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A field producer is a member of a film and television production crew who is responsible for managing the production of material in the field. Field producers coordinate stories filmed outside the studio. They commonly work in areas of production, such as documentary film making, news reporting, and reality television. These crew members have broad training so that they are ready to handle a variety of situations. Some are graduates of film and television production programs at colleges and universities, while others learn on the job, serving in a variety of positions on film crews to become familiar with the different aspects of production.
One important aspect of a field producer's role is to act as a coordinator and liaison between people in the studio, the field crew, and the subjects or actors. Coordination involves everything from making arrangements for filming sites to reassuring nervous interview subjects. Depending on the nature of the production, the field producer may write and film the story, or may work with another producer to bring that producer's written story to life on film.
These professionals determine equipment needs, hire and manage staff for the field, and supervise the packing of production vehicles to ensure that everything needed is carried out to the field. They work with people like location scouts to select suitable spots for filming. This member of the production team can be responsible for lining up people for filming, acquiring permits, and organizing food and lodging for the film crew. Other special needs must also be met by the field producer.
Field producers can conduct interviews in addition to coaching subjects so that they will be comfortable on camera. The field producer may provide tips and tricks that will make the subject appear more lively on film. Subjects can also be coached to prevent rambling, sounding repetitive, or other problems that can ruin an interview. Similar organizing is necessary for animal subjects. The field producer must find animals and handlers, organize health and safety protections, and meet needs such as using special lighting or camera techniques to avoid upsetting the animals.
It is important to be able to think quickly in this job position. Things can go wrong quickly with filming. A resourceful field producer can anticipate some problems and act to resolve others quickly so that time is not lost. Time is money in field production and a producer who can keep productions consistently at or below budget is more likely to be hired again.
@SkyWhisperer - That’s great. Personally, I’d prefer to be out in the field; I like running around a lot, being constantly on the move.
While I have no experience in the industry myself I understand that one way to break into field producer jobs is simply to volunteer. Some creative companies like advertising agencies as well as local media outlets have volunteer positions for people to help out in the field.
They don’t require a degree; they usually train you on what to do, and no, you probably won’t be manning a video camera to start. But you can help with some of the logistical and clerical duties that a field producer must attend to, and it’s a great way to learn the trade and build valuable connections.
If you want to break into TV production I suggest you consider becoming a production assistant. I have a friend who got started this way.
A production assistant hangs around the set or studio and does all the little mundane tasks that no one else wants to do. This would mean things like dubbing tapes, helping with the catering, cleanup, assisting with set decorations, and so forth.
There is nothing at all glamorous about the job, but you will get your foot in the door, and you can learn a lot about what it takes to work in television by studying everything going on around you.
My friend eventually got hired on as a videographer and then eventually did video editing for a local television station, but it was his work as a production assistant that opened the way for him.
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