Producer Director

What is this job like?

Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, commercials, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

Producers make the business and financial decisions for a motion picture, TV show, or stage production.

Directors are responsible for the creative decisions of a production.

Work hours for producers and directors can be long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. About 1 out of 3 worked more than 40 hours per week in 2014. About 1 of 5 producers and directors were self-employed in 2014.  

How do you get ready?

Most producers and directors have a bachelor’s degree and several years of work experience in an occupation related to motion picture, TV, or theater production, such as an actor, film and video editor, or cinematographer.

Many students study film or cinema at colleges and universities. In these programs, students learn about film history, editing, screenwriting, cinematography, and the filmmaking process. Others major in writing, acting, journalism, or communication. Some producers earn a degree in business, arts management, or nonprofit management.

How much does this job pay?

The median annual wage for producers and directors was $69,100 in May 2014.

How many jobs are there?

Producers and directors held about 122,600 jobs in 2014. 

What about the future?

Employment of producers and directors is projected to grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Job growth in the motion picture and video industry is expected to stem from strong demand from the public for more movies and television shows, as well as an increased demand from foreign audiences for U.S.-produced films.

Some information on this page has been provided by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More details ⇣: 

Overview:

Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, commercials, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

Producers and directors typically do the following:

  • Select scripts or topics for a film, show, commercial, or play
  • Audition and select cast members and the film or stage crew
  • Approve the design and financial aspects of a production
  • Oversee the production process, including performances, lighting, and choreography
  • Oversee the postproduction process, including editing, special effects, music selection, and a performance’s overall tone
  • Ensure that a project stays on schedule and within budget
  • Promote finished works or productions through interviews, advertisements, and film festivals

Large productions often have associate, assistant, and line producers who share responsibilities. For example, on a large movie set an executive producer is in charge of the entire production, and a line producer runs the day-to-day operations. A TV show may employ several assistant producers to whom the head or executive producer gives certain duties, such as supervising the costume and makeup team.

Similarly, large productions usually employ several assistant directors, who help the director with tasks such as making set changes or notifying the performers when it is their time to go onstage. The specific responsibilities of assistant producers or directors vary with the size and type of production they work on.

Producers make the business and financial decisions for a motion picture, TV show, commercial, or stage production. They raise money for the project and hire the director and crew. The crew may include set and costume designers, film and video editors, a musical director, a choreographer, and other workers. Some producers may assist in the selection of cast members. Producers set the budget and approve any major changes to the project. They make sure that the production is completed on time, and they are ultimately responsible for the final product.

Directors are responsible for the creative decisions of a production. They select cast members, conduct rehearsals, and direct the work of the cast and crew. During rehearsals, they work with the actors to help them more accurately portray their characters. For nonfiction video, such as documentaries or live broadcasts, directors choose topics or subjects to film. They investigate the topic and may interview relevant participants or experts on camera. Directors also work with cinematographers and other crew members to ensure the final product matches the overall vision.

Directors work with set designers, costume designers, location scouts, and art directors to build a project’s set. During a film’s postproduction phase, they work closely with film editors and music supervisors to make sure that the final product comes out the way the producer and director envisioned. Stage directors, unlike television or film directors who document their product with cameras, make sure the cast and crew give a consistently strong live performance. 

Although directors are in charge of the creative aspects of a show, they ultimately answer to producers. Some directors also share producing duties for their own films.

Work Environment:

Producers and directors work under a lot of pressure, and many are under constant stress to finish their work on time. Work assignments may be short, ranging from 1 day to a few months. They sometimes must work in unpleasant conditions, such as bad weather.

Work hours for producers and directors can be long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. About 1 out of 3 worked more than 40 hours per week in 2014. Many producers and directors do not work a standard work week because their schedules may change with each assignment or project.

Theater directors and producers may travel with a touring show across the country, while those in film and television may work on location (a site away from the studio where all or part of the filming occurs). 

Education and Training:

Most producers and directors have a bachelor’s degree and several years of work experience in an occupation related to motion picture, TV, or theater production, such as an actor, film and video editor, or cinematographer.

Many students study film or cinema at colleges and universities. In these programs, students learn about film history, editing, screenwriting, cinematography, and the filmmaking process. Others major in writing, acting, journalism, or communication. Some producers earn a degree in business, arts management, or nonprofit management.

Many stage directors complete a degree in theater and some go on to receive a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. Classes may include directing, playwriting, set design, and acting. As of May 2015, the National Association of Schools of Theatre accredited more than 180 programs in theater arts.

Producers and directors might start out working in a theatrical management office as a business or company manager. In television or film, they might start out as an assistant or another low-profile studio job. In nonprofit theaters, most aspiring directors begin as assistant directors, a position that is usually treated as an unpaid internship.

Producers might start out working in a theatrical management office, as a business manager, or as an assistant or another low-profile job in a TV or movie studio. Some were directors or worked in another role behind the scenes of a show or movie.

As a producer’s or director’s reputation grows, he or she may work on larger projects that attract more attention or publicity.

Skills to Develop:

Communication skills: Producers and directors must coordinate the work of many different people to finish a production on time and within budget.

Creativity: Because a script can be interpreted in different ways, directors must decide how they want to interpret it and then how to represent the script’s ideas on the screen or stage.

Leadership skills: A director instructs actors and helps them portray their characters in a believable manner. They also supervise the crew, who are responsible for the behind the scenes work.

Time-management skills: Producers must find and hire the best director and crew for the production. They make sure that all involved do their jobs effectively, keeping within a production schedule and a budget.

Job Outlook:

Employment of producers and directors is projected to grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Some job growth in the motion picture and video industry is expected to stem from strong demand from the public for more movies and television shows, as well as an increased demand from foreign audiences for U.S.-produced films. Also, consumer demand for reality shows on television is expected to increase, so more producers and directors will be needed to create and oversee editing of these programs.

In addition, production companies are experimenting with new content delivery methods, such as watching TV on mobile devices and online, which may lead to more work opportunities for producers and directors in the future. These delivery methods are still in their early stages, however, and their potential for success is not entirely known.

Theater producers and directors who work in small- and medium-sized theaters may see slower job growth because many of those theaters have difficulty finding funding as the fewer tickets are sold. Large theaters in big cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, which usually have more stable sources of funding, should provide more opportunities.  

Earnings:

The median annual wage for producers and directors was $69,100 in May 2014. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $31,380, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $187,200.

Some producers and directors earn a percentage of ticket sales. A few of the most successful producers and directors have extraordinarily high earnings, but most do not.

College Courses: 

Sample courses that might be required for a degree in Film and Media:

Film and Media Courses

  • Introduction to the Film Medium
  • Film and Media Aesthetics
  • History of the Silent Film
  • History of the American Sound Film
  • American Popular Culture
  • Classical Film/Media Theory
  • Contemporary Concepts in Media Studies
  • Documentary Film and Video
  • Experimental Film and Video
  • Basic Video Production
  • Basic Film Production
  • Animation
  • Film History

Colleges will also require you to take some core undergraduate courses in addition to some electives. Required core courses and electives will vary from college to college. Here are a number of examples:

Arts and Humanities

  • Arts
  • History
  • Languages
  • Literature
  • Music

Math

  • Algebra
  • Calculus
  • Computer Science
  • Logic
  • Statistics

Natural Sciences

  • Astronomy
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Environmental Science
  • Physics

Social Sciences

  • Anthropology
  • Economics
  • Government
  • Psychology
  • Sociology