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How to Become a Movie Producer

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 1/31/2011

Here is a look at how to become a movie producer when working in the film industry.

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    Call the Producer

    The movie producer tends to be the highest level position in the feature film industry, orchestrating everything from pre-production through the various levels of release. This position can be the highest paid and allows for different amounts of control on a variety of projects, depending on the type of duties your specific producer role requires. Professionally, it is not easy to become a movie producer, though it may be easier than becoming a successful director or screenwriter. Here is a look at how to become a movie producer working from the ground up in lower level film jobs.

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    Easy In

    The interesting thing about how to become a movie producer is that there is no clear answer, especially since what a producer is can change in a number of different contexts. What a producer does is often oversee the production, but to become a producer you are often just going to provide something that no one else can.

    This usually means that you are providing a lot of funding in a way that is not just an investment. A producer will often locate investors for the project and coordinate the finances and staff, and having access to these kinds of financial pools can be enough to allow you to become a producer. At the same token, owning the option and literary purchase rights to a property can also allow you an in as a producer. It is these avenues that will provide you an initial allowance into the industry, but this is often a path that requires you to have financial backing and business experience from the start. Most people in entry level film jobs cannot just jump into the producer role immediately, even with a good film school education.

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    Working Up

    If you want to enter the industry and work your way up, there are a series of position decisions you can make that will lead you on a path toward becoming a producer. First off, it is going to be important to attend a reasonable film school in most cases. You may want to match your film education with some supporting knowledge of business and law, and you may want to even look into MFA/MBA and MFA/JD programs in film producing for graduate school.

    When you are working in the industry you may want to take a turn toward production coordinating and production management focused positions, but tail your workload more in the direction of the production company as a whole. If you begin focusing on working in development areas, such as a development assistant, you will direct your career more toward overseeing the projects as a whole. Working in an agency and in television programming will also allow this help, though you may even want to go into a trainee program at an appropriate company. To do this you will have to have some professional experience already, so you should take the requirements for these programs as queues for what you want to do with the first two to three years of your professional career.

    You may also want to begin with positions as an associate producer or assistant producer, but you will again need some experience to support your application. Film internships and production assistant work, especially in office settings, are always going to be a good places to start immediately out of film school. Learning to do script coverage, work with executives, handle yourself on set, and work in post-production are all going to lead you into this first producer role. The main thrust of how to become a film producer is develop a working knowledge of the production and distribution process as a whole, how entire projects are packaged, and how you could make projects successful. Once you have some experience to support that knowledge you will be able to take on a role that will lead a more direct path to your final career destination.