Who is an Executive Producer? – Career Guide

An Executive Producer to a film is what a CEO is to a company. Every duty that a CEO performs for a company is performed by an Executive Producer for a film or any other entertainment project. They both make major decisions, manage the overall operations, are a point of contact between investors and the crew, and represent the project in public spaces.

An Executive Producer is one of the topmost positions on a film or entertainment project. Their primary role is securing funds for the project. They either invest their own money or bring investors or a production house on board to do the same. Since they are responsible for bringing funds, their main responsibility is to ensure proper utilization of the funds and get maximum returns on them. For this, they are involved in making all the major decisions for the project - hiring the best line producers, directors, and actors, making the project commercially viable by marketing and publicity, etc.


Let’s take a more detailed look at their primary responsibilities.



Responsibilities of an Executive Producer:



Most of their responsibilities are limited to the pre-production stage. Participation or the amount of involvement in every other stage is at their own discretion.


For executive producers, backing a film with funds is an investment. Hence, their job is to ensure that they get the maximum returns on their investment. Thus, everything that they can do to increase profits – altering/developing the screenplay during pre-production, getting a celebrated face on board to act, marketing and advertising the film in the best possible way, etc. are all the responsibilities of an executive producer.


Let’s check some of the major responsibilities of an Executive Producer:


1. Funding: It’s not a hidden fact that the foremost responsibility of an executive producer is to procure funds for the project. They may put it out of their own pockets or may bring a bunch of people who have the ability to do so. Either way, it is the EP’s role to bring funds on board to kickstart the project. Since it is their own money, or have given their word to someone else about the safety of their money, EPs are also responsible to ensure that the funds are used sincerely and in the most efficient way possible.


2. Hiring Top-Tier Crew: Once the project is finalized, the Executive Producer is responsible for getting the directors and other producers on board. Since a lot of money is involved, an EP has to ensure that the people they hire are at the top of their games and can deliver the best possible results.


3. Approving the Budget: Another responsibility of an EP is to allocate the budget to each department keeping in mind their respective requirements. This involves a lot of research at the pre-production stage like recce, vendor research, etc.


4. Hiring Primary Talent: To ensure that the film does well among the audience, the Executive Producer makes sure that celebrated talent is associated with the project, and hence, is involved in the casting process.


5. Overseeing the Creative Process: No matter how artistic the film is, the executive producer has to make sure that it sells too. Thus, whatever changes seem feasible from a commercial point of view are to be made to the project and the Executive Producer is responsible for that.


6. Supervising Production: During the production stage, they visit the set from time to time to check the status of the project firsthand. The line producers and all the other physical producers report to them about all the updates related to the project such as the progress, shortcomings, further requirements, etc.


7. Marketing, Promotions, and Publicity: In order to ensure that their film reaches a wider audience, they hire the best marketing and PR agencies that help promote their films in addition to publicizing it themselves.


Most writers often work as executive producers on projects in order to get creative authority and to ensure that the execution of their screenplays is being done the way they envisioned it.



How much do Executive Producers earn?


There is no fixed earning for an Executive Producer. It can be as low as nothing and can go as high as double-triple the cost incurred. In other words, their income varies depending on the success of the project. Realistically speaking, executive producers make a decent number of profits off their projects. In addition to receiving a lump sum amount after the release of the film, they also receive a pre-determined, fixed percentage of profits after fixed intervals, if the film continues to do well over the years. Thus, if one has a risk-taking ability, they can make fortunes by working as an Executive Producer.



How to be an Executive Producer?


It is very simple to be an executive producer and absolutely anyone, even someone completely unrelated to the film industry can become an executive producer. There is only one prerequisite – a lot of money, or at least enough to back a film project. Even if you don’t have any money of your own, the ability to procure funds (without robbing a bank) works too. If you have it, you can easily work as an executive producer without any education, age, or other sorts of barriers.


Although there are no specific qualifications required, there are, however, a few skills that one must develop in order to master the role of an Executive Producer. Let’s have a look.




Skills to Develop to be an Executive Producer:


1. Leadership: Leadership is a prerequisite for anyone working at the senior-most post on a project. Even more so for Executive Producers as they not only head the other producers but sometimes even directors too.


2. Creativity: Most of the time, directors seek the help of Executive Producers while brainstorming creative ideas. A film with a good story may not necessarily be a commercially hit film every time. Thus, in order to make a film commercially successful, executive producers pitch different creative ideas that give a project its commercial wings by staying well within the director’s vision.


3. A strong Vision/Far Sightedness: A lot of money goes into making a film. Since the executive producer is responsible for securing funds for the project, it is very important for them to have a strong vision and the ability to assume the scope of the project. Before investing in any project, they need to ensure if it will be able to at least bring back the costs, if not any profits.


4. Business Aptitude: More than the art of filmmaking, executive producers are involved in the commerce of it. Every new film project feels like a startup to an executive producer. Thus, having a strong business aptitude helps when it comes to making this startup a profitable and successful one.


5. Risk-taking ability: Sometimes, investing in a film project is gambling at max. Even if you truly believe in the project, you need to be prepared that your money may not come back. But as they say, the higher the risks, the higher the returns. So, as an executive producer, you need to have the risk-taking ability. You never know what you may get – sometimes the returns can be a lot, sometimes not at all. It’s all a matter of taking risks.


6. Patience: In working as an EP, patience is the key. There have been so many films that didn’t become a hit in just a day. Masaan, for example, is considered a sleeper hit. It did not do well at the box office, but even after so many years, the film is loved by so many across the globe. Needless to say, this profession requires a lot of patience – during the project and after the project.


7. Communication: An Executive Producer acts as a liaison between the investors and the crew; is the face of the film among the audiences and basically every major message – both to insiders as well as outsiders – is communicated by them. Thus, being a good communicator is very important for an EP.


This article was originally published by the Indian Film Institute. Read the original article here.


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