What does a producer do? (2023)

What is a Producer?

The question, What is a Producer?, is not an easy one to answer; primarily, because the term ‘producer’ is rather vague and confusing and it covers a particularly wide range of roles. However, while producers typically wear many hats, there is one way to separate them from everyone else working on a movie, television show, radio program, or theater project. They are the people responsible for providing the necessary infrastructure, resources, and logistics that allow the people involved only with the creative process to do their creative thing. Producers, therefore, are the indispensable executors who handle money, schedules, contracts, personnel, and a multitude of other less glamourous tasks that are essential to making a production happen.

It is also important to note that the work of a producer often begins even before a creative project is envisioned. The role of some producers, especially those working for a single movie studio or production company, may include finding would-be projects and forging relationships with writers, directors, other producers, and other creatives who may have the next big idea. Among these creatives may be book writers, comic book creators, and other intellectual property holders whose works or personal stories or experiences have potential for licensing as a movie, TV show, or theatrical production. The most accomplished – and prolific – producers extend their relationships to include investors, celebrities, and key personnel such as casting agents, cinematographers, and costume designers.

So, in short, it seems that producers are the support system for artists. They are the people who find the story, who connect investors to their vision, and who ultimately bring structure to the typically chaotic process of film, television/radio, and theatrical production. They are tasked with remaining focused on the big picture – literally and figuratively – and with ensuring that the entire production machine runs smoothly and efficiently from conception to completion, to marketing, and to the audience. They are the managers, collaborators, enablers, and problem solvers. It has been said that producers are truly the adults in the room, who give the dreamers a safe place to play and weave their magic.

What does a Producer do?

What does a producer do? (1)

Before outlining some of the specific tasks and responsibilities that make up a producer’s role, here are excerpts from interviews with several working producers, in which they explain their day-to-day job:

Emma Brunjes
‘Artistically, to create and support the creative team and the entire company throughout the process at every level… from the emergency tea or wine meeting with the writer to the complexities of technical rehearsals and high-octane anxieties that run on press night. To get bums on seats, working strategically, collaboratively, and in detail with your press and marketing teams. Crucially, to raise the finances and engage with those key supporters who have made it possible for you to mount your production in the first place. To be fair, transparent, diligent, and grateful. And always, to believe wholeheartedly in what you’re creating, who you are creating it with, and go for it 110%.’

Vicky Graham
‘The producer is financially and legally responsible for the production and everyone working on it. She or he chooses the venue, engages the artists, sets and manages the budget, raises the money, identifies the audience, enables the show to be the best it can be for the longest possible run, and reports to funders/investors at the end. It’s the best job in theater.’

James Seabright
‘The producer's role can appear confusing and indefinable. The briefest of definitions would be that the producer is responsible for delivering a good show, on time, and in budget. The producer also typically defines what is 'on time' and 'in budget' for the show, as well as raising the money required to fund the production.’

Edward Snape
‘A producer is someone who makes things happen. They need to be both creative and financially literate, and ultimately, the balance between the two skills is what makes each individual producer unique.’

Matthew Byam Shaw
‘To be the creative guardian of an idea, to gather as many friends in support of the idea and to wield a big stick against enemies of the idea.’

Carole Winter
‘The producer is the person in charge. The person who carries the risk, who hires and fires the staff, and who tries to make the play a viable commercial proposition – to the investors, the creative team, theatre owners, and ultimately the audience.’

Michael Harrison
‘The producer brings all of the elements associated with presenting a show together. Whether they have had the initial idea and commissioned a writer or have been inspired by an existing piece of work or someone else's idea, the producer assembles the creative team, raises the money, and makes it all happen.’

Tobias Round
‘To make it happen. Whatever 'it' might be. To create or identify an idea or product, and see it through to the end.’

Paul Elliott
‘The producer's job is to co-ordinate all aspects of a production – to nurture the idea and form a team that is right to stage the show and raise money to put it on, and keep a close eye on the budget. There is far more detail in dealing with the personalities involved but the producer must be the leader.’

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Chris Stafford
‘Aside from spinning many plates, my job is to ensure the right conditions and resources are in place for artists and creatives to make the best possible work for our audiences. The best producers, I believe, are creative and find ways to bring the best out of the team; they are responsible for unifying everyone under a shared sense of purpose, vision, and direction.’

Danielle Tarento
‘A producer is pretty much in charge of everything, but if they’ve hired the right team, that doesn’t actually mean they actually do everything. Strong heads of departments will take charge of their own staff, so it’s essential that the producer picks a solid creative and production team. Another vital component of a producer’s job is raising the money to pay for the production. How do you find investors? That. My friends, is the $64,000 question that no amount of training will answer for you. They’re out there… but an investor-producer relationship is a special one that needs to be nurtured over time, and we producers keep our investors close to our chests. They are, after all, our lifeline.’

So, while the job of a producer can be articulated in more than one way, it is clear that the role is one of vision, leadership, authority, and control.

The following focuses more on the job of a producer in film, television, or theater; with the primary emphasis being on film production. While radio program production may involve some of these aspects, it is typically considerably less complex.

In the simplest of terms, a producer has three major areas of responsibility:

  • Turn a story idea into a profitable production
  • Put together a creative and talented cast and crew
  • Be responsible for all aspects of a production

These three areas of responsibility translate into a rather large portfolio of work. Producers have overall control of every aspect of a production. They bring together and approve the entire production team. Above all, they must create an environment in which the talents of the cast and crew can flourish. Producers are accountable for the success of the finished movie, television show, or theatrical production. They steer it from beginning to completion and beyond. Not surprisingly, then, the responsibilities of the producer span all four phases of production:

Development Phase

The producer is commonly the first person to get involved in a project. In the development stage, producers are often responsible for coming up with the idea for a production, or selecting a screenplay. They secure the rights and choose the screenwriter and story editing team. They raise the development financing and supervise the development process.

Typically, the development phase is the longest and can take many years with no guarantee of the project ever seeing the dark of a cinema. After purchasing the right to develop the source material, the producer will work with the writer to develop the screenplay.

As the script advances, a director will be brought on board who will, invariably, have input into the further development of the screenplay. Together, the creative team will establish the best way to turn pages of paper into a film.

To give the project the best chance in the marketplace, the producer will seek to attach at least one high-profile actor who satisfies the creative needs of the story, as well as the expectations of potential investors who are seeking to mitigate their risk.

The producer must balance the needs of each party with the overall vision for the project; it is not uncommon for the creative and financial needs to be at odds with each other.

Pre-production Phase

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In pre-production, producers hire other key members of the creative team. This includes the cinematographer, production designer, musicians, choreographers, costume designers, and principal cast members. They conduct salary and contract negotiations, and must be familiar with relevant workplace legislation and union or association agreements. Producers also help the executive producers raise money for the production. Once initial financing is secured, producers select heads of departments and other production personnel. They also approve locations, the hiring of a production studio, the final shooting script, the production schedule, and the budget. Smart time and money spent in pre-production can reduce the amount of time and money wasted when production gets underway.

Throughout the development and pre-production phases, the Pitch Package for potential investors is put together. This process may involve a film financing company and sales organizations which will sell the film to foreign distributors. The pitch package typically consists of:

  • A treatment/presentation of the script, normally from one page to ten pages in length
  • A copy of the rights to the story, all options, and acquisitions agreements
  • An investment proposal that lays out the terms and conditions of the investment
  • A document outlining comparable box office returns on films of a similar genre or tone
  • Market research on current trends, with emphasis on projects that have recently gone into production
  • Talent connected to the project. This section of the pitch package identifies the director, screenwriter, and cast; it addresses their experience and comprises their contractual commitment to or letter of interest in the project. It also includes any crew agreements in place.
  • A copy of the budget; strategies for funding and distribution; any evidence of commitments or interest
  • Revenue projections
  • Any examples of press coverage the company has generated; any marketing materials commissioned

Production Phase

Once the film is in production, producers oversee the day-to-day operation of the production team. They are the first point of contact for all production partners, investors, and distributors. They work particularly closely with the director and other key creatives, both on and off set. Throughout this stage, the director makes creative decisions, while the producer makes the business, financial, and logistical decisions, approving all script changes and cost reports. Producers do their fair share of troubleshooting during production, dealing with actors, crews, and technical difficulties that call for additional hires. They are expected to provide reassurance among stress.

Post-production Phase

During post-production, producers liaise with the director and members of the post-production team to accomplish the following:

  • If the shoot is over budget, look for additional funding
  • Edit the film
  • Apply VFX (visual effects outside live-action shots)
  • Compose a musical score and combine it with post-production sound
  • Verify credits
  • Arrange preview screenings, which can mean re-editing the film to reach a version that everyone agrees upon
  • Plan the marketing, promotion, and distribution of the finished film; this normally includes advance press, media interviews, release of promotional clips, and promo tours

Considering the breadth of responsibility that accompanies the title of Producer, it is rare to find one individual who has the expertise and vision to effectively execute all of the tasks across all four phases of production. On multi-million-dollar productions, especially, practicality may dictate that a hierarchy of producers is required:

Executive Producer (EP)
Typically, the executive producer is someone who finances a film, but is not 100% involved in the day-to-day creative process during production. The EP can be a studio head, an owner of a production company, or anyone involved in investment in the film. Executive producers can oversee multiple films at the same time. Sometimes, an individual who may have very little to do with the film may be appointed as an EP simply because their A-list name lends credibility to the project and may attract financing and increase marketability.

Co-Executive Producer
Studio executives and distributors who have made financing commitments to the project are often credited as co-executive producers.

The producer is hired by the executive producer to be the equivalent of a project/logistics manager in a corporation. Some producers work in partnership; others work alone.

The term co-producer can refer to a few types of producer. This credit often goes to a line producer (see below), an investor, or the screenwriter whose script was optioned. It can also refer to a producer attached to another production company if the film is a co-production. On a feature fil, the co-producer is the person working closely with the executive producer on matters of finance. On large productions, the co-producer will be involved in the day-to-day running of the production.

Associate Producer
Associate producers may be delegated work by the producer and their responsibilities may span all three stages of production, or they can be based primarily at the production company overseeing several productions simultaneously. ‘Associate producer’ is also the credit given to backers of the film who have made a financial investment.

Assistant Producer
Assistant producers work with the associate producer throughout the production.

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Line Producer
The line producer is responsible for creating the budget and tracking and logging expenses. On smaller productions, a line producer may not be necessary, as these responsibilities may be part of the producer’s portfolio.

Unit Production Manager (UPM)
The UPM allocates monies from the budget and oversees spending. Unit production mangers are responsible for the physical aspects of production, but are not involved in any of the creative work. They are imperative to executing certain logistics. They hire and manage the crew, deal with gear and equipment rental, and run the production office.

All of the above roles are vital, particularly to larger-scale and larger-budget creative projects. Each set of responsibilities can be expanded to support the foundational role: that of the producer. If the director makes a creative idea happen creatively, then the producer makes a creative idea happen logistically. Without his or her idea and ability to inspire the right people, there are no logistics to plan and no need to hire a support team to implement them.

Are you suited to be a producer?

Producers have distinct personalities. They tend to be enterprising individuals, which means they’re adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic. They are dominant, persuasive, and motivational. Some of them are also artistic, meaning they’re creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, and expressive.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if producer is one of your top career matches.

Take the free test now Learn more about the career test

What is the workplace of a Producer like?

The work environment is high-stress with a great deal of pressure. Assignments may be short, ranging from commercials to training videos to radio shorts; or they may be longer, ranging from documentaries to music videos to feature films. Many producers are self-employed, while others are employed directly by the motion picture or video industry or in radio and television broadcasting. Some producers work in performing arts and sporting industries, cable television, or radio. Hours are irregular and often very long, with weekend, evening, and holidays forming part of the regular work day.

The work location for a producer may be a theatre or soundstage, a television studio, or a radio station. Much of the producer's work is done outside of the workplace. The job may also be mobile when filming on location or traveling with a touring company. Weather conditions may sometimes be a factor.

Although producers in the U.S. and Canada can find work in different production fields almost anywhere, much of the work is concentrated in several large centres that serve as the hub of the motion picture industry. Many producers work on contract and move from one location to another, often learning the trade in other countries with major film industry centres, such as Bollywood or Teluga cinema, France, or Hong Kong. Films are also sometimes produced in these other centres as a way to manage costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Steps to becoming a Producer

With many jobs in the production industry, there is a degree of interchangeability. Training in one field can often be carried over into different roles. That said, there are some reliable starting points and steps that typically carve the path to becoming a producer.

How long does it take to become a Producer?

It is difficult to state definitively how long it takes to become a producer because the path to the job varies greatly among the people who pursue it.

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What is true is that most aspiring producers earn a university degree. A typical Bachelor’s program can be completed in four years and a Master’s in another two. It is after this four- or six- year educational track that the path to working as a producer diverges, at least somewhat. While the majority of graduates looking to enter the production industry do so at lower-level assistant positions, there is no standard of how long they need to progress to the role of producer. This progression depends on a combination of talent, opportunity, ambition, and some luck.

Should I become a Producer?

Producers are involved throughout every stage of a film, television, or theater project, from conception to final production and distribution. Before deciding to pursue this profession, take time to consider both its demands and the skills required to carry them out:


 Decide which projects to produce, or independently initiate project ideas Read scripts Secure the rights to books or scripts for screenplays, or negotiate with writers to produce new screenplays Determine the resources that are needed Identify sources of financing and raise funds Research, review, and approve locations Negotiate terms with distributors and broadcasters Oversee production plans, promotion, and schedules Recruit and hire key staff, including writers, directors, production crew, and cast Ensure completion of post-production work Manage production budget

Required skills

 Creativity and vision Presentation and negotiation skills Leadership and management ability Planning and organizational skills Financial acumen and budgeting skills

Being comfortable with the components of the producer’s role and confident that you possess or can develop the aptitudes needed to succeed in it are certainly significant steps toward a potential career in the field. It should also be noted, though, that the job’s hours are typically very long and often very irregular. In addition, full-time work is extremely rare; freelance contracting is the norm in this industry.

Are Producers happy?

Producers rank highly among careers. Overall they rank in the 77th percentile of careers for satisfaction scores. Please note that this number is derived from the data we have collected from our Sokanu members only.

The reasoning behind this result may be rather simple: people who work in the arts generally have a lot to be happy about. The arts are fairly free-form and flexible and they allow – in fact, require – a high degree of creativity. Instead of seeking a creative outlet, artists work in one.

One recent study showed that of the six activities that make people happiest, four were arts related and theater/dance was one of the four.

What are Producers like?

Based on our pool of users, producers tend to be predominately artistic people.

Certainly, it is no surprise that producers have a strong artistic bent. Film, television, and theater productions are by nature creative endeavors, which involve artists of many kinds. To successfully collaborate with all of these professionals, even while managing the business aspects of the production, the producer at the helm must understand and relate to their artist spirits.

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Producers are also known as:
Movie Producer Film Producer Television Producer TV Producer Motion Picture Producer


What exactly does a producer do? ›

A producer's job involves planning, coordination and management around a movie's script and writing, casting, directing, and editing as well as finances, marketing, release and distribution. A film producer can work for a production company or independently to oversee film production.

What are 3 responsibilities of a producer? ›

Producer duties and responsibilities

Selecting topics and scripts for plays, commercials, shows and films. Auditioning and selecting cast members along with state or film crews. Approving the financial and design aspects of a production.

What is the difference between a producer and executive producer? ›

The producer handles on-set logistics, management, and supervision while the executive producer deals more with off-set issues like negotiating contracts, communicating with investors or studios, and maintaining the business face of production.

Are producers well paid? ›

Producers can make anywhere from $63,000 to $750,000 a year—and producers who work on big-budget studio films can make much, much more, particularly if they work on more than one project each year.

What is producer salary? ›

Producer salary in India ranges between ₹ 2.0 Lakhs to ₹ 15.0 Lakhs with an average annual salary of ₹ 6.0 Lakhs.

Is a producer a hard job? ›

It's a difficult job that requires high levels of time management, problem-solving skills, and organization. This is because producers often provide creative and financial direction for large projects! However, once you become a producer for film and TV shows, there is a lot to love about your job!

How do producers make money? ›

For example, a producer may receive 20% of the total production fee before principal photography, 50% during photography, and then the rest after. Most producers are also promised a cut of the film's profits. Again, how high of a percent you get usually depends on your reputation and level of success.

Who is higher than a producer? ›

A film producer manages the business side of the production, while the director handles the creative side. There are also many producers, (because there are many moving parts to producing a film), while there is typically only one director making the majority of the creative decisions.

How do movie producers get paid? ›

Generally, Producers make money by receiving producing fees set out in the production budget. In other words, Producers don't normally get paid unless their film or television show is actually produced and financed. It is possible to make profits from a successful show, but profitable shows are few and far between.

Who is more powerful director or producer? ›

Producers often have more responsibility than directors because they oversee all aspects of the production as well as its budgeting and scheduling. A producer or director is in charge of the production process for both movies and television shows.

Why do movies have so many producers? ›

They're the ones who traditionally find the project, gather funding; hire the key talent such as directors and main actors, and oversee the production. Producers essentially run the show, and that's why they're the ones who get to accept the Oscar for Best Picture.

Who has more control producer or executive producer? ›

What's the Difference Between an Executive Producer and Producer? The executive producer is at the top of the producer food chain, as they control—and often provide—the film's funding. Learn more about what an executive producer does and how they relate to the other producers on a motion picture.

Who is the most famous film producer? ›

RankNameTotal worldwide box office
1Kevin Feige$28.205 billion
2Kathleen Kennedy$12.900 billion
3Jerry Bruckheimer$12.326 billion
4David Heyman$11.895 billion
6 more rows

Is being a producer stressful? ›

One of the biggest issues producers have to deal with is stress. The job requires managing financial uncertainty, combustible personalities and so much pressure. Financing can drop out of a movie overnight, and an actor can pull out last minute, or a distributor can buy a film and then go under.

What is the highest paid job in the film industry? ›

Highest Paying Jobs in Film Production
  • Executive Producer. Top of the list is the executive producer – the person who controls the entire project. ...
  • Director. ...
  • Screenwriter. ...
  • Editor. ...
  • Other opportunities. ...
  • Media Schools.

What skills does a producer need? ›

Skills and knowledge
  • knowledge of media production and communication.
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure.
  • knowledge of English language.
  • leadership skills.
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail.
  • the ability to use your initiative.
  • to be flexible and open to change.

Who gets paid more producer or artist? ›

Anyway, artists still earn more than music producers, because they receive a higher percentage of royalties. Besides, they have unlimited methods to monetize and capitalize on the record to earn more cash. A music producer relies on a performer in order to make money.

What education do you need to be a producer? ›

After high school, the first step in the process of becoming a producer is to earn a bachelor's degree. Most aspiring producers choose to earn degrees in film or cinema studies. It's also possible to pursue this career path with a degree in theater, communications or a similar artistic field.

Do producers work long hours? ›

Working hours can be very long and will include unsocial hours and weekends. The nature of freelance production studio work and event work is intense periods of activity, based on the individual project, followed by periods of relative inactivity or downtime.

Do producers just pay for movies? ›

The producer is responsible for funding the film until that point and must pay any additional costs if the film goes over-budget. The producer will then take that contract to a bank for a traditional bank loan or to equity investors as collateral.

How much do producers make per hit? ›

If you are a newer producer without too much of a reputation, you can expect from $0 to $3,500 per song. If you are considered a mid-level producer, your range increased to $3,500 to $7,000 per song. Finally, if your name carries weight in the music industry, you can receive up to $10,000 to $15,000 per song.

Who is the boss of a producer? ›

The executive producer is like the CEO of the project. She hires the key leaders and talent – including directors, stars and producers – and supervises them. The executive producer often finances the project, either funding it herself or finding investors to raise the capital needed for production.

What comes next after producer? ›

Producers, who make their own food using photosynthesis or chemosynthesis, make up the bottom of the trophic pyramid. Primary consumers, mostly herbivores, exist at the next level, and secondary and tertiary consumers, omnivores and carnivores, follow.

What is the highest producer title? ›

The highest ranking producer is simply called Producer. This is the person ultimately responsible for the film.

Do producers get royalties? ›

Most of the time, a producer will get paid a flat fee for their work in addition to some royalties on the backend. Like, $1,500 fee to record the song plus 20% on the net royalties. For indie artist deals (self-released or small indie label) producers are typically getting 15-25% of net royalties.

What does Netflix pay producers? ›

$215,700. The estimated total pay for a Producer at Netflix is $215,700 per year. This number represents the median, which is the midpoint of the ranges from our proprietary Total Pay Estimate model and based on salaries collected from our users. The estimated base pay is $118,966 per year.

Why do actors always become producers? ›

Why does the lead actor or actress sometimes also become a producer for a TV series? Because producers get a piece of the profits. Actors are salaried employees. If you have the power to command it, you get yourself a producer credit.

What skills do you need to be a producer? ›

What it takes
  • knowledge of media production and communication.
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure.
  • knowledge of English language.
  • leadership skills.
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail.
  • the ability to use your initiative.
  • to be flexible and open to change.

How many hours do producers work? ›

Work Environment

Producers and directors are often under pressure to finish their work on time. Most producers and directors work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Their schedules may vary.

Do you need a degree to be a producer? ›

You'll need to earn a bachelor's degree, as producers are generally expected to have an undergraduate education. After graduation, you'll need to acquire an entry-level job in the industry. Gaining professional work experience may enable you to work your way up the ladder and eventually pursue the role of a producer.

Who is the biggest movie producer? ›

RankNameTotal worldwide box office
1Kevin Feige$28.205 billion
2Kathleen Kennedy$12.900 billion
3Jerry Bruckheimer$12.326 billion
4David Heyman$11.895 billion
6 more rows

Do producers get paid more than actors? ›

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.

What are the 3 levels of producers? ›

The different types of producers include: Executive producer. Associate producer. Producer.

What are 5 examples of producers? ›

Answer and Explanation: Some examples of producers in the food chain include green plants, small shrubs, fruit, phytoplankton, and algae. Actually, all plants are producers. In the food chain, a producer is any organism that can produce its own food.

How many producers can a film have? ›

In response to that episode, the academy put a rule in place limiting the number of producers on any film to three. And the Producers Guild hired Van Petten, a business-affairs executive from Universal and a lawyer by training, to develop a comprehensive arbitration process to vet those seeking credit.


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