Ever watched a movie? Sure you have.
But, have you wondered deeply about who organizes it? Who secures the rights to the script? Who decides the budget? Believe it or not, there is a lot that goes into making a film and the actors are just a small part of it.
And, one of the most important members responsible for managing the above tasks and taking most of the critical decisions is the producer.
So, today, let me give you a quick brief into who a producer is, what exactly they do, their types, and how you too can become one.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
A film producer is someone who oversees the entire filmmaking process. From the development, pre-production, the production, post-production, and all the way to the release.
They are very important to a film set and rarely does a film lack a producer. Moreover, they decide how the set will be procured and follow up on the film until it is eventually released.
So, for everything a film needs or is associated with the film, a producer is the organizer.
As we have already mentioned, they oversee the film production process. That is their primary role. But it goes further than that.
They organize all details of the film and are equally responsible for launching the project, hiring the crew, hiring the scriptwriters, and sometimes even hiring and interviewing the actors.
They are in fact the first to notice the commercial and creative implications of the film. So whenever a film grosses over its profits, it could be easily assumed that the producer worked really hard to push the film to its success.
Furthermore, they are the overall decision makers and are involved in choosing and securing the rights to the script, a process called optioning. They will also decide on the scale and budget of the firm and in most cases will have to seek funding from investors, movie houses, distributors, and even financial institutions.
Another role producers have is spotting and solving any problems that arise on the set. In fact, when we say ‘any’, we literally mean every problem. From the hiring process to complications in logistics, the producers will handle every one of them.
We know that films are sometimes shot on a set, but sometimes, the shooting has to take place at a specific location. And, it is up to the producer to select and approve the locations. Also, the producer will need to ensure that the people needed to staff these locations are hired and are always available when needed.
In addition, the producers have the ultimate responsibility over all legal and health details of all the staff. On top of that, a producer will have to take caution to bring in legal counsel and have a medical team on hand whenever needed.
One question we all ask ourselves is how are producers and directors different from each other? Indeed, we confuse between the two. Contrary to popular thought, they couldn’t be more different.
A clear difference between the two have, is in the type of roles they handle.
A producer handles the business side of the production process, whereas the director handles the creative side. So a producer may hire the actor but the director will provide the monologues and lines.
In addition to that, there may be more than one producer on a set while a director is usually just one. This is because the business of running a set is heavy and needs many producers to combine their efforts.
However, many times, what the director does is hire an assistant director, who now communicates with the producers at all times. Sometimes the producer may offer creative ideas and the director may suggest how to run the set, however, their roles are very different and they do work well together most of the time.
Moreover, producers work with everyone on the set from the director to the marketing executives. On the other hand, directors, being the creative heads, will work with the actors, the creative team of costume and photography, and finally the editors to make the “director’s cut”.
Another difference to note is that the producer hires the director and not the other way around.
So, now that you know the difference between a director and a producer, let’s now discuss some of the skills one needs to become an efficient producer.
A good understanding of filmmaking is really very important in becoming a good producer. At the same time, a producer needs to understand how each department in the production process works.
But one important skill a producer should have is the ability to organize. If the producer cannot account for every penny received and spent, or cannot be able to organize all the parts of the production process flawlessly, then the film is bound to fail even before it begins.
Furthermore, producers should be comfortable with people, because everyone on the set will come to the producer with their problems. If he/she is not able to solve the problems or at least calm people down, the filming process could stall or fail completely.
Also, every producer should be commercially aware. They need to know how to get funding and how to make the film successful. While the marketing team may market the film to investors and distribution houses, the producer should have a convincing take for the film to succeed.
A good producer is also a good leader. As mentioned above, producers are the “big shots” of every film produced. They need to lead everyone into working together. They should be able to assign duties and make decisions with confidence. However, there is a clear distinction between a leader and a tyrant. A producer who bullies or is rude most of the time only serves to make the production process difficult.
Moreover, a good producer needs to know how to delegate. A producer, no matter how talented he or she is cannot be in two places at once, so being able to delegate some of the jobs will come in handy, and will equally help in managing physical and mental exhaustion.
In addition, producers need to be good at storytelling. Remember that the producer works with all teams which means that eventually, they have a hand in the creative parts. They need to be able to identify a story and then discuss whatever needs to be changed. A good source to learn the importance of storytelling in filmmaking and how to effectively do it can be found here.
However, the education and experience of a producer is the most important factor. A very good producer is most likely to have studied production in college and university and then went on to work on small projects learning the ropes and gaining experience.
Also, one of the soft skills needed by a producer is ‘effective communication’. A good producer needs to know how to communicate with everyone efficiently while expressing what they want to be done clearly to their staff. This helps them to avoid conflict and the work chain flows faster and smoother.
So, now that we have gone through what skills and qualities you need to be a producer, how about we look at how long it will take one to become a film producer?
There are several ways to become a producer. Most have gone to school and got their bachelor’s degree in a film-related field. Others only got an associate's degree. Yet, others just started working in a studio and worked their way upwards.
As for the time, let’s divide the factors that will dictate how long it should ideally take for you to become a producer:
While there are no set educational requirements, most producers have a degree in a film-related field or even specifically film production, where they learn the intricate process of producing films. A bachelor’s degree takes about 4 years to complete as long as you study without breaks.
For those who pick an associate’s degree, this takes a short period of only two years. This type of degree would only give a basic education on film production, but for some, this is all one needs to give oneself a step in the film production career.
Although, you do not necessarily need to go to school to become a film producer. This brings us to the next factor.
This is mostly for people who are willing to take a little risk. Well, everything is a risk but as a producer, if you are going into the industry without formal education, it is going to take a lot of hard work, long hours, and a little bit of luck on your side.
But it can be done. You simply have to find a studio you can work at and work yourself up the career ladder. You could try moving to a place like California where most studios are located, or even work for an agent.
All in all, it may take several years to become a film producer. And no one really succeeds on their first try. From two years to however long will depend on how hard you will work, and how willing you are to learn.
So is it hard to become a producer? Let’s see
Well, it is both easy and hard to become a film producer.
You do not need much to call yourself a producer. Nor do you need any accreditation or license to practice.
But how do like-minded individuals know about your skills and offer you scripts to produce?
Yes, that is where it gets hard.
Putting yourself out there and making people notice just how good you are is tough. So, one of the best ways could be that after learning everything you need about film production, you could produce small films or low-budget movies.
As we are living in times where we have easy access to the internet, it becomes even easier to produce a small film and post it online. However, this will require that you are very hard working and keen to get noticed.
For you to be a household name when it comes to movie production, your dedication and hard work will have to be assured.
Today, many individuals are starting their journeys to film production on platforms such as YouTube and Vimeo. So, if you really want to try it, you can explore more such platforms here and give it a chance.
So, as you now know how long it takes to become a producer and how complex you can expect it to be. Let's now look at the exact steps you need to take to become a film producer.
By now we have discussed several informal ways to become a film producer, but if you are looking for specific steps toward becoming a film producer, here they are:
If you are completely green and starting at a studio is harder for you, consider getting a degree in film or a related field. Many colleges and universities of art will usually offer such courses so you might want to check around for a course that fits your budget and time.
Alternatively, you could find an online course on film production. Again the internet has made it increasingly easy to access courses even out of state and at times that can also allow you to work simultaneously.
Additionally, school immensely helps you connect with people in the same fields, and many times you may find work way sooner than if you were just looking for it without a degree.
These are some of the best ways to get yourself established as a film producer. So, now that you already know it, let's go through what you might potentially earn for your work.
As is for every career, even producers get paid for their work.
Averagely, film producers earn about $70000 per year. That is around $35. 90 for every hour they work. This is just the median rate.
However, some producers at the bottom scale earn less than $30000 per year. This is also the entry-level salary for a producer and the responsibilities are not so much. On the flip side, some of the very accomplished producers may earn over $140000 per year.
So, it is clearly evident that with time, you can expect to progress until you are considered an established name.
Also, please note that these rates are from the United States, and you might find some states such as California, New York, and Connecticut paying more than other states. However, if you are at any other location, you can accordingly check the salary range in your area.
In addition, it is important to note that these are just the salaries. Producers sometimes earn more on their roles based on their contracts.
If so, you might be wondering how are they paid through contracts. Aren’t you?
So, let’s learn that now.
Based on what has been agreed on in the contract, the producer may earn on one or several fronts. For example- If it’s in terms of salaries. Then this is agreed on before and the producer is paid regardless of whether the film is successful or not.
Another way producers earn is after the film is successful. So the producer is only paid at the end of the film and only an agreed-on percentage of the total proceeds. This pushes many producers to make a successful film, as their salaries are pegged on the success of the film.
To do this, the producers root for A-list actors, good equipment, and great scripts just to make a film people will pay money to see and probably win an award.
In addition to salaries dependent on the success of the film, sometimes producers are paid from the profits of ticket sales. Again the more the film sells, the more the producer earns. This is why some films are heavily advertised and hyped to encourage more people to buy them.
That being said, producers do get paid in a lot of other different ways. But do they also get royalties? Let’s see.
Royalties are usually paid to the owners or patentee of an artistic piece of work.
So producers do not get royalties in the sense that royalties are usually not available to them. But they do get back-end payments on profits in case the film gets syndicated by companies like Netflix, Amazon, and such.
And whenever a different group takes on the movie, the producers may earn on it.
So how do their salaries compare to others? Do they make more than actors? Read on to explore.
Producers do get paid more than actors when the film is successful, and from that, we mean Jurassic World kind of successful.
But if the movie is kind of a flop, the actors usually make more. This is because the actors are usually brought to the film with a predesigned salary range. Actors are like employees, and producers are like partners. When the film losses the producers lose too, while the actors may not be affected by the loss.
Now that we have taken care of these details, let's look at the different kinds of film producers you can become.
If you are going to be working in the film industry, you will be meeting every one of these kinds of producers, or you may someday end up being one of the several.
So, I am sure, it would be beneficial for you to learn who these producers are and what they do.
Let’s start from the top. This is usually the person who funds the film project. So films will usually reserve an executive producer credit for the person funding the film. You will usually see the name when the credits are rolling. They sometimes also help with the distribution of the film when it is done, and will often start hyping the film even when it is in production.
In addition to that, executive producers will often be available during the production process to manage other producers and handle questions regarding the production process.
As they have heavily invested in the film, they have all interests for the film to succeed.
The purpose of this article was to show you who a producer is. So, by now, you may have noticed that the producer is some sort of a “Jack-of-all-Trades”. They have to be so because they have their fingers in every pie throughout the production process. They are there during inception, staff coordination, managing the production process, controlling finances, and even working with the editors.
Do you see all the roles played by a producer? That’s why they happen to be one of the most important crew members in a film.
Another thing to note about producers is that they could either be self-employed contractors or be employed by the Production Company or studio.
This supervisor oversees one or more producers in the production process. They are producers in the normal sense except they focus more on supervising the other producers.
They sometimes work in the capacity of an executive producer or stand alone as the supervisor.
Additionally, they are involved with everything during productions, and once the filming is done, they are involved in organizing the distribution process. This could be one of the most work-intensive tasks among other producers in the crew.
You might think this producer is junior to the producer. But, you will be surprised to learn that the name is usually ceremonial to someone who has put in some part of the funding.
They are mostly not involved in the general work of film production, and may not even know how to do it. The assistant producer or associate producer does nothing on set. Although they are important to production, they are not involved in the process itself.
This kind of producer is exactly what their name implies. They supervise everything below the management line. That is everyone and everything below the screenwriters, directors, producers, and the main cast. So they will supervise the crew, oversee finances, and anything else left from the top hierarchy.
However, having a line producer makes sense if the set is small or modestly sized. On bigger sets, a unit manager will oversee individual units such as art, sound, or marketing departments.
The co-producer is someone who works alongside the producer. They are very involved in the pre-production and production process. Also called the above-the-line producer, they are part of the high-level decision-makers.
In addition to working with a producer, they work directly below the executive producer and help with casting, finance, and several other top-level tasks.
Making a film is demanding, but that’s why production coordinators are there. This is a very important behind the scene role that makes sure the cameras keep rolling. This role is a below-the-line position meaning, the production coordinator will be given instructions but he/she will have to find a way to execute their duties to the best advantage.
The main role of a production coordinator is to help the producer with all the aspects of the physical act of making films. And most of their work happens during film production.
A production coordinator also acts as a point of contact with the crew and also tracks schedules involving transportation.
It is important to note that a production coordinator’s job is only during a film production so the job is gig-based.
This kind of producer can be thought of as a better marketer. They are responsible for creating a brand or giving the film an audience. They look at market trends and will often advise senior-level producers and directors on what to create in line with what people are looking for.
This is the reason why you see phases of a certain type of film, for example, a series of horror movies.
This is the guy who handles the shots. The visual effects producer mostly tries to keep the film on time and budget. And that is no little task. Often it involves managing hundreds of people in making sure the set runs as it should. Often when you watch a movie, there is an entire list of people being praised for their hard work.
Good qualities for a visual effects producer include people management skills and the ability to work under extreme pressure.
Now, this is the most general of all producers. He is independent and is not considered a part of the company. This also makes him exercise a little more freedom as compared to others.
Moreover, he also has the power to hire and fire actors and crew, manage the budget, and even bring independent funding.
So, if you want to work creatively, the profile of an independent film producer would be perfect for you.
This type of producer does not need to be part of the hired crew. The consulting producer is usually called in to provide a fresh set of eyes, as a consultant. They guide the crew on what is needed and correct anything that goes out of step or suggests changes.
They mostly work in reality shows or long television shows. And, the numerous twists and turns we see in many of our favorite shows or even movies are mostly their contribution.
A web producer focuses on creating digital platforms for marketing and promotional purposes. Web producers are in many industries but in the film industry, the web producer is responsible for creating websites to promote an upcoming film, developing marketing materials like posters and trailers to be posted online, and copywriting for the websites they create.
This producer is kind of a PR specialist for films. It is an extremely rewarding position and sometimes the success of a film is hinged on this producer’s abilities.
So, now that we have explored the different types of producers you can be, let’s see what else you need to know about producing.
Producers have to raise funds and then manage it which must be difficult because funding is unpredictable and combustible with the risk of an investor pulling out. Moreover, producers have to manage people and all their problems. They have to stay on top of things and in case of any problem, solve it. Producers also have to deal with cranky directors and if they are employed by a studio, have to deal with corporate politics too.
And above all, the long hours. The time spend shooting one scene to get it just right could sometime be really long. Thanks to the revolution that storyboarding software such as MakeStoryboard brought to the industry. Creating and visualizing stories are now a matter of just minutes. And, if you are curious to know how- here’s a quick brief that you can follow.
So yes, being a good producer at times could be stressful. However, it is equally a rewarding career, especially if being a producer is something you want to pursue, and you know how to leverage the power of technology at the right time.
After all, some of the most accomplished producers have been in the industry for years. And, that brings us to the last question, if it is actually a good career.
With everything we have illustrated above, film production is a taxing career. But which career is not, especially if you have no love for what you do?
Film production is an excellent career choice for people who are interested in the business side of filmmaking. This is for someone who is organized, possesses great people skills, is great at delegation, and most of all can handle great amounts of pressure.
As mentioned, a film producer will take a script and make a film out of it and ensure at least a modicum of success. In addition, films are a popular entertainment choice for people, and we still need more and newer movies to watch, so for a producer, the career is assured and expected to grow. In that regard, film production is a good career.
The producer is at most times backstage, and we may never know what they do to make sure we have a great movie. However, as a career, it is rewarding and fulfilling. You earn a good salary, and you get to do what you love.
So, next time when you are done watching a movie, you can now appreciate the numerous names including the producers as the credit roll.
Nonetheless, I hope you now know what you need to do and what you need to have for you to be successful as a film producer.
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