Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, commercials, and other performing arts productions.
What they do
Producers and directors interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.
They typically do the following:
- Select scripts or topics for a film, show, commercial, or play
- Audition and select cast members and the film or stage crew
- Approve the design and financial aspects of a production
- Oversee the production process, including performances, lighting, and choreography
- Oversee the postproduction process, including editing, special effects, music selection, and a performance’s overall tone
- Ensure that a project stays on schedule and within budget
- Promote finished works or productions through interviews, advertisements, and film festivals
Producers make the business and financial decisions for a motion picture, TV show, commercial, or stage production. They raise money for the project and hire the director and crew. The crew may include set and costume designers, film and video editors, a musical director, a choreographer, and other workers. Some producers may assist in the selection of cast members. Producers set the budget and approve any major changes to the project. They make sure that the production is completed on time, and they are ultimately responsible for the final product.
Directors are responsible for the creative decisions of a production. They select cast members, conduct rehearsals, and direct the work of the cast and crew. During rehearsals, they work with the actors to help them portray their characters more accurately. For nonfiction video, such as documentaries or live broadcasts, directors choose topics or subjects to film. They investigate the topic and may interview relevant participants or experts on camera. Directors also work with cinematographers and other crew members to ensure that the final product matches the overall vision.
Directors work with set designers, costume designers, location scouts, and art directors to build a project’s set. During a film’s postproduction phase, they work closely with film editors and music supervisors to make sure that the final product comes out the way the producer and director envisioned. Stage directors, unlike television or film directors, who document their product with cameras, make sure that the cast and crew give a consistently strong live performance.
Large productions often have various producers who share responsibilities. For example, on a large movie set, an executive producer is in charge of the entire production and a line producer runs the day-to-day operations. A TV show may employ several assistant producers to whom the head or executive producer gives certain duties, such as supervising the costume and makeup teams.
Similarly, large productions usually employ several assistant directors, who help the director with smaller production tasks such as making set changes or notifying the performers when it is their time to go onstage. The specific responsibilities of assistant producers or directors vary with the size and type of production they work on.
Although directors are in charge of the creative aspects of a show, they ultimately answer to producers. Some directors also share producing duties for their own films.
Producers and directors work under a lot of pressure, and many are under constant stress to finish their work on time. Work assignments may be short, ranging from 1 day to a few months. They sometimes must work in unpleasant conditions, such as bad weather.
Theater directors and producers may travel with a touring show across the country, while those in film and television may work on location (a site away from the studio and where all or part of the filming occurs).
Work hours for producers and directors can be long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. Some work more than 40 hours per week. Many producers and directors do not work a standard workweek, because their schedules may change with each assignment or project.
How to become a Producer and/or Director
Most producers and directors have a bachelor’s degree and several years of work experience in an occupation related to motion picture, TV, or theater production, such as experience as an actor, a film and video editor, or a cinematographer.
Producers and directors usually have a bachelor’s degree. Many students study film or cinema in programs at colleges and universities. In these programs, students learn about film history, editing, screenwriting, cinematography, and the filmmaking process. As of 2017, the National Association of Schools of Theatre provided accreditation to more than 180 postsecondary institutions for their programs in theater arts.
Others producers and directors have degrees in writing, acting, journalism, or communications. Some producers earn a degree in business, arts management, or nonprofit management.
Many stage directors complete a degree in theater, and some go on to earn a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. Classes may include directing, playwriting, set design, and acting.
The median annual wage for producers and directors was $74,420 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,480, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $173,680.
Employment of producers and directors is projected to grow 10 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Some job growth in the motion picture and video industry is expected to stem from strong demand from the public for movies and television shows, as well as an increased demand from foreign audiences for U.S.-produced films.
Consumer demand for reality shows on television is likely to increase, so more producers and directors will be needed to create and oversee editing of these programs. In addition, the volume of TV shows is expected to grow as the number of Internet-only platforms, such as streaming services, increases along with the number of shows produced for these platforms. This growth should lead to more work opportunities for producers and directors.
Theater producers and directors who work in small- and medium-sized theaters may see slower job growth because many of those theaters have difficulty finding funding as fewer tickets are sold. Large theaters in big cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, which usually have more stable sources of funding, should provide more opportunities.
Similar Job Titles
Animation Producer, Associate Producer, Executive Producer, News Producer, Newscast Producer, Producer, Promotions Producer, Radio Producer, Television News Producer, Television Producer (TV Producer)
Animation Director, Artistic Director, Commercial Director, Creative Director, Production Director, Production Stage Manager, Stage Director, Stage Manager, Theater Director, TV Director (Television Director)
Advertising and Promotions Manager, Public Relations and Fundraising Manager, Director-Stage/Motion Pictures/Television/Radio, Program Director, Editor
Advertising and Promotions Manager, Producer, Program Director, Technical Director/Manager, Editor
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- Actors' Equity Association
- Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers
- American Advertising Federation
- International Motor Press Association
- National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians - Communications Workers of America
- National Association of Broadcasters
- National Association of Hispanic Journalists
- Producers Guild of America
- Radio Television Digital News Association
Magazines and Publications
To craft an entertaining production takes both creative vision and leadership skills. Based on a writer’s script, producers and directors create movies, videos, television shows, live theater, and commercials. Producers make the business and financial decisions for a production. They raise money and hire the director and crew. Producers set the budget and approve any major changes to the project. They make sure that the production is completed on time, and hold the responsibility for the final product. Directors make the creative decisions. They select the cast, run rehearsals, and guide actors’ portrayal of their characters. At early phases, directors work closely with costume and set designers and location scouts to set the right scene. After a film is shot, they consult with the film editors and music directors to ensure the final product matches their vision. For live performances, stage directors support a consistent, strong performance. Work hours in these fields are often long and irregular, and pressure to finish projects on time is constant. Employment may be temporary, and travel is common… whether to tour with a theater production, or shoot a TV show or movie on location. A combination of a bachelor’s degree and several years’ related work experience is the usual path to enter these fields. A background in acting, film and video editing, or cinematography are typical.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org