Have you ever heard the phrase, “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it“? Well, that phrase may as well just say, “If you want something done, give it to a film producer!”
Or better yet, “Give it to a film producer who runs their own production company!”
But don’t actually. Because they have a lot of things to do.
It’s true that the entertainment industry simply couldn’t function without the many producers that there are. But even still, most people don’t actually know what a film producer is.
Do you? (Don’t worry, that’s rhetorical.)
What is a film producer?
A film producer is many things. But perhaps above all, they are problem-solvers.
See, a film producer must be able to make creative decisions. But also be able to handle the responsibility of resources, logistics, and infrastructure.
Producers oversee the entire process of a film or television production from day 1 of the creative process to day 596,827,364,524 when the project is finally released. (We’re exaggerating… a bit.)
Either way, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what a producer is. So let’s just travel down the road together and see what a film producer does.
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A film producer’s responsibilities during the filmmaking process
Okay, there may not be a total of 596,827,364,524 days for any given film production or project. But that’s certainly what it feels like when you’re running on little sleep and lots of caffeine!
During the development of any creative vision, it’s the producer’s job to keep things on track. This means being the liaison between departments and industry contracts.
Hiring the creative team and director. Raising money for the inevitable production process. And sometimes, even making some major creative decisions during screenplay development.
During pre-production, a film producer will work to expand the creative team, hiring costume designers, cinematographers, principal cast members, etc. Then, contract negotiations will begin.
A producer assembles production personnel during this pre-production stage too. Well, that and approves location, an event space rental, production schedule, and budgets (no biggie).
If you’ve ever seen a production studio company in action, then you know you need a single point of contact for any and all information. That’s your producer, for ya!
Additionally, during this production phase, a producer will be expected to make any business, financial, or logistical decisions. Oh, and troubleshooting literally anything that goes wrong.
Post-production is the time for a film producer, director, and post-production team to come together. They’ll work to eliminate any inconsistencies with editing, apply visual effects, even add a film score.
And because it’s the film industry, a good producer will also secure additional funding for any post-production needs. But don’t think the producer’s job is wrapping up just yet…
Finally! The film production can be released into the world and the film producer is the one in charge of selling it.
A producer’s role at this stage turns to the marketing team, scheduling out cast appearances at festivals, making sure national and international distribution is good to go, and generally sticking to the release schedule. (Are you tired? Because we are.)
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Best skill sets for a film producer to possess
By now, you’ve probably picked up that film producers tend to be a jack-of-all-trades. But here are just a couple of specific areas you’ll definitely want to have mastered if you want to become a producer.
Film and TV production knowledge
When we say every part of the process of a film production, we mean every part. That includes screenwriting, directing, editing, everything that goes into the motion picture industry.
Whether you’re working on a TV show or a feature film, the producer role still makes some creative decisions. Even the director may look to the producer for guidance.
Film school can teach about how to make films. But a producer salary also includes compensation for their marketing and commercial savvy as well.
Leadership and organization
Who else is going to lead a production company and film crew to greatness? A good producer who knows how to lead and organize, that’s who.
Different types of producers
So you want to become a producer? Well, which one?
Also considered the head producer since the executive producer’s role involves a high-level of supervision, the executive producer oversees all aspects of the show. In some production companies, the executive producer job description might also include being the creator, writer, or owner of the material at hand.
The line producer manages everything below the invisible line of high-level supervision, such as creating a budget and tracking expenses. Line producers may also take on the responsibilities of Unit Production Manager when working in a smaller management company.
The supervising producer watches the creative process of a project like a hawk. Hence, they are supervising the creative vision and assisting executive producers and other producers.
Being a TV producer is a different beast as some TV producers end up also being a head writer for the show. Either way, a TV producer is considered the show runner who (you guessed it) runs the show!
Co-producer and associate producer
A co-producer and associate producer will typically assist another producer that’s above the line producer. So a co-producer job description or associate producer job description might include working alongside the executive producer rather than the production team.
Who keeps all other producers in line? The coordinating producer! Additionally, they’ll help out anywhere is needed whether that be during the pre-production or production process.
A consulting producer contributes to the overall production, essentially offering advice on how to keep things chugging. It’s common that a consulting producer may have previously acted as an assistant producer or as one of the associate producers.
A segment producer oversees one or more segments on a television show. They may also assist other producers or help in the overall video production process.
A field producer works outside of a studio or sound stage. They oversee production on location while assisting the executive producer or executive producers on set.
These types of producers are most often attached to the hip of the director. They consult on artistic matters including script revisions, hiring of talent, and coordinating a unified leadership style between departments.
That’s show biz, baby!
So, are you ready to sign up as an Executive Producer with the Producers Guild of America? Well, you don’t necessarily have to sign up to be a producer.
But, of course, a couple of professional associations here and there don’t hurt. Either way, you’ll have your hands full as a producer.
But you know what they say. The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward.
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