What is an Associate Producer?
The associate producer generally assists the producers in any way that is needed and the role can vary depending on the type of production and its needs. Sometimes talent will be given an associate producer credit because they were instrumental in securing financing, attracting other talent or giving creative input on the project. The associate producer can have a hand in the organizing, supervising or coordinating of various aspects of production under the direction of the other producers.
Where is the Associate Producer in the Film Crew Heirarchy?
In general, a producer job deals with the money. An executive producer either provides it or procures it, the producer (who reports to the executive producer) manages it and the UPM or line producer executes the budget. The co-producers, assistant producers and associate producers offer the support that makes the production run smoothly through post-production and distribution.This film crew hierarchy chart will give you a clear idea of the chain of command for the entire production process.
What Does an Associate Producer Do in Film?
Specifically, the role of the associate producer is fluid and dependent on the scope and the needs of the production. An associate producer might be very involved with the producer work of obtaining funding or talent or may have a hand in the development of the idea and screenplay. It is a role that is not easily defined. The support is often under the radar or so seamless as not to be perceived. Do you know what Robin does specifically to aid Batman? Often it is packing a well-timed punch or having the batmobile at the ready when needed. In that way, the associate producer may lack the spotlight, but is likely responsible for the spotlight being at the right spot at the right time on the right person.
To give a glimpse of what an associate producer’s world involves and what does an associate producer do, here’s a list of likely responsibilities:
- Work with the producer to solidify funding, crew and talent.
- Put together short lists to fill crew and talent positions
- Work with agents on producer’s behalf to procure talent
- Coordinate meetings between producers and creative stakeholders
- Work closely with the line producer to help with budgetary issues.
- Assist the producer on creative notes, including pitching ideas.
- Represent the producer and film on marketing and distribution calls
What Does an Associate Producer Do in TV?
In television, the producers often are also the writers on the show. Therefore, the associate producer needs strong writing and editing skills as they are very involved in the creative as well as logistical aspects of the production.
Television can be a pressure cooker, as producers are managing physical production while outlining, writing and editing new scripts about to go into production. Many associate producers in television start out as producer’s assistants where they can truly understand the needs of a producer or a particular company. Sliding into the role of an associate producer is a natural fit.
For example, Succession associate producer Callie Hersheway has built a career at HBO, starting out as an assistant production coordinator, then production coordinator to showrunner’s assistant to associate producer.
The role of an associate producer in TV is guided by the individual needs of the producers of the show, but there are often common responsibilities associated with the job whether it be in the writers room, production office or on set:
- Coordinate meetings between department stakeholders
- Pitch ideas and develop stories
- Writing and editing scripts
- Contributing to creative decisions
- Liaison between set and production office
- Keeping up with industry trends
- Writing content in support of the project (such as blogs or social media)
What Does an Associate Producer Do in Commercials?
Just as with film and television, the role of an associate producer in commercial work is to support the producer creatively and administratively. Duties and responsibilities can include:
- Review and edit scripts
- Pitch ideas and original content, including writing when needed
- Book external photographers, stylists, and talent for shoots as needed
- Coordinate shooting and filming schedules
- Ensure deadlines are met
- Assist with desktop editing
- Work with animation and graphics department to develop additional video elements
- Assist with billing and other administrative tasks as needed
How to Become an Associate Producer
There isn’t a specific roadmap to becoming an associate producer, however a college degree in film producing or management and significant experience in film or broadcast television can be helpful.
Working various positions in the medium of your choice so that you understand the film crew hierarchy and the roles and responsibilities on set will give you a leg up. You will be working closely with the producers and should be familiar with production software and scriptwriting to be able to jump in when needed or take the leadership role when asked. Being able to articulate a story, including pitching and creating loglines in a concise manner is a useful skill.
Producer positions require problem-solving skills, communication skills, a passion for entertainment, and the ability to coordinate assignments on a day-to-day basis. If you are working for a production company that is involved in several different productions at once, you should be prepared to juggle workloads and be flexible.
And the compensation? According to Producer, Chris Rokaz “the salary for an associate producer can range from next to nothing to $13 million a year depending on whether the production is being made independently or through a studio”
Pretty vague, right? The right answer to what does an associate producer earn is really what they negotiate. And since the entertainment industry for a producer can include anything from supporting a multi-million dollar feature film to a sports field reporter, the range is vast.
Here is recent information from Payscale, but understand they don’t have access to film and television budgets and are probably pulling information from local stations and self-reporting of salaries.
The associate producer reports to the producer and should be able to anticipate the needs of the production and provide support to the producers, crew and talent in making the production a successful endeavor. This support can range from financial - helping the producer gain the money needed through all aspects of production, to creative - writing and editing, giving notes and direction, to administration - finding the best crew and talent and troubleshooting with the producers to make the days and stay within budget.