A line producer has one of the most important jobs on a film set. Let's take a look at the many responsibilities associated with the role.
When working on a film or video production, you are likely to come across multiple producers with different title modifiers and different levels of responsibility and influence. Just think about every credit sequence you've ever seen. Manufacturer. Co-producer. Executive and co-executive producer. Associate producer.
Some of these people are into finance. Some take care of the hiring, some take care of sales. Some do all of this and none of these and more than this or less. You all probably talk a lot on the phone.
Indeed, the day-to-day tasks that define these various roles can get a little murky. This is not the case with another loan that you've no doubt seen: the line maker.
Of all producers of a production, the line producer is the most practical. Less a title than an actual job, a line producer is in the ditch with the crew for the entire production. You roll up your sleeves from call time to call time every day.
Over the course of my career I have had the opportunity to work on all types of productions with a few dedicated line producers. I have always been impressed with her extensive knowledge of all aspects of filmmaking. And that breadth of knowledge is an absolute necessity for a role that is as broad as it is specific as it is important.
Let's take a look at a line manufacturer's responsibilities and examine the skills and sensitivities required to be successful in the role.
The personality traits of an effective line producer
As you will see, this gig is not for everyone. Here are some of the defining characteristics of the best line producers I have come across.
- You're hyper-organized. A line producer has exceptional organizational skills. They manage and produce an entire production line, keep every ball in the air, every plate turns and every duck in its row.
- They are confident leaders. Everything revolves around people here. A crew is made up of all kinds of personalities, egos, and eccentricities. The line producer works with everyone to ensure that they work individually and collectively towards the common goal. This “end-to-end” film knowledge is useful here because it creates trust. People are more willing to follow people they trust.
- They are skilled delegators. This connects organization and leadership. Time is money on set. Schedules and budgets are often razor sharp. The ability to efficiently and effectively delegate the right task to the right person at the right time – over and over and over again, and sometimes on the fly – is critical.
The pre-production responsibility of a line producer
1. Break down the script by budget
One of the first things a line producer does is create a budget for the movie. To do this, they break the script down into digestible parts and determine how much it costs to produce each individual scene.
For example, if a scene is a car chase that ends in a huge explosion, the line maker takes into account stunt drivers, camera cars, permits, safety measures, crew and equipment requirements, a special effects team, and everything else that is required about that Problem solving sequence with adequate efficiency. In addition, the line producer divides the script and the budget for the shooting day by day.
2. Hire the crew
As soon as the line producer has the budget under control, he knows the needs of the crew in the course of production. As a result, they start negotiating tariffs and hiring crew members – DP, art director, gawker, site manager, etc.
3. Handle business logistics
A line producer could even set up the LLC under which production runs. In addition, they often ensure that production is properly protected by locking down the necessary legal documents, business notes, agreements, and even production insurances.
4. Establishment and maintenance of department manager relationships
The line producer is a daily main point of contact for production designers, DPs and similar key roles. For example, if you're a DP, the line producer will work with you to come up with an appropriate budget for cameras and lighting that will fit the needs of the script.
5. Rent equipment
Once the department heads have their needs list drawn up, the line manufacturer secures all of the equipment by reaching out to vendors, getting quotes, and negotiating costs that are within budget.
The line producer's responsibilities during production
1. Make sure that production is running smoothly
During production, a line producer ensures that production runs with maximum efficiency on time and within budget. Should a crisis arise – be it with the crew, the budget, the equipment or whatever – they will endeavor to resolve it quickly and sensibly so that everything runs smoothly.
2. Prepare for the post
Once production is nearing completion, the line producer will begin securing the necessities – creative houses, facilities, assets, etc. – for the transition to post production.
The post-production obligations of the line producer
1. Keep an eye on post production
Even when the production is finished, the line producer continues to work hard. Part of that is handing some of the reins over to the post-production manager while he remains on hand and engaged to make sure production crosses the finish line on schedule.
2. Close the books
Once production is complete, the manufacturer will review the production budget and ensure that the requirements have been met within the parameters set at the beginning. All final papers, contracts and documents are properly organized.
3. Make sure all rentals are returned
Finally, the line manufacturer ensures that all production leases have been returned to their original location. Essentially, your job here is to complete the production.
Overall, the role and tasks of a line manufacturer are extensive and massive. Of course, this role is best cast by someone who has extensive filmmaking experience and knows how to properly budget, manage, and execute a production in all of its laborious, exhausting, and exciting glory.
Okay, now you're a line producer expert. But what about everyone else? What do you do, for whom do you do it and here you do:
Cover picture via evgris.