Moviemaking is a magical business, but actors aren’t the only important players when it comes to good film production. In addition to a director and cinematographer, producers are some of the cornerstone members of a film crew that helped bring the visual image to life.
Producers are often the ones in ultimate control over a film’s production and sometimes have the most say in its creative decisions.
You might enjoy being a movie producer if you like being in charge and juggling many different tasks at once.
Being a movie producer can be difficult, but it’s ultimately very rewarding when you see your film on the big screen.
What Does a Movie Producer Do?
Put simply, a movie producer oversees the production and makes sure that all of the other elements of the film – the director, the actors, the money – are all in place so that production can begin as scheduled and finished on time.
They can be more or less involved in every level of the process depending on their investment in a particular project.
They are often involved in selecting the script, designing and editing the book of the motion picture, and most often involved in financing the film either through their own money or through securing loans from various film companies.
Producers are often the first ones to look for a new picture to be made and bring it to various different directors or loaning companies to see if such a film would be profitable.
In other scenarios, more artistic producers may be looking for a script or film idea that can present a particular artistic feeling or story.
Movie producers work side-by-side with directors and actors, as well as other members of the film production.
They are often one of the most connected members of any film production due to their variable responsibilities.
They are often involved with some production during pre-production, production, and post-production stages, unlike almost every other major person in film production.
A movie producer’s success heavily depends on the success of their films. While it’s true that talent does matter, movie producers will fail to find more work if their movies consistently flop at the box office. On the flipside, a movie producer that continually turns out excellent films that recoup the financial investment will find work incredibly easy to come by, as they will be requested by directors and other creative heads.
Movie Producer Duties
- Locating a good script that can make an effective or profitable movie
- Finding a director who is willing to bring the film’s vision to life
- Assisting with finding cast members that can accurately or entertainingly portray the major characters
- Securing funding from a major movie studio or other financial backers, including potentially themselves, in order to finance the film
- Overseeing the marketing and distribution of the film in cooperation with financial backers and film studios
- Helping with the production of the film in any other way required aside from acting and
- Directing and the various umbrella responsibilities therein
- Having the final creative say over every aspect of the film’s production, or as otherwise limited in the contract between the producer and director or financers
Desirable Skills & Qualities of a Movie Producer
Being a movie producer requires that you have several different wide-ranging skills that can allow you to juggle all of the responsibilities inherent in the profession.
A movie producer often has to do multiple things at once and make many high-level decisions that can have wide-ranging and lasting impacts over both the completed movie and the lives of everyone else involved in the production.
Specifically, a movie producer should have the following skills and qualities:
Since a movie producer needs to be able to find good scripts or stories to turn into films, as well as interpret those stories in entertaining and meaningful ways. Good creative producers can effectively turn book scripts into movie scripts without losing much of the material in the translation, for example.
Since producers must often juggle many different personalities and personal objectives to make the movie come out perfectly. A good producer should be able to lead the crew and/or the director to success.
Since the producer has to convince financial backers to finance the film and a director to shoot the film. In addition, a good producer should be able to communicate well with actors, creative heads, and any other individuals within the movie’s production in order to get their creative ideas across clearly.
Time management skills are a definite requirement since movie producers often do multiple things at once and have to be able to effectively prioritize tasks from one another.
This is another good trait to have since although the producer is the ultimate authority on most productions, movies are made by many people working together rather than one person doing all the work. Being able to effectively delegate tasks to a team and trust that they are doing what you asked of them is critical to being an effective producer.
In addition to the above points, movie producers should be incredibly self-reliant and self-motivating. You have to seek out work for yourself more often than not, as only the most successful movie producers have enough social clout be sought after by other creative types.
A good movie producer will, therefore, constantly be on the lookout for great new projects that they can add to their portfolio and claim credit for. You have to be able to advertise yourself as a successful producer in order to consistently find work. Once you get a job, it’s important that you do as good a job as possible to maximize your chances of working on another movie after your current one ends.
Movie Producer Education Requirements
Technically speaking, you don’t need any education whatsoever to become a movie producer. However, with the film industry being as competitive as it is, most successful producers have at least a bachelor’s degree in film or a related area. There are no licenses required to become a producer, but having a bachelor’s degree allows aspiring producers to network with other creative minds such as their own informed connections that can lead to eventual movies and other jobs.
Moviemaking is a social art as much as it is a technical art, and often producers turn to people that they already know to fill slots for tasks such as directing, acting, or writing. The same is true of the reverse; producers often get jobs as a result of their connections with other people.
While the social network is important, a bachelor’s degree in film or related area also imparts the required creative knowledge and professional understanding of film history, editing, cinematography and other aspects that allow a producer to find good stories to bring to life on the police. You can’t make good movies without understanding them, and a bachelor’s degree in film is one of the best ways to obtain that knowledge.
Also, much of your education will come from working on movie projects either in school with fellow students or on your own time as paid work. The best way to learn the moviemaking business is to actually partake in filmmaking activities, whether or not you’re the movie’s producer. Many talented producers have also spent time in the director’s chair or as a cinematographer, as both of these fields require you to look at the movie as a holistic picture and make higher-level decisions concerning creative efforts and cast member tasks.
Accreditation isn’t required to become a movie producer, although schools that have more social clout or are well known for being good film schools will give out degrees that have more value. For instance, it’s more valuable to have a film degree from an art school that has already created many good producers and directors than it is to have a film degree from a school that nobody knows about.
What You’ll Study
When studying film during your time in school, you’ll learn a wide range of topics related to the actual movie making process. Some of the most important topics that you’ll cover include:
- Cinematography, which is the study of camerawork specifically in relation to a film. Cinematography often does much to impart style and emotion on a movie or particular scene.
- Screenwriting, which is the study of how scripts are made. Screenwriting is a separate writing art on its own and is distinct from novel writing or playwriting.
- Film history, where you’ll learn about how the art of moviemaking began and how it progressed to its modern incarnations.
- Film editing, which is a subject where you’ll learn how films are edited and presented to an audience and how this can affect the overall reception of a movie.
In addition to these film-based subjects, you’ll likely also take courses in adjacent subjects that are still in the liberal arts sphere but aren’t directly related to moviemaking. You might study English, journalism, or communications on your path to getting your degree. All of these can be useful both in the real world and when you are trying to make a new movie.
Since you’re trying to be a producer, certain programs may also include business classes or management classes. These can help you learn the necessary skills to juggle many different responsibilities and delegate tasks to your workers.
Training Information & Types of Movie Producer Degrees
As previously stated, a degree isn’t required to become a movie producer, but almost all successful movie producers have bachelor’s degrees in film or related area. It’s recommended to get at least a bachelor’s degree since this provides you with enough education to thoroughly understand the subject of a film and also provides you with enough time to form networking connections with other people that may serve you well in your career in the future.
Going to a liberal arts-focused school with a good film program is recommended. This will likely take around four years from start to finish.
Option 1: No Degree
It’s certainly possible to become a movie producer without a degree at all, although you’ll likely start off producing independent productions that don’t have a lot of money behind. You’ll still likely be working with other students who are currently attending film school.
The advantage to this path is that you don’t need to spend any time going to school and can jump right into movie producing. The disadvantage is that you will likely lack any of the required connections necessary to get your start producing movies.
If you somehow stumble onto the opportunity to produce a film without going to school, it still is a good idea to return and attend school at some point in your life for the benefits mentioned above.
Option 2: Bachelor’s Degree in Film Related Area
This is the preferred path to becoming a movie producer. You’ll study and earn a bachelor’s degree in film or related area and make connections along the way with other film students or creative minds. You’ll study both film as an art as well as certain business courses that can help you manage people and finance and bring to completion and expensive projects like a movie.
A bachelor’s degree usually takes around four years and may or may not include on-campus housing depending on the program in which you enroll.
All bachelor’s degrees require a high school diploma or equivalent at a minimum. Most other schools have more competitive requirements, including good grades or GPA, competitive class lists, and extensive extracurricular activities. All of these factors combine to make you more competitive in the applicant pool.
Bachelor’s degrees also cost a relatively high amount of money depending on the particular school. Financing is available as an option, or you can attain an associate’s degree first in return for a bachelor’s degree at a later time.
You’ll take many different courses over the course of your school years. These courses include ones focused on film such as editing, screenwriting, and cinematography, while other classes may focus on other liberal arts subjects such as writing and communications.
In addition, all bachelor’s degrees will require you to complete a litany of general education courses covering all the major subjects, such as math, social sciences, and physical sciences.
Option 3: Master’s Degree in Fine Arts
You may also decide to go even further and attain a Master of Fine Arts degree.
This degree takes longer to attain and requires an extra two years of school at minimum, but it provides you with even more focused courses and can connect you to even more creative people.
Depending on the program, you may have on-campus housing. In addition, since this is a creative field, you will likely be required to undertake a filmmaking project of your own at some point, whether as a director, producer, or other creative head.
Admission to master’s programs is very competitive across the country for almost all educational programs. These often require a bachelor’s degree with the applicant in good standing with the university and with good grades or GPA.
In addition to these standard requirements, many programs also require an outstanding reason for application from the candidate.
This requires the applicant to explain why they want to obtain a master’s degree and why they should be considered over other applicants.
Extracurricular activities or related projects that have been completed during school years are excellent advantages over other applicants.
Those who pursue a master’s degree in Fine Arts will find their courses are much more specialized.
These can include courses in directing, set design and acting, as well as further degrees in business or arts management.
You may be able to dictate to some extent your exact course list depending on your focus or career ambitions.
Online Movie Producer ProgramsThere are several online moviemaking and film focused college programs, some of which are accredited and some of which aren’t. This has little effect for an aspiring movie producer since most of the advantage to getting a traditional bachelor’s or higher degree lies in the social clout of having obtained the degree or the networking that occurred while at school. While attending online courses for filmmaking or movie producing can be helpful for your personal career, they won’t help your actual employment prospects in the real world.
3 Steps to Become a Movie Producer
In the end, becoming a movie producer is a lot simpler than you might think. But it does require constant dedication on your part and a little bit of luck.
Step 1: Get a Degree
Attend school and obtain a bachelor’s degree in film or a related area. This gives experience and connections.
Step 2. Get a Job in the Industry
Start looking for work. Work with others or take jobs in the general film industry.
Step 3. Make a Movie
Improve your reputation by completing well-received films.
Movie Producer Salary & Growth
Pay for movie producers varies wildly since each project has a different budget. In addition, producers are often in charge of financing for the film, and you may or may not decide to take a larger or smaller cut of the budget depending on your responsibilities or how much money the movie actually ends up needing.
To that end, boxing in the annual salaries of movie producers is a moot point. You could earn potentially as little as $20,000 a year or as high as $20 million a year depending on how successful you are. The median annual wage for producers hovers around $70,000 a year, but this may not be relevant to your area or focus.
In addition, movies that make more money are often accompanied by complicated contracts that spell out exactly what money goes to which person once the movie has been released. For instance, some film contracts specify the producers receive a percentage of all the profits made from ticket sales. If you are extremely successful, you may get a contract such as this one and earn extra profit in addition to your contracted salary for the production of the movie.