At Cinema Bandit, we are devoted to supplying young and new filmmakers with resources, articles, and interviews to help artists develop themselves creatively and professionally.
We believe that those who wish to pursue a career in film, or those who want to know about film history and the industry itself have the right tools and resources they need before heading out and beginning a career in the film world. It is essential that aspiring filmmakers know of the different roles that go into making a movie or television show. In this article, I will talk about the role of the producer and how can obtain a career in it.
Now, what exactly is a producer?
In the simplest terms, a producer oversees the production of a film or television show. They plan and coordinate various aspects of production such as selecting a script, organizing writing, directing and editing, and arranging to finance. This works whether the producer is employed by a production company or on an independent project.
There are specific responsibilities that go into the role of the producer. First is the development, or the “discovery stage” of the project. A producer must find and select the right materials that are needed for the development of a plan such as finding a director, cinematographer, and production designer while also finding the right location for shooting. Then, unless a script already exists for the project, a producer must hire a screenwriter. They can also hire a script doctor to revise a script that is considered flawed. The producer has the final say in who gets hired for the project, approving the location, and the budget.
During pre-production (the work done before the actual production such as location scouting, screenwriting, storyboarding, etc.), it is the producer’s job to stay on schedule and under budget. If too much time and money is spent during pre-production, then there wouldn’t be enough money to use during the actual production. The producer will always be in contact with the director and other members of the production.
During production, the producer may not be around to supervise all parts of their creation. For example, some producers run a production company which also deals with the distribution of the film. In this case, the producer may appoint an executive producer (one that oversees all of the other producers working on a project and can also handle finances), a line producer (manages staff and oversees every aspect that is involved in making a film), or a unit production manager (responsible for the administration of a movie) to represent the interest of the producer. George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, was the executive producer of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Return of the Jedi while Gary Kurtz was the producer.
During post-production (the work done after production is complete such as editing), the producer has the final say on what sounds, music, and scenes that can either be changed or cut altogether. Even if the shooting is complete, the producer can still add scenes to be filmed. In the case of a negative test screening, the producer may make an alternative film ending. For example, the 1982 film First Blood received a negative test screening when the main character Rambo died. So the producers of the film re-shot an entirely new ending not to throw away and displease their audience.
Now if you like what you hear so far and are thinking of starting a future in producing, here are some things to get you on the right track!
How do you become a producer?
First off, there are many different ways to become a producer. Famed producer Stanley Kramer started off as a writer and an editor before becoming a producer. Some started off as actors or even singers (Barbra Streisand).
Most, if not all, producers start in college or a film school. From my own experience, I studied production at school while gaining knowledge about other aspects of filmmaking and exploring different forms of films. Schools will offer degree courses (bachelors or masters) that include knowledge about film production, pitching, developing a script, and budgeting. These courses include training in pre-production, production, and post-production.
What about internships?
Internships are another great way to gain experience in production. It gives students a solid foundation to build their career and to gain experience and exposure to the film industry. Most of these internships are paid, and it’s a great way to get some networking as well. Most interns will typically (and I mean this because sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t) land a job once the internship is over.
As for a career, producers don’t exactly have an average 9 to 5 workday. Since their task change from day to day, a producer often works irregular hours and can consist of very long days and nights that can even lead into the weekend. Salary wise, producers can start anywhere between $20,000 to $70,000 those these rates can change depending on the location. In Los Angeles, the average salary was almost $140,000.
If you are thinking about a future as a producer, and are passionate about film, then go for it. Start by going to school and learning about different film techniques. Study different types of movies, even create your own. Learn all aspects of producing be it for a production company film, an independent film, a documentary, or television. There are many different resources our there to help guide young up and coming filmmakers in achieving their dreams, including this little article right here. Reach for the stars, and always keep filming.
Daniel Zuaro is a graduate of Buffalo State College with a Bachelor of Arts in Media Production with a minor in Film Studies. He has always loved studying film that he wishes to pursue a career in which he can write about film or even teach about film and its history. He is a Long Island native who loves music, spending time with family and friends, food, and his cat Harvey Milk.