How to Become a Film Producer in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become a film producer. Learn about the education requirements, job outlook and salary information to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Digital Cinematography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Film Producer Do?

Film producers manage funding, film staff and contracts to make movies a reality. They generally play a key role in hiring the director and the crew for the film and may also work with the director in selecting actors. The producer makes sure that the film stays on budget, keeps track of the progress of the movie, and makes sure that it is completed on time. The following table provides detailed information for this career:

Degree Required No formal education required; film school degree (recommended)
Training Required Work experience: behind-the-scenes production jobs, theatrical management
Education Field of Study Entertainment business or film production
Key Skills Communication, leadership, negotiation, management
Job Growth (2018-28) 5% (producers and directors)*
Median Salary (2018) $71,680 (producers and directors)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Film Producer?

As a film producer, you make sure a movie starts filming, keep it on track to finish on schedule and manage marketing to ensure it has an audience once it's in theaters. You are responsible for finding funding, working out problems and keeping film production within budget. Many film producers choose the script, hire the directors, approve the cast, negotiate any contracts and make sure everyone is paid.

Step 1: Know What to Expect

Your place in the entertainment industry is to sell a film idea to people who might be willing to back it. Once you secure a movie deal, you are responsible for managing the financial aspects of the film, while also meeting the expectations of investors. Working in this industry can be competitive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are a limited number of major motion picture studios in the U.S. releasing the majority of films and there are many more people looking for work in the industry than there are jobs to accommodate them. ( Additionally, the BLS reported most production companies employ few people, which means you will most likely to work as a freelancer.

Step 2: Finish High School

While earning your high school diploma, you can focus on courses that may be relevant to the motion picture industry. You may take classes in business management, communications, speech, acting and drama. You may also join a local community theater to familiarize yourself with the numerous aspects of production. Many producers started in the film industry in an acting or directing capacity, according to the BLS.

Step 3: Go to Film School

Although you don't need to meet specific education requirements to become a film producer, formal training can help you prepare for this challenging career. You may consider attending film school and earning a degree in entertainment business or film production. As a student, you may take courses in media distribution, business management, film production, acting, directing, screenwriting, sound design and cinematography.

Step 4: Learn How to Negotiate

Since you need to be able to pitch an idea and find adequate funding, negotiating a contract is a major part of your job. Before securing a deal, you may have to work out royalties, permissions and individual contracts. You may have to decide whether to walk away from a deal if both sides aren't getting what they need. Your negotiation skills can be honed while you establish your film production career and gain experience in securing contract deals.

Step 5: Establish Your Career

Your success as a producer involves searching for potentially popular film ideas and a target audience. Keeping in contact with agents in the entertainment industry can help you find projects. In the beginning of your career, you may work with small budgets and independent filmmakers to gain exposure. As you establish and maintain professional relationships with directors, actors, screenwriters and investors, you may be able to move on to larger projects with bigger budgets.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Within the world of film, there are a number of possible career paths. Individuals could pursue careers as film directors if they wanted more say in the decisions made regarding scenes, acting, and the overall flow of the film. For those who wish to be in front of the camera, they could pursue jobs as actors or actresses. Writers and editors are two other key film roles that involve the creation of the story itself and then editing the scenes together.

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