A line producer is a type of film producer that functions as the key manager during the daily operations of a feature film, television film or an episode of a TV program. A line producer works on one film at a time. They are responsible for human resources and handling any problems that come up during production.
According to Producers Guild of America (PGA) guidelines, the Line Producer is the individual who reports directly to the individual(s) receiving "Produced By" credit on the theatrical motion picture and is the single individual who has the primary responsibility for the logistics of the production, from pre-production through completion of production; all Department Heads report to the Line Producer.
The line producer functions like a Chief Operations Officer in running the production shooting company. During pre-production responsibilities include supervising the assembly of the shooting company, the recruitment of key personnel and services, and the production organization for how the script is going to be shot and transformed into a movie. Start dates for everyone and everything are planned, budgeted for and implemented in the lead up to picture. It is managed on a rigorous schedule. Facilitating casting, location scouting, set building and decorating, offices and stages, wardrobe, props, stunts, physical and visual effects, camera, lighting, rigging, transportation, cast, crew and union relations, travel, cast and crew accommodation, contracting of legal permissions and agreements, safety and risk management, the prep and shooting schedule - in short the joint planning, negotiations, implementing and accounting for production - are all part of the oversight equation.
The essence is leadership in collaboration with creative decision making that is essential to the planning, budgeting, scheduling, and delivery of all elements of the script for every department in readiness for shooting. In the studio system, the line producer reports to the studio engaging her or his services and typically liaises with key executives of production divisions inside the studio such as physical production, legal, labor relations, insurance and finance.
The line producer supports the director's vision and direct influence on the creative expression or narrative of the film, though it could be argued that through a line producer's ability to influence certain aspects of the film, like allocation of resources to certain departments, he or she can change important aspects of the film that have creative consequences, e.g Production Value. For example, they can affect the project's look by influencing the choice of filming locations. While the director is in charge of all purely artistic decisions, the line producer will help him or her to substantiate his or her creative ideas by taking care of logistics and related issues. From pre-production through principal photography, the line producer oversees the production budget and physical needs of the shoot. By the first day of production, several versions of the budget will have usually been drafted. A finalized or "locked" budget is the one used as the basis for the production to move forward. A key objective of a line producer is to respect this "locked" budget and to deliver in time.
While in production, the line producer oversees the execution of many decisions that must be made to deliver each day's shoot. The administrative aspects, especially those that have any financial impact, are all crucial areas of the line producer's work. These areas include but are not limited to negotiating compensation (usually during pre-production) of crew members (both for union and non-union productions) and resolving daily production issues (in conjunction with the first assistant director and possibly the unit production manager). Moreover, they provide demanded equipment. If required they will handle unanticipated scheduling changes and serve "as a liaison between the crew and the producer".
Becoming a line producer
Line producers usually come from the ranks of assistant directors and unit production managers, giving them a strong background in the logistics of filmmaking and time management. It is common for them to continue to perform in one of those roles on projects they line produce. They do not necessarily attend a film school.
- "The Importance of a Line Producer". Retrieved March 10, 2013.
- "A producer who is responsible for managing every person and issue during the making of a film. Line producers only work on one film at a time". Retrieved March 10, 2013.
- "Producer's Code of Credits". Producers Guild of America. Retrieved 2 November 2013.
- "A line producer is basically there to make the director's vision achievable.". Retrieved March 10, 2013.
- "Runs the more practical aspects of the production such as logistics and personnel, as opposed to the creative content". Retrieved March 10, 2013.
- "A line producer is the person who is in charge of hiring all of the below-the-line production crew such as camera crews, lighting crews and catering staffs.". Retrieved March 10, 2013.