What Does A Producer Do? | Job Duties & Qualifications

A closeup of a professional camera filming someone

Movie producers play a crucial part in the making of a movie. This is one fundamental role that can’t be eliminated from a movie irrespective of the budget. Owing to the important part movie producers play, many people dream of someday producing an award-winning movie that becomes a highlight of their career.

If you’re someone who intends to become a career movie producer, you need to understand the qualifications and qualities you require. This will help you adequately position for various opportunities you might encounter in the film industry. In this guide, we shall provide you with the details you require on how to become a movie producer and what it takes.


What Does A Producer Do?

From a movie’s financial aspect to its creative parts, producers are at the core of it all. Producers get involved with the movie right from scratch. They spot creative opportunities for making the movie visible and ensuring commercial success. The importance of producers to the value chain continues even up to the distribution point.

Before a movie kicks off, producers would have sought the rights to the script and hired writers to execute it accordingly. Therefore, producers generally need to understand the art of choosing effective writers that can bring story ideas to life. They must be able to make these key creative decisions based on the size of the movie’s budget.

Furthermore, producers work on getting the movie funded by investors. As a good producer, you must be able to pitch to investors and share compelling parts of a potential movie to get investors on board. Producers understand the art of selling and must be able to secure financing accordingly.

Consequently, producers work with other key members of the crew, such as directors, to fully grasp the creative aspects of the work. This also makes the producer the officer in charge of approving film production costs.

Essentially, producers are at the center of making a movie a success. You must have the creative vision needed to achieve your targets. Generally, producers must bring their experience to the fore and ensure that all crucial parts of the movie have a touch of class and quality. After all, they need to provide investors with returns on their investment.


Responsibilities Of A Producer

A camera crew filming a scene.

Movie producers have many responsibilities. As you can imagine, someone who plays such a crucial part, from the creative process to the financial obligations, must be in charge of many aspects of movie creation.

Perhaps the primary responsibility of a producer is that you’re required to work with most of the crew members and actors. Producers are responsible for the crew. Therefore, as a producer, you must understand how to plug yourself into the roles of different crew members and assess their work.

Producers ensure that the script receives what it takes to become a successful movie. Consequently, producers work hand in hand with movie directors to understand all that the movie will require. From location to casting and wardrobe, producers must understand the nitty-gritty of the script. This makes it seamless to translate the vision into a box-office success.

Additionally, a movie producer will hire the production team. This is because the producer understands the different roles required in such a team. As such, producers must have an eye for hiring the best talents, such as screenwriters and other film crew. Similarly, it’s the producer’s responsibility to provide a great working environment for these staff members and ensure that they get to execute their tasks conveniently.

The producer must also ensure the safety of crew members. Therefore, all measures to guarantee that everyone works safely must be provided.

A movie producer’s responsibility can be categorized into the following categories to break things further down:


  • Development
  • Pre-Production
  • Production
  • Post-Production
  • Release


The development stage involves material sourcing, getting in touch with key contacts in the industry, financing, and transitioning the movie from an idea to film. This is often the longest aspect of movie-making, as producers are careful to ensure they ultimately move on with the best idea.

Production planning, hiring, and pitch package all come in during the pre-production stage. At this stage, the producer fills different roles, including production designers, animators, cinematographers, and more, based on the movie’s needs. Salary packages and further financing requirements are also discussed at this stage.

The next stage is the production phase, where the producer ensures day-to-day operations according to the established production schedule. This stage largely deals with daily interactions among the crew, creative direction, business and logistics, troubleshooting, and more. 

Following this stage is post-production, where activities such as editing, soundtrack, visual effects, and marketing all come into the picture. This is also the stage where details such as PGA are included.

Additionally, the producer works on securing additional funding at this stage to ensure seamless integration of the movie into the market. Once this stage wraps up, the movie is set for release — this is the point where the finished product hits the market, and the team makes all efforts to work with distributors and bring in sales.

Ultimately, the goal of a producer is to ensure movie completion at the set deadline. By the time the production process comes to an end, the producer must ensure the delivery of a movie that meets the key performance metrics established beforehand. All these are important things the producer factors into budgeting.

This is why a producer must understand how to budget adequately for a movie’s needs. Often, when a producer has a great budget to work with, they can maximize their creativity and ensure the movie is of great quality. Therefore, it’s essential for a movie producer to have the right skill sets that the role requires, from budgeting to pitching and creativity.


Different Types Of Producers

If you pay attention to movie credits, you must have come across numerous types of producers. Irrespective of a movie’s size, there is often more than one producer. This is because the production process of a movie falls into different categories. Consequently, these roles are handled by different persons accordingly. In this section, we shall discuss the different types of producers.


— Executive Producer

An executive producer (EP) is a high-level decision-maker. This role supersedes all other producer roles and is often called the lead producer. The executive producer designs the schedule of the movie and ensures its completion at the right time and in line with the specifications.

Owing to the high-level nature of this role, the executive producer’s role involves securing funding and script rights. This will often be the case in big studio production. However, when working for a small company, an executive producer might also be a writer and creator.

Generally, even though producers in this category may involve themselves in the day-to-day creative production process, the role is designed to operate on an executive and supervisory level.


— Line Producer

A line producer is essentially next in line to an executive producer. While an EP works on high-level decisions, the line producer’s responsibilities include the day-to-day management of the production process. The producer manages staff members, tracks progress, and creates the actual budget.

The role of the producer might be folded into that of the general producer if the production process is on a small scale. However, when working for a big company, these roles are separated. In fact, a line producer gets to work with a unit production manager who is responsible for executing tasks assigned by the line producer.


— Producer

A producer’s role generally involves supervising and managing the different aspects of a production process. This revolves around the creative team, finances, deadlines, talent sourcing, etc. This is the general term for all persons supervising the chain of production.

From concept development to casting decisions, a producer sits at the center of the entire structure. This accounts for why a producer can make or mar a movie. Notably, the size of this role will be based on a movie’s budget.

Where you have a co-producer as part of a movie’s credits, this simply means someone equally worked with the producer in a similar capacity.


— Coordinating Producer

There can be more than two producers on a movie set, as earlier established. In this instance, it’s important to ensure the work of these two aligns. The role of a coordinating producer is to ensure this alignment happens.

The coordinating producer — who can also be the supervising producer — focuses on the production goals and ensures the producers’ work ties into that accordingly. Other responsibilities include assisting the producers and managing the production process.


— Associate Producer

An associate producer assists the executive producer or other producers with executing some of their tasks. The tasks here include location scouting and organizing personnel. The day-to-day tasks executed by this producer are also negotiated based on the needs of the production process.

Other responsibilities of the associate producer include providing guidance on the content and preparing the shooting script.


— Consulting Producer

Executing a movie’s production process often takes more than possessing the right skill sets. Producers most times work with consulting producers to leverage their experience in ensuring a successful movie completion. Consulting producers are often former producers or executives with experience in the industry. These individuals assist creative directors and producers with their work experience.

The role of a consulting producer will be based on the nature of the movie. Therefore, a producer must understand how to choose suitable consulting producers that can improve the production process significantly.


— Segment Producer

If you watch reality shows or talk shows, you’ll realize that most of these shows contain numerous episodes written by different writers. These segments are produced regularly, and the segment producer is responsible for the process.

The responsibilities of this producer include supervising the production, ensuring quality control, and aligning the segments, so they fit smoothly.


— Field Producer

As the name suggests, a field producer is someone who directs the production process outside the studio. Some movie scripts require going outside the studio to shoot some scenes. Field producers are experienced in overseeing a production process of this nature.


Differences Between Film Producers & TV Producers

A closeup of a control board with lots of buttons and switches.

You might have asked, “what does a movie producer do?”, “what does a film producer do?” and “what does a TV producer do?” Are these any different?

Although a film or movie producer and a television producer share significant similarities, a few things separate the two. Often, the executive producer for a television show occupies a central role. This producer is deemed the showrunner and the creative powerhouse of the entire series. In this case, the producer has a wide range of responsibilities, including developing the concept, to source materials, hiring staff, and ensuring movie completion at the right time.

A TV producer is generally involved with high-level decision-making instead of the day-to-day TV production process. The producer will also approve the shooting schedules and locations, manage budgets, and supervise other producers.

On the other hand, a movie producer might not occupy the showrunner role. Movie producers, especially big studios, often deal with big decisions such as securing funding. The day-to-day operations of the production process are handled by associate producers and other producers on the set. Executive movie producers focus on the big picture and occupy a supervisory role to ensure the movie meets its KPI.


Qualifications And Skills Needed To Be A Producer

Becoming a producer requires some qualifications, and most especially, skills. Producers have to possess the educational requirement and learn the art from industry experts. If you’re contemplating a career as a producer, here are the boxes you need to tick.


— Get A Degree

Most studios will only work with producers with a bachelor’s degree. This has to be earned in a field of study related to production. Often, you’ll find that producers have attended schools of filming or hold a degree in acting. Some also possess educational qualifications in journalism and communication. 

Producers can attend colleges or universities. Attending art schools also compliments your educational qualification. These school avenues allow you to work with people firsthand and also provide you with opportunities to work on group projects.


— Work Experience

Work experience is a crucial part of becoming a producer. As a producer, you must possess relevant skills in filmmaking, motion picture, and some other technical areas. Interning or working with studios is an effective way to gain this. Producers spend between five years garnering work experience across multiple production companies and local theaters. This shapes your journey as a movie producer and helps to improve your skill over the years.

As a producer, you interact with different people in the industry, from actors to crew members. Therefore, experience as an actor and a crew member is essential. Many producers have experience in acting and have occupied roles such as production assistants. These roles teach you the art and expose you to meaningful skills that will impact your career.


— Understand Industry Trends

Understanding industry trends and learning essential skills producers need significantly boost your journey as a producer. Producers who understand trends can easily work with their audience. As a producer, understand that your goal is to develop a movie that will sell. This means that the movie production process, from start to finish, must be engineered to be suitable for your audience.

Asides from understanding trends, producers need to learn soft skills. The role requires interacting with many crew members and actors. A producer needs to learn effective communication, discipline, and patience. You have to understand how to deal with people carefully without compromising on discipline and goals.

Furthermore, producers need great business acumen. As much as a movie is a creative experience, it is equally a financial investment for investors. Therefore, a producer must understand how to pitch their ideas to investors and how to ensure movies generate expected returns. These skills are key components to ensuring a successful movie completion and great sales.


How To Get A Job As A Producer

You might be curious about getting a job as a producer. After all, top movie producers in Hollywood earn between $250,000 and $2 million yearly. Clearly, this is one of the many jobs that pay well.

If you’re looking to pursue a career here, then you must understand what process to follow. First, answer the question, “what is the role of a producer?” Once you answer this question, you’ll understand what you need to develop to become a suitable candidate. Here are some key ways to prepare yourself ahead of job openings for movie producers.


— Pursue An Internship

Once you’ve earned a degree in a relevant institution, the next step is to pursue an internship. This will help to boost your resume and work experience. It will also improve your skills, both technical and soft ones.


— Produce A Short Film

It’s important to have a film in your portfolio as a producer, especially when you’re just getting started. Therefore, work on putting together a small budget to professionally produce a short or feature film.


— Apply To Work As An Assistant

Another box you need to tick off is to work as an assistant with a reputable studio. Once you complete your internship, apply to different studios and theaters for the program assistant position. This is a common position many producers aim for, as it exposes them to the nitty-gritty of movie production.

Notably, working as an assistant may make you a non-exempt employee, depending on how much you earn.


— Search For Job Openings

When searching for openings as a producer, start by targeting entry-level roles. You’ll need to start with small projects early in your career before advancing to higher levels. Therefore, apply to roles that fit this bill by ensuring you adequately read producer job descriptions carefully. Then, as you gain experience in the industry, you can apply for mid-level and high-level roles.

It’s important to note that building your network in the industry is crucial. You can start this by joining the Producer’s Guild of America.

Often, most roles are offered to people based on their skills, portfolio, and network. Therefore, as you build your portfolio, you must also ensure you develop your network.


The Bottom Line

When you started reading this guide, your primary question perhaps was. “What is the job of a producer?” We have not only answered that but have also shown you what you need to pursue a career as one. From Spike Lee to James Cameron, the role of a movie producer is one that’s deeply revered in the movie industry.

What matters is how well you build your portfolio and network. More importantly, understand that you need to start small and scale up. With the details provided in this guide, you understand what you need to do and how to get started. Maybe someday, you might even win an Oscar.


Frequently Asked Questions

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

A producer is a general term used for people in charge of a movie’s production process. However, understanding this properly will depend on the size of the movie. An executive producer is more fit for big studios. In this case, these executive producers work on the big decisions such as finances, securing script rights, and material sourcing. On the flip side, a producer at a much smaller studio might be involved in the day-to-day operations of the production.


How much do producers get paid per movie?

On average, producers make a lot per movie. Of course, this depends on the movie’s budget and the negotiation that goes into salary structures. But because making movies takes a lot of time and effort, producers often don’t make more than a movie or two per year (or even over a few years). 

Movie producers can earn between $250,000 and $750,000 per film as first-time and average studio producers. Another report puts the figures for film and video producers at an average of about $84,770 and $63,620 for TV producers yearly.


What does a producer need to do to be successful?

Producers who desire success in the industry must sharpen their skills. These include both technical and soft skills. Furthermore, producers must focus on building their portfolio and reputation in the industry. 

It is also crucial to target jobs and projects that will offer you visibility as you progress. Being visible in the industry is important, as people call on producers based on their past success. You’d want to build your network as well. When you’re in the network of top actors, directors, and investors, the chances are that you’ll get on big projects.


What are some of the responsibilities of a producer?

A producer has numerous responsibilities. This is because producers are often the center of the movie or show. They design the strategy and structure for the movie’s execution. Some of these responsibilities include high-level decisions such as financing, material sourcing, and working with marketing teams.

Other below-the-line responsibilities include supervising staff members and ensuring movie completion according to the established schedule.