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Production Managers

Production managers organise the business, finance and employment issues in film and television productions.

As a production manager, you would be in charge of how the production budget is spent and making sure that everything runs smoothly during filming.

Before production began, your work would involve:
* meeting the producer and other senior production staff to examine scripts or programme ideas
* examining or 'breaking down' a script, to draw up a shooting schedule and estimate costs at each stage
* hiring crews and contractors, and negotiating rates of pay
* negotiating costs and approving the booking of resources, equipment and supplies
* overseeing location bookings
* arranging any necessary permissions and risk assessments.

During filming, duties might include:
* making sure that the production runs to schedule
* controlling and monitoring production spending and accounts
* reporting on progress to the producers
* managing the production office team
* dealing with any problems during filming
* making any necessary changes to the schedule and budget
* making sure that insurance, health and safety rules and copyright laws and union agreements are followed.

What qualifications and experience will employers look for?
To become a production manager you will need substantial experience in TV or film, in-depth understanding of the production process, and a network of contacts in the industry. Your experience and track record will be more important than your formal qualifications.
You could work your way up to become a production manager in various ways. You would often start as a runner or an assistant or secretary in the production office, and progress to production co-ordinator then assistant production manager. You might also start as a trainee production accountant.

Alternatively, you could progress from runner to 3rd, 2nd and 1st assistant director, or to assistant TV floor manager then floor manager or location manager. See the related profiles for more information on some of these roles.
You may be able to join the industry through a new entrant training scheme such as those offered by Film and Television Freelance Training (FT2). Broadcasters and regional media training organisations also offer their own schemes from time to time. However, competition for places on these programmes is very strong, and you will need to show genuine commitment and some previous work experience.

It is not essential to have studied film, video or media production before you look for work in the industry. However, you may find it helpful to take a course that includes practical skills, work placements and the chance to make contacts. Many colleges and universities offer relevant courses check with them for entry requirements.

You will need a good understanding of budget management, so accounting skills and qualifications would be an advantage.

You will mainly develop your skills on the job as you gain more experience in the management role.
You could also take short courses in various specialist business and production skills, for example in risk assessment, or budgeting and scheduling software such as Movie Magic. Courses are offered by the Production Managers Association (PMA), the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT), and also by some film schools and private training companies.

To find out more, follow the links in our Production Manager Section.

Article from Skillset

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