How to Become a Film Producer: Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a film producer. Learn about the job description, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in film production.

Should I Become a Film Producer?

A film producer is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the creation and production of a film, such as the conception and writing of the story, the acquisition of funding and the artwork used for retail release. While there are a number of other professionals who assist film producers, such as directors, cinematographers and editors, it is the film producer who makes sure that all the production components are working together through all phases of the filmmaking process. Travel is often required, and producers often work long hours and sometimes in unpleasant weather conditions.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree (not required)
Degree Field Fine arts, acting, writing, journalism, arts management or a comparable discipline
Experience Bigger projects are generally given to producers with the most experience; internships available
Key Skills Communication, leadership, management, business and creativity
Salary $106,440 (Average annual salary for directors and producers producers working in film, 2014)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Gain Early Experience

For prospective film producers, there is no better career preparation than learning about filmmaking as early as possible. Not only will this allow beginning film producers to hone their craft, representing this experience in a portfolio can help during internship and employment search processes. Film producers generally begin careers as writers or actors, while learning about how to direct a film. They might also begin as assistants or interns and work their way up to producer with time and experience.

Step 2: Attend Film School

Film school programs teach students the basics of filmmaking and cinematography and include courses in production. Typical course topics cover cinema production, visual storytelling, editing, screenwriting, digital production, critical film studies, drawing and film prep. Students will also create short films while working toward a degree, which can then be included in a portfolio to show future employers. Completion of a formal degree program in filmmaking can be a great asset when looking for a job.

Success Tip:

  • Consider a graduate degree. For those individuals who wish to become film executives, a graduate degree may give them the edge they need. Master's degree programs in fine arts for producers teach students both the creative and the business aspects of production.

Step 3: Complete an Internship

Film producers can participate in a production internship at a small studio, local television network or local radio station. Even though these positions often involve a great deal of work for little or no pay, they teach interns about the film business and provide the necessary experience to progress to an entry-level position. An internship also provides an opportunity to begin networking with people in the film production world.

Step 4: Secure an Entry-level Position

The next step in becoming a film producer is to find an entry-level position with a movie or television studio. Although most entry-level positions are as production assistants or story editors, this gives prospective film producers a chance to observe professional film producers and acquire advanced knowledge of filmmaking techniques. Many film producers have several years of experience in the industry before working their way up to director or producer.

Success Tip:

  • Be prepared to work for free. According to the BLS, assistant directors, primarily those in the non-profit sector, are treated as unpaid interns.

Step 5: Study the Craft and Industry

While moving up the production ladder to film producer, it is a good idea for film professionals to continue learning about different aspects of filmmaking. Many colleges and universities offer continuing education courses in filmmaking and film production. These courses can keep film producers on top of emerging technologies and typically grant certificates upon completion.

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