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So you’ve decided you’d like to be a Producer, Director, or Writer. Here are some job descriptions
- Executive Producer
- Line Producer
- Second Unit Director
- Script Writer
- Story Editor
Producers are the driving force behind any project. They are essentially the ‘managers’ of a movie production. Some projects only use one Producer, but often there are several. Producers come from many types of experience and training. Management, marketing, business and law are common starting points. Many producers also have extensive experience in many aspects of filmmaking and have worked in many different positions on film or television projects.
Producers get things started by looking for properties or story ideas that can be made into films or TV shows. They hire the first crew and usually have a vested interest in the project’s creative vision. Producers secure investors and put together the financing for a production and they are ultimately responsible for all financial aspects of a film. They must have strong business management skills, including skills in managing and working with others, the ability to negotiate contracts, arrange for distribution of a project, and work the same long hours as the crew in many situations.
On larger projects, there is often an Executive Producer. He or she deals exclusively with raising the funds for the project and then acts as a liaison with investors until the project is completed.
Many projects are produced by two film production companies with separate Producers representing each party. In this case, the Producers share the same responsibilities as usual, but they are billed as ‘Co-Producers’.
Line Producers are usually found on larger feature film productions. They take on more of the ‘day-to-day’ responsibilities of monitoring expenses and supervising the film crew. Line Producers tend to stay on only as long as the cast and crew are filming, and once they wrap up he or she isn’t concerned with the post-production. They also act as the supervisor to the Production Manager.
Directors are in charge of all technical and artistic aspects of a film. They unite everyone working on a film and every department into a cohesive and aesthetic whole. They direct the entire cast and crew during shooting. Directors are involved in the three phases of production – from prep, shoot, and edit (post-production), and may be involved in the development of the film.
Directors ‘translate’ the script from the written page into a film. They ‘see’ the story in images. Often, individuals who want to become directors start in another area of filmmaking and use their experience and varied job experience to advance to directing. Music videos, commercials and industry/corporate/educational videos can provide this kind of experience as well.
While not quite as influential as the Director, this person still serves an important role. The Second Unit Director oversees ‘second unit’ photography-shots and scenes that don’t require the principal actors. The Second Unit Director will also often direct specialty action scenes, helicopter work or stunts. By taking over these segments, the Second Unit Director lightens the Director’s workload, and helps to wrap up filming more quickly. This person works under the supervision of the Director and the Producer.
Without a script, no film or television project can be produced. Writers often provide the original inspiration for a project. A screenplay is the story told in pictures, in dialogue and description, and placed inside a dramatic structure.
Writers often work on a freelance basis. The screenwriter’s job is largely done away from production but once you get started, you can get into writing for TV, which often involves team writing.
There are two main opportunities for aspiring writers of film and television: a Writer completes a story or script and then pitches it to a production company; or, a Producer buys the rights to a piece of ‘intellectual property’ – a book, for instance – and then hires a writer to translate it into script format. In any case, many people are often involved in the writing of a script.
Story Editors work mainly for television series and large production studios. Sometimes, this person reads submitted scripts and evaluates them based on the quality of the writing, as well as how easily they can be worked into the show’s theme. On a television series, this role may be filled by one of the producers.
The Story Editor presents the potential scripts to the Producers. When a script is selected, the Story Editor must work with the Script Writer on any revisions the Producers and director might request.