A producer acts as an executive decision-maker on a television or movie project. As a producer, you would have many duties, but chief among them would be acting as the creative sparkplug and displaying an entrepreneurial spirit that would allow a film, television show, or commercial to be created as quickly and efficiently as possible. As a producer, you would be responsible for making the business- and budget-related decisions of the project. The producer is responsible for shaping the project, from script selection to hiring a director to approving any major changes to the film or television show.
Development (film rights)
During this stage of the production process, producers bring together people like the film director, cinematographer, and production designer. Unless the film is supposed to be based on an original script, the producer has to find an appropriate screenwriter. The producer also has the final say on which film director, cast members, or other staff gets hired. In some cases, they also have the last word when it comes to casting questions. A producer’s role will also consist of approving locations, the studio hire, the final shooting script, the production schedule, and the budget. More time and money spent in pre-production can reduce the time and money wasted during production time.
During production, the producer’s job is to make sure the film stays on schedule and under budget. They will always be in contact with directors and other key creative team members. In addition to this, cast and film crew often work at different times or places, and certain films even require a second unit. Consequently, it is normal that the main producer will appoint executive producers, line producers, or unit production managers who represent the main producer’s interests and vision.
For various reasons, producers cannot always personally supervise all parts of their production. For example, some producers run a company which also deals with film distribution. Also, cast and film crew often work at different times and places, and certain films even require a second unit. Consequently, it is normal that the main producer will appoint executive producers, line producers, or unit production managers who represent the main producer’s interests.
During post-production, the producer has the last word on whether sounds, music, or scenes have to be changed or cut. Even if the shooting has been finished, the producers can still demand that additional scenes be filmed. In the case of a negative test screening, producers may even demand and get an alternative film ending. This happened, for example, with First Blood. The test audience reacted very negatively when Rambo died, so the producers re-shot a new ending. In addition to this, producers work with marketing and distribution companies in order to sell the film or arrange its distribution rights.
As a television/film/video producer, you’ll need to:
- Raise funding
- Read, research and assess ideas and finished scripts
- Commission writers or secure the rights to novels, plays or screenplays
- Build and develop a network of contacts
- Liaise and discuss projects with financial backers
- Maintain contemporary technical skills
- Ensure compliance with relevant regulations, codes of practice and health and safety laws
- Act as a sounding board for the director
There are many different ways to become a film producer. Some producers started as editors and writers, while other producers started as actors or directors.
However, most producers start in a college, university or film school. Many colleges offer courses that include film production knowledge, with some courses that are especially designed for future film producers. These courses focus on key topics like pitching, script development, script assessment, shooting schedule design, and budgeting. Students can also expect practical training regarding post-production. Training at a top producing school is one of the most efficient ways a student can show professionals they are not a rookie.
While education is one way to begin a career as a film producer, experience is also required to land a job. Internships are a great way to gain experience while in school and give students a solid foundation on which to build their career. This pays off in the end when looking for jobs after school. Once an internship is over, the next step typically will be to land a junior position, such as a production assistant.
There is no average work day for a film producer, since their tasks are changing from day to day. A producer’s work hours are often irregular and can consist of very long days with the possibility of working nights and weekends. Work involves regular unsocial hours and long hours and time spent in meetings or on location is the norm.
WHAT TO EXPECT
- The working environment may vary. Producers may spend a lot of time in the office or may be based in a studio or on location. Much of the work is in London, or other large cities, but location work can be anywhere in the country.
- Self-employment and freelance work are common and work is frequently offered on a contract basis. The freelance nature of the work may cause some employment insecurity.
- The ratio of male to female producers is approximately equal.
- You need to be highly motivated and able to withstand pressure as this job can be very stressful.
- Flexibility and mobility are extremely important, as is the ability to handle a high level of financial responsibility.