Film Producer: Who Does What?

The film is a director’s medium. However, the Producer handles all practical matters that a Director requires to realize his vision. A Producer, responsible to investors or studios, manages the entire show from pre-production through postproduction and, in the end, sells the picture. It is a very demanding job.

That may be why we have so many Producers in credit these days. Maybe not. Let’s face it, how many Producers will a film need? The Producers Guild of America gives Producers credit to those who do the actual heavy lifting.

You can see the various roles of Movie Producers in the credits.

  • Executive Producer
  • Produce
  • Co-Producer
  • Line Producer
  • Associate Producer

The Producers Guild of America is a trade organization that represents Producers. Guild membership comes with the primary benefits of healthcare and a pension. However, mentorship and networking opportunities are also offered by the PGA.

The “code of credit” is the basis for membership. You can find them.

The code of credits confirms whether or not a Producer earned the “produced-by” credit. If the credit has been submitted to the PGA and the person/people with the “produced” credit meets the criteria, the Producer’s mark is awarded. It is a small p.g.a. beside the Producer’s name in the credits.

However, the “Producer’s mark” does not necessarily mean that the Producer is a member. It simply means that the Producer was responsible for most of the production functions.

The certification marks are only for the public good. Producers Guild believes audiences should know, among a long list of people credited, that Producers performed most of the work.

What about all the credits that have “Producer” written in them? What are they doing? They support the Producer in general. However, there are a few legitimate credits that come with specific responsibilities.

Remember that executive and Producer are two different terms in motion pictures and television. You can read more about this below, but to get all the details, visit the PGA website.

Executive Producer

The Executive Producer supervises the work of other Producers for the studio or production company. Executive Producers focus on financing and budgets and may work on multiple films simultaneously.

Executive Producers are often the primary source of funding for independent films. Executive Producers can be involved in financing deals or obtaining loans. Sometimes they even become funders. Like a CEO, executive Producers are dealmakers at a financial and executive level.

An Executive Producer could also be someone who acquires rights to a movie. They can also be an established Producer attached to attract money or oversee a less experienced Producer.

Sometimes, you see Actors acting as Executive Producers. It is another way of giving a project prestige. However, many Actors also have production companies that help package projects for investors.

It is a lot about attracting money. As I mentioned, the role of the Executive Producer in television is different. I will discuss this below.

The Producer is the same as “Produced By.”

A Producer is a person who is awarded the “Producer’s mark.” They oversee all creative aspects of production and manage financial, technical, administrative, and other tasks, from funding to postproduction. This Producer is closely associated with the Director.

A Producer’s primary role is to find the material that will be made into a motion picture. However, an Executive Producer can also have a project and search for the right Producer to oversee it. The Producer is often the one who finds the right property or script to produce.

The Producer will find the right Director and hire the Writer. Together, they will work with the other three to prepare the story for production.

After the project has been approved, the Producer oversees all aspects of production. The Producer works closely with the Director to select a creative team and then hires staff to manage the production day-to-day.

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It is just what it sounds like, the co-producer. It is someone who assists the Producer in their production. It can be someone who isn’t ready to handle a project on her own and is still learning about the art of producing, or it could be an experienced Producer who shares the burden. Sometimes, the Line Producer is responsible for more creative tasks.

Line Producer

The Line Producer acts as the Producer “in the trenches.” She is responsible for creating the budget and overseeing it like a watchdog. The Line Producer is responsible for all administrative aspects of production.

She manages the production office and hires the below-the-line crew, sometimes with the assistance of a Unit Producer. Her task is to ensure that the film runs on time and within budget. The Line Producer has a team of people to assist her.

High-pressure work is required for the Line Producer. The Producer and Executive Producer hold Line Producers accountable. However, they are also responsible to a bond company. It is an entity that provides comprehensive insurance to investors. The bond company has the right to take over the film if it goes off-track. Yikes. Intense.

Line producers are responsible for cash flow and cost reports. They also have to create daily production reports. They also have to handle all the technical details necessary to make a film. How will they get the car to burst on the highway during rush hour?

The Line Producer must have the answer. They should also consider the Director’s vision and communicate with them to determine how they plan to achieve it. The Line Producer must coordinate all elements necessary to realize that vision.

Line Producers deal with unions and keep crew members happy. They also battle for the crew like a superhero. If you see a Line Producer, smile and offer to buy her a cup.

Associate Producer

This credit is often given to family and friends. However, it can also be given to someone honest, working their way up, and ready to move up. To receive this credit, Associate Producers should have contributed something to the production.

It can be difficult to understand who is responsible for what role in a film because there are many overlapping responsibilities. They are closer to each other than a hierarchy, which runs from the Executive Producer down to the Associate Producer.

Producers in Television

The Executive Producer (also known as the EP) is the most significant difference between television and film production. The EP is more involved in the creative process than the Producer.

The EP is often the creator of a TV show. Television is, according to some, a “Writer’s medium,” so the EP is often a Writer or creator of a show. Ryan Murphy is an example. Ryan Murphy is a writer and creator. However, with so many projects, likely, he isn’t sitting down to write every episode.

His staff implements his story ideas. He oversees this process. His vision is the one everyone strives for in his world. It is, therefore, very different from the film, where everyone tries to fulfill the Director’s vision.

The EP will have the final say in principal casting and coach the performers. This is another area where the responsibilities of TV shows differ. Although an EP can direct, she will usually only direct the pilot or first season. Once the show moves smoothly, she will pass the duties on to the Directors for hire. The Director of a TV series must follow the EP’s vision.

Producers are a team.

Production vibes are created from the top. However, each producing team member must support the other, or the entire machine could fall apart. You will often see the same actors in the credits of films made by successful production companies.

Because everyone involved in the credits shares the same goal – to make the best movie possible – it makes sense. A good team will rise to success and continue making great films together.