The Role of the Line Producer in the Film Industry
Are you good with time and money? Can you get people to work well together and on deadline? If you already have at least five years of experience in the business and creative sides of film-making, line producing might be the right film industry career for you.
Line producers must determine the "above the line" costs for writers, producers, directors, and cast and the "below the line" costs for all other aspects of the production. Once they know these costs, they must figure out how much a film will cost to shoot per day.
Once the costs are determined, the line producer is the person who is in charge of hiring all of the below-the-line production crew such as camera crews, lighting crews, and catering staff. They are in charge of overseeing the production budget and the day-to-day operations. They work closely with the executive producer of a television show or the director of a film to make sure they are properly executing on the creative vision. Line producers are also in charge of coordinating all post-production efforts such as editing and special effects. On smaller productions, a line producer will sometimes also serve as the unit production manager (UPM).
Salary will depend on your experience and on the type of film you're producing. In general, however, line producers make between $60,000 and $90,000 per year. If you do well as a line producer, you can expect promotion to more lucrative types of production jobs. Executive producers, for example, make an average of $120,000 per year.
Skills & Education
To be an effective line producer, you need to have the following skills:
- Accounting: Since you will be the one overseeing the production budget, you should have a solid basis in working with numbers. Take a basic accounting class if this is something you're lacking.
- Leadership: Your leadership skills must be top notch for this position. You will have a lot of crew members looking to you for your opinion and answers to their questions.
- Patience: The creative process can be quite daunting and there will be a lot of punches along the way that you will need to roll with.
Getting the Job
Get as much experience as you can working your way up from the bottom. Many line producers start as showrunners or get experience as interns. It's the only way to learn everything you need to know to be an effective line producer. Learn all you can from every department from camera to catering. The more you know the better prepared you will be to handle any scenario that might come up in your career.
The Producers Guild of America is a good place to network with key industry people and advance your career through professional mentorships, fellowships, and workshops.