Producers and directors typically do the following:
Producers make the business and financial decisions for a motion picture, TV show, commercial, or stage production. They raise money for the project and hire the director and crew. The crew may include set and costume designers, film and video editors, a musical director, a choreographer, and other workers. Some producers may assist in the selection of cast members. Producers set the budget and approve any major changes to the project. They make sure that the production is completed on time, and they are ultimately responsible for the final product.
Directors are responsible for the creative decisions of a production. They select cast members, conduct rehearsals, and direct the work of the cast and crew. During rehearsals, they work with the actors to help them portray their characters more accurately. For nonfiction video, such as documentaries or live broadcasts, directors choose topics or subjects to film. They investigate the topic and may interview relevant participants or experts on camera. Directors also work with cinematographers and other crew members to ensure that the final product matches the overall vision.
Directors work with set designers, costume designers, location scouts, and art directors to build a project’s set. During a film’s postproduction phase, they work closely with film editors and music supervisors to make sure that the final product comes out the way the producer and director envisioned. Stage directors, unlike television or film directors, who document their product with cameras, make sure that the cast and crew give a consistently strong live performance. For more information, see the profiles on actors, writers and authors, film and video editors and camera operators, dancers and choreographers, and multimedia artists and animators.
Large productions often have various producers who share responsibilities. For example, on a large movie set, an executive producer is in charge of the entire production and a line producer runs the day-to-day operations. A TV show may employ several assistant producers to whom the head or executive producer gives certain duties, such as supervising the costume and makeup teams.
Similarly, large productions usually employ several assistant directors, who help the director with smaller production tasks such as making set changes or notifying the performers when it is their time to go onstage. The specific responsibilities of assistant producers or directors vary with the size and type of production they work on.
Although directors are in charge of the creative aspects of a show, they ultimately answer to producers. Some directors also share producing duties for their own films.
Producers and directors usually have a bachelor’s degree. Many students study film or cinema in programs at colleges and universities. In these programs, students learn about film history, editing, screenwriting, cinematography, and the filmmaking process. As of 2017, the National Association of Schools of Theatre provided accreditation to more than 180 postsecondary institutions for their programs in theater arts.
Others producers and directors have degrees in writing, acting, journalism, or communications. Some producers earn a degree in business, arts management, or nonprofit management.
Many stage directors complete a degree in theater, and some go on to earn a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. Classes may include directing, playwriting, set design, and acting.