For all those who like all the glitterati’s, the glamour, the action, the travel extravaganza and all in all, a complete set of folks to manage and deal with, and a complete schedule to be delivered & implemented as per the timelines. If you think, all of this excites you and you are someone who believes in the media and its ways to communicate with the world, then being a Media Production Manager might be apt as a career choice.
Production Manger’s task is to prepare production schedules or script breakdowns to confirm sufficient time has been allocated to each aspect of the production process. He also needs to ensure that this goes in line with the Producer’s budget. He would liaise with all the heads of the department to ensure production runs smoothly. Also, a production manager is someone who always needs to be prepared with a Plan B in case the initial one doesn’t work. They are involved in all aspects of the day to day running of shoots, contract preparation, and health & safety requirements.
Most people work on a freelance basis. This will usually involve working unsocial hours as schedules will often include weekends, evenings or nights. This could change at short notice if the production is delayed. The work tends to be mainly office-based, but could also take place in studios or outside on location. Location work can include assignments overseas, possibly working under difficult conditions.
The work environment can’t be defined in this career as it changes as per requirement of the production house & the deadlines to be met. Thus, one needs to be on his/her toes in this profile and be adaptive to last minute changes and demands.
A driving license and a full and valid passport are essential in this career.
What to study
An undergraduate degree program in film production or business management can teach individuals the skills needed to work as a production manager and can be a good start. However, experience is necessary to attain jobs. Film production degree programs cover lighting, equipment, design and business procedures. Some schools provide students with internship opportunities at a production studio.
These programs also teach students the skills required to manage the business aspect of the job. Business management courses typically cover subjects such as economics, accounting, business methods and communications.
Many Universities in the UK like the University of Creative Arts, Plymouth University, Edge Hill University offer courses in Media Production & film production. In USA, the Ohio State University, Winthrop University, University of Denver are some to start with. Likewise, there are Universities in other countries too.
Production Managers work across all genres in television production including documentaries, current affairs, light entertainment or children's programs, situation comedies, soaps or serial dramas, or one off dramas. Production Managers may be employed by production companies or broadcasters, or work on a freelance basis.
Production Managers are usually experienced production personnel, who may have previously progressed from Assistant Floor Managers, to Floor Managers, to Location Managers, or they may have worked as Script Supervisors, Production Assistants or Production Accountants. Non-media accountants with suitable training may also transfer to this role. Some Production Managers may become Line Producers or Directors.
Production Managers must be proficient in communication & problem solving skills. It is also advisable to be familiar with the budgeting software related to the film and television industry. Though, in depth technical knowledge is not a requirement, yet it is imperative for a Production manager to understand the terminologies so that he/she understands how each department or expense heads impact the budget and the schedule. They need to understand the technical processes involved in television production, including camera, lighting, sound and editing. Multi-tasking is the mantra when it comes to production, which could include hiring the crew, fixing equipment issues, generating daily reports, gaining permits in case of international shoots as per requirement.
Production Managers should have up-to-date working knowledge of the relevant UK union and/or broadcaster regulations and agreements, e.g. PACT/Equity, PACT/Musician's Union, PACT/BECTU, and the legal requirements regarding working hours and the duty of care towards personnel.
Image Credit: Grant Cochrane