Learn About Being a Film Producer
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Film production is a complex and multi-faceted endeavor and it is a producer's job to manage the entire project. Because a producer plays many roles throughout the filmmaking process, there is sometimes confusion about the nature of the job and the producer's exact responsibilities. Producers may take on a specific title and a unique set of duties depending on the film, but the high-level objectives of the job remain the same across the industry. In this article, we examine the roles and responsibilities of a film producer, the various types of film producers, the skills required for the job and how to become a film producer.
What does a film producer do?
A film producer coordinates and supervises a film's production from start to finish. They manage the logistics of filmmaking and ensure that the film is released on time and within budget. A producer serves as a quality controller who guides operations throughout the entire production timeline and ensures the project's success.
A film producer is the person responsible for conceiving a marketable storyline for a film. They may have an idea for an original script or they may opt to adapt a book, personal story or historical event into a screenplay. If the film will be an adaptation of existing material, the producer will need to obtain the rights to the material. The producer will then hire a writer, and together they will develop a script and get it ready for production.
A second critical responsibility of the producer is securing funding for the movie. Once the movie script is complete, producers will pitch their idea to a movie studio that will finance the film if they like the script. Funds may also be raised independently of a film studio. Then it is the responsibility of the producer to manage the money and make sure that production stays within budget.
The final pre-production task for the producer is to staff the film. The producer will supervise the hiring of the cast, director, crew and other staff. The lead producer, also called the executive producer, will sometimes hire additional producers to assist with the executive producer's responsibilities.
By the time filming begins, a production schedule and budget have been established for the director and crew to follow, so a producer does not need to be heavily involved with the day-to-day operations. The amount of involvement at this stage may vary based on the type of movie being filmed, how many producers are working on the project and the executive producer's preference.
During filming, a producer's main responsibilities are collaborating with the director on important scenes, reviewing the footage shot each day and addressing any problems that arise. At this stage, the producer needs to keep filming on schedule and stick to the budget.
After filming is complete, the producer works with the director, and sometimes an editor, to revise and polish the film. The producer's role now is to market the film to potential distributors if it is not being produced by a studio. Showcasing the film at a film festival is one opportunity to attract a distributor for the film. The producer will then negotiate the distribution rights, create a release plan and start a marketing campaign.
Types of film producers
There are many different types of film producers. The number of additional producers working on a film in addition to the executive producer is usually determined by the movie's scope and budget. Each producer will have a unique title and responsibilities.
Executive producer: The executive producer manages any other producers hired for the film. The executive producer is also in charge of the finances and business relationships. If other producers have been hired, the executive producer usually delegates creative and technical oversight to them. The executive producer ensures the movie adheres to the agreed terms concerning content, timing and budget. There can be more than one executive producer of a film, each assigned to lead a different area of production.
Co-producer: A co-producer works under the executive producer and assists with the executive's duties but does not have a financial stake in the film. They can assist with any high-level task required from pre-production through post-production.
Line producer: The line producer oversees the daily operations and is on set to manage the staff and budget.
Supervising producer: The supervising producer is involved with screenplay development and provides creative input.
Associate producer: The title of associate producer is usually honorary. It is sometimes awarded as additional compensation to an actor, for example, for exceptional performance in the film. Or the title may even be awarded to someone who had an insignificant role in the film's production.
Field producer: A field producer travels to the film's shooting location to supervise production outside of the studio.
How to become a film producer
A film producer must have a very strong understanding of all aspects of filmmaking, so some producers have attended film school, but it is possible to become a producer without a formal education.
Get into the film industry: A producer can learn about the entertainment business by starting in other areas of the industry such as acting, casting or screenplay writing.
Gain experience: Experience is required, and one way to learn about film production is through an internship or helping with student film production or low-budget films. Assisting with theater productions is another way to gain experience that can be transferred to film production.
Find employment as a production assistant: Once an aspiring producer has acquired sufficient experience, they may begin their career as a production assistant.
Get hired in a junior production role: Succeeding in a more junior position will be necessary for a producer to move up to the ranks to a senior-level producer. Usually, producers spent several years in other positions before establishing a career as a full-time producer.
Related: How to Become a Producer
Skills needed to be a film producer
A film producer takes on many roles throughout production, so they must have an abundant and diverse set of skills to keep them organized and keep filming on schedule.
Networking: Filmmaking requires many participants, and a producer is responsible for filling each of those essential roles. Networking is important to be well-connected and well-known amongst actors, financiers, movie studio executives, directors and other movie staff will make it easier to staff and fund the film.
Leadership: A producer is the head of the entire project, so they must be able to take charge and clearly delegate responsibilities. Interpersonal skills and an outgoing personality are essential skills for connecting with other members of the filmmaking team and keeping everyone motivated.
Communication: From pre-production through post-production, a producer must be able to clearly convey to each part of the team what is required to complete the project according to the producer's vision.
Organization: The success of a film relies on excellent organizational skills to follow the budget and stick to a filming schedule. Time management skills are essential. A film producer should be able to effectively create and follow a budget. Specialized production software may be used to keep things organized and moving forward successfully.
Flexibility: With a project as large and complex as filmmaking, problems and unforeseen circumstances inevitably arise. A producer must be able to adapt to new situations and effectively solve problems.
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