If you’ve ever paid attention to the credits for a movie, you’ve seen the names of the actors and director(s). Their contributions to the film are usually obvious. You’ve probably noticed even see other major credited roles such as screenwriter, costume designer, composer and casting director, and those positions are pretty self-explanatory. It’s a certainty that you’ve seen multiple names credited under production, but their roles may not be as clear. There are different types: executive, supervising, associate, even co-producers. What does a producer do anyway?
Who’s The Boss?
The simplest definition of a producer is one who oversees a movie or show from conception to release. Such a person may work independently or for a production company and is generally responsible for the following:
- Coming up with the premise or acquiring rights to the source material (e.g. a script or book)
- Securing financing
- Hiring a screenwriter, director and the rest of the creative team
- Managing daily operations during filming
- Overseeing post-production work
- Working with marketing and distribution staff
It might be helpful to think of a main producer as being analogous to a general manager for a sports team. They are not the owner, the coach or players, but they supervise team business.
An executive producer such as Heather Parry, helps secure funding for the film and supervises the creative effort. Their level of involvement and control varies from project to project. For some films, this person may lend their name to a project, but actual management is left to others. Some are involved in every element of the production. It’s also fairly common for an executive producer to also be a director, a creator or a lead actor. In television, the lead is referred to as the showrunner.
An executive producer often leads other managers with specific duties. Line producers lead day-to-day operations and physical aspects of the process. A supervising producer often oversees writing and screenplay development. Segment producers are responsible for a part of a movie or TV show made up of multiple segments. Co-producers may serve on teams leading or assisting with completion of oversight roles.
Over the past few years, production credits have increased in motion pictures and television. Some executives have name recognition that is comparable to leading actors and noted directors. When a movie wins in the Best Picture category at the Academy Awards, often the recipient is a producer. They may not always have the same profile as the cast, but producers are essential to the success of a film or TV show.