Keeping it Reel

What Does a Producer do?


When you think about creating a film, you probably think about everyone you’ll need for the process. You need a writer (or at least a script), you need actors, you need a sound guy; you need a lot of people. But one role you probably don’t think of filling is the “producer.”

When you are making Youtube videos with your friends or working on a high school film project, you can be responsible for any number of things. You can play editor, cinematographer, writer, and actor. All of these positions must be filled for the film to take place. But while these positions are rather clean-cut, “producer” is not. You may never even consider who is going to “produce” your project. This is because you have probably been filling the role of “producer” without even realizing it. Which brings up the question:

What exactly does a producer do?

Just because you haven’t defined the role of a producer, doesn’t mean it is not important. Before you start shooting a film or a video, you probably do things like write a script, gather a crew and cast, and buy any equipment or props you might need. These responsibilities are actually responsibilities of a producer. Producers are in charge of planning, organizing, and managing a film. In fact, the process normally begins and ends with the producer. Below is a list of duties producers have over the course of a production.

Pre-Production

  • Acquire a script (or come with an idea and hire a writer)
  • Secure funding for the film
  • Assemble a creative team
  • Hire a cast and crew
  • Develop a shooting schedule.
  • Hire a production team
  • Coordinate shooting locations

Production:

  • Handle problems with actors or creative staff.
  • Manage the budget
  • Keep shooting schedule on track

Post-Production

  • Discuss order and selection of scenes with the director.
  • Review the final cut and give input
  • Assess whether additional shooting needs to be done
  • Secure distribution rights
  • Monitor promotional strategy and activity

On a small scale, this work may seem manageable for one single individual, but try to think of how much work goes into a multi-million dollar, Hollywood production. Hundreds of people must be cast, numerous locations that must be secured, and a budget that must be managed with incredible scrutiny. If you look back at the duties of a producer in pre-production, you’ll see “hire a production team.”

One of the first things a producer does is hire a team of qualified individuals to help with the production responsibilities of a film. Below is a list of the multiple types of producers that might be working on a single film along with the main producer.

 

  • Executive Producer: Supervises a producer as they perform their duties often as a representative of a studio. They ensure that a film is completed on time, within budget, and that any previously set standards are followed.
  • Associate Producer: Is assigned tasks by the main producer. This title is often given as a courtesy to someone who has contributed to the film in some way but may not have actually handled production duties.
  • Assistant Producer: Works as a producer’s right-hand man (or woman), assisting the producer in all three phases of the filming process.
  • Co-Producer: Shares responsibility with main producer. In many cases, one producer may oversee the creative aspect of a film while another overseas financial and legal tasks.
  • Line Producer: Is generally not involved in creative decisions. A line producer manages day-to-day activities handling any problems or roadblocks that may occur.

It can be easy to overlook the business aspects of film, but as you can see, producing is no joke. So…

Have you considered producing?

Do you want to clear the way for other creatives and make sure a film gets done? Do you want to have control over the filming process? Do you have what it takes to manage a project from beginning to end? The only way to find out is to give it a try!

If you want to learn more about the career options you might have after studying producing, download our Film Career Guide below. You’ll get a list of all of the different emphases Columbia College Hollywood offers (producing, writing, editing and visual effects, directing, acting, and more), and careers related to each emphasis. Just click below to start exploring!

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This blog is a collaborative effort by CCH staff and administration who want to share their knowledge with the film school community and prospective students.