Film and Television Producers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

High school courses that will be of assistance to you in your work as a producer include speech, mathematics, business, psychology, and English. Take computer classes so that you can develop a familiarity with this tool. If your high school offers any classes on the history of broadcast media or the use of broadcast media, be sure to take those courses. If you are specifically interested in producing entertainment shows, consider taking drama classes that will give you an understanding of scripts and working with actors.

Postsecondary Training

Formal study of film, television, communications, theater, writing, English literature, or art is helpful, as the producer must have the background to know whether an idea or script is worth pursuing. Many entry-level positions in the film industry are given to people who have studied liberal arts, cinema, or both.

In the United States there are more than 1,000 colleges, universities, and trade schools that offer classes in film or television studies; more than 120 of these offer undergraduate programs, and more than 50 grant master's degrees. A small number of Ph.D. programs also exist.

Graduation from a film or television program does not guarantee employment in the industry. Some programs are quite expensive, costing $35,000 in tuition alone for each year of study. Others do not have the resources to allow all students to make their own films.

Programs in Los Angeles and New York City, the major centers of the entertainment industry, may provide the best opportunities for making contacts that can be of benefit when seeking employment.

A number of organizations provide information on internships or sponsor internship programs. The Radio-Television Digital News Association, for example, offers several scholarships and fellowships for college students involved with electronic journalism. The Directors Guild of America sponsors Los Angeles- and New York-based training programs for a limited number of college graduates. The trainees in this program are paid and work on television series projects. 

Other Education or Training

At its annual conference, the Producers Guild of America offers seminars and workshops about a variety of industry-related topics. Recent sessions included Hit the Ground Showrunning, Making the Leap: Producing TV for Digital Distribution, and Saving Time & Money, From Script to Screen, With Adobe. Contact the guild for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for film and television producers.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

At least several years of experience helping to create films and television shows and overseeing production tasks is required to become a producer.

Producers come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some start out as magazine editors, business school graduates, actors, or secretaries, messengers, and production assistants for a film studio. Many have never formally studied film.

Most producers, however, get their position through several years of experience in the industry, perseverance, and a keen sense for what projects will be artistically and commercially successful.

The successful producer is an organized individual who can deal quickly and effectively with problems that may cause a change in production plans. Producers need to have a good sense of what stories, news, or other items will interest viewers. They also need salesmanship qualities since they may have to "sell" a station or studio on a project idea or convince an actor to take a role. Producers work with teams of professionals and must be able to bring people together to work on the single goal of completing a project.