A line producer is a vital person in the production of movies and television. Equal parts accountant and creative mind, a line producer typically oversees the allocation of money on a production. There is no set path to become a line producer, but many professionals find their way into the job by possessing a unique set of practical and creative skills.
Many line producers have a long history of production experience. Some have worked as production assistants or have served as associate or executive producers for films, shows, theater productions, or web series. Although a good understanding of the production field is necessary to become a line producer, this does not always mean that going to film school or producing big-budget movies are the only way into the job. Many line producers work on small independent films to gain experience before trying to serve as a line producer.
In order to become a line producer, a person must posses excellent accounting skills. One of the largest jobs this type of producer will have is managing the budget for a production. This means studying the script to discover what is needed, then allocating the given money toward sets, locations, hiring crew and actors, transportation, costumes, and a host of other needed areas. The ability to stay organized, provide accurate figures, and manage financial crises is critical when trying to become a line producer.
Since a line producer must be involved with almost every area of production as well as give budget reports to the studio and investors, it is useful to cultivate excellent communication and people skills. Choosing to become a line producer means being prepared to serve as a mediator and firm voice of reason between the production team and the studio.
A person trying to become a line producer may attend a film school that offers producing courses. Intensive study at a film school allows a new producer to become familiar with all the budgetary requirements of making films or putting on productions, while giving him or her hands-on experience as a member of a production team. Several prominent graduate schools, such as UCLA and the American Film Institute, offer graduate level degrees in producing.
If formal education is not desired, a person can become a line producer by working his or her way through the ranks of the industry. Producers often start as production assistants, where a daily job can last 16 hours and involve getting coffee, picking up dry cleaning, and doing any task requested. Although difficult, working as an assistant is often recommended by film professionals as the best way to understand how a real set works while providing opportunities to make valuable friends and business contacts.