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04/06/2001 - Definition of a Producer

How to Produce Movies for Television

"Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Others
stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts and we
are never the same."

-- Anonymous

The late Stanley Kramer was a brave producer. His strong social conscience had motivated him throughout his illustrious career to produce and direct films that will stay with us forever. This column is dedicated to Mr. Stanley Kramer and to all those brave producers who choose to follow in his footsteps.

Definition of a Producer

A Producer is someone who initiates a project and oversees it from the conceptual stage through completion. Some producers function as entrepreneurs, answering to themselves. Other are employee-producers, working for an employer such as a film studio or an independent production company. They often function as Loan Out Companies, loaning out their services to management for a designated credit and fee.

Both the entrepreneur and employee producers are responsible for initiating, coordinating, supervising, and controlling all aspects of the motion picture and/or television production process. They are involved on a daily basis with the creative, financial, technological and administrative processes. This includes supervising all phases of production from inception to completion. The Producer oversees and controls all aspects of the Above-and-Below-the-line talents and crafts. Producers must also interact in concert with the provisions of all collective bargaining agreements and personal service contracts.

The Role of The Producer

Most people are confused when they see the various producer categories that are listed on-screen. Here is a breakdown of some of the various producing credits and functions:

Executive Producer

An Executive Producer supervises one or more producers in the performance of all of his/her producer functions on single or multiple productions. For example, all television series producers answer to the Executive Producer.. The same rule generally applies to motion picture production.


How to Produce Movies for Television Page 2.

The Executive Producer of a television series often functions as the Head Writer, rewriting or polishing the episodic scripts for one-hour shows and in some instances, half-hour sitcoms.


A Co-Producer is usually someone who works under the supervision of a producer or Executive Producer. For example, someone who has acquired the rights to a property such as a book or a screenplay will often be assigned the role of Co-Producer in acknowledgement for helping to package and sell the project.

Line Producer

The Line Producer is a nuts and bolts hands-on person who is responsible on behalf of management for overseeing the crew and day-to-day operation of the production from pre-production, commencement of Principal Photography, through the Wrap of the shoot. Sometimes, the Unit Production Manager (UPM) will be assigned the dual roles of UPM and Line Producer for a given shoot, in which case that person will receive on-screen credit both as UPM and Line Producer and also be compensated for both functions.

Associate Producer

An Associate Producer performs one or more producer functions which are delegated to him/her by a producer, working directly for and under the supervision of the producer of record. The Associate Producer is also someone who is a nuts and bolts
person, working under the jurisdiction of the Line Producer.

Next week we'll examine just what it is that producers really do. We'll take a look at the three key areas of production for theatrical motion picture:

1.) The Development/Pre-Production process of filmmaking, 2.) The Production of the film, and 3.) The Post-Production process.

To those of you who aspire to be producers, writers, actors, or directors -- we leave you with these words:

"You can't build a reputation on what you're going to do."

-- Henry Ford

Just do it! The rest will follow.


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