Production

The Difference Between a Producer and Executive Producer

Assemble

By Assemble

June 1, 2022

Producers are film industry professionals who put together all the components needed to turn a script into a feature film. Among their responsibilities are raising capital, assembling the cast and crew, securing locations, scheduling the production, attaining equipment and resources, coordinating post-production and finding distributors.

What is the Difference Between a Producer and Executive Producer?

The main difference between the producer and executive producer is one manages the creative process while the other sources funding to make it happen. Managing a production takes many hands and the producer role is often divided into different types of producers. Let's explore each producer in more depth.

Producer

From development through post-production and distribution, a producer collaborates with the film director and often the screenwriter on the artistic and budgetary needs of the production. They maintain the budget funded by executive producers, and manage, coordinate, and schedule all major components of a film project.

Co-producer  

In many ways, the co-producer is similar to the co-pilot of the producer. During the entire production process, this person will provide support and oversee all aspects of the project from development through post-production, working with the executive producer, producer and others to secure funds, talent, equipment and any other high level tasks.

Line Producer 

Line producers or unit production managers supervise the physical aspects of the production. During production, this person manages the day-to-day schedule and budget and negotiates with crew members and vendors. They will set up the office, make detailed schedules and call sheets, hold daily department head meetings and are accountable for payroll.

Associate Producer 

In general, the associate producer assists the producers in any way they require, and their role may vary depending on the project and the needs of the production team. Talent may be given an associate producer credit if they were instrumental in securing financing, attracting other talent, or offering creative input. Associate producers can have a hand in organizing, supervising, or coordinating various production activities under the direction of other producers. 

Executive Producer 

The executive producer is the financier who provides or raises funds for the production. An exec producer who works independently might work with film financing companies, angel investors, or film studios. They may also serve as the production company's representative on set if they work directly for a motion picture studio. These executives are part of the studio hierarchy and act as a liaison between filmmakers and the production company.

Executive Producer vs Producer Comparison Chart

To understand the role of the producer versus executive producer in terms of the film crew hierarchy, job description responsibilities, skills, qualifications and salary, we’ve put together this compact comparison chart.

Comparison

Executive Producer

Producer

Hierarchy Position

Usually at the top of the producer hierarchy as they provide or raise financing for a film project.

Top of the physical producer chain. Co-producers, associate producers and line producers all report to the producer.

Responsibility

Providing or raising capital for film production. The bulk of responsibility is in pre-production.

Manage the physical aspects of the entire film from pre-production through post-production and distribution.

Skills Needed

  • Fundraising

  • Business acumen

  • Networking Skills 

  • Negotiating skills

  • Problem-solving

  • Organization

  • Creativity

  • Communication
  • Problem Solving
  • Organization
  • Critical Thinking
  • Multitasking

Qualifications

Many executive producers study film or business in college, but it is not mandatory. There are many ways into the entertainment industry. If they have their own resources they may start their own production company.

A bachelor’s degree in film can be helpful to understand the scope of film production, but it is not mandatory. As it is a high level position, it’s best to build experience by working other production jobs first that give set and business experience.

Salary

There isn't an average salary, as this is a position that is usually negotiated.

Usually paid a negotiated fee based on budget and experience.

Hierarchy and Skills

Though executive producers and producers have very different roles, the soft skills they need are often the same. For example, an executive producer's networking skills can mirror the communication skills that an effective producer needs to manage a successful production. 

Good communication involves more than just exchanging ideas. It is also essential to understand the objectives, needs, and wants of your investors and creative team.

Salary

In terms of salary, it’s also important to note that both the executive producer and producer are top level positions and therefore a medium salary is difficult to determine. The amount executive producers are paid depends on whether they invested money, their contracts, and the revenues generated by a project. 

In many cases, executive producers earn percentages of the film budget that allow them to receive above  six-figure salaries. Executive producers who have a well-established track record can earn substantially more for each film they produce.

Executive Producer vs Producer: Is an Executive Producer Higher Than a Producer?

An executive producer and a producer often carry equal weight, as one secures financing and the other collaborates with the filmmaker.  Next comes the producer, co-producer, line producer and associate producer. There are exceptions. A director or star can also produce through their production company or independent film label. 

For example, Sandra Bullock is not just an actor, she is a movie producer as well. Her production company, Fortis films, produced The Lost City with Paramount Pictures.  There are several executive producers on the production which were hired by Bullock and Paramount. They worked as liaisons between the studio in Hollywood and the rest of the team on location in the Dominican Republic, overseeing the big picture and making sure the film has everything it needs to get done and distributed.

Producer vs Executive Producer Responsibilities

Producing a film happens in three stages:  Pre-production, production and post-production.  A producer is involved actively in all three stages. Most of the executive producer’s responsibilities happen in pre-production but they can be involved through post-production. On a television show, the showrunner is also an executive producer and oversees all aspects of the creative process.

Production Stage

Executive Producer

Producer

Pre-production

  • Advise on Script Development

  • Secure Financing

  • Attach Talent

  • Hire producers

  • Approve the budget

  • Set the budget
  • Hire the director, key film crew and talent
  • Build a production schedule 
  • Manage all moving parts with an eye towards budget, such as overseeing the shooting schedule and film crew department heads.

Production

An executive producer is rarely on set. They typically are not involved with the day-to-day tasks of the physical production. If hired by a studio, they may visit the set to make sure the interests of the studio are being maintained or to trouble-shoot any budgetary issues.

  • Manage the production and schedule
  • Provide the director and department heads what they need
  • Balance budget vs. creative needs
  • Support the production team and problem solve (make your days safe and productive)

Post-production

The executive producer role is winding down during post-production and the EP may already be focused on another project. If there has been creative involvement with the filmmaker or the EP is working for a studio, the executive producer might watch the first cut of the film and provide feedback.

  • Oversee editorial
  • Oversee music supervision
  • Oversee color/VFX
  • Prepare for marketing and distribution

Difference Between Executive Producer and Producer: Key Takeaways

An executive producer is essentially the CFO (chief financial officer) of production in the form of an investor or advisor, and the producer is the CEO (chief executive officer). In contrast to the executive producer, who provides or raises money for production or oversees the production company's financial interests, the producer is responsible for all aspects of physical filmmaking. 

Among the producer’s responsibilities are planning, scheduling, and executing production on a daily basis. The two positions both require soft skills and personal characteristics that allow them to motivate those around them.

Want to know more? A great wealth of information and protection for producers is The Producers Guild of America, a non-profit trade organization that represents, protects and promotes the interests of all members of the producing team in film, television and new media.

The Guild differs from a union as they do not engage in collective bargaining for their members, but they strongly advocate for their members and host a number of educational, mentoring and professional networking programs year-round.

 

Are you ready?

Try our project management platform for video production

Try Free