Quick pop-quiz, hot shot! Who is the most important person on any film or video production set? Is it the director who has the overall vision? Is it the DP who sets every shot? Or is it the writer who details every action and line of dialogue?
Or, would you be surprised to learn that the answer isn’t any of the above?
The most important person on any set — more often than not — is the all-important producer. The person behind the production that puts everything in motion, guides a project through completion, and oversees every element production from pre-production to post-production.
Video producers might not get the same marquee fame and glory, but they’re a hugely important part of the filmmaking process. For those looking to get started as a producer in today’s market, there’s a lot you should know up front.
In this article
What does a video producer do?
Before we dive into all the great career advice for starting off as a video producer, let’s quickly go over the basics of what a video producer actually does.
Now, keep in mind that the term “producer” can cover a wide range of job details that may vary from project to project. On larger projects there are also different levels of producers ranging from executive producers to line producers.
For the sake of clarity though, we’re going to focus on some of the most basic tasks which usually fall to a video producer. These tasks include the following:
- Finding the project (whether that be through a client, an investor, or simply developing a script).
- Creating a budget and schedule.
- Putting together the cast and crew.
- Overseeing production and keeping things on track.
- Hiring an editor and post-production team.
- Overseeing the editing process.
- Finalizing deliverables and securing payments from clients. (Or submissions to festivals and negotiating with buyers).
A more general way to think of a producer is as the person who guides a project through completion. A producer might not be physically writing the script, setting up the cameras, or making the edits, but they’re behind the scenes making sure all those things get done.
Qualifications you’ll need to be a video producer
Now that we’ve gone over what a video producer does, let’s take a look at the qualifications you might need to actually be a video producer.
Here are some of the basic qualifications that you might need to be a video producer:
- In many cases, a Bachelor’s degree in film, media, or other creative field
- Background in film and video production
- Availability to work long and/or odd hours
- Working laptop and smartphone
- Budgeting, scheduling, invoicing software
- Skilled at project management and budgeting
- Excellent communication skills
As long as you’re familiar with film and video production and able to handle the sometimes long hours of overseeing a project, there aren’t many hard set regulations keeping anyone out of this role based on education or training.
Top skills for video producers
That being said, we do need to stress that being a video producer is by no means an easy job. In fact, it can often be one of the hardest (and most mentally and physically draining) jobs at times when one is caught up trying to manage tight deadlines, large crews and big budgets.
If you’re serious about considering a career as a video producer, here are some skills which are crucial for finding success:
- Strong knowledge of all parts of production
- Good at communicating goals and timelines
- Great with budgets and spreadsheets
- Agile and able to quickly respond to calls and emails
- Able to stay focused on big picture results
A good video producer is someone who can keep several plates spinning all at once. You’ll need to be able to adapt on the fly and put out any fires (both literally or figuratively) on set while also keeping the overall goals of a project on track.
What are day-to-day tasks of video producers?
All that being said, there are a lot of tasks which fall onto a video producer. However, these tasks can change day-to-day based on where a video is at in regards to the overall process. For example, at the start of a project a video producer might mostly be dealing with pre-production elements like scripting, location scouting and scheduling to get everything ready. Once a project begins actually filming the day-to-day tasks can change drastically, and even more so during post-production.
For the sake of clarity we’ve broken down the day-to-day tasks of a video producer for each stage of a video production.
- Meet with clients or investors
- Develop scripts and storyboards
- Hire a director and put together cast, crew and services
- Secure locations and insurance
- Oversee budget and schedule
- Stay in touch with department heads
- Help solve any issues that come up
- Review dailies to make sure the project is on track
- Secure all assets and resources needed
- Hire editor and/or post-production specialists
- Oversee edits and review drafts
- Upload final drafts and/or share with clients
- Make sure all contracts are paid and finalized
It’s understandable that a video producer’s role can change drastically based on what the overall needs of the project are each day. Sometimes it can be quite short work to check in on a shoot, whereas others it can be handling lots of issues at once.
Choosing what types of video to produce
We also should discuss the different types of videos which a producer might be needed to work on. The film and video industry covers a wide variety of niches. From big budget features to short form content for social video apps like TikTok, it’d be hard to say that any two video projects are alike in terms of budget and scope.
As such a video producer’s role can also vary drastically from project type to project type. However, when first starting out, if you can find yourself working within a specific niche (or particular type of video project) regularly you can begin to streamline your skills and routines.
To give you a better understanding of what we’re talking about, here’s a short list of some of the different types of niches that exist in film and video:
- Animated and motion graphic video content
- Broadcast commercial video
- Corporate videos (live action or animated)
- Digital commercial video
- Indie feature films and shorts
- Music videos
- Real estate video
- Social media video content
- Wedding films
- Vimeo or YouTube video content
The trick is to find the right types of videos for you. For example if you like working on arthouse film sets, it helps to be creatively minded and flexible to explore new ideas and inspirations. Whereas if you want to work more regimently in corporate video, it’s helpful to be more task-oriented and focused on schedules and deliverables.
Growing your video production business
At the end of the day, as video content has grown more accessible and easier to do for solo entrepreneurs, the roles of the video producer are often also the roles of the run-and-gun videographer or filmmaker. If you find yourself trying to build your own brand and grow your own video production business, more often than not you’re going to need to serve as the video producer — along with the writer, director and editor as well.
Still, learning the basic skills of video producing, along with refining your expectations and growing as an organizer and communicator will always help you in all aspects of video production.
Here are some final tips to keep in mind for being a better jack-of-all-trades video producer:
- Set a schedule and stick to it
- Build your network of different film and video professionals, like Vimeo Experts or our For Hire marketplace
- Join a producing guild or other similar organization
- Reminder: the project isn’t done until everything is delivered and everyone has been paid
It should be of no surprise that many of these tips should also help you as a small business owner or manager of your own brand. Sadly, for many the best way to learn is by trial and error, so keep that in mind as you start off on your own video production journey.
Hopefully this article has answered some of the questions you might have about what a video producer is, what the job looks like, what skills you might need, and how you can become one in today’s market.