at the same time. This means Karen’s day often starts in the wee hours of the morning and doesn’t end until well past midnight.
“If you want to enter the film industry, you have to work your butt off, and be prepared to put in a lot of hard work, and a lot of heart into what you do. I think without the heart, you can never produce anything great. When it comes to filmmaking in Singapore, the heart comes first, followed very closely by the hard work,” Karen explains.
The mother-of-one adds that being a woman has allowed her to add on to the filmmaking process, in ways that a man simply can’t. “Men can suffer from tunnel vision sometimes, so it’s always good to have a woman involved in all aspects of a film just because their input can allow people to think outside the box and try different things,” she says.
What’s Your Feel-Good Film: “Amélie. The entire film is me – a bit crazy, a bit strange, a bit whimsical, a lot quirky and very colourful. So, I really relate to the film because the storyline is romantic but still a little weird, which is very me!”
KAREN WEARS TOP AND SKIRT FROM KAREN MILLEN; SHOES FROM JIMMY CHOO; AND RING FROM BIMBA Y LOLA.