What is a line producer?

wiseGEEK Writing Contest

The line producer on a motion picture or television production is the "nuts and bolts" person. Unlike the executive producer who's concerned more with financing, or the producer who concentrates on creative aspects such as the script and casting, the line producer is involved with budgeting and scheduling the film, hiring crew, making deals for equipment, and so on.

The title 'line producer' was originally given to the producer on a motion picture production who had a direct 'line' of reporting to the studio head. That way Jack Warner or Louis B. Mayer could easily keep their finger on the pulse of the production. Nowadays, the line producer reports to the producer of the film. There might be several executive producers or producers on a film, but there's usually only one line producer.

The line producer is often the first hire on a film (sometimes even before it's greenlighted, to create a shooting schedule and/or a budget for the potential investors to read). Based on the script, the line producer creates a detailed shooting schedule (which the First Assistant Director will later change as the script, locations and so on change). Based on that schedule and the line producer's experience with other films, she then creates a budget, which will stipulate to the dollar how money will be spent on the film.

It's a real jigsaw puzzle. There are givens, such as SAG (Screen Actors Guild) scale. There are variables, such as how many weeks we need an actor and how many background actors (extras) we should have in a scene; these are factors that the line producer works out with the director. Likewise with equipment and crew, some is needed for the run of the show, others 'day-play.'

When the picture goes into prep the line producer doles out funds to the different departments of the film unit, ensuring that actual expenditures for each "line item" in the budget do not exceed the amount allotted. Once production starts, the line producer "puts out fires" as she continues to protect the budget. She supervises the production manager, payroll and makes sure the director has everything he needs for every day of the shoot, as long as it's in the budget!

This submission was not accepted into the wiseGEEK Writing Contest because it does not meet the 400 word minimum requirement.

submitted by Hank Grover