How To Become An Associate Producer

By Indeed Editorial Team

January 23, 2022

Careers in the entertainment industry can be exciting, fast-paced and lucrative. Finding a way into this industry can be challenging, but working as an associate producer is often a valuable step in your television or film career. Associate producers perform a wide range of tasks that help producers create, pitch, plan for and execute a project. In this article, we discuss what an associate producer is, what they do, how to become an associate producer and frequently asked questions about the profession.

What is an associate producer?

An associate producer, or AP, is a below-the-line producer that assists a producer in creating a film, television show or theater production. They report to another producer and help in virtually all phases of production to ensure projects run smoothly and stay on schedule and on budget.

They can work with a variety of departments, including:

  • Set design

  • Wardrobe

  • Hair and makeup

  • Casting

  • Project director

  • Finance

Read more: 15 Filmmaking Jobs in the Entertainment Industry

What does an associate producer do?

An associate producer's many tasks can include:

  • Writing, editing, revising and organizing scripts

  • Pitching ideas

  • Operating a teleprompter

  • Choosing the shots that are featured in a show or film

  • Book guests for TV shows

  • Guiding editorial content

  • Cueing tapes

  • Conducting prep interviews with guests on a talk show

  • Scouting locations for TV shows

  • Interacting with and interviewing actors on reality television shows

How to become an associate producer

Here are the steps to becoming an associate producer:

1. Earn a degree

A degree is not required for working as an associate producer, but a solid education can help set you apart from other candidates. You can also meet valuable contacts during your time in school, especially if you attend a program well-known in the entertainment industry. Choose a major such as fine arts, film, acting, communications, theater or a related field.

Read more: 15 Jobs You Can Get With a Film Degree

2. Get a job in the entertainment industry

The entertainment industry can be a competitive atmosphere. Search for any available jobs as a starting point for your career. Consider positions such as:

  • Intern

  • Personal assistant

  • Set construction crew

  • Grip assistant

  • Receptionist

  • Production assistant

Read more: Producer Cover Letter Sample

3. Network

Networking is one of the most crucial components of finding a job in the entertainment industry. Knowing the right people can help you learn of open positions faster and secure interviews. As a student, intern and employee, it's important to build relationships with everyone you meet. Make a positive impression on your professors, coworkers, managers and clients.

You can also network through the following channels:

  • Attend industry events

  • Volunteer

  • Join networking groups in person and on social media

  • Participate in industry-related activities, like local theater and acting classes

  • Keep in touch with former classmates, professors and supervisors

  • Invite industry professionals, like directors, development producers and executive producers out for coffee or dinner

  • Get to know everyone on set if you land a job

Read more: Writing an Entertainment Resume With Tips, Template and Example

4. Work hard

Before a producer sees your resume, they will see your work ethic. Stand out by being a reliable worker, focusing on the following:

  • Showing up on time

  • Staying until the last person leaves

  • Anticipating needs

  • Following directions

  • Being polite

  • Dressing and acting professionally

  • Volunteering for additional tasks

  • Asking questions when appropriate

  • Supporting and complimenting other crew members

  • Expressing gratitude

5. Start small

Any associate producer opportunity can help progress your career. Find opportunities to work on student films, independent films and smaller projects to gain experience and meet new people.

Skills needed to become an associate producer

Associate producers are responsible for a wide range of duties and should have the following skills:

  • Writing and editing skills: Writing and editing scripts is a major component of an associate producer job. You should have extensive knowledge of the English language, grammar, vocabulary and spelling.

  • Communication skills: As an associate producer, you will work alongside all types of crew members and should be able to communicate effectively verbally and in writing.

  • Stamina: Associate producers often work long hours during a project. You should be physically capable of working well over 40 hours six or seven days a week for several weeks at a time.

  • Problem-solving skills: Part of the role of an associate producer is to respond to challenges that arise in the making of a show or film. You should be able to identify problems and find cost-effective, timely solutions that consider all parties.

  • Collaboration: Associate producers work across all departments to help bring a producer's vision to life. This often means working together to create the best sets, wardrobes, schedules and scripts.

  • Negotiation skills: As an associate producer, you need to be able to negotiate effectively, whether working with an actor's agent, finalizing your salary or defining project terms with a producer.

  • Flexible schedule: Associate producers may need to travel for months at a time to work on location for shows or movies. Your schedule should allow for traveling frequently and with short notice.

  • Creativity: Associate producers should be able to envision a set, scene and project before it begins. You must think quickly, designing creative solutions with the budget and materials you have.

FAQ

Here are some commonly asked questions about a career as an associate producer:

How much do associate producers make?

Associate producers make an average of $56,082 per year in the U.S. According to Indeed salaries, the highest paying cities for associate producers are:

  • Stamford, CT: $97,982 per year

  • Burbank, CA: $69,949 per year

  • San Francisco, CA: $62,434 per year

  • El Segundo, CA: $60,480 per year

  • Washington, D.C.: $60,226 per year

What is the job outlook for associate producers?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that jobs for directors and producers will grow by 10% between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than the average rate for all jobs. This equates to about 16,000 new jobs during that time. The demand for directors and producers may result from an increase in streaming platforms and the content available on them, as well as more foreign interest in American television and film.

What is the work environment like for associate producers?

Associate producers work on sets, which may be in studios, theaters or on location throughout the world. They typically work long shifts and irregular hours.

What are the benefits of working as an associate producer?

Some of the benefits of being an associate producer include:

  • Variety of responsibilities: Associate producers participate in a range of activities. One day they may consult on wardrobe and the next day they may interview a guest for a talk show. The job offers a variety of tasks, which can benefit those interested in many aspects of production.

  • Travel: Associate producers often receive free travel for movies or other projects.

  • Contacts in the industry: Working as an associate producer can be a good starting point for beginning a career in entertainment. You can meet new people and increase your contacts within the industry, which can lead to job opportunities and career advancement to development producer or executive producer.

  • Career value: A job as an associate producer can be an important transition role for those interested in advancing in the entertainment industry. It is a level above some entry-level positions and can be a natural step for writers that would like to produce.


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