Chapter 3: Producing & Production Management

A producer assumes a myriad of roles. They are responsible for drafting a proposal to initiate the project, acquiring funds, hiring personnel, and overseeing the entire production process. The producer establishes continuity throughout the project, ensures that it reaches its target audience and that all financial benefactors are satisfied. Producers act as the cheerleader for a project, encouraging others’ support and participation.

A certain amount of risk is involved with being a producer. The logistics of production and financial management must be meticulously coordinated, so as not to squander investments and/or loans. Efficiency is key when it comes to budgeting, scheduling, and overall production management. The producer must juggle the interests of creative artists, corporate executives, investors, and audiences. Some producers may choose to specialize in different fields of programming such as television commercials, drama, sports news, or interactive multimedia.

There are four categories into which producers fall: staff producers, independent producers, executive producers, and producer hyphenates. Staff producers are employed by a production company and work on various projects within that company. On the television network level, they can further specialize in specific divisions, such as sports or news. In film production, producers often specialize in the production of feature films, documentaries, or industrial films.

Independent producers are not employed on a continuous basis by a production company, but rather try to sell studios ideas for projects. They must make the idea marketable to the studio and aggregate the story, staff, and talent into a package. Executive producers are less involved in the daily tasks of production and focus more on the big picture. They delegate the more detailed tasks to focus on development.

The role of the producer hyphenates combines the duties of the producer, writer, and director. They must completely immerse themselves in all aspects of production from preplanning to the day-to-day duties. They control all aspects of the project and have final say in all decisions, so as to maintain the integrity of the original vision for the project.

Producers adopt certain production strategies so that every aspect of the project is successful. These strategies involve four steps: turning a provocative idea into a funded and marketable media package, defining the goals and objectives of the project, researching the topic, and assessing the potential audience. Market research is conducted to further understand potential audiences and make sure that the target audience is being reached. The production team must follow the producer’s cohesive vision.

The producer’s role begins with preproduction that involves planning out a proposal to submit to potential investors. A successful proposal clearly demonstrates the vision of the project and encourages enthusiastic support. A proposal should cover certain necessary elements: a provocative opening statement that outlines the purpose of the project, a comprehensive outline of its structure, organization, and approach; a rationale for the need for the project; a preliminary budget and schedule; specific information regarding the target audience, and means to reach them; and a short summary of the duties of the producer, director, and other key contributors.

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