In the spirit of The Producer Bootcamp going live tomorrow, I thought I would spend some time on the subject of the PRODUCTION DEPARTMENT. I have seen a few imbalanced productions recently. By imbalanced I mean productions that do not have the same level of professionalism across the above-the-line and below-the-line crew. The producers are all over the place and unorganized, while the crew is busting their a**es making up for production’s mistakes. This is not because these producers want to sabotage their productions. These producers simply do not understand all the roles and responsibilities of the production department. The Producer Bootcamp course includes a full break down of every crew position and description. Below is an excerpt from the course materials focused on a few positions in the production department.
The producer organizes the entire production. This person helps develop the script into a workable project. They assist with the hiring of actors and key crew members, while keeping track of finances throughout the production.
Line Producer or Unit Production Manager
The line producer supervises the entire budget of the production. Expenses may include talent salaries as well as daily costs like location and equipment rentals. The production manager reports to the line producer the current expenses and needs of the production on an ongoing basis.
***Many producers and line producers make the mistake of thinking their job on the production is over when production stops filming. This could not be more false. The producers and line producers are attached to the project all the way throughout post-production. So, don’t stop answering those emails just because you no longer have to wake up at 5am to make it to set. These are big jobs that require tremendous amounts of responsibility. If you can’t handle that, I suggest not becoming a producer.***
The production manager works closely with the production coordinator. This person helps supervise the organization and distribution of the production budget, crew & equipment scheduling, salaries, day rates, and other office related paperwork. This person reports budget needs to the line producer, while trying to keep the production under budget on a day to day basis.
The production secretary is the assistant to the production manager. This person assists with the paperwork for the crew & equipment scheduling, timecards & invoicing, crew deal memo’s and other related office. The production secretary usually helps complete most of the paperwork needed to properly finish the production.
A production coordinator is responsible for coordinating the “behind the scenes” logistics, which can include renting equipment, hiring crew members, and coordinating talent. In addition, this crew member may handle the paperwork needed to organize the production. For this reason, the production coordinator is an important crew member in ensuring a production’s goals are on budget and on time.
Now, not every production is going to include every role in the production department. There will be times where the budget is small and you will have to lose a few of the above roles. However, unless you know what each role does and its value, it is impossible for you, as the producer, to make intelligent compromises.