How to become a film producer - the complete guide

This post is a detailed guide on how to become a film producer. A film producer oversees the making of a film, they are present throughout the whole production process from finding a screenplay to distributing the film.

You will learn about the job role of a film producer, how to begin your career, film producer education, salary and film producer job outlook.

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Initial Education

1.Take a Formal Course

As with all creative job roles a higher education is not compulsory for a producer. Many producers however choose to study either at a university or  film school. You might study a bachelors degree in film production or alternatively film schools do specific courses focused on the job role of a producer.

For example - This producer course form the NFTS film school has you produce three productions whilst studying, a film festival work placement and professional mentorship. Often there are scholarships and funding for film schools. You might also find workshops and short courses that are less expensive.

2. Make a Student Film

To be a successful film producer you will need to understand all aspects of film production, making your own student films is a good first step. The first films you produce do not need to have a budget and can be made with other student or first time filmmakers.

3. Find Work Experience

The film industry is very competitive so you might have to take on some unpaid work experience or an internship at the start of your career. This need only be for a few weeks. Any job working in film could give you insight into the industry.

Entry level jobs typically taken on by student producers are Production Assistant, Production Office Intern or Runner. You can find these internships on production companies career pages or through contacting companies and producers directly.

BBC Work Experience | Screen Skills | Lucas Films Internships

Finding Paid Work

Your first paid job in film might be within an entry level job role or as a freelance producer. You might find paid entry level job roles with such titles Junior Assistant Producer or Production Assistant. Freelance producer job roles advertise on job sites but likely these are for productions such as corporate work or educational videos. Any paid job in film or video production could get you set up for a producer career.

You might like my updated list of film job sites - Read Here

There is no straight forward route into film producing, often producers work other job roles into the industry such as screenwriting, editing, directing. Arguable any job role in film could teach you about the industry and help you network within it. As a upcoming producer you would need to keep an eye out for stories or potential screenplays to be adapted. You might find a film director your keen to work with or a story you wish to adapt for the screen. As a producer it is your job to secure funding for the film and hire the key crew.

Film Producer Salary

A producer is the highest paid member of a film crew. They are the first person to be hired and the last to leave work on a project. For this they typically receive 5% of the production budget. They may also take a percent of the profit too.

At the start of a producers career however their income is uncertain. You might work an entry level job in film, freelance within another job role or have a job outside of the film industry entirely. Its only when a project is green-lit and the budget has been acquired that producers are first paid. As such it takes many years of work before a producer makes an income from producing alone.

You might like my Film Freelancer Day Rate Guide - Read Here

What a does a film producer do

Finds a Story - The first job for a film producer is to find a story. They may have agents who finds them a screenplay, they may choose to work with filmmakers they have known previously or adapt a story for the screen.

Funds the Film – A producer needs to find the budget for a film. They need to make the project look profitable to financiers. This may be that a story already has a built in audience (comic book adaption), or that you have a well known actor on board. There are many ways a producer can find a budget from government funding, private investors to crowdfunding.

Pre-Production Tasks

  • Find a screenplay and story to work with

  • Hire the screenwriters to finish a final draft

  • Secure funding

  • Hire the director and helps them cast the film

  • Hire the main crew members

  • All major decisions go through the producer

During production the producer is in constant communication with the director. Any major changes to the story or film budget will go through them. They will approve locations,  help plan filming schedules, and importantly make sure that production stays on time on budget.

Production Tasks

  • Approve locations, script changes and major decisions

  • Make sure the filming stays on schedule and on budge

  • Visit the set – often the producer is in the production office looking after the business side of the film – making sure that the film gets made despite the many problems that may put the project on hold.

During the editing, the producer will watch over the edit to check that things are going to plan. They will work with marketing companies and distributors to get the production shown. The producer may organise test screenings.

Post-Production Tasks

  • Help finalise the cut

  • Work with marketers and distributors

  • Watch over the films box office performance

They will also have a big say on how a film is marketed to its audience. After the films release the producer will watch nervously over the box office stats, whether a film makes money or not may determine when their next project will begin.

You might like to read - Producing By Geoffroy Macnab and Sharon Swart. Filmmakers Handbook By Steven Ascher. Producer to Producer By Maureen A. Ryan.

Resources - ScreenSkills | Cineman | Wiki - Film Producer

I hope you have learnt more about how to become a film producer. I hope to carry out a series of interviews with professional producers that I will link below when complete.

  • Interview with a Film Producer Muireann Price - Read Here