PPP – Production Manager
Production Manager is the ultimate role that I see myself in as it overseas all aspects of the production and appears to be a challenging role.
Production Managers run productions on behalf of the Producer and Line Producer. They help to determine the most efficient and economic way to schedule shoots, negotiate business deals for crews, locations and technical equipment, and make day-to-day production decisions to ensure that productions proceed smoothly. Production Managers are dynamic and highly self-motivated individuals. They should be excellent communicators, prepared to work very long hours, and able to react calmly under intense pressure. The role is challenging but well paid, usually on a freelance basis. Production Managers are in charge of the expenditure of the ‘below-the-line’ budget.
Production Managers work closely with the Producer, Line Producer and First Assistant Director to break down the script page by page, and to prepare a provisional schedule. Production Managers then consult with the various Heads of Department to estimate the materials needed, and to assist in the preparation of draft budgets. Once the overall budget has been signed off, Production Managers assist Producers in interviewing and selecting crews and suppliers to meet production requirements. They help to negotiate rates of pay, and conditions of employment, ensuring compliance with regulations and codes of practice. They negotiate, approve and arrange the rental and purchase of all production materials, equipment and supplies. Production Managers oversee the search for locations, sign location releases, and liaise with local authorities and the Police regarding permits and other permissions. On smaller productions they may also negotiate contracts with casting agencies.
Production Managers ensure that all bills are paid, that tasks are delegated properly, and that people work well together. Their responsibilities include:
setting up and implementing financial monitoring systems; controlling production expenditure; monitoring and controlling the progress of productions; overseeing production paperwork, such as releases, call sheets, and daily progress reports; and liaising with the First Assistant Director on set, to ensure that the production schedule and departmental budgets are on target. Production Managers sign and authorise all purchase orders, and help the Production Accountant to prepare weekly cost reports. They make changes to the schedule and to the budget as required, and ensure that these changes are brought to the attention of all relevant personnel. Production Managers deal with any personnel problems or issues that may arise, and ensure that all Health and Safety regulations are adhered to.
End of Production ‘Wrapping’
At the end of the shoot, the Production Manager ‘wraps’ the production. This involves ensuring that all final invoices for services provided are received, checked and passed for payment, overseeing that locations are signed off in accordance with agreements, and that all rental agreements are terminated, and equipment returned on time. On larger productions involving more than one Production Unit, these responsibilities may be delegated to Assistant Production Managers, who are referred to as Second Unit Production Managers, or Assistant Production Managers. In such situations, Production Managers are likely to work permanently in the main production office.
– Hard working
– Planning, organisation and administrative skills
– Excellent communication and negotiation skills
– Familiar with; budgeting, accounting, film scheduling and word processing programmes
– Understand the creative and business challenges
– Have good contacts with local equipment suppliers, and know where to recruit reliable production personnel
– Familiar with Health & Safety legislation, and know how to carry our risk assessments according to regulatory requirements
– Familiar with all insurance issues.
You will need substantial experience in TV or film, in-depth understanding of the production process, and a network of contacts in the industry. Your experience and track record will usually be more important than your formal qualifications, although accounting skills and qualifications would be an advantage because of the budget management work involved with this job.
You could work your way up to become a production manager in various ways. A common route is to start as a runner or an assistant or secretary in the production office, progressing to production coordinator or assistant production manager. You might also start as a trainee production accountant.
Alternatively, you could progress from runner to 3rd, 2nd and 1st assistant director, or to assistant TV floor manager then floor manager or location manager. See the related profiles for more information on some of these roles.
You may be able to join the industry through a new entrant training scheme such as those sometimes offered by broadcasters, regional screen agencies and media training organisations. Competition for places is strong, and you would need to show genuine commitment and some previous relevant work experience. Contact Creative Skillset Careers for information on any schemes that may be running.
It is not essential to have studied film, video or media production before you look for work in the industry. However, you may find it helpful to take a course that includes practical skills, work placements and the chance to make contacts. Many colleges and universities offer relevant courses – check with them for entry requirements.