Film producers fill a variety of roles depending upon the type of producer. Either employed by a production company or independent, producers plan and coordinate various aspects of film production, such as selecting script, coordinating writing, directing and editing, and arranging financing. During the "discovery stage", the producer has to find and acknowledge promising material. Then, unless the film is supposed to be based on an original script, the producer has to find an appropriate screenwriter.
For various reasons, producers cannot always personally supervise all of the production. As such, the main producer will appoint executive producers, line producers, or unit production managers who represent the main producer's interests. Among other things, the producer has the last word on whether sounds or music have to be changed or scenes have to be cut, and they are in charge of selling the film or arranging distribution rights. The producer's role can vary significantly from project to project and based on the circumstances and funding.
Clarification of term
Whereas historically in television, the primary role of the producer was to oversee all aspects of video production, in film and often in television today, this role is filled by the line producer. The line producer may manage a film's budget and maintain a schedule. The executive producer oversees the filmmaking with regard to film financing. They liaise with the line producer and report to production companies and distributors. Whether the person credited as "producer" or a person credited as "executive producer" has more input on a production is not always clear and is subject to change as the film is substantiated. Since filmmaking is a dynamic process, responsibilities can grow or shift in the process and credits for producers can get adjusted retroactively. For example, somebody hired as a "line producer" might later be credited as an "executive producer".
Because of these dynamics, all involved producers must agree on production standards from the start. Negligence in that matter can lead to a domino effect. Other producers are more involved with the day-to-day workings, participating in activities such as screenwriting, set design, casting, and even directing. Currently, because of the restrictions the Writers Guild of America screenwriting credit system places on writing credits, many scriptwriters are credited as "producers" instead, even though they may not engage in the responsibilities generally associated with that title. In this limited sense, the producer and the screenwriter may be the same person. Producers differ from Production Management (Production and Unit Managers and Production Coordinators) in part because the responsibilities of Production Management are more logistical than creative.
Different types of producers in the industry today include (in order of seniority):
- Executive producer
- The executive producer addresses the finances in that they pitch films to the studios. Upon acceptance, they may focus on business matters, such as budgets and contracts.
- Co-executive producer
- Second in seniority to executive producer.
- Line producer
- Manages the staff and day-to-day operations. Finds staff to hire for the production. Most line producers are given the title of "produced by".
- Supervising producer
- Supervises the creative process of screenplay development, and often aids in script re-writes. They usually supervise less experienced story editors and staff writers on the writing team.
- Traditional producers, who are responsible for physical facilities, are given the credit of "produced by". In U.S. films, a producer can also be a writer who has not written enough of the screenplay to receive approval from the Writers Guild of America to be listed as a screenwriter.
- A writer who may not have written the script, but contributed significantly through table reads or revisions. In the U.S., co-producer credits also often require approval from the Writers Guild of America.
- Coordinating producer or production coordinator
- This producer manages the schedule and arranges the staff into teams.
- Consulting producer
- These producers are a former executive or possibly co-executive producers, or, in rare cases, directors. They are called upon to assist the writers.
- Associate producer
- Runs day-to-day operations. This credit has been devalued over time and is viewed by some to be an honorary title given to non-producer crew.
- Segment producer
- Writes or produces one segment of a film.
- Field producer
- Selects areas to film (outside of a set) and coordinates production in the field. They also form a trusting relationship with the cast/participants in order to get interviews while in the field. They may fill a number of different roles, including production manager/coordinator, videographer, and also production assistant.
- Edit producer
- Helps coordinate the edit by working with the editor and relaying information from other producers. Involved in creating stories and writing a script if necessary.
- Post producer
- Supervises the overall post-production process, including editing, dubbing, and grading. Post-producers are typically employed by facilities houses rather than by production companies directly.
In film or video productions, the executive producer is almost always given an opportunity to comment on a rough cut, but the amount of attention paid to his/her comments is highly dependent on the overall personnel structure of the production.
Development (film rights)
During the "discovery stage", the producer has to find and acknowledge promising material. Often, a producer must then retrieve the film rights or an option. If the rights owner is worried about preserving the integrity, voice, and vision of their work, the producer might have to comply with a variety of demands concerning the screenplay, the film director, casting, or other topics. Thus, it occasionally takes a lot of time and effort before the actual pre-production can begin. Late German producer Bernd Eichinger is said to have worked 15 years on convincing novelist Patrick Süskind just to agree to a film adaptation of his book Perfume. However, sometimes all effort is futile. J. D. Salinger, for example, refused all film producers as long as he lived.
Unless the film is supposed to be based on an original script, the producer has to find an appropriate screenwriter. If an existing script is considered flawed, they are able to order a new version or make the decision to hire a script doctor. The producer also has the final say on which film director gets hired. In some cases, they also have the last word when it comes to casting questions.
For various reasons, producers cannot always personally supervise all parts of their production. For example, some producers run a company which also deals with film distribution. Also, cast and film crew often work at different times and places, and certain films even require a second unit. Consequently, it is normal that the main producer will appoint executive producers, line producers, or unit production managers who represent the main producer's interests. The executive producer for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi was George Lucas himself, the creator of the Star Wars universe.
Among other things, the producer has the last word on whether sounds or music have to be changed or scenes have to be cut. Even if the shooting has officially been finished, the producers can still demand that additional scenes be filmed. In the case of a negative test screening, producers may even demand and get an alternative film ending. This happened for example with First Blood, in which the test audience reacted very negatively to having Rambo die, so the producers re-shot a new ending. Producers are also in charge of selling the film or arranging distribution rights.
Film schools offer degree courses that include film production knowledge. Some courses are especially designed for future film producers, focusing on key topics like pitching, script development, script assessment, shooting schedule design, and budgeting. The students can also expect practical training regarding post-production.
On the occasion of announcing his own film school, L’Ecole de la Cite, film producer Luc Besson admitted that at the beginning of his career, he would have appreciated the chance to attend a film school.
The average annual salary for a producer in the U.S. is $109,844. If one examines just the 15,000+ producers in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the average annual salary is $138,640. Producers also often have an agreement to take a percentage of the movie's sales.
- J. J. Abrams – Lost, Cloverfield, Alias, Mission: Impossible III, Star Trek, Fringe, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Irwin Allen – The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno
- Judd Apatow – The Cable Guy, Anchorman, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad, Freaks and Geeks
- Avi Arad – Spider-Man, X-Men, Blade
- Lawrence Bender – Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, An Inconvenient Truth, Reservoir Dogs, Good Will Hunting
- Armyan Bernstein – Air Force One, The Hurricane, Children of Men, Bring It On
- Albert R. Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli – James Bond film series
- Mel Brooks – The Elephant Man, The Fly, Frances, 84 Charing Cross Road, Young Frankenstein
- Jerry Bruckheimer – Top Gun, Crimson Tide, The Rock, Con Air, National Treasure, Pirates of the Caribbean film series, CSI (franchise)
- Tim Burton – The Nightmare Before Christmas, Cabin Boy, James and the Giant Peach, 9
- Jim Carrey – Bruce Almighty, Fun with Dick and Jane
- Yash Chopra, Aditya Chopra – Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Veer-Zaara, Dhoom 2
- Raymond Chow – The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Enter the Dragon, Project A, Winners and Sinners, Game of Death, Game of Death II
- Ethan Coen – Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Barton Fink, Fargo, No Country for Old Men
- Tom Cruise – Mission: Impossible, Vanilla Sky, Narc, The Others, Minority Report, War Of The Worlds, The Last Samurai, Shattered Glass
- Dean Devlin – Independence Day, Godzilla, The Patriot
- Lorenzo di Bonaventura – Constantine, Shooter, Transformers
- Leonardo DiCaprio – The Aviator, The 11th Hour
- Vin Diesel – The Fast and The Furious, The Chronicles of Riddick
- Michael Douglas – Romancing the Stone, Jewel of the Nile, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
- Eric Eisner – Risky Business, Beetlejuice, Hamlet 2
- Nora Ephron – Michael, You've Got Mail, Bewitched
- Robert Evans – Love Story, The Godfather, Chinatown, The Saint
- Chantal Feghali – Alexander, Cloverfield, Terminator Salvation, World Trade Center, I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Score, Sleepy Hollow, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
- Kevin Feige – Marvel Cinematic Universe films
- Buzz Feitshans – Rambo, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
- Ted Field – The Amityville Horror, The Last Samurai, Runaway Bride, What Dreams May Come, Jumanji, Revenge of the Nerds
- Peter Fonda – Easy Rider
- Todd Garner – Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, Here Comes the Boom
- Mel Gibson – Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ
- Richard N. Gladstein – Finding Neverland, The Bourne Identity, Pulp Fiction, The Cider House Rules
- Charles Gordon – Field of Dreams, Waterworld, Die Hard, Die Hard 2
- Brian Grazer – Splash, Parenthood, Apollo 13, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code
- Matt Groening – The Simpsons, Futurama, The Simpsons Movie
- Paul Haggis – Crash, Million Dollar Baby, Letters from Iwo Jima
- Tom Hanks – Cast Away, Band of Brothers, Mamma Mia, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, The Polar Express, Evan Almighty, My Life in Ruins, City of Ember, The Pacific
- Michael Hausman – Ragtime, Silkwood, Amadeus, House of Games,The People vs. Larry Flynt, Gangs of New York, Brokeback Mountain, All the King's Men, Taking Woodstock
- David Heyman – Harry Potter film series
- Peter Jackson – The Lord of the Rings film series, King Kong, District 9, The Hobbit film series
- Shintaro Katsu – Shogun Assassin, Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo
- Howard Kazanjian – Raiders of the Lost Ark, Return of the Jedi, Demolition Man
- Kathleen Kennedy – The Sixth Sense, Always, Munich, Jurassic Park, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Alexander Korda – Things to Come, The Four Feathers, The Thief of Bagdad
- Stanley Kubrick – Fear and Desire, Killer's Kiss, Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, Eyes Wide Shut
- Gary Kurtz – Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Crystal
- J. F. Lawton – Under Siege, V.I.P., Jackson
- Spike Lee – Crooklyn, Malcolm X
- George Lucas – Star Wars, Indiana Jones
- Branko Lustig – Schindler's List, Gladiator
- Charlie Lyons – The Guardian (2006 film), The Water Horse, The Half Life of Timofey Berezin, Mardi Gras
- Eric Manes – Voices of Iraq
- Frank Marshall – The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, Back to the Future trilogy, Jurassic Park, The Sixth Sense
- W. David McBrayer – Beat the Drum
- Rick McCallum – Star Wars
- Ismail Merchant – Bombay Talkie, A Room with a View, Mr & Mrs Bridge, The Remains of the Day, Jefferson in Paris, The Golden Bowl, The White Countess
- Arnon Milchan – Pretty Woman, Natural Born Killers, L.A. Confidential, City of Angels, Entrapment, Fight Club, Unfaithful, Daredevil, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, The Fountain, What Happens in Vegas
- Walter Mirisch – West Side Story, The Sound of Music
- Hayao Miyazaki – Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Whisper of the Heart
- Scott Mosier – Clerks, 'Mallrats, Chasing Amy
- Christopher Nolan – The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, Interstellar, Dunkirk
- Michael Nozik – Syriana, The Motorcycle Diaries, Quiz Show, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Mississippi Masala
- Tyler Perry – Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea's Family Reunion
- Jon Peters
- Julia Phillips – The Sting, Taxi Driver, Close Encounters of the Third Kind
- Brad Pitt – The Departed, 12 Years a Slave, Kick-Ass, Moneyball, World War Z
- Hal Roach – Our Gang
- Robert Rodriguez – El Mariachi, Desperado, From Dusk till Dawn, Grindhouse
- Scott Rudin – No Country for Old Men, School of Rock, The Royal Tenenbaums, Clueless
- Harry Saltzman – James Bond, Battle of Britain, The Ipcress File
- Adam Sandler – The Waterboy, Big Daddy, Little Nicky, The Animal, Mr. Deeds, Eight Crazy Nights, The Hot Chick, Anger Management, 50 First Dates, The Longest Yard, Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, Click, Joe Dirt, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
- Martin Scorsese – The Grifters, Naked in New York, The Aviator
- David O. Selznick – King Kong, Gone with the Wind, The Third Man
- Run Run Shaw
- Daryush Shokof – Seven Servants, Iran Zendan,Heaven's Taxi
- Joel Silver – The Matrix, Lethal Weapon, Predator, Veronica Mars, V for Vendetta
- Dean Silvers – Flirting with Disaster, Spanking the Monkey, Manny & Lo, Wigstock: The Movie
- John Singleton – Boyz n the Hood, Hustle & Flow
- Sam Spiegel – The African Queen, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia
- Steven Spielberg – The Goonies, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Poltergeist, Transformers (executive)
- Ben Stiller – Blades of Glory, Zoolander, The Ruins, Tropic Thunder
- Shobuj Taposh – Cycle, Chittagong, Bangladesh
- Quentin Tarantino – From Dusk till Dawn, Hostel, Grindhouse
- Irving Thalberg – Mutiny on the Bounty, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Grand Hotel, A Night at the Opera
- Hal B. Wallis – The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca
- Fran Walsh – The Lord of the Rings, King Kong, The Lovely Bones, Halo
- Robert Watts – Return of the Jedi, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, You Only Live Twice
- Harvey Weinstein
- Ralph Winter – Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, X-Men, Fantastic Four, X2: X-Men United
- James Wade Woodbury, American & Canadian financier and movie producer
- Christopher Woodrow
- Saul Zaentz – One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, The English Patient
- Darryl F. Zanuck – The Grapes of Wrath, All About Eve, The Longest Day
- Robert Zemeckis – The Frighteners, Matchstick Men, Monster House
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- "All the projects that I have been involved with have allowed me to see how important it is to get things right from the beginning. Production standards – good or bad – can cause a domino effect in the chain of command all the way through the process.". Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- "A screenplay agreement normally provides that the copyright is assigned to the producer". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- "He created a screenplay about a rough-and-tumble thug who struggles for a chance to make it as a professional boxer. According to several reports, Stallone refused to sell the script unless he was allowed to star in it.". Retrieved 14 March 2013.
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- Allen, Nick (19 June 2010). "JD Salinger always insisted The Catcher in the Rye was "unactable" and refused to let Hollywood anywhere near his masterpiece". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 19 June 2010.
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- Bergan, Ronald. "In 1979, Eichinger bought a large stake in the Munich-based production and distribution company Constantin Film, which he ran as a hands-on producer for over 30 years". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
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- "Lucas continued the Star Wars saga as story writer and executive producer with The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and Return of the Jedi in 1983.". Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- "test audiences nearly rioted after cheering for Rambo and then seeing him die. So the producers went back to Hope, British Columbia, the location for the film, and shot a new ending in which Rambo lives". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- "Mr. Kramer began his career in the 1930s as an editor and writer, later forming an independent production company". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- "The MFA Advanced Film Practice programme aims to equip you with the creative, professional and technical knowledge you will need to enter the professional arena as a writer, producer or director.". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- "The training course last three years and the interdisciplinary teaching programme prepares students in the specific areas of directing, scriptwriting, acting, photography, editing, sound techniques, production, set design, props and wardrobe". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- "Our BA in Film Production is one of our most highly sought-after courses.". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- "Producing seminars teach through practical studies in production, script development, budgeting, and media economics". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- "All student films are developed, shot and post-produced in teams, closely mirroring a realistic industry work process in order to ease graduates' transitions to the professional environment". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- L’Ecole de la Cite
- "Luc Besson launches film school". Variety. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
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