As you probably know, there are several different types of movie producers in the industry. With all the different titles, sometimes trying to figure out who does what and why, can be a little confusing. Today, I’m going to provide an overview of the different types of movie producers and what they do.
Deal Making Producer
Often these folks work for a studio, a mid-level production company or a management company with a production arm. They find a script they like and work with the writer (or writers) to push the script through the development process. Then they work with agents, managers studio executives (or financial backers) as well as other industry professionals to get the movie packaged. In the development stage, often a Line Producer (or sometimes a 1st AD) is hired to complete an initial breakdown of the script. This information is then used to create a budget – a budget utilized to raise cash. And while this initial breakdown may be pretty comprehensive, you can rest assured a lot of changes will be made prior to production.
Line Producer AKA Unit Production Manager (title varies by project.)
Once the movie is packaged, then a Line Producer or Production Manager is hired on to oversee the nuts-and-bolts of production. Typically these folks have a vast amount of movie set experience and understand the world of physical production. Often, but not all the time, the Unit Production Manager who completed initial breakdown of the script will be hired to oversee the movie. These folks then hire on a 1st AD as well as many of the below-the-line crew.
Often these credits are reserved for friends of the production, or perhaps someone who went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure the movie got made. For many indie folks, an Associate Producer credit can often be used en lieu of cash not available in the budget. It’s not the worst credit to have, for sure.
This credit is a little crazy – it can go to physical producers with lots of clout, financial backers, studio executives or some heavy hitter in the industry who offered to make some calls for your movie.
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In order to make your movie now, my thinking is, it’s best to cultivate both a knack for deal making as well as an fundamental understanding of physical production. In all my meetings, it struck me that this hybrid set of skills does a lot to propel these folks into high ranking positions – with a long list of screen credits to show for it.
If you check out the stuff section of this website, you’ll see my recommendations for books and software. I tried to include a good mix of both physical producing as wells as materials aimed to help you sharpen your business fundamentals. If you find you are weak in either the physical side of production or the deal making side, or if you don’t feel like cultivating your own skills, I then recommend you partner with someone who embodies a complimentary set of skills.