Producers have overall control on every aspect of a films production, bringing together the Screenwriters, Director, cast, finances and production team. Their primary responsibility is to foster an environment in which the creative talents of the cast and crew can flourish – Producers are therefore ultimately accountable for the success of the finished film. Producers many responsibilities span all four phases of production:
· Development – Producers are often responsible for coming up with the underlying premise of a production, or for selecting the screenplay. Producers secure the necessary rights, select the screenwriter and story editing team, raise the development financing, and supervise the development process.
· Pre-production – Producers typically bring together the key members of the creative team, including the Director, Cinematographer and principal cast. They assist the Executive Producers to raise finance for the production. Once this is in place, they select other key personnel, such as the Line Producer, Associate Producer and Production Manager, as well as the remaining Heads of Departments, such as Production Designer, Editor and Composer. Producers also participate in location scouting, and approve the final shooting script, production schedule and budget.
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· Production – Producers are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the producing team, though many practical functions are delegated to the Line Producer and any Associate Producers. Producers are also in constant communication and consultation with the Director, and with other key creative personnel, on and off set. Producers approve all script changes and cost reports, and continue to serve as the primary point of contact for all production partners, investors and Distributors.
· Post-production and marketing – Producers are expected to liaise personally with post-production personnel, including the Editor, Composer, and Visual Effects staff. They then consult with all creative and financial personnel on the production of the answer (or final) print, and they are usually involved with the financial and distribution entities in planning the marketing and distribution of the finished film.
It is rare to find one Producer who has the expertise and vision to exercise personal decision-making authority across all four phases of production. Producers normally delegate some of these functions to Executive Producers, Co-producers, Line Producers and Associate Producers. However, the Producer is responsible for the majority of the producing functions throughout all the processes of the film.
The traditional role of the Executive Producer is to supervise the work of the Producer on behalf of the studio, the financiers or the distributors, and to ensure that the film is completed on time, and within budget, to agreed artistic and technical standards. The term often applies to a producer who has raised a significant proportion of a film’s finance, or who has secured the underlying rights to the project. Typically, Executive Producers are not involved in the technical aspects of the filmmaking process, but have played a crucial financial or creative role in ensuring that the project goes into production.
As there may be several Executive Producers on a film, it is difficult to define their exact responsibilities. However, they usually fall into one or more of the following categories:
· Development – the Executive Producer secures the rights to a story and develops the screenplay, but then hands over to the lead Producer, and has no direct involvement in the physical production of the film.
· Packaging – the Executive Producer authorises and supervises the packaging of the film.
· Financing – the Executive Producer raises a significant proportion of funding for the film, assists with presales, or helps to secure distribution agreements. On smaller independent films, a well-known Producer, Director or star may also be accorded this title because their association with the project helps to facilitate contacts with financiers and Distributors.
· Production – the Executive Producer acts as a mentor to the Producer and supervises production for the financiers. This type of Executive Producer is almost always involved in short film production schemes, where they typically co-ordinate the film’s production from initial financing through to final distribution.
Associate Producer or Assistant Producer
Associate Producers carry out significant functions in the production or post-production process, which would otherwise be performed by the Producer, Executive Producer or Co-Producer. These responsibilities may range from helping to raise production finance at the beginning of the production process, to supervising the final stages of post-production. Associate Producers in Film are usually individuals within production companies who have played a particularly significant role in the development of the script or screenplay, or in the packaging process, or who have contributed important creative ideas to the production. They may be another producer; or a senior Script Editor who helps to shape the direction of the final drafts of the screenplay, and without whom the film may not be financed; or the Producer’s Assistant who supervises development or post production for the Producer in their absence. The term Associate Producer is also sometimes used to describe a Producer from a smaller production company which is co-producing the film, who has typically raised a small amount of funding for the project, but not enough to warrant an Executive Producer or Co-Producer credit.
Associate Producers contribute significantly to the production process, as they are responsible for specific elements delegated to them by the Producer. This diverse role may encompass development, packaging, raising production finance, supervising the production design team (sets, costumes, etc.), supervising post-production, or co-ordinating the work of the various visual effects companies. In fact, they may carry out any production work that the Producer is too busy to supervise personally, and which is not covered by one of the other production roles (e.g. Executive Producer, Co-producer, Line Producer). Whatever their exact role, Associate Producers must be able to troubleshoot any production difficulties or problems that come within their area of responsibility.
The Line Producer is one of the first people to be employed on a film’s production by the Producer and Executive Producers. Line Producers are rarely involved in the development of the project, but often play a crucial role in costing the production in order to provide investors with the confidence to invest in the project. As soon as the finance has been raised, the Line Producer supervises the preparation of the film’s budget, and the day-to-day planning and running of the production. Line Producers are usually employed on a freelance basis. They must expect to work long hours, though the role can be financially very rewarding. Career advancement is based on their experience and reputation. Where a Line Producer has a creative input to the production, he or she is often credited as a Co-producer.
Line Producers are in charge of all the business aspects of the physical production of films. They are called Line Producers because they cannot start work until they know what the ‘line’ is between the ‘above-the-line’ costs, which relate to writers, producers, directors and cast, and the ‘below-the-line’ costs which include everything else, e.g., crew salaries, equipment rentals, development costs, locations, set design and construction, insurance, etc. Line Producers are usually recruited onto the production team during the later stages of development. They are given the script and asked to assess the likely ‘below the line’ cost of the production which involves breaking down the screenplay into a schedule – a timetable for the film shoot that shows how long it will take to shoot each scene. From this schedule the Line Producer can accurately estimate the cost of each day’s shooting, and produce a provisional budget estimating the total amount of funding required. Once the Producer and Executive Producers have raised the required finance, the film can go into pre-production.
During pre-production, Line Producers work closely with the Director, Production Manager, First Assistant Director, Art Director and other Heads of Department to prepare the production schedule and budget, and to set the shoot date. Line Producers oversee all other pre-production activities, including hiring the production team, setting up the production office, location scouting, ensuring compliance with regulations and codes of practice, sourcing equipment and suppliers, selecting crew, engaging supporting artistes and contributors, and monitoring the progress of the art department and other production departments.
During production, Line Producers hand over control of the final budget to the Production Accountant, and delegate the day-to-day operation of the production office to the Production Manager and Production Co-ordinator. However, Line Producers are ultimately responsible for overseeing all activities, and for ensuring that the production is completed on time and within budget. This requires setting up and implementing financial monitoring systems, controlling production expenditure, controlling production materials, and monitoring and controlling the progress of productions. Line Producers usually allow a 10% contingency in the budget to cater for unforeseen circumstances, and spend much of their time juggling figures and resources. Line Producers are responsible for certain Health and Safety procedures, and for sorting out any insurance claims. At the end of the shoot, the Line Producer oversees the ‘wrap’, or winding down, of the production.
Assistant Production Co-ordinator
The Assistant Production Co-ordinator acts as a general assistant to the Production Co-ordinator, performing duties relating to the preparation, distribution and filing of paperwork, both within the production office and on set. Assistant Production Co-ordinators are almost always self-employed, and must be prepared to work long hours, particularly during the final week of pre-production. Most UK films employ one Assistant Production Co-ordinator; however, larger productions may employ two or more.
Assistant Production Co-ordinators work under the direct supervision of a Production Co-ordinator. Their duties vary according to the production phase, and the daily requirements of the production office. Responsibilities may be spread across a number of related areas, including:
· Production Office – setting up, maintaining and closing down the Production Office, for example, ordering furniture, equipment and supplies.
· Travel & Accommodation – helping to co-ordinate travel, accommodation, work permits, visas, medical examinations and any immunisations for principal crew and cast to conform with insurance and foreign travel requirements.
· General production duties – including typing, filing, answering the telephone, and other related office duties.
· Transportation – helping to organise the pick-up and delivery of equipment and personnel by the Unit Drivers.
· Production paperwork – assisting the Production Co-ordinator to prepare and distribute shooting schedules, crew and cast lists, call sheets, production reports, movement orders, scripts and script revisions.
Production Runner or Production Assistant
Production Runners are the foot soldiers of the production team, performing small but important tasks in the office, around the set and on location. Their duties may involve anything from office administration to crowd control, and from public relations to cleaning up locations. Production Runners are usually employed on a freelance basis, are not very well paid, and their hours are long and irregular. However, the work is usually extremely varied and provides a good entry-level role into the film industry.
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What is the job?
Production Runners are deployed by the Producer and by other production staff, such as the Production Co-ordinator, to assist wherever they are needed on productions. Their responsibilities vary considerably depending on where Production Runners are assigned. In the Production Office duties typically include: assisting with answering telephones, filing paperwork and data entry, arranging lunches, dinners, and transportation reservations, photocopying, general office administration, and distributing production paperwork.
On-set duties typically include: acting as a courier, helping to keep the set clean and tidy and distributing call sheets, Health and Safety notices, and other paperwork. On location shoots, Production Runners may also be required to help to co-ordinate the extras, and to perform crowd control duties, except where this work is dangerous, or performed by police officers or other official personnel.
A Co-producer is typically a Line Producer who has also performed a substantial portion of the creative producing function. Alternatively, they may be the lead Producer from another production company that is co-producing the film, or a partner or corporate officer from the production entity producing the film. In rare cases, a Co-producer may also be the person who optioned, developed or packaged the project. In all instances, Co-producers are subordinate to the Producer. Occasionally, the title Co-producer is accorded to a producer who finds, options, develops, or packages the project, but does not own the rights, and who plays a less significant role in the physical production of the film. For example, Co-producers may be relatively new Producers who need to work with a more senior Producer in order to package, finance and deliver the finished film. It should be noted that if a project has more than one Producer, it does not mean that these individuals are Co-producers in the technical sense of the term.
Co-producers’ responsibilities vary enormously depending on which type of Co-producer they are. However, they always have less responsibility than the Producer for the completion of the film.
· Where the Co-producer is also the Line Producer, he or she is responsible for all the business and logistical aspects during the main phase of film production. The key difference between this type of Co-producer and the Line Producer is that he or she also performs a significant part of the creative producing function, whether it be helping with casting, recruiting the Director, or hiring other key Heads of Department.
· Where the Co-producer is a partner or corporate officer of the production entity producing the film, he or she plays a key role in the development of the film project, assists with the physical production, or supervises post-production to enable the Producer to move on to another production.
· Where the Co-producer is the lead Producer from another production entity that is producing the film as part of an international co-production, he or she will usually raise a significant portion of the budget for the film, but have less creative input than the lead Producer.
In some cases Co-producers choose to be credited as Co-producer rather than as Executive Producer, in order to indicate that they played an important part in the physical production of the film.
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