Film and Television Producers
Approximately 152,400 producers and directors are employed in the United States. About 20 percent of producers and directors are self employed. Others are salaried employees of film companies, television networks, and television stations. The greatest concentration of motion picture producers is in Hollywood and New York City.
Becoming a producer is similar to becoming president of a company. Unless a person is independently wealthy and can finance whichever projects he or she chooses, prior experience in the field is necessary. Because there are so few positions, even with experience it is extremely difficult to become a successful producer.
Most motion picture producers have attained their position only after years of moving up the industry ladder. Thus, it is important to concentrate on immediate goals, such as getting an entry-level position in a film company. Some enter the field by getting a job as a production assistant. An entry-level production assistant may photocopy scripts for actors to use, assist in setting up equipment, or may perform other menial tasks, often for very little or even no pay. While a production assistant's work is often tedious and of little seeming reward, it nevertheless does expose one to the intricacies of filmmaking and, more importantly, creates an opportunity to make contacts with others in the industry.
Those interested in the field should approach film companies, television stations, or the television networks about employment opportunities as a production assistant. Small television stations often provide the best opportunity for those who are interested in television producing. Positions may also be listed in the city's film office, such as New York City Mayor's Office of Media & Entertainment (http://www1.nyc.gov/site/mome/index.page), and in trade publications.
There is little room for advancement because producers are at the top of their profession. Advancement for producers is generally measured by the types of projects they do, increased earnings, and respect in the field. At television stations, a producer can advance to program director. Television producers may decide to specialize, working in an area that interests them such as live broadcasts or music videos. Some producers become directors or make enough money to finance their own projects.
Tips for Entry
Read Produced By to learn more about the field. It's published by the Producers Guild of America (PGA, https://www.producersguild.org/page/produced_by).
Join the PGA and other organizations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and mentoring and employment opportunities.
Attend the PGA's annual Produced By Conference (http://producedbyconference.com) to network and participate in continuing education opportunities.
Try to land a job as a production assistant at a film company or television station to break into the industry.
Members of the PGA can search for jobs at http://jobs.producersguild.org.