What does the Producer do on a film set?

What does the Producer do on a film set?

The producer of a film is one of the most well known job roles within a film crew, yet the exact job that they do day to day is not so well known. I have been uncertain myself on what exactly a producer does so I have broken down their job roles throughout a film production below. 

This is an old blog post, you might like to read my full career guide break-down of the job of a film producer - Read Here

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Think of a producer as the manager of a film set

Being a film producer might be the toughest job on a film set. They are the most responsible person if a film fails to make a profit. They represent the film throughout the entire project from hiring the screenwriter to screening the film. The work they do on projects usual spans the longest out of all crew members (their work on a single project can last multiple years).

Producers also get paid the most on a film set. They average 5% of a film’s budget. On independent films the producer often works alone, on major films they will have a whole team of producers to help them.

Unless a film is being made by a studio, an independent producer will also have to secure financing for the film

What does the producer do?

 Pre-Production

The first job for a producer would be to find a screenplay to turn into a film. Or hire screenwriters to develop a story idea or adaption. It is the producer’s job to retrieve the film rights for the story.  Traditionally Producers also hire the director and help them cast the film.

Producers will hire all of the head of departments of a film crew such as the production designer, the director of photography, additional producers such as co-producers, line producers and production managers.

Every key decision made during the pre production process will go through the producer first. Being as organised as possible during pre-production stage will help the filming go smoother. The pre production process is often the longest phase of making a film. Producers tasks during pre-production -

  • Finds the screenplay and story to work with

  • Hires the screenwriters to finish a final draft

  • Secures funding

  • Hires the director and helps them cast the film

  • Hires the main crew members

  • All major decisions will go through them

 Production

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 on budget.

  • Approves locations, script changes and major decisions

  • Makes sure the filming stays on schedule and on budget

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

 Post production

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. 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.

  • Help finalise the cut

  • Work with marketers and distributors

  • Watch over the films box office performance

Personally I don’t see the appeal of being a film producer. The long unsocial hours, the stress of having a whole production depend on you. I enjoy organising and I enjoy working with numbers but to have a job that takes you so far away from the creative side of filmmaking does not appeal to me.

Typically a producer would have worked their way up the ladder in film, starting out in the production office or as an assistant director, from line producer to production manager, a long route with no guarantees.

More Independent people might start out as producer straight away developing low budget projects and working there way up. Working for TV might bring more stability compared to film. I could see the world of TV production being more inviting than cinema to an aspiring producer. Either way another appeal is that good producers make good money!

I have got some of my facts from Creative Skillset – a great website with detailed notes on career prospects in the arts industries.

You can find me via Twitter here - @amyclarkefilms