If you want to be a line producer, you'll need a fairly wide range of skills. It's probably worth noting, though, that those skills don't generally include creative input into the film process. If that's what you want, being a line producer may not be the right path for you, unless you can work your way up to producer.
What you do need for line producer skills is a combination of knowledge, experience and personality traits.
If you're going to take charge of film production -- and make sure the film stays within budget and on schedule, you need to understand the physical and technical processes of filmmaking. That includes basic knowledge of all the departments that you oversee, such as lighting, set design, wardrobe and sound. You also need to know how movies are made, who's responsible for what, and what outside resources, like equipment rental firms, you can use to get what you need.
Attending a two- or four-year school that offers film classes can give you a start on knowing the industry. But the rest of what you need to learn will come from experience, often starting with jobs that are low paying but can bring you into film production. Often line producers are production managers who have moved up from other jobs like assistant director, location manager or production assistant. And they may start in television, commercial or music video production rather than in films.
Beyond knowledge and experience in the movie making industry, you need expertise in finance. That includes in-depth knowledge of budget analysis, scheduling and project management.
Being a line producer is not for everyone. If you don't like managing finances, problem solving, risk taking and dealing with an unpredictable work environment, this is not for you. To succeed, you need:
- strong problem-solving skills and the ability to make decisions quickly
- flexibility to deal with unexpected changes
- a calm approach during crisis management
- the ability to balance the creative and practical in making decisions
- diplomacy in handling requests for funds
- negotiating skills with suppliers
- the ability to work with many different types of people, commanding respect and providing encouragement
- willingness to work 80 or 100 hours a week during the production phase
Beyond that, as with any movie job, your success will depend on your determination and networking skills combined with the luck of being in the right place at the right time.
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