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How Movie Producers Work

Responsibilities of a Movie Producer
Writer Paul Haggis talks to producer Ed Zwick at the premier of their movie "Don't Move."
Writer Paul Haggis talks to producer Ed Zwick at the premier of their movie "Don't Move."
© Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

A movie producer is the person responsible for making sure an appealing, high-quality movie is produced on time and within budget. That means supervising and packaging the project from conception to distribution to theaters, while interfacing with the studio and managing the work of hundreds of individuals [source: Full Sail].

As you can see, movie producers do indeed have to wear many hats during movie production. Starting at the beginning of the process, here are some of the main producer responsibilities:


  • Find material from a book or script.
  • Get the script into good enough shape to attract a director (and studio, if this is not a studio-initiated production).
  • Secure financing for the film, if it is not being made for a studio.
  • Choose the director and other parts of the creative team.
  • Cast the actors, working with the director.
  • Determine locations and budget.
  • Decide on cinematographer and special effects.
  • Hire a production team including crew and producers.
  • Develop a shooting schedule.
  • Create a detailed plan of action for production.


  • Offer creative suggestions to the director.
  • Handle problems with actors or creative staff.
  • Monitor production timetable and budget.
  • Review video dailies, the film shot each day.


  • Discuss order and selection of scenes with the director.
  • Review the fine cut of the film after it is edited.
  • In some cases, polish, revise and restructure the film to create the final cut.
  • Work with a distributor to secure distribution for the film. This may include showing the distributors the final cut of the film.
  • Review the distributor's advertising campaign for the film.

[sources: World Book and "Movie Moguls Speak: Interviews with Top Film Producers" by Steven Prigge, 2004]

You may be wondering where movie producers find the material or come up with a film concept. In some cases, actors, writers or editors approach producers with a completed script. In other cases, coincidence or serendipity has led to successful movies.

The animated feature "Bee Movie" (2007), for example, started with an offhand comment by comedian Jerry Seinfeld to producer Steven Spielberg during dinner. "Wouldn't it be funny if they made a movie about Bees and called it 'Bee Movie'?" Seinfeld mused. Spielberg liked the idea, and Seinfeld found himself with a deal and the need to write a movie to go with his title. That took two and a half years.

"Rocky" (1976) started with a casual comment from an actor. Producer Robert Chartoff arranged to meet Sylvester Stallone after seeing him act in the "The Lords of Flatbush." Stallone mentioned that he had an idea for a script about a boxer and asked Chartoff if he would read it. Six weeks later, the actor brought in the first draft of the script for the film that earned him an Oscar nomination for best writing and was followed by five sequels.

Obviously there's plenty to learn if you want to be a movie producer. Go to the next page to find out about the training you'd need.