A few episodes back when I was explaining the process of breaking down a script, I talked a little bit about what the Producer was. But, if you’ve ever watched those credits roll by, you’ve probably noticed that there can sometimes be a lot of different kinds! So what are they and what do they all do exactly?
The crew on a film is similar to a government and its army (in its simplest form, at least). The Director is like the General, who gives orders to various Operations. The Producer is the Commander-in-Chief, and he or she (usually) has the final say when it comes to decisions.
In indie productions, the Producer might not get quite as many creative decisions and will leave that to the director, but it usually comes down to the established working relationship between the individual Producer and Director team. Sometimes these are even the same people!
In big studios, this gets more complicated. There are producers who are directly involved in the making of the project, and producers who take a more hands off approach to the actual film, but handle more of the politics or secure financing. In many cases, the producers in these projects do end up taking some creative control.
Generally speaking, no matter what the size of the film, Producers are managers – they expertly delegate tasks and ensure that things are getting done on time and on budget, and they are usually one of the first people to be hired in each of their respective departments.
The Executive Producer
The Executive Producer is the highest level of producer, and generally are the ones that have a hand in securing the money to make the film. And while they typically aren’t really involved in the day to day operations of actually making the movie, many times this producer also gets final say on many creative decisions because they are the ones paying for it.
Also, they are usually the ones in charge of a lot of the legal stuff, like getting the rights to use the script or story on which the script is based for example.
Ultimately though, the Executive Producer is the one who gets the ball rolling in the first place – he or she hires the movie’s lead Producer and prepares the initial budget for the Producer to utilize.
The Regular ol’ Producer
The non-executive Producer is more hands on – he or she takes the budget, hires the appropriate people, creates the schedule, and then oversees the whole operation to ensure that the schedule and budget is followed. This person is everywhere – on set, in the production office, at the locations… seriously, everywhere.
In really big productions, the main Producer hires departmental producers to handle the specifics in each department. The biggest reason for this is that are a few departments which can be pretty specialised, so it’s helpful to be able to have someone who knows those departments on a deeper level manage them. The other, more obvious reason of course, is that crews can get massive pretty quickly, and let’s be realistic, one person _can’t_ be everywhere at once! At least, until someone finally makes that little time turner from Harry Potter into a reality…
Here are some common departmental producers:
- Line Producer: This person is in charge of the production department specifically and acts as the liaison between the studio, the producer, and management.
- Post-Producer: This person is in charge of the editorial team and anything that needs to be done at the end of making a film – Editors, Assistants, Post-PAs, colorists, and more.
- VFX Producer: This person handles the visual effects teams, schedules, and budgets. They’ll source out vendors and artists, and make sure that shots are coming back at the highest quality possible – on time.