What does a film producer do? (With required skills)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 6 July 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Film production is a complicated process with a variety of different roles and responsibilities that are essential to effective film production. It's a film producer's role to manage the entire project from start to finish, taking on different duties to ensure the successful production of a film, which also meets production deadlines and budgets. If you're passionate about film, then a career as a film producer may be of interest. In this article, we answer the question 'What does a film producer do?', look at the required skills and how to become one.
What does a film producer do?
If you have an interest in media, you may benefit from learning the answer to the question 'What does a film producer do?'. Film producers are key decision-makers in the production of a film. They're heavily involved in the financial, practical and creative direction of the project and often begin working at the very beginning of a production. Producers often spot the opportunity for a production before it happens, analysing the creative and commercial viability of a project. This support then continues throughout the project, meaning they work with several different stakeholders during the creation of the film.
Producers typically act as the decision-makers on a project and generally have different roles, depending on the stage that the project is at during the production process. Some of these responsibilities include:
Film producer roles during pre-production
Before the film enters production, a film producer is responsible for either creating or optioning a script. They may have an original idea that they're looking to create or they may adapt current material into their own screenplay. If the film is an adaptation, the producer obtains rights to the material and hires writers that can help them get the script ready for production.
Film producers are also responsible for securing funding for the production. They decide on the scale of the project, analyse the necessary budget and pitch to the studios, investors or distributors that can fund the project. If the production is independently funded, the producer manages the money and ensures the entire project stays within budget. Once this is in place, they begin hiring the necessary staff, including the directors, cast and crew.
Film producer roles during production
Once the filming of a production has begun, there's typically a production schedule and budgeting plan that the director and crew follow, which reduces the workload of the producer. While this can differ from project to project, it depends on the amount of input the producer wants to have within the production. Some film producers may assist a director with reviewing important scenes. The producer ultimately is responsible for maintaining a productive, healthy work environment and ensuring everything runs smoothly, while also maintaining the health and safety of the crew.
Film producer roles during post-production
After filming is complete, a film producer works with the director and senior crew members to ensure the film is of a high standard. Their role during this time is to ensure they complete post-production on schedule and meet distribution deadlines. If a studio isn't present within the project, a producer's role is to market the film to distributors through face-to-face pitches or by showcasing the film at a film festival. Here, the producer negotiates distribution rights, creates release plans and builds a marketing strategy.
Types of film producer
There are several different types of film producers that can work on a project and this may vary, according to the scale and budget of the production. Depending on the role, each producer has a unique title and responsibilities. Below, you can find a list of some of the most common types of film producer and what their role is:
A co-producer typically works under an executive producer and assists with daily tasks, despite not having a financial stake in the project. They help with a range of tasks across all stages of the project, including pre-production and post-production. As a support role, co-producers are typically more junior than executive producers.
The executive producer is the most senior producer on a project and manages any other hired producers. The executive producer is in charge of financing the project, business relationships, distribution and creating a production schedule. If other producers work on the project, the executive producer typically deals with the creative tasks. Depending on the film, there may be several executive producers assigned to different areas of production.
A line producer manages daily tasks assigned to the project and is typically more of a presence on set to help the cast and crew. They oversee the budget and ensure that the production schedule follows a set timeline. A line producer tends to deal with more of the business requirements involved in a production.
Supervising producers oversee the creative side of the production. They may manage the development of the screenplay and assist writers with their tasks. The nature of the supervising producer role means this individual is generally more involved with the creative side of the project.
A field producer is usually a title given to a producer that works off-site or ‘on location'. They travel to the film's shooting location and supervise any production that's happening outside of the studio. It's important that field producers can interpret directions or objectives and effectively communicate them to the unit they're working with in the field.
This title is typically honorary and awarded to an actor or crew member that had a significant impact on the production. It's sometimes provided as extra compensation for an actor. An associate producer doesn't usually have a financial stake in the production.
What skills does a film producer require?
Here are some of the most common skills that a film producer requires to succeed:
As film production requires so many different participants, including financiers, directors, cast and crew, it's important for a film producer to be well-connected. Networking skills can help a producer build relationships and become established in the industry. Having a strong network of contacts makes a producer more desirable and can make it easier to staff or fund a project.
Related: Networking tips for job seekers
Film producers work with a range of different individuals, so being able to clearly convey what they need is essential. From pre-production to post-production, the producer has a vision that needs the help of several stakeholders. Once the project is complete, producers also pitch the film to either distributors or studios, which requires strong communication and negotiation skills.
With so many different elements to consider during film production, having strong organisational skills is important for sticking to a budget and production schedule. Time management is vital, for both the producer and the cast or crew they're organising. Specialised production software can ensure each individual on the production is working to the same budget and timeline, so having strong IT skills is also beneficial.
As the producer is the head of the entire project, the ability to delegate responsibilities and manage people effectively is essential. This requires strong interpersonal skills and an outgoing personality that keeps everyone motivated. As a senior position within a production, a film producer also understands how to work effectively with other senior industry stakeholders to keep the project moving.
Film production requires adaptability and flexibility. This is because problems and challenges can arise at any moment. Film producers ought to be able to quickly adapt to these new situations, adopt efficient problem-solving skills and effectively change their strategy, to match the new requirements.
How to become a film producer
Here are some steps you can follow to secure a role as a film producer:
1. Get a role in the film industry
Producers can learn more about the industry by starting in other areas of the production process. They may start in casting, screenplay writing or even as a crew member. This can help an individual build experience in the wider process before specialising as a producer.
2. Build experience in the industry
Experience is a requirement for this role. Learning about film production, by completing an internship or finding work in low-budget films, can help a producer build their skill base. Some producers find success working in theatre production before moving to film production.
3. Work as a production assistant
Once a producer has more experience within the industry, they may find a role as a production assistant. This is a junior role that allows an individual to learn more about the specific duties of a producer. This role can be useful for shadowing a producer and learning more specific insights about the role a producer plays.
4. Work towards a junior production role
Success in a junior role may result in an individual entering other producer roles, such as a field producer or line producer. Typically, a film producer spends several years in other producer positions before becoming a full-time executive producer. This can be a good time to build the necessary skills to succeed, such as networking, leadership and communication.
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