What Does A Line Producer Do?
Pretty much every thing.
1. Designs and writes the production schedule
2. Writes a budget based on the creative and the schedule
3. Obtains insurance for the production
4. Hires all personnel and negotiates deals
5. Manages the pre-production process:
- Sets built
- Wardrobe is purchased or designed
- DP is hired and works with the Showrunner to set the look of the series.
- Camera, Grip and Lighting departments are hired
- Lighting is rented
- Cameras are purchased or rented
- Trucks, Cargo Vans, Cars are rented
- Equipment and expendables are purchased and/or rented
- Locations are scouted and permitted
- Outlines/Scripts are written within the scheduled time frame
- Any necessary travel (air, train boat) arrangements are handled
- Manages the payroll process throughout the production
- Graphics are designed
- Throughout the pre-production process negotiates the best rates and deals possible.
- Throughout the pre-production process manages the budget; ensuring purchase order are written and keeps track of every single expenditure against every line in the budget.
- Supervises the production team in the field
- Locations are secured (again)
- Releases are obtained by anyone who is in the frame – whether they end up on the cutting room floor or not
- Manages call times for cast and crew and ensures proper transport is provided
- Ensures the set is running smoothly
- Facilitates what creative needs on set
- Ensures crew arrives on time and gets the scenes shot that were scheduled for the day
- Works closely with the Assistant Director (AD) to move the day along
- Is the point person for all production personnel needs
- Ensures what was shot makes it back to the production offices for editing preparation
- Throughout the production process negotiates the best rates and deals possible.
- Throughout the production process manages the budget; ensuring purchase orders are written and keeps track of every single expenditure against every line in the budget.
7. Manages the post production process
- Once she’s hired a post-production supervisor (before they started shooting) she works with him/her to set the post-production schedule
- Hires the editors
- Hires the Assistant Editors
- Hires any necessary loggers and transcribers
- She will work with the Post Supervisor and the Showrunner to make sure episodes are being edited within the schedule and rough cuts are being sent to the network when they were scheduled
- Negotiates deals with music composers
- Negotiates deals with the post-production facility for the final color correct and music mix.
- Ensures final delivery of all materials to the network.
- Throughout the post-production process negotiates the best rates and deals possible.
- Throughout the post-production process they manage the budget; ensuring purchase orders are written and keeps track of every single expenditure against every line in the budget.
I’ve left out a thousand-and-one little and big details. But this is just an overview of what the Line Producer does. They hold the line, from start to finish. They set the tone for the production personnel. They need to be tough but not ridiculously abrasive. Personable, but not a push over.
Managing the money is only one aspect of the job. You have to be able to manage a production, manage your staff and crew, negotiate good deals and be able to see the big picture. If it’s going to cost you $5000 for two hours of overtime to get the last shot of the day, don’t dismiss it because you have the notion that you can’t incur additional costs. Find the money, move it around in your head quickly – because I guarantee, if you chose to leave without finishing the scheduled day – somewhere in the weeks to come, someone will ask you to find $25,000 to get that shot. Ant that’s what you’ll need – 5 times the amount – because now you need to reassemble the cast, the crew, the equipment and the location. A Line Producer needs to always see the big picture.
However, a Line Producer who is tame and says YES to everything will soon find they have no money to finish their production.
A Line Producer is a high wire tight rope artist who must find the sensitive balance of knowing when to say yes. And knowing when you have to put your foot down and gently say no – and then help devise a solution.
You’ll notice I’ve referred to the Line Producer as a ‘she’ – sorry – it’s habit – Line Producers actually come in all genders.