Film producer

George Lucas is known for producing the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies.

Film producers fill a variety of roles depending upon the type of producer.[1] Either employed by a production company or independent, producers plan and coordinate various aspects of film production, such as selecting script, coordinating writing, directing and editing, and arranging financing.[2][3][4][5] During the "discovery stage", the producer has to find and acknowledge promising material.[6] Then, unless the film is supposed to be based on an original script, the producer has to find an appropriate screenwriter.[7]

For various reasons, producers cannot always personally supervise all of the production. As such, the main producer will appoint executive producers, line producers, or unit production managers who represent the main producer's interests.[8] Among other things, the producer has the last word on whether sounds or music have to be changed or scenes have to be cut, and they are in charge of selling the film or arranging distribution rights. The producer's role can vary significantly from project to project and based on the circumstances and funding.

Clarification of term

Whereas historically in television, the primary role of the producer was to oversee all aspects of video production, in film and often in television today, this role is filled by the line producer. The line producer may manage a film's budget and maintain a schedule. The executive producer oversees the filmmaking with regard to film financing. They liaise with the line producer and report to production companies and distributors. Whether the person credited as "producer" or a person credited as "executive producer" has more input on a production is not always clear and is subject to change as the film is substantiated. Since filmmaking is a dynamic process, responsibilities can grow or shift in the process and credits for producers can get adjusted retroactively. For example, somebody hired as a "line producer" might later be credited as an "executive producer".

Because of these dynamics, all involved producers must agree on production standards from the start. Negligence in that matter can lead to a domino effect.[9] Other producers are more involved with the day-to-day workings, participating in activities such as screenwriting, set design, casting, and even directing. Currently, because of the restrictions the Writers Guild of America screenwriting credit system places on writing credits, many scriptwriters are credited as "producers" instead, even though they may not engage in the responsibilities generally associated with that title. In this limited sense, the producer and the screenwriter may be the same person. Producers differ from Production Management (Production and Unit Managers and Production Coordinators) in part because the responsibilities of Production Management are more logistical than creative.


Main article: Film crew

Different types of producers in the industry today include (in order of seniority):

Executive producer
The executive producer addresses the finances in that they pitch films to the studios. Upon acceptance, they may focus on business matters, such as budgets and contracts.
Co-executive producer
Second in seniority to executive producer.
Line producer
Manages the staff and day-to-day operations. Finds staff to hire for the production. Most line producers are given the title of "produced by".
Supervising producer
Supervises the creative process of screenplay development, and often aids in script re-writes. They usually supervise less experienced story editors and staff writers on the writing team.
Traditional producers, who are responsible for physical facilities, are given the credit of "produced by". In U.S. films, a producer can also be a writer who has not written enough of the screenplay to receive approval from the Writers Guild of America to be listed as a screenwriter.
A writer who may not have written the script, but contributed significantly through table reads or revisions. In the U.S., co-producer credits also often require approval from the Writers Guild of America.
Coordinating producer or production coordinator
This producer manages the schedule and arranges the staff into teams.
Consulting producer
These producers are a former executive or possibly co-executive producers, or, in rare cases, directors. They are called upon to assist the writers.
Associate producer
Runs day-to-day operations. This credit has been devalued over time and is viewed by some to be an honorary title given to non-producer crew.
Segment producer
Writes or produces one segment of a film.
Field producer
Selects areas to film (outside of a set) and coordinates production in the field. They also form a trusting relationship with the cast/participants in order to get interviews while in the field. They may fill a number of different roles, including production manager/coordinator, videographer, and also production assistant.
Edit producer
Helps coordinate the edit by working with the editor and relaying information from other producers. Involved in creating stories and writing a script if necessary.
Post producer
Supervises the overall post-production process, including editing, dubbing, and grading. Post-producers are typically employed by facilities houses rather than by production companies directly.

In film or video productions, the executive producer is almost always given an opportunity to comment on a rough cut, but the amount of attention paid to his/her comments is highly dependent on the overall personnel structure of the production.


Development (film rights)

During the "discovery stage", the producer has to find and acknowledge promising material.[6] Often, a producer must then retrieve the film rights or an option.[10] If the rights owner is worried about preserving the integrity, voice, and vision of their work, the producer might have to comply with a variety of demands concerning the screenplay, the film director, casting, or other topics.[11] Thus, it occasionally takes a lot of time and effort before the actual pre-production can begin. Late German producer Bernd Eichinger is said to have worked 15 years on convincing novelist Patrick Süskind just to agree to a film adaptation of his book Perfume.[12] However, sometimes all effort is futile. J. D. Salinger, for example, refused all film producers as long as he lived.[13]


Unless the film is supposed to be based on an original script, the producer has to find an appropriate screenwriter.[7][14] If an existing script is considered flawed, they are able to order a new version or make the decision to hire a script doctor.[15][16][17] The producer also has the final say on which film director gets hired.[18][19] In some cases, they also have the last word when it comes to casting questions.[20]


For various reasons, producers cannot always personally supervise all parts of their production. For example, some producers run a company which also deals with film distribution.[21][22] Also, cast and film crew often work at different times and places, and certain films even require a second unit. Consequently, it is normal that the main producer will appoint executive producers, line producers, or unit production managers who represent the main producer's interests.[8] The executive producer for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi was George Lucas himself, the creator of the Star Wars universe.[23]


Among other things, the producer has the last word on whether sounds or music have to be changed or scenes have to be cut. Even if the shooting has officially been finished, the producers can still demand that additional scenes be filmed. In the case of a negative test screening, producers may even demand and get an alternative film ending. This happened for example with First Blood, in which the test audience reacted very negatively to having Rambo die, so the producers re-shot a new ending.[24] Producers are also in charge of selling the film or arranging distribution rights.

Career process

There are different ways to become a film producer. Stanley Kramer started as editor and writer.[25] Other producers started as actors or directors.

Film schools offer degree courses that include film production knowledge.[26][27] Some courses are especially designed for future film producers, focusing on key topics like pitching, script development, script assessment, shooting schedule design, and budgeting.[3][6][28][29] The students can also expect practical training regarding post-production.[30]

On the occasion of announcing his own film school, L'École de la Cité,[31] film producer Luc Besson admitted that at the beginning of his career, he would have appreciated the chance to attend a film school.[32]

The average annual salary for a producer in the U.S. is $109,844. If one examines just the 15,000+ producers in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the average annual salary is $138,640.[33] Producers also often have an agreement to take a percentage of the movie's sales.[33]

Notable producers




  1. "Summary Report for: Producers". ONET Online. Retrieved 17 December 2010.
  2. "Film Job Profiles: Director". Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  3. 1 2 "Production". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  4. "The producer plans the production, hires key staff, organises financial backing and budgets, distribution, etc.". Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  5. "Actors, producers, and directors". US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010–11 Edition. Retrieved 7 November 2010.
  6. 1 2 3 "Production". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  7. 1 2 "writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have been hired to pen the screenplay for producer Dino de Laurentiis". Retrieved 13 April 2007.
  8. 1 2 Cieply, Michael (8 November 2012). "Three Studios Agree to Let a Guild Certify Credits for Film Producers". New York Times. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  9. "All the projects that I have been involved with have allowed me to see how important it is to get things right from the beginning. Production standards – good or bad – can cause a domino effect in the chain of command all the way through the process.". Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  10. "A screenplay agreement normally provides that the copyright is assigned to the producer". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  11. "He created a screenplay about a rough-and-tumble thug who struggles for a chance to make it as a professional boxer. According to several reports, Stallone refused to sell the script unless he was allowed to star in it.". Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  12. "A Farewell to Bernd Eichinger: German Film Loses its Leading Man". Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  13. Allen, Nick (19 June 2010). "JD Salinger always insisted The Catcher in the Rye was "unactable" and refused to let Hollywood anywhere near his masterpiece". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
  14. "Goldman was contacted by director/producer Rob Reiner to write the screenplay". Retrieved 14 March 2011.
  15. "He began work on the script. And worked on it and worked on it, pushing it through seven drafts before arriving at a version with which de Laurentiis was satisfied". Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  16. "Broccoli insisted on a rewrite, claiming to the story was too political for a 007 film. Writer Christopher Wood was brought on board to collaborate with Maibaum and expand upon Broccoli's personal concept for the film". Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  17. Bergan, Ronald (4 August 2010). "the producers Albert R Broccoli and Harry Saltzman hired him for two weeks to doctor the Richard Maibaum script of Diamonds Are Forever". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
  18. "Next De Laurentiis hired King Vidor, director of Duel in the Sun (1946) and The Fountainhead (1949) to make the movie". Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  19. "He also stuck loyally by gifted American directors when they were out of favour or off form. Robert Altman made one of his less successful pictures, Buffalo Bill and the Indians (1976), for De Laurentiis, who also helped the luckless Michael Cimino back on his feet after the commercial disaster of Heaven's Gate". The Daily Telegraph. London. 11 November 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2010.
  20. "Cubby Broccoli personally broke his own golden rule and cast her as the mysterious Octopussy". Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  21. Bergan, Ronald. "In 1979, Eichinger bought a large stake in the Munich-based production and distribution company Constantin Film, which he ran as a hands-on producer for over 30 years". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  22. "Europacorp studio posted $186 million in revenues last year, making it second only to Germany's Constantin Film as Europe's largest independent studio". Retrieved 10 March 2009.
  23. "Lucas continued the Star Wars saga as story writer and executive producer with The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and Return of the Jedi in 1983.". Retrieved 20 March 2013.
  24. "test audiences nearly rioted after cheering for Rambo and then seeing him die. So the producers went back to Hope, British Columbia, the location for the film, and shot a new ending in which Rambo lives". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  25. "Mr. Kramer began his career in the 1930s as an editor and writer, later forming an independent production company". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  26. "The MFA Advanced Film Practice programme aims to equip you with the creative, professional and technical knowledge you will need to enter the professional arena as a writer, producer or director.". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  27. "The training course last three years and the interdisciplinary teaching programme prepares students in the specific areas of directing, scriptwriting, acting, photography, editing, sound techniques, production, set design, props and wardrobe". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  28. "Our BA in Film Production is one of our most highly sought-after courses.". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  29. "Producing seminars teach through practical studies in production, script development, budgeting, and media economics". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  30. "All student films are developed, shot and post-produced in teams, closely mirroring a realistic industry work process in order to ease graduates' transitions to the professional environment". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  31. L'École de la Cité
  32. "Luc Besson launches film school". Variety. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
  33. 1 2

Further reading

  • Lee, Jr, John J. (2000). The Producer's Business Handbook. Focal Press. ISBN 1136050655. 
  • Simens, Dov S-S (2003). From Reel to Deal. New York: Warner Books. ISBN 0759520763. 
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