Putting a production together is no easy task. Many factors come into play when producing a movie or television program that many outside of the Hollywood industry doesn’t see. In the film production hierarchy, there are three groups of people. “Above-the-line” consist of those who influence production creatively, “below-the-line” has members of production and post, and “on-the-line” is those that bridge the two. One key player that sits on-the-line is the line producer.
First, what is a line producer, and how is that different from a producer? A producer generally assists in the financing, manages the production, and is involved in major creative decisions. On the other hand, a line producer prepares the significant components of a production. The line producer is responsible for managing the budget and supervising all operations for a film from pre-production to production, and helping with the logistic of post-production.
Line producers see the artistry of filmmaking, anticipate the pitfalls that come with production, and have solutions ready to go whenever disasters occur. They never let the budget spending extend beyond the bottom line and help keep every note of production in order in case questions arise. What goes into this craft and dissecting their duties is worth exploring and discovering how to be the best at this skill if one becomes a line producer.
How to Become a Line Producer
A line producer is essential in film and television production, but no formal education is needed. Although combining film studies with business studies and math can go a long way, many line producers learn most of their skills on film sets. Most in this craft generally start as runners or trainees in the production office and work their way up the production ladder. Some have even stepped in the role of assistant directors, location managers, or accountants, but there’s no set route. One thing to remember is the salary before taking a leap into line producing.
Line Producer is commonly a freelance position. Smaller productions won’t offer benefits such as paid time off or health insurance. However, each new gig also allows negotiating work rates; having experience comes in handy for line producers with a sizable resume. Once hired, a line producer’s work begins.
Line Producing in Pre-Production Mode
Most of a line producer’s duties happen during the development and pre-production phases. Line Producer’s main collaborators are the Director, Executive Producer, and Screenwriter during this stage of development. They work together to set the schedule, begin the hiring process, map out the budget, and, more importantly, break down the script.
A line producer’s first assignment is to create a script breakdown and translate it into a rough budget. It is crucial to know how to look at the story and figure out how it can be brought to life. The skills involved in making this possible go a long way in understanding the vital parts of budgeting that will be used. The more detailed a script breakdown is, the easier it will be to see where the money will go.
Budgeting is critical to effectively grasp how much things cost for a smooth production workflow. Every nuance of the script and shoot must be considered and helps calculate the amount needed for any situation. Also, having contingencies in the production budget is ideal for unexpected occurrences. Some produced programs might have a reserve of at least ten percent of the total budget to help out in this case. Once the budget is finalized, next is the hiring process.
The hard work of line producers puts together a production team. They are ultimately responsible for hiring key crew roles, all of whom will report to the line producer and handle contracts. The production team includes a production manager, production coordinator, production assistants, casting director, first assistant director, and heads of production departments. Many of these heads of department will help the line producer scout for film locations and have a detailed list of equipment needed for production. From there, production can begin.
Line Producers During Production
A line producer’s critical responsibility during production is keeping everything running on schedule and budget. Production is when communication comes into play. The line producer visits every head of a department during production to ensure everything and everyone is prepared for the day’s scenes. There are many chances for error in filmmaking, and a line producer must be ready to anticipate surprises, mistakes, and other problems.
Payroll is also part of the duties during this stage of development. The line producer liaises with the production accountant to guarantee everyone gets paid on time or with little delay. Films unions may move to shut down production if payroll becomes an issue. One payroll group that can help with that is Revolution Entertainment Services. Our first-class customer service, product line-up, and resources make the company a critical component in having a smooth work environment in any production.
The line producer doesn’t have a lot of work in this area. They have already begun the prepping process for post-production during production. They will set up post-production before and throughout the shoot, which means thinking ahead about deliverables for marketing and distribution. A line producer extends to hiring the post-production crew and include locating a post-production facility. A post-production supervisor will oversee the post, and the line producer is in constant contact with the individual. However, knowing the tips and tricks to become a better line producer is helpful.
Ways to Become the Best Line Producer
As mentioned early, line producing goes a long way when experience is attached. Line Producing is gaining more knowledge through projects that help sharpen one’s skills as they relate to tasks. It can come from working on smaller projects like short or independent films, music videos, or other similar types of content. Yet, coming into this profession with some formal education is not required; it can still help in the long run.
The role combines understanding film production with project management and accounting. There are plenty of programs in school all across the nation that will help give aspiring line producers the knowledge and tools needed to become effective at their duties. A line producer can begin both on the job and in college. Those who want to work in movies or television pursue a general film degree.
Some of the essential skills in being a well-sought-out line producer are skillful at leadership, networking, and diplomacy. Being a leader in the crazy world of filmmaking is needed, delegating and executing ideas while also commanding the respect of the rest of the crew. Sometimes, a line producer has to be steadfast in saying “no.” Networking is needed, and having those industry contacts will be helpful. Heads of departments during the production can use this in hiring quickly or if crew members need to be replaced. Lastly, diplomacy is there to create and maintain relationships with all crew and talent for a pleasant work environment.
Line producers are at the heart of the production, hiring the crew, and budgeting. Their diligent work allows filming to be done safely, creatively, on budget, and on time. Most of them have a deep knowledge of filmmaking and love the process. Great line producers are always thinking quickly on their feet and maintain good contact in the Hollywood industry. With their aid, they help every production run efficiently so that viewers can be entertained and come back wanting more.