How to become a TV producer

Film Connection mentor filmmaker, director, producer Christine Chen in Austin with student externs

How to become a TV producer

Film producers may work on two or three movies in a given year or could be limited to a single movie depending on the scope, range, and overall size of the film. A producer on a television show could take charge of more than 20 episodes in a single year, although some serials like Better Call Saul or Game of Thrones have fewer episodes.

A successful producer will need to have exceptional organizational, management, and communication skills, no matter the size of the screen. Because of the fast-paced nature of the medium, television producers are on a tight schedule for much of the year.

Back when networks were kicking out full-season shows (more than 20 episodes), staffing usually wrapped up in May and shooting began in June. That means when a season started in September, there may still be half of a season left to shoot.

With the advent of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and basic and pay cable shows, television production shooting schedules have changed over the past few decades. There are no set starting or ending dates, although mid-season breaks often allow producers, writers, directors, and others to change directions or catch up if needed.

Skills a TV Producer Needs

In the past, it was beneficial to have some college or university experience to become a producer, such as a bachelor’s degree. Even then, aspiring producers still needed to get their feet wet in the industry before being handed the reins of an established production or new series.

That is, experience matters. Finding your way into a production company and learning the ropes from the inside allows you to get the experience, develop relationships, and start making a name for yourself. In some cases, your current knowledge base may be perfect for a job on the set.

Stepping Stones

Line Producer – The accountant of the set, the line producer assists the producer at making sure everything stays on budget. While they don’t make the decisions of what the bottom line is, or even who gets hired, they keep an eye on other expenditures to make sure the production stays within their means. Being good with numbers helps, but communication is key, too.

Production Assistant (PA) – The Swiss Army knife of positions, being a production assistant means being able to lend a helping hand to almost anyone on the set. A walking Rolodex armed with a walkie talkie, they may not build the scaffolding for a certain shot, but they know how to get in touch with someone that does. A master communicator with unbound energy, a PA works to make sure everyone above the line and below it has what they need.

Other Crew Positions – This could include being the best boy/girl for a key grip or gaffer, an assistant to a director of photography, or a runner. Except for the runner (who’s basically a gofer for everyone else), these positions put you close to important members of the crew that you can learn from.

This is also a great way to start networking. By being a good communicator, doing what you can to make sure everything runs smoothly, and removing the words “I can’t” from your vocabulary, you can make yourself indispensable. Build your reputation on hard work and being a quick study, and you can go far.

Don’t Wait for Experience

In the Film Connection Film Production and Editing Program, we’ll give you experience, opportunities to network, and an education rooted in real-world, hands-on work. By placing you with a professional production company, you’ll work one-on-one with your mentor, an industry insider.

From learning how to set up a boom mic, to watching an editor at work, Film Connection puts you in an environment to learn about the business while being a part of the business. Are you going to take advantage of that opportunity? This is a career, not a hobby. You’ll need drive, determination, and the dedication to give it your all.

Sounds like fun? Apply today.

Learn the skills you need to take your idea from paper to the big screen.

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