Monday, 3 July 2017

What Do Animation Producers Do?

Jeffrey Katzenberg - founder of DreamWorks Animation
What does a producer do, exactly? This is an important question for anyone who hopes to go into the animation industry.

As we get ready for our evening class in Producing Animation, we take a look at the different kinds of producers on an animated film project, and what they all actually do.

How many kinds of producers are there?
Despite the big range of titles, there is typically only one producer on a project. That is to say, there is just one person who organises and runs the project, is responsible for it, and really gets it done. That person is the real producer, and they will work night and day to bring the project to life. These people are usually a blur - literally - because they are doing so many things at once that their feet barely touch the ground.  If anything goes wrong on a production (and things go wrong all the time), it is the producer who is expected to solve it.

But what about all the other titles? How many different kinds of producer are there, and what do all the different titles actually mean?

1. Line Producer
On a big project, the line producer is the person who actually handles the day-to-day running of the operation. The line producer organises everything from the renting of premises to making sure that employees get paid, to making sure that deadlines get met. The line producer is a very busy person, who will often have help from...

2. Associate producer.
On a really big production,  the line producer may simply be too busy to handle everything that comes up, and they may delegate many day to day operations to an associate producer. The associate producer helps to tackle every day tasks that the line producer is too busy to deal with.
3. Executive producer.
As with so many things in Hollywood, the name is misleading. The role should really be described as "non-executive producer". Executive producers are usually people who were instrumental in getting the project made in the first place (such as the person who originally optioned the rights to the book that the film is based on), but then passed on the baton to someone else. An executive producer could be a powerful actor's agent who helped package the deal, or even a famous actor who wants a bigger credit. The key point to remember is that Executive Producer is just a title. You might work for a year or more on a film and never meet them, because they often just aren't that involved, or aren't involved in a day-to-day way.

4. Visual Effects Producer
The visual effects producer, as the name suggests, produces the visual effects on a movie. They will make budgets, and project-manage the creation of digital effects. They are in reality line producers who specialise in visual effects work.

5. Production Manager
On a big movie, the production manager helps out the associate producer and producer to get the project done. They are typically responsible for deadlines, scheduling and keeping each shot on track. For an artist, this person is often your first point of contact if you need something done in a hurry.

6. Production Assistant
The production assistant does the bidding of all the other production folk. They work long hours, running errands, making tea and coffee for clients, and ordering pizza for the crew.  Production assistants often emerge on the next project as production managers, association producers and even producers. Production Assistant is a tried and tested route to the top. So be nice to them - they may well be employing you in a few years time.

7. Creative Producer
A producer who describes themselves as a creative producer is staking a claim to creative ownership of a film, alongside the director. Producers like Disney's Don Hahn, with a long string of box office hits behind them, have earned the right to steer the ship creatively as well as financially.

To find out more about our evening class in Producing Animation, follow this link. To read more blog posts about different aspects of Producing Animation, follow this link.

The Escape Studios Animation Blog offers a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To apply for our BA/MArt (September 2017), follow this link. To apply for one of our intensive 3 month animation short courses, click here.

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