Okay sure, you’ve heard the phrase before, but what is a line producer?
The line producer job description entails controlling the daily operations of a feature film or television production.
This includes overseeing production budget, location scouting and the hiring of crew.
Of course, line producing is no small feat.
As legendary producer David O. Selznick once said, “The success of a production depends on the attention paid to detail.”
It is the line producer’s responsibility to ensure every detail of a production is in place.
Here we answer the question of what is a line producer, and provide 8 skills you need to become one.
Watch: How to Become a Great Line Producer
1. Know Your Costs
The first step as a line producer is to determine your above the line and below the line costs.
Balancing the practical with the creative is part of the line producer job description.
The “line” refers to the separation of production costs between departments.
This distinction began in the early days of Hollywood when the budget top sheet would have a line separating the costs and positions.
Above the line positions include:
Below the line positions include:
A line producer must be mindful of contingencies though. At least 10% of the total budget should be set aside for extra expenditures.
In line producing, it’s important to balance the practical parts of production with the creative.
As a line producer, you’ll break down your screenplay into an initial budget.
Typically by the first day of production, several drafts of a budget have been generated.
Once the budget has been finalized or “locked,” it is the responsibility of the line producer to maintain the budget and deliver materials on time.
The nuts and bolts of creating a shooting schedule using a scheduling software
The line producer will create a production calendar of the entire shoot (from pre-production through post and distribution). The production calendar will shared with the right department heads so everyone has a good birds-eye-view of what’s going on, and someone is at the helm.
Something along these lines:
3. Estimate costs with a film budget
Keep in mind, part of the line producer job description is estimating the cost of each shooting day in order to avoid going over budget. This is where budgeting software or a film budget template comes in.
Estimating the cost of each shooting day is part of the line producer job description.
When creating a film budget, you’ll oversee:
- Hiring and salary negotiations
- Location scouting
- Equipment purchases
- Vendor negotiations
Ultimately, one of the primary line producer jobs is making sure the production stays on track financially.
Remember: a budget is just an educated estimate. You’ll need to actualize shooting expenses as you go too.
4. Working with others
Remember, as a line producer you’re working with a variety of people.
Although it can be challenging working with difficult people, be diplomatic and clear in your communication.
Solid communication is one of the many line producer jobs on set.
During production, handle insurance claims, and control your budget.
And be careful about extrabudgetary expenses. It may not be fun, but you’ll need to get used to saying no to people.
5. Organization is key
Of course, it’s easy to get frazzled during a production when things don’t go according to plan. But organization is key for any line producer.
Organization is a key component of line producing.
When asking what is a line producer, the term organizer is appropriate.
As a line producer, you’ll need to manage your time wisely by staying on time and on budget.
Will there be chaotic or stressful moments? Yes.
But keep organized, and remember to always stay cool under pressure.
6. That’s a wrap (on set)
Phew, you made it.
Well, at least through the production phase.
Line producer jobs also entail returning equipment rentals.
When a production has wrapped, the line producer is responsible for winding things down. This includes striking the set, and making sure all equipment rentals are returned.
7. Prepare for post-production
After the shoot, the line producer will get things ready for post production.
Line producer jobs continue during the post-production process.
They also will obtain a facility to work from, and ensure the delivery of production materials.
8. On to the next job
Yes, you did it!
After all the excitement of the production take a moment to breathe.
Okay, maybe two.
The line producer is vital to the success of any production.
Yes, line producing can be taxing in every regard, but your efforts ensure that the production comes in on time and under budget.
So catch some shut eye, and get ready for your next job. We suggest checking out film and video job boards like ProductionBeast to find new opportunities.
9. Be more effective with production management software
Investing a cloud-based video production management solution like StudioBinder will make it easier to stay on top of the many facets of a production.
Line Producer Features supported by StudioBinder:
- Production Calendar and Task Management
- Cast & Crew Contact Lists
- Script Breakdown Software
- Shooting Schedule Builder
- Shot Lists & Storyboard Creator
- Call Sheet Builder (create, send and track RSVPs)
- File sharing
Sure, we’re a little biased….but imagine doing all of that with spreadsheets and versioned PDFs.
By now the question of what is a line producer has been answered.
Line producing though is no walk in the park, and often involves long hours. But the efforts of the line producer are essential in ensuring a production runs smoothly. By following these steps, a production’s chances for success are ever greater.
And if you want to learn more, check out our StudioBinder Film Hacks video series!
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