Are you interested in becoming a movie producer? You’re not alone. Making movies is different from other businesses and involves a mix of skills and a bit of luck.
A film producer can wear different hats. And it’s essential to understand these roles if you’re considering a career in film production.
From producers to co-producers, executive producers, and associate producers, the film industry has a hierarchy that can be confusing. So let’s break it down.
Types Of Movie Producers
In filmmaking, being a producer means you’re right at the top. If you’re the lead producer on a movie, your name is the one that gets the “produced by” credit. That’s a big deal in this business.
The producer makes sure the movie gets completed from the very first idea until the final cut. And, let’s not forget, when a film wins big, like at the Oscars for best picture, it’s the producer who’s up there celebrating the victory.
What Does An Executive Producer Do?
The role of an executive producer varies between films and television.
In movies, an executive producer is often the money person. They’re the ones who might write the big checks or find those cool spots to film in. They play a key role in making sure the film has what it needs financially and resource-wise.
Despite these big contributions, executive producers are not typically in the limelight during major award ceremonies.
In television, the executive producer usually wields the most power, often being the showrunner who calls the shots.
Co-Producer: A Vital Supporting Role
A co-producer works hand in hand with the lead producer, but they focus on specific areas. They might help fund the film, connect the right people, or even get directly involved in the production.
Regarding the producer hierarchy, a co-producer is a step below the main producer, an essential distinction in the film industry.
It’s like being the right-hand person who helps make sure everything runs smoothly.
Just below an executive producer, you’ll find the co-executive producer. This role is not talked about as much, but it’s pretty important. Often, co-executive producers are the folks who come in and make a big difference, maybe not by writing the largest checks but by contributing in significant ways.
For example, a co-executive producer might be great at networking and bringing in a key investor who funds a good chunk of the film. Or, they could be the person who secures a critical filming location that sets the whole tone of the movie.
Sometimes, they’re even the ones who provide essential services, like special equipment or post-production facilities.
In my experience, co-executive producers are like the unsung heroes of film production. They do a lot of the heavy lifting behind the scenes. They’re making calls, setting up meetings, and often solving problems that nobody else even knows about. Their role is crucial because they help fill in the gaps that the producer or executive producer might be unable to cover.
Associate Producers contribute in small but essential ways. Maybe they discover a unique location that becomes a key part of the film’s look or provide some early funding that gets the project rolling.
Their involvement varies, but it’s always vital. An associate producer might help with the early stages of planning, or they might give critical feedback during the editing process. They often handle tasks crucial to getting a film off the ground but don’t always get the spotlight.
When you see someone listed as an associate producer, know that they’ve played a key role in bringing the film to life, contributing in ways that might not always be visible but are indispensable.
What About Movie Credits?
Making a film can involve a lot of people, especially when it comes to funding. And you can’t call everyone an executive producer.
That’s where different kinds of credits come in. A “special thanks” in the credits can be an excellent way to show appreciation for smaller contributions.
But for the big players who really put in a lot of money, they might get their own special executive producer credit.
For everyone else? They might be grouped on a shared card in the credits. It’s all about giving credit where it’s due and keeping it realistic.
Film Producing Career
Producing movies is an exciting career, but it comes with its challenges.
You need to work well with all sorts of people, keep your projects moving forward, and handle the highs and lows of any creative career.
The great news? There is more than one way to build a producing career.
Becoming a working film producer should be your ultimate goal. Here is some advice on the three main career paths for getting there.
Employee Film Producer
Think of this as your traditional job route in the film industry. You start as an employee at a production company, coming in every day and working hard.
This is the “start from the bottom” approach. And you’ll likely spend years working on Other People’s Projects (OPP). With some luck and perseverance, you might eventually get the chance to lead a movie project.
Freelance Film Producer
As a freelance film producer, you’re hired for individual projects. Once production wraps, you’re back out there, networking and looking for your next gig.
This path involves a lot of time spent on OPP. The freelance route allows you to gradually take on more significant roles and, if lucky, eventually produce your own movies.
Entrepreneurial Film Producer
This is the path for the self-starters. As an entrepreneurial producer, you’re not waiting for anyone’s permission to be successful.
You find a great script, raise the funds, and make the movie happen on your terms.
It’s a risky path – You don’t earn a penny if your project doesn’t get off the ground – but it’s also the most direct way to bring your vision to life.
Take Action And Make Your Movie
To succeed as a movie producer, you need the guts to make cold calls and face daily rejection. You’ll encounter skepticism and ridicule, especially from those stuck in traditional employee or freelance roles.
Ironically, many of these people might ask you for a job.
The rewards, however, can be huge. While others still do the grunt work on set, you could make movies.
If you’re a regular reader of Filmmaking Stuff, you probably lean towards this entrepreneurial spirit. That’s great! Half of Hollywood might not have caught up with this mindset, but as a modern filmmaker, the time to act is now.
And if you are still waiting for someone to give you permission to make your movie, STOP IT. Instead, grab a camera and capture something.
And don’t forget to download my filmmaker checklist.