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This article will breakdown how to become a film producer, with advice geared towards Hollywood production.

The movie producer is one of the most well-known job roles in the film industry. Even so, most people still don’t understand what exactly a producer does. Ask any group of film students what job they want and you will be certain to find yourself in a room of directors and screenwriters. The producer position has evolved over the past few decades from solely financial to a well-rounded role.

Nowadays, the movie producer (which was once synonymous with a cigar-smoking money man) is a role of both creativity and leadership that would be attractive to many students. Not to mention that producers often take home the highest salaries in the film industry.

What does a film producer do?

Firstly, if you are wondering how to become a film producer you should start by understanding the job role. A producer works throughout the whole filmmaking process. They are often the first person on a project and the last to leave. Here is a breakdown of a producer’s main responsibilities.

Pre-production

  • Sourcing of the screenplay
  • Finds funding for the film
  • Hires cast and crew
  • Helps create a production schedule

Production

  • Daily communication with the director
  • Have a say in any major decisions
  • Works both in the production office and on set
  • Makes sure the film is on time and budget

Post-production

  • Have a say in the final cut
  • Might perform test screenings
  • Works with marketers and distributors
  • Keeps check over the film’s success

Education and Training

To learn how to become a film producer and do all of these tasks above you have many options for training. Here is a list of ways aspiring producers can begin their careers.

Film School
Attending a film school will teach you the basics of how a film set works. It will also allow you to produce some initial projects and meet like-minded people. Los Angeles is home to several of the highest-ranking film schools and film college courses – American Film Institute, UCLA and CalArts.

Trainee/Internship
There are entry-level placements for aspiring filmmakers that provide basic training. Consider aiming for work either in development, in the production office or as a producers assistant. You can find these placements hosted by major companies – Warner Bros, NBC, and Disney. Or listed on job sites – Entertainment Careers and UTA Jobs List.

Production Assistant
This is the first position on the production team ladder. The role of a Production Assistant will allow you to watch how other crew positions work together on set. This work will be low paid, but you can work up the ranks from this role. You can find this job by searching film job sites and by helping out on independent projects.

Self Producing
The last method is to start producing your own projects. This will require you to have some start-up cash and mistakes will be made. Your first project does not have to be a feature, a short film will teach you the same skills with less risk.

If you are producing a film we have plenty of resources and free production templates that can help you manage your project.

Work Routes

After you have some initial training breaking into the industry can be carried out through many potential paths. Keep in mind there is no right or wrong way to approach this business, all routes will provide you with the experience and contacts you need. Here are some typical routes film producers have used to reach success.

Company Route
You can work your way up within a company, starting at an entry-level position and eventually to the producer role. Major TV companies are more likely to keep the same staff for many years. A typical route might be production assistant, development assistant, producers assistant, associate producer and then producer.

Freelance Route
Another way is to freelance on several productions and within many crew roles to understand this industry. Producers have broken in from many roles before such as screenwriters, assistant directors, and editors. However, you can also work your way through the production management department. A typical route might be production assistant, production coordinator, production manager, line producer and then producer.

Independent Route
At any point in your career, you can start to produce your own projects. This is easier if you already have money but many producers source their funding. Some of the ways to find film funding are by approaching production companies, government schemes, and crowdfunding. A producer often funds a film through a series of methods.

Producer Career Examples

By looking at the careers of modern film producers you can see how they have developed in their role. Here is a career breakdown on how to become a film producer by three leading Hollywood producers.

Lauren Shuler Donner (The X-Men Film Series, Deadpool) – Her first job was as a production assistant and then as an assistant editor. For a number of years, she worked at NBC as a camera operator. Then advanced to produce NBC television shows. Later she started her production company and now is one of Hollywood’s most successful film producers.

Roy Lee (How To Train Your Dragon, Godzilla: King Of Monsters) – He started working as a producer’s assistant within development. Later he became a development producer where he sourced screenplays for major production companies. He then started his own production company and now produces feature films.

Nina Jacobson (Pirates of the Caribbean, Crazy Rich Asians) – She began her career as a documentary researcher and later as a development assistant for Disney. Progressing to a development producer for Dreamworks, and then as an executive producer for Disney. She is responsible for many blockbuster film franchises.

Learning how to become a film producer is not as clear as any ordinary day job. Likely you will work a mix of job roles, for a variety of companies before working up being a producer. Here at SetHero, we can help you manage and organize your film projects throughout your career. We also have a library of free production templates that you can start using right away.

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Jude Chidubem says:

    Thank you for the awesome enlightenment on film producing role. Am a Nollywood production manager aspiring to be a Director. I would appreciate if I can be well educated on the roles and Duties of a production manager from pre production to post production

  • I’m an aspiring independent film producer. I have worked on many indie projects as a director, production assistant, sound operator and camera. I love all aspects of production and it looks like I’m on the right path. I appreciate the resources you have provided as I will likely use them for an upcoming production of an indie feature with a local director. I struggle to find great templates for Resumes. Perhaps a good blog post might be your film resumes and IMDb etc? How to get hired on sets etc?

    Thank you all for the great resource you are!

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