So you want to become a producer. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Producing and directing jobs are projected to grow 24% over the next decade, 16% faster than the median growth rate, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We’re going to give you some tips and tricks on how to become a producer by looking at statistics and anecdotes from professional producers. By the end, you’ll know several strategies for how to become a movie producer in Hollywood.
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How to Become a Film Producer in Hollywood
Background on producers
Before we jump into “how to become a producer,” let’s break down what a producer actually does. So, what does a producer do? Producers perform a variety of tasks involved with pushing a project from pre-production through post-production.
These tasks include:
- Intellectual Property procurement
- Script development
- Hiring decisions
- Production Scheduling
- Public relations
- Various creative services
If it sounds like producers perform a lot of tasks, it’s because they do. On more expensive productions, there are multiple producers, including line producers, executive producers, co-producers, and associate producers. Distinctions aside – producers essentially serve the same role; ushering a project from beginning to end.
This video breaks down the role of producers in further detail.
If it isn’t clear already, allow me to say, producing is hard work. Well, most producing. Of course, there are exceptions, like the mega-star who attaches their name for publicity or the industry vet who relies on the labor of underlings – but all in all, it’s very hard work.
With those notes out of the way, let’s look at a few strategies for how to become a producer.
What Do You Need to Become a Producer?
Earn a degree
I’m not one to baselessly suggest going to college. The truth is that college is expensive (especially at private institutions). That said, there are a lot of benefits to going to college for people interested in becoming a producer. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says a Bachelor’s Degree is the industry standard for entry-level producing/directing jobs. Here are some relevant degrees for people interesting in becoming a producer:
- Film & Television
Honestly, anything that revolves around business administration and or literacy/creative arts will help you prepare for life as a producer.
Of course, not every producer has a college degree! In fact, many film professionals are educated through online content like StudioBinder. No matter where you learn it, the money aspect of becoming a producer is an essential skill.
Check out film budget breakdowns in our video on The Grand Budapest Hotel:
Aspiring producers can learn a lot from videos on film budgeting. If you want to learn more, check out our series “Making It” where we break down the logistical challenges of bringing a script to life; from pre to post production.
How to Become a Producer Tips & Tricks
Earn equity from experience
Producer Jay Silverman says that aspiring producers should look to earn equity from experience. What does that mean? Well, I interpret it to mean “earn your place by putting in work.”
Check out this video to hear Jay Silverman explain more about the perception of being a movie producer vs. the reality of being a movie producer.
So, how does one “put in the work?” Well, as is the case with most things, you start with education. You can go and try to produce a movie right now; but unless you have the requisite knowledge, you’ll be running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
There are some who will disagree, but in the case of specialty fields, education is part of the experience. One cannot be expected to perform well without first being taught what to do.
Film Producer Career Path
Move up from an entry-level role
Hollywood can sometimes feel like a pyramid, with about 90% of workers below the line, and 10% above the line. And unless you’re either 1) extremely talented, 2) extremely well-connected, or 3) extremely lucky, chances are you’re going to need to start below the line. That means putting in years as a production assistant, gaffer, or other supportive role. And honestly, if you want to be a good producer, you should put in those years; because that way, you’ll know how everything works.
Kevin Feige – Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment – began as an assistant to executive producer Lauren Shuler Donner.
Kathleen Kennedy was a secretary for Steven Spielberg’s office before she became President of Lucasfilm.
Jerry Bruckheimer worked for an advertising agency before producing Pirates of the Caribbean and buying a National Hockey League team.
I bring this up to prove that it took time for even the biggest Hollywood producers to make a name for themselves.
How Do You Become a Producer?
Practice makes perfect
Remember earlier how we outlined all of the things producers are tasked with doing? Yeah, well even the best struggle to keep all of their ducks in a row.
A lot of the time, people get frustrated with waiting for the opportunity to do something they want to do. So, if you want to become a producer, practice all of the things producers do.
- Manage accounts: if you’re working on an indie or low-budget film, chances are you’re going to need to manage the books. Accounting is serious business; don’t take the responsibility for granted.
- Make a production calendar: producers use production calendars to schedule shoots. Check out StudioBinder’s production calendar software for practice.
- Listen to the pros: there are hundreds of videos of producers explaining their backstories on YouTube. We couldn’t include them all in this article; but just know that they’re out there – and they’re full of great information.
In an interview with Indy Mogul, producer Moses Israel said “as a producer you want to give everybody the tools that they need… so that way, when you’re on set, there are no fires.” I say practice makes perfect – but how do you practice when you’ve never been on set before.
Well, that’s easy; with preparation. Check out Indy Mogul’s video for more information on how to become a movie producer in Hollywood.
Number one goal for a producer on set: have an answer for every logistical challenge. Restrooms? Check. Equipment? Check. Craft services? Check. You will not last long in Hollywood without having an answer to every challenge.
Filmmaking Tips for Producers on Set
Want to learn more about producing on set? Check out our next article in which we break down filmmaking tips for directors and producers on set. By the end, you’ll know how to maximize your production capability as a producer.