How to Become a Producer

Considering a career as a producer? This guide has you covered.

Female TV producer working in studio

There’s no denying the shift towards how people consume media. Where before movies were king, nowadays the popularity of streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu have boosted the popularity of television shows and documentaries at an all-time high. With the influx of so many different programmes, there is now an opportunity for a new generation of producers to come in and take centre stage.

But what exactly does a producer do, and how can you tell if it’s the right career path for you?

To know if you have what it takes to be next Shonda Rhimes, read on to find out everything you need to know about how to become a producer.

1. Research the Profession

Prior to considering any job, it’s always best to know the ins and outs of the industry before committing your entire professional career to it. Check if it identifies with your future goals by scrolling through our in-depth guide below.

Job Description

Contrary to popular belief, producers don’t just finance a programme; their work also covers a wide array of responsibilities necessary to ensure a smooth production process.

But it’s not uncommon to mix up these titles because the title, producer, can refer to a multitude of roles across various industries. For example, there is a difference between a news and a sports producer or a TV and film producer. For the purpose of this article, however, we will focus on a producer’s general functions.

Depending on the industry and role you are in, a producer’s responsibilities will almost always include the following:

  • proofreading and fact-checking scripts
  • working with the graphics department to create the visuals of a programme
  • managing content development, production and execution of engaging content
  • monitoring and analysing the success of programmes through ratings
  • overseeing shooting, production, editing and ingestion of final material
  • developing an editorial calendar while ensuring that the sales, creative and editorial teams are all on board
  • arranging and conducting meetings with writers and producers
  • staying up-to-date with industry developments and generating new ideas.

Essential Skills and Qualities

To excel in this profession, you must demonstrate the following traits:

  • a passion for storytelling
  • an innate sense of curiosity
  • a strong sense of creativity
  • the ability to work under pressure and tight deadlines
  • the ability to collaborate and work well with others
  • excellent writing and communication skills
  • great organisational skills
  • the ability to thrive in a challenging and dynamic environment
  • flexible and adaptive to change
  • basic video editing skills
  • a good grasp of the media and entertainment industry.

Working Hours and Conditions

Due to the dynamic nature of the profession, it’s not unusual for producers to work more than eight hours a day. This is especially true for those who want to be in the news industry, as breaking news can happen at any time.

Meanwhile, those aiming to work in the television or film industry should know that it’s not all glitz and glamour. Producers will often have to adjust to a team of writers, directors, and actors. They must adapt in a moment’s notice to other unpredictable elements as well, such as changing weather conditions, an actor’s fickle temperament or a sudden revision in the script.

While these may sound like impossible working circumstances, it can also be very exciting and fulfilling to anyone who can’t imagine being in a corporate setup or a 9-to-5 office. There is also some travel involved in any kind of production work and, depending on the industry, can be a big part of your day-to-day routine.

Salary Prospects

The media and entertainment industries are always on the lookout for new talent who can bring in fresh ideas. It can also be a very lucrative position if you are patient enough to work your way up.

According to PayScale, a TV/film producer can earn an average of £35,400 ($47,300) per year and, in some instances, this number can go as high as £67,500 ($90,200), depending on work experience.

2. Get the Qualifications

There are a lot of ways to break into the production industry, but having a solid background in media and broadcast communications can give you a head start.

Consider applying for an internship so you experience what it’s like to work on an actual show or programme. A lot of schools today also offer short courses on the many different elements of production. For those with a limited budget, alternative online classes can be helpful tools as well.

3. Land Your First Job

A word of caution to those who think that they will become producers right after graduation: most actually start their careers as production assistants and then eventually work their way up. The easiest way to get a foot in the door is to ask a former mentor or professor for available internship opportunities. If a director or an executive producer sees potential in you, you will most likely be asked to become a regular in the team.

To further help you stand out, make sure that you have a creative portfolio or, better yet a website where you can upload and showcase your work. Make it a point to reach out and volunteer as much as you can so you can build connections.

Lastly, get the most out of social media by keeping your eyes peeled for available opportunities on Facebook or LinkedIn as production companies also use these platforms to post openings.

4. Develop Your Career

The production industry is highly competitive, especially with new technologies constantly popping up. To make sure you don’t get left behind, keep up to date with industry practices and attend workshops to sharpen your skills.

The best part about starting out as a production assistant is that it exposes you to other possible career opportunities available in the field. Some move to scriptwriting, others end up as executive producers, while others choose to direct.

Producers are given a wide set of skills and it’s up to you which one you wish to hone. If you want to get that extra edge but you’re short on time and lack the budget, consider enrolling in an online course. It can give you a bird’s eye view of what to expect and help you prepare should you choose to specialise in a specific course.

Producers are also most likely to take on managerial roles when they move up the ladder. While this is a great career opportunity, some have a difficult time adjusting when they’re put in a position of power. Don’t get caught unprepared and read up on ways to advance your management skills.

While you won’t become an executive overnight, remember that knowing how to manage people is especially useful when dealing with creative people who are infamous for their unpredictable mood swings – a trait you will see in directors, anchors and basically anyone working in the industry.

Over the years, the production industry has also become more inclusive and diverse, which opens up a lot of doors for more people to work in the business. And while this career path is definitely not for the faint of heart, it can especially be fulfilling for those who wish to work in a creative environment that takes pride in creating stories.

Do you also work in a creative but challenging industry? What tips do you have to get ahead? Let us know what you think by commenting below.


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