Film Producers Explained: Who They Are and What They Do

A film as we see it, is the product of a huge team of people, working day and night to shape and mold a story into a tangible, visual delight, and create brilliance on screen. If the film’s director gives the shape, the cinematographer creates the artistry, and the actors personify that art, then it’s the producer who brings them (and a lot more) together. A film producer is the facilitator of an entire filmmaking process, from start to finish. From production to promotion, and distribution of the said film, they design the entire journey to nurture an idea into a memorable piece of art that is cinema. Here’s our quick and comprehensive download on the end-to-end role of a film producer.



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What Does a Film Producer Do?

The cast of Midnight Sky with the film's producer/s
Image via Netflix

A film producer is essentially like a project manager, the project here being an entire film, where they may work independently, or for a production company. They are responsible for overseeing the filmmaking process from its ideation to its showcase at the theaters, managing the entire crew of writers, director/s, editors, visual effects artists, actors, composers, marketers, and every other professional responsible for making it a success. In other words, the artistic and commercial success of a film relies considerably on its producer. Needless to say, it’s a complex, long-drawn process that lasts over months, sometimes, years.

Pre-production

A film producer’s role begins at this very first stage of a film project. They can either select an original script pitched to them or find a promising screenwriter to write one. Even if a film is based on an original novel or any other material, they ensure that it’s adapted in a manner that fits the visual medium, audience, cultural trends, and so on. During the pre-production, the producer brings in the director, cinematographer, production designer, and casting director, together. They also have a final say on the casting from time to time, depending on the scale of the project. When all these activities culminate into a final pitch, the producer then seeks the financing required for the production to start. At this stage, the producers will also decide/approve the production locations, the studios, the production schedule, and most importantly, the budget.

Production

A behind-the-scenes photo from Netflix's All Quiet on the Western Front
Image via Netflix

While some producers also work in tandem with the directors on creative inputs, budget discussions, and more, many simply set up the initial process and supervise thereon, letting it unfold organically under the filmmaker and the rest of the crew. Once the filming starts, the key responsibility of the producer is to ensure that the project stays on schedule and within the planned budget. To make this stage smooth and successful, producers would often spend more time in the pre-production, to reduce budget waste and cut down delays in the production process. During this stage, if filming takes place in multiple locations with their respective crews, the producer will sometimes employ a second unit, which takes care of the cast and crew of the other unit/s.

Post-production

A film is not a film until it reaches the theaters and sparks interaction, appreciation, criticism, or whatever it is intended for. But for the film to reach there, it must go through yet another long process of final packaging and promotion. During the post-production, the producer also supervises the visual effects, editing, sound design, audio mixing, color correction, title credits, dubbing/subtitling (if required), and so on. They will then select the final footage that would look the best on screen. Once the filming is complete, and a test screening is done, the producers can sometimes ask for an alternative ending and/or additional scenes to be filmed, depending on the audience’s response. In the latter stages of post-production, the film producer serves as the key decision maker in the film’s marketing and distribution, from promotional materials, publicity of the film, to the release, and distribution rights, thus making sure that all the months’ hard work by the entire cast and crew becomes a glorious success.

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What Are the Different Types of Producers?

Director/Executive Producer Michael Bay on the set of TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT,
Image via Paramount Pictures.

As we have established so far, the job of a film producer involves a long and detailed process flow and involves a huge number of resources. Ergo, it’s not practically always possible for the producer to supervise everything at every stage, especially with multi-million-dollar projects. Hence, the primary producer or the executive producer often delegates a hierarchy of different types of producers, as the project may demand. They may range from line producers to supervising producers, associate producers, and even post-producers.

  • Executive Producer – The primary producer in charge of the entire film, who ensures the project is on track and is responsible for securing finances and managing the business aspects of the film. An EP can either personally fund a film or bring in investors for funding.
  • Co-executive Producer – The second-in-command to the EP, a co-executive producer effectively runs the project in the absence of an EP.
  • Line Producer – A line producer manages the film’s crew and other staff, and their day-to-day operations, supervising every physical aspect involved in the filmmaking process.
  • Supervising Producer – They are mostly involved in the ongoing creative process of the film, helping with screenplay development, script rewrites, etc. Sometimes, a supervising producer can also fill in for the EP’s role of overseeing the other producers.
  • Producer – They initiate, arrange, and manage the entire production logistics and are involved at every stage of the process, very much like an operations manager.
  • Co-producer – They assist other producers by adding their skills, resources, and ideas to the project. They can also get involved in funding, casting, and monitoring the film’s progress.
  • Coordinating Producer/Production Coordinator – In this self-explanatory role, a production coordinator connects with all the other producers
  • Field Producer – They assist the producer with the part of production that takes place in a different location, outside a studio.
  • Edit Producer – They work with the film’s editors and help in selecting the best clips from the rushes (primary shot footage) and coordinating the editing work between other producers and the editing team.

Besides these, the production process may also involve a Consulting Producer, Associate Producer, Segment Producer, and Post Producer, at various stages of the filmmaking.

How Do You Become a Film Producer?

Film producers often come from various backgrounds within the entertainment industry. Most producers start out as actors or directors, while there are also writers, agents, and studio executives who take on the role of a producer. While it’s not necessary to have a background in production, having an education in the field can help you get a foot into the industry. However, the best education, as we all know, comes from real-life, in-depth, work experience in film productions, topped with a real zeal to make films. Additionally, if you have strong project management skills, organizational abilities, creative thinking, problem-solving, and crisis management skills, then you might be a good fit for relevant roles in film production. Being any kind of producer also requires a massive amount of persistence, patience, and persuasiveness, just like a great salesman.

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5 Famous Producers You Should Know in 2023

Hollywood has been home to a long list of famous film producers over the generations, including many filmmakers and actors who have assumed the role from time to time. Although they mostly work behind the screen, their work has been instrumental in making a film successful and, in many cases, award-winning. Here are some of the most prominent film producers of the present day, each known for inspirational work.

Jerry Bruckheimer

jerry-bruckheimer-interview-social

A name behind blockbuster films and modern classics like Top Gun, Jerry Bruckheimer is one of the most recognized and famous film and television producers and produces under the Jerry Bruckheimer Films banner. Working as a producer for five decades (and still counting), Bruckheimer is best known for producing films like Pearl Harbor, the Bad Boys film series, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, and many other popular films in action, drama, fantasy, and sci-fi genres, which have earned a total of seven Academy Awards and five Golden Globe Awards. He has also served as an executive producer for several popular crime television shows like the CSI franchise, Cold Case, Lucifer, American Gigolo, etc.

Jason Blum

jason-blum
Image via Blumhouse Television

If Blumhouse Productions has become synonymous with horror films, its credit goes to the founder and CEO, Jason Blum. A former executive at Miramax and later an independent producer with Paramount Pictures, Blum founded his production company to produce microbudget movies and delivered some of the most spine-chilling, blood-curdling thrillers of our times. He is most known for helming popular film franchises like Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and The Purge, as well as other films like Sinister, Oculus, The Gift, etc., receiving Academy Award nominations for films like Whiplash, Get Out, and BlacKkKlansman.

Kathleen Kennedy

Kathleen-Kennedy-Star-Wars

A film producer with a remarkable portfolio of 60+ films that have racked up 120 Academy Award nominations, Kathleen Kennedy’s journey as a producer is like an inspirational biopic. From a personal assistant to Steven Spielberg, she became the co-founder of Amblin Entertainment with Spielberg and her husband Frank Marshall and is now the president of Lucasfilm. From 1982’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, her first film as a producer, to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Kennedy has produced a number of iconic, award-winning films including the likes of the Jurassic Park franchise, Schindler’s List, the Back to the Future film series, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, The Sixth Sense, and the Indiana Jones franchise, among many other award-winning and popular titles.

Kevin Feige

Marvel-Kevin-Feige
Image via Getty Images, Marvel Entertainment

Television and film producer Kevin Feige has been the primary producer and creator of the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise since 2007 and the CEO of Marvel Entertainment since 2019. Feige started his career as a production assistant on hit 90s films like Volcano and You’ve Got Mail before becoming an associate producer on X-Men and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. As an executive producer, Fiege has helmed major MCU film series like The Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, and more. The MCU success story reached its peak when Black Panther was nominated at the 91st Academy Awards for Best Picture, making it the first ever superhero film to receive that honor. Feige is regarded as the highest-grossing producer of all time for producing Avengers: Endgame, which became the highest-grossing film at the time of its release.

Megan Ellison

megan-ellison-annapurna-pictures
Image via YouTube

What’s common among Zero Dark Thirty, Her, American Hustle, and Phantom Thread? Well, all of these films are produced by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures and each of them has been nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Picture. From a boom operator to financing low-budget independent films, Ellison had her breakthrough as an executive producer with Coen BrothersTrue Grit. As founder and CEO of Annapurna Pictures, Ellison has produced several critically and commercially successful films like Joy, 20th Century Women, Downsizing, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, She Said, and House of Gucci, among many others. For her work on Her and American Hustle, Ellison became the first woman and the fourth person to have two films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar in the same year.

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