What does a Producer do?
Producers are generally the people “in charge” of a film or TV production. They’re responsible for developing a project from the beginning, raising and managing the money, assembling the team and supervising all aspects of pre-production, production and post-production. They are often the first to get involved, spotting the creative opportunity and commercial viability of a production. They continue as the driving force right through to distribution. Producers are the overall decision makers. They will come up with story ideas and hire Screenwriters or choose and secure rights to a script. This is known as ‘optioning’ a script.
They decide on the scale and budget of the film and source financing from investors, studios and distributors. They hire all the “above-the-line” team members such as Line Producer and Director. They then work with creative ideas from the Director, often making creative decisions, and then approve production costs. Producers spot and solve potential problems throughout the production process.
They approve locations and hire a team of staff for the production, delegating certain responsibilities to a Line Producer or the Production Manager. It’s their job to create a good working environment and they constantly communicate with everyone to make everything run smoothly. They have ultimate legal responsibilities for the health and safety of the crew on set and delivery of a completed film at the end of the production process.
Producers need to be good communicators to ensure everyone is working towards the same end and are responsible for creating a good working environment and smooth production.
Are there different levels to being a producer?
Yes! There are different levels of involvement from different producer positions, depending on the needs of the production. These different roles have different aspects of involvement and responsibility but all require you to have the same skill-set of being a producer. The lead producer receives a simple “Producer” credit. While there are other credits (such as Executive Producer) that might sound more senior, the Producer is the one in charge.
An Associate Producer (often called an Assistant Producer, or simply the AP) is a junior Producer who works closely with the Lead Producer in putting together a television show or film project. The goal of an AP is to eventually become a lead Producer and so they must be trained in every aspect of production. Associate Producers report directly to the lead Producer.
Executive Producers give high-level contributions so the project can be created. These could include providing funding, developing the project for a studio, making key introductions, providing resources, or mentoring. EPs usually don’t participate in the creative process or day-to-day production management, aside from advice they may offer. Some EPs are the first point of contact in the production workflow—optioning a script or greenlighting a film – but they then pass the responsibility on to the Producer(s). They are the silent partner, or a leader in the film and television industry and require being a producer first.
What's a Producer good at?
Film and TV production
Have extensive knowledge of all the creative processes of making a film or TV programme including screenwriting, directing, and editing
Know how to tell a story, make and approve creative decisions to help do this well
Understand what makes a successful film, be able to market it to distributors and to the public
Motivate and communicate well with everyone throughout the project, take responsibility for decisions and outcomes, create a good working atmosphere and adhere to legal workplace regulations, be a figure head
Work well in challenging and changeable environments, problem solve on the go, make quick effective decisions and be able to prioritise
Be on top of the whole project, prepare schedules and a production budget using financial skills to secure funding and negotiate salaries
Knowledge of the industry
Have extensive knowledge of and a passion for TV drama, appreciate trends in viewing, predict what will be popular
Generate new and exciting ideas, recognize new and exciting script ideas in others, have an entrepreneurial spirit
Have a good business head, be good at selling, persuading, and striking a financial deal
Who does a Producer work with?
Everyone. Producers lead and communicate with the whole production team as well as distribution and marketing teams. They sometimes answer to Executive Producers in television production who serve as the overseeing face of the film studio, financiers, or who are the overall leads on a series.
How do I become a Producer?
While producing is something that can be learned in school, usually one gains experience elsewhere in the production department, such as working up from a Production Assistant, to a Production Coordinator, Production Manager or Line Producer. They do not necessarily attend a film school. You’ll need a combination of business skills and creative vision for this job and an understanding of both sides of the industry.
Build a portfolio: Create a showreel that you can show off to collaborators and financiers.
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