Producer Will Packer is seemingly everywhere at once. He shepherded “Straight Outta Compton” to box office glory this past summer. He fielded two comedies for the 2015-16 season: NBC’s “Truth Be Told” and ABC’s upcoming “Uncle Buck.” He’s winding down the year at his home base in Atlanta, finishing work on “Ride Along 2,” starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, for a January release. And he’s preparing for the challenge of revisiting “Roots” as a miniseries for A&E, History and Lifetime next year.
When do you find time to sleep?
When you’re at this stage of your career, you don’t. My life is a work week. I’m working toward having a weekend off sometime when I’m in my 50s. If I’m lucky.
With so many projects going on in so many places, how do you prioritize your day?
Usually it’s about what fire is burning the brightest at any time. It’s definitely taught me a lot about strategic prioritization. You can’t get so overwhelmed that you’re giving 10% to everything. You have to give 100%, but you do it in bursts depending on where you’re needed. And there’s always something unexpected that happens.
Where did you learn the ropes of producing?
It was a trial by fire. I learned what to do by doing the wrong thing. While I was in college I produced my first film (1994’s “Chocolate City”). I did everything wrong that could be done wrong. We shot it on Super 16-millimeter film. I think you’ve got to get some bad stuff out of you before you get to the good stuff.
You have four kids, ranging from 11 to college-age. What advice do you give them?
Work hard. We have a saying: “We’re Packers. We do what others won’t, so we can have what others don’t.”