The ProducersWhile the director is often regarded as the captain of the ship, the film producer is truly in control. The producer manages virtually every aspect of the film production, conceiving and pitching the big idea to the studios while participating in the elaborate tug-of-war game that is the acquisition of film rights. The film producer assembles the perfect team of screenwriters, directors, and actors for the project and makes sure that everything stays within the budget and time frame. The film producer facilitates the sale of the film and distribution rights.

The film producer, then, runs the show. Because the tasks of the film producer are not only immensely arduous but are also of vital importance, these duties are usually distributed among a group of people. Every producer is entrusted with specific responsibilities and, together, the team makes the film a reality.

The Executive Producer

At the helm of the production team is the executive producer—the person who calls the shots. Often the show creator (as in Lorne Michaels for Saturday Night Live), president of the studio (as in George Lucas for Star Wars), or head writer (as in Tina Fey for 30 Rock), the executive producer presides over the creative and financial aspects of the production. Some stars, over time, are allowed creative influence over the production (as in Sarah Jessica Parker for Sex and the City and the cast of The Office) and are promoted to the rank of executive producer or co-executive producer. Sometimes, too, the show or movie creator retains his or her executive producer position even after retirement. In such cases, s/he serves a consulting role.

The first responsibility of the executive producer is the big idea. S/he leads his team in selecting and developing a film project that is both artistic and marketable. The second responsibility of the executive producer is raising funds. Such a job description requires the executive producer to be a jack-of-all-trades. S/he must manage well, think creatively, and possess exceptional negotiation skills.

During the filming, the executive producer’s task is to oversee the production. S/he takes the lead in ensuring that progress is made—that the film is on time, within budget, and up to standards. While s/he rarely involves himself in the technical aspects of the film, because that job belongs to other producers, the executive producer may become involved in the various departments of the production from scriptwriting to casting to editing.

The Line Producer

The line producer is, as the designation suggests, responsible for keeping the daily operations of the production “in line.” This remarkably challenging job demands the person’s complete and hands-on dedication to every detail of the film production. The line producer plays an integral role throughout the creation of the film. S/he rarely has input in the creative aspects of the production, and is primarily concerned with business matters.

First, the line producer makes it possible for filming to move forward by developing a feasible production schedule and budget. Here, s/he works closely with the director and the various department heads to consolidate all their needs and requirements into a cohesive plan. Given the screenplay, the line producer develops a budget proposal for the total funding required. This proposal will also contain an estimate of both the time needed to shoot each scene and the money and resources it will cost to shoot it.

During pre-production, the line producer also plays a crucial role. S/he prepares everything needed to guarantee that day-to-day production activities will run smoothly. As a human resource officer, the line producer assembles a production team consisting of the most competent people. S/he takes charge of the film’s logistics. The line producer sets up the production office, scouts for film locations, gathers equipment, sources suppliers, and ensures that everything is in compliance with established standards.

During the production, the line producer’s task shifts from executive to supervisory. The responsibility focuses on monitoring the daily operations—the expenditures, use of production materials, and production progress. The line producer ascertains that the film is completed within budget and on time and oversees the film to its wrap.

The Supervising Producer

The supervising producer, according to the Producers Guild of America, supervises the other producers in the performance of their tasks. S/he oversees the production with omniscience, making sure that every department is running efficiently. The tasks of the supervising producer are arduous and diverse, and could overlap with the tasks of other producers. First, the supervising producer works with the executive producer in the story development and fundraising. S/he works with the line producer, as well, in facilitating the schedule and budget.

The supervising producer coordinates with the various departments of the production, including the director, scriptwriter, actors, and editor, to make sure that everything is on track. These tasks do not end when filming is wrapped up, it should be noted, because the supervising producer is also involved with the editing process. In the cutting room, the producer’s main responsibility is to ensure that the final cut of the film shapes up according to the standards put forth by the director and executive producers. When that is done, the next task is to supervise the distribution of the film in the market.

The Creative Producer

The creative producer is the member of the production team who is involved in the various artistic aspects of the film project. The tasks of the creative producer begin with working closely with the director and writers in developing content. Throughout the filming process, s/he consolidates feedback related to the creative aspects of the production, which will then be used in the improvement of the project.

The creative producer supervises the film production and the transfer of film to other media. Quite aptly, the Sundance Institute hailed the creative producer as “the unsung hero of indie filmmaking.” S/he is, after all, the one responsible for the creative marketing tools that entice audiences to watch the film. The creative producer supervises still photo productions for billboards, posters, and mailers, well equipped with skills in graphic design and digital photography.

The Co-producer

The co-producer, in a nutshell, is a line producer who performs some creative producing tasks while also possibly involved in the raising of funds for the project, Like the line producer, the co-producer is concerned with the business aspects of the film production—preparing and monitoring the schedule and budget, hiring the crew, supervising the progress of film production, and so forth. Unlike the line producer, however, who rarely has influence on the creative facets of the production, the co-producer serves some creative functions. One example might be the casting of actors. The co-producer may be a partner from the production company producing the film.

The Associate Producer

A budding film producer usually starts out as an associate producer. While this is an entry-level position, it requires an extraordinary aptitude in the various aspects of film production. Flexibility is required of the associate producer because the job description can be extremely ambiguous and diverse. The associate producer’s task is to accomplish whatever tasks the producer assigns him.

This could involve everything from writing scripts to fundraising to supervising the set and costume design; s/he could be involved in monitoring post-production, operating teleprompters and troubleshooting production difficulties, all tasks the producer is too busy to supervise alone. The associate producer, given the nature of his work, is someone who is multi-talented and always willing to adapt.

The Consulting Producer

While complete and hands-on commitment is required of certain types of producers, the consulting producer is on the team for, as the position suggests, a primarily consultative purpose. Usually a former executive or producer, the consulting producer has years of experience in the industry and offers assistance and advice to the production.

How does one become a film producer? A film school education, while definitely a plus, is not a prerequisite. What is important is dedication. In order to become an effective producer, one must have considerable experience in the various aspects of film production, something that may only be acquired through years of hard work in the industry.