how to become a producer

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How to become a producer

Producers complete the education required and spend time learning directly from the industry. Producers may start in roles such as actor or director before becoming producers. Here are the steps to begin a career as a producer:

  1. Earn a degree.
  2. Intern with a studio or network.
  3. Gain experience in the industry.
  4. Know industry trends.

1. Earn a degree

Producers need at least a bachelor’s degree in a related area to successfully manage a creative project. Producers generally hold degrees in film or acting. Journalism or communication degrees are related to producing as well as degrees in business.

Producers may earn their degrees at a college or university, or they may choose to attend an independent art school. Participating in school film programs or projects can help accumulate experience and sharpen communication skills. Group projects or participation in screenings or casting help aspiring producers to learn to work with many personality types.

2. Intern with a studio or network

Interning is an ideal way to advance your education while gaining experience. Movie production companies, local theaters or networks may offer intern opportunities that can lead to a paid position. Interns are exposed to the detailed work of production and gain first-hand knowledge of project distribution, how to publicize and work with the media and the opportunity to network.

3. Gain experience in the industry

Producers spend anywhere from one to five years working in the industry before becoming full-time producers. Some may begin their careers as actors or writing screenplays while others may have experience in casting or publicity.

Aspiring producers can gain experience through local theaters or by working in a talent agent’s office. Producers may be mentored in their careers under an apprenticeship in roles such as a program assistant. These roles may teach the benefits and intricacies of management while developing work experience.

Producers must stay up to date on industry trends through production publications or by attending events like seminars or film festivals. Producers who are up to date on trends better understand their audience. Understanding what audiences are interested in relates to locating new talent and how emerging technology may change the industry. Learning new avenues for production distribution and getting to know key people can provide insight into the development of new productions or projects.

Skills successful producers need

Producers develop certain skills to work with creatives and financial backers. Communication and problem-solving skills come into focus when meeting deadlines or adhering to production schedules.

Soft skills

Soft skills are related to critical thinking and time-management. Producers that develop skills to problem-solve and negotiate have a better opportunity to manage many personality types. Effective communication and listening are key skills for successful producers.

Leadership

Producers oversee the production schedule and all the people involved in the process. Leadership skills help producers to delegate responsibilities and make decisions that affect the overall production.

Business acumen

Producers who develop management and leadership skills have a grasp on how to maintain a production’s integrity while meeting schedule deadlines. Producers who develop business knowledge improve their negotiation and marketing skills.

Average salary for producers

Producers earn an average salary of $50,553 per year. Salaries may range according to the specific production role.

What are the different types of producers?

Producers work in different entertainment areas and often have similar responsibilities. Here are four different producer types across the entertainment industry:

Movie producer

A movie producer oversees the production of a movie from organizing funding to the final release. Movie producers may choose writers, actors and directors. Movie producers have a keen sense of business and extensive knowledge of the film industry.

Television producer

Television productions may employ several producers who contribute to the successful completion of a television series or program. Television producers choose scene locations, sets, and oversee the hiring of actors. Television producers adhere to strict deadlines and ensure productions run on schedule.

Theater producer

Theater producers are in charge of stage productions including sets and costumes. Producers choose plays or musicals and manage performance schedules. Theater producers have an extensive background in theater and may get their start as actors or playwrights.

Music producer

Music producers have extensive knowledge of their industry and stay aware of trends in music. This producer is involved in the mixing and managing of music to produce a polished final product.

Frequently asked questions about becoming a producer

The following questions are common to a career in production:

What are other producer supporting roles?

A few additional supporting roles include:

Line producer

The line producer oversees timing and deadlines for various parts of the project. Line producers follow the financial plan and monitors milestones and deadline commitments.

Co-producer or associate producer

For extensive projects, co-producers or associate producers are responsible for a particular area or department. Co-producers contribute to the project’s funding and act as post-production liaison.

Executive producer

Found in the television realm, executive producers are similar to line producers and oversee detailed aspects such as location and casting.

Lead producer

The lead producer is found in theater productions and makes the most creative decisions.

Is being a producer considered a creative job?

Producers work with actors and directors as well as bankers and investors. Producers who have knowledge or experience in these roles can better understand how they work to guide their influence. Producers work with many different personalities and creativity is needed to communicate effectively to manage all the steps in a project. While producers may not write the play or direct the cinematography, their creative abilities help them choose the right people for those roles.

How do producers choose projects?

Producers choose projects that they can get excited about. Whether it’s a story that needs to be told or a match for current industry trends, producers choose projects that they are passionate about.

In some cases, producers develop the project themselves and hire the creative team they need to bring the project to the screen or stage.

How do producers build relationships?

Producers work with people from many different industries such as filmmakers, production studios and distributors. Producers find funding for a project by approaching investors or studios to work together and create a production.

Producers just getting started may seek financial backing from friends and family at first. As producers grow their network of professionals, it becomes easier to choose the right people for a project. Professionals can join the Producer’s Guild of America to network with industry professionals and add to their list of connections.

Producers that are enthusiastic about their projects can attract the right talent that is also eager to work on the production.

How to become a movie producer

There are many paths to becoming a movie producer, especially between mainstream “Hollywood” movie-making and independent filmmaking.

How to become an industry producer

If you want to make blockbusters and other mainstream films, consider these steps:

1. Pursue an education

Consider earning one of the following credentials to learn the basics, start a portfolio and get hands-on classroom experience:

  • Associate degree: An associate degree is typically a two-year program that focuses on the basics of filmmaking, visual storytelling, script analysis and cinema history.
  • Bachelor’s degree: This four-year degree provides you access to more advanced techniques, portfolio opportunities and specialized practice writing, cinematography, camera operation, sound design and production management.
  • Master’s degree: This two- or three-year program allows you to specialize in a filmmaking discipline, such as screenwriting, directing, producing or cinematography.
  • Professional certification: Some other streamlined programs provide certifications or diplomas to showcase your in-depth knowledge and skills in general filmmaking or a specific facet, like producing, directing or cinematography.

2. Get an internship

While pursuing a degree or after you’ve completed one, find an internship in the industry that allows you to practice your skills, put your knowledge into action and network with experienced industry professionals. Early on in your career, you can look for an internship in many different places in the industry, including at production companies, animation or VFX studios, casting agencies or talent management agencies.

Even if you want to be a producer, any internship in the field can help you get your career started. But searching for internships at companies that make the kinds of movies you want to produce, employ the filmmakers you look up to or frequently collaborate with directors you aspire to work for can help you streamline your path even more.

3. Produce a short film

Whether you have a degree or certification or not, build up your portfolio with samples of your producing or other filmmaking work. You may produce a short film while in school or on your own with a group of colleagues or friends. Having these examples can help you showcase your skills and personal style to potential production companies, directors or executive producers.

If you make a short film, consider entering it into one or many film festivals around the world. You may place in a contest or even win an honor and a prize. Having these accolades in addition to examples of your work in your portfolio can further demonstrate your abilities and passion.

4. Network in the industry

You can network in many different ways, including by:

  • Joining a professional network: There are many industry organizations to join for a variety of filmmaking disciplines, and those who want to become producers can join the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers and Producer’s Guild of America.
  • Attending film festivals and industry events: Even if you haven’t entered a film into a festival, you can still buy tickets to see new films, go to parties and panels and mingle with filmmakers from around the world.
  • Working as an intern: When you’re an intern, you can meet many different people in the industry, and those people know other people in the industry. Making these kinds of distant connections can lead to other connections in the future.
  • Freelancing as a background actor: Many major films look for background performers, so getting one of these roles can connect you to casting directors, directors, producers and other up-and-coming filmmakers like yourself.

Networking helps you make connections with potential colleagues, find new opportunities, pitch your ideas or even secure your first role as a producer. Doing so throughout your career can also help you keep finding those opportunities, too.

5. Work as a production assistant or entry-level filmmaker

One of your earliest roles is likely to be as a production assistant where you’ll be responsible for attending to the needs of the crew, performers and other filmmakers on-set. This role allows you to observe the filmmaking process—and even the producing process—and learn from watching.

You may also be assisting producers, so you can showcase your skills, which might result in a recommendation in the future. You may even have time to ask them questions about their work and their career path, too.

6. Be a producer on a major industry film

After working in entry-level roles, you are likely to work your way to lower-level producer roles, like producer or co-producer. To get one of these roles, be sure to make a great impression on every project you work on, keep adding to your portfolio and apply to roles available at production companies.

6. Gain experience in a mid-level producer role

Once you have a few years in lower-level producing roles, you can pursue mid-level producer roles like assistant producer. At this level, you likely have a team that you’ve worked with a few times or you’re in a role at a production company where you can be assigned to various upcoming projects.

7. Advance into upper-level producer roles

When you have at least 10 years of filmmaking experience on your resume, you may be in a position to pursue upper-level roles like line producer or supervising producer.

How to become an independent producer

If you’re more interested in working in the independent film industry, you can also pursue a degree or streamlined certification program to gain classroom experience. However, you can also start your career by just gaining professional experience. For both paths, follow these steps:

  1. Complete an internship: With or without credentials, get an internship in the independent filmmaking industry, such as an indie production company, for an indie producer or director, at a film festival or for a professional organization. Some aspiring independent producers may also pursue internships and experience in the mainstream industry to find other diverse opportunities.
  2. Make a film: You can collaborate with colleagues or fellow indie filmmakers and take on the role of a producer on a feature or short film. What’s most important is effectively using your skills to successfully execute the project and adding this project to your resume and portfolio.
  3. Network in the industry: Attend film festivals, work on more independent films and attend indie filmmaker events to meet professionals and industry leaders, pitch ideas and possibly find your next producing opportunity.
  4. Join a professional organization: There are many independent filmmaking organizations, so join one like the Association of Independent Video & Filmmakers to meet even more professionals, find job opportunities and get additional training and education.
  5. Gain experience at an independent film company: After producing your own films with teams, consider pursuing a role at an independent production company to have access to projects with larger budgets and more people.

Frequently asked questions about becoming a movie producer

Here are some FAQs to help you learn more about this role:

What skills does a movie producer need?

Movie producers often need the following skills to be effective:

  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Organization
  • Time management
  • Finance and budget management
  • Creative thinking
  • Problem-solving

Do you need to go to school to be a movie producer?

Though a degree isn’t necessary to become a producer or a filmmaker of any kind, having a degree provides you with a foundation of film history, filmmaking techniques, screenwriting, cinematography, editing and many other vital skills you need to be successful in the film industry.

Where does a movie producer work?

Some movie producers work for production companies, both big and small. Others may work independently and go from project to project. In other cases, producers may have their own production companies or work independently but collaborate with the same team of professionals over many projects.

Jobs similar to movie producers

If you’re seeking a job as a movie producer or another occupation in the entertainment industry, there are multiple options to consider. Here’s a list of 10 jobs that are similar to movie producers:

1. Showrunner

2. Cinematographer

3. Screenwriter

4. Film director

5. Location manager

6. Set designer

7. Director of photography

8. Film editor

9. Sound designer

10. Costume designer

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