Becoming a Film Producer: Job Description & Salary Information

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What are the pros and cons of a film producer career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a film producer is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a Film Producer

The glamour and excitement associated with the film industry hides the fact that it actually takes a great deal of hard work to make movies. Continue reading the pros and cons to find out if this field is right for you.

Pros of a Film Producer Career
End result may bring you fame*
Decent potential salary (mean salary of $90,300 as of May 2014)**
Can lend your creativity to the project**
Possible influence on every level of the filmmaking process*
Producers are able to come from various types of backgrounds*

Cons of a Film Producer Career
May not have consistent work*
Slow job growth (3%-7% from 2012-2022)**
Studio jobs are primarily located in large cities*
Many responsibilities (technical, financial, administrative)*
Very competitive field*
Typically works holidays, evenings and weekends*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*NET OnLine.

Career Information

Film producers are involved from the beginning (a pitched script) to the end (an opening weekend) of a film. They're often in charge of procuring financing, choosing scripts and approving any changes that happen. Other responsibilities may include finding and hiring principle production staff but production duties also increase with the size and budget of a film. Although producers may be in charge of most of the production, they still need to answer to the executive producers.

Job Growth and Salary

O*NET OnLine, an occupational database, projected that producers could see a 3%-7% increase in job openings between 2012 and 2022. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted that growth for producers and directors may be caused by demand determined by box office and home media services. The increased use of digital technology and the ability to transfer films to mobile devices may also be a driving factor in growth.

Some film producers earn a percentage of the movie's total earnings rather than an annual salary. The BLS noted that an applicant with proven business skills would likely have many employment prospects. As of May 2014, the BLS estimated that producers earned a mean salary of about $90,000.

Career Skills and Requirements

While it's important for film producers to show that they have real talent and relevant work experience, the BLS states that many producers have a bachelor's degree. Common majors include business, journalism, arts management, communication or writing. Some colleges and universities are now offering formal degrees in film production. Although there aren't any education programs specifically for producing, you may be able to develop related skills in an arts management program, which provides a comprehensive framework for those entering the visual arts.

Useful Skills

Since film production can also be associated with minor and large projects, commercials or news broadcasts, your passion will guide your focus. You need to know how to judge your budget limitations, keep production on schedule and meet the needs of your production team. The BLS states that producers can come from directing, acting and management backgrounds. The following list of general career requirements were gathered from BLS:

  • Ability to manage others
  • Strong creativity skills
  • Excellent verbal and written communication

Job Postings from Real Employers

Feature film producer positions are usually not advertised. Instead, individuals may pursue other production-related career opportunities in related industries to gain experience. Although this isn't the definitive collection of job offerings, the following July 2012 job postings provide information on what employers look for:

  • A St. Louis film company advertised for a location scout for a low-budget documentary. The scout should be familiar with the St. Louis area, be resourceful and hard working.
  • A New York City film company was seeking a production assistant (PA) with at least a year of experience. The company wanted a PA with Screen Actors Guild (SAG) paperwork and who was detail-oriented and diligent.
  • An independent film company based in Los Angeles was looking for a film producer for a short film. The applicant would be responsible for scouting locations, taking part in production meetings and assisting in casting. Experience wasn't necessary, but enthusiasm for movie production and excellent communication skills were vital.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Formal education may be what it takes to stand out from the competition for entry-level positions. On the road to becoming a producer, there are several different paths. If you're an aspiring actor, entertainment manager or director, you may have enough understanding to take the reins of a production. If you're entering the field and would like to focus exclusively on producer positions, you may want to look at programs focusing on creative industry management. Arts management programs can be found at the undergraduate and graduate levels of education. During these programs, you may develop skills in financial accounting, marketing, philanthropy, human resources, working with non-profit organizations, earning sponsorships and entertainment law.

Develop Related Skills

If you want to enter the field without any experience and would like to focus on basic production skills, you may want to consider a video production degree program. These programs are also offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels and provide an understanding of film making at all levels of production. While core courses may not cover the financial portions of making a film, you may learn how to use cameras, setup production stages, edit film, write screenplays and direct. These programs can train you how to assist in creative decisions. You may also want to complete related entertainment business courses to compensate for the lack of financial development courses.

Alternative Career Paths

Actor

If you don't want to work on the business-side of filming and are interested in providing creative services, you may want to consider working as an actor. As an actor, you can work in front of the camera interpreting character roles and transforming into that character with the director's guidance. Success in this position requires skills in memorizing scripts, working with other actors, following director cues and creating effective characters. Due to payments often determined through contractual agreements, there may difficulty determining yearly salary. As of May 2011, the BLS indicated that the median hourly wage for some actors was around $19. The BLS estimated only a four percent job growth for actors from 2010-2020.

Director

Although some producer positions include a few directing duties, you may want to consider becoming a director. Traditional director duties include deciding how the film should look, choosing scenes need to be constructed, determining camera movement, making sure the message of the film is conveyed and picking how the sound interacts with each scene. For the most part, directors are in creative control of a project. The film's executive producer must also approve all major director decision-making. O*NET Online found that directors for the stage, motions pictures, radio and television could see average job growth of 10%-19% from 2010-2020. This field made a median hourly wage of $34 in 2011, according to O*NET.

Popular Schools

  • Campus and Online Programs
    1. The Art Institutes

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Film (MFA)
      • Film (MFA)
    Bachelor's
      • Digital Cinema & Video Production (BS)
      • Digital Film & Video (BFA)
      • Digital Filmmaking & Video Production (BFA)
      • Digital Filmmaking & Video Production (BS)
      • Digital Filmmaking & Video Production (BA)
      • Digital Photography (BFA)
    Associate's
      • Digital Filmmaking & Video Production (AAS)
      • Digital Filmmaking & Video Production (AS)
      • Video Production (AS)
      • Digital Filmmaking & Video Production (AA)
      • Digital Photography (AAS)
      • Digital Photography (AS)
    High School Diploma
      • Video Skills (D)
      • Commercial Photography (D)
  • Campus and Online Programs
    2. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science - Film Production
      • M.S. - Entertainment Business
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Film (Campus)
      • B.S. - Show Production
      • B.S. - Digital Cinematography
      • BS - Audio Production
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
      • HS Diploma
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Featured Schools

The Art Institutes

  • Film (MFA)
  • Digital Cinema & Video Production (BS)
  • Digital Filmmaking & Video Production (AAS)
  • Video Skills (D)

What is your highest level of education?

Full Sail University

  • Master of Science - Film Production
  • M.S. - Entertainment Business
  • BS - Film (Campus)
  • B.S. - Show Production

What is your highest level of education?

Penn Foster High School

  • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
  • HS Diploma

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