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What Producers and Directors Do About this section

Producers and directors
Stage directors make sure the cast and crew give a consistently strong live performance.

Producers and directors make business and creative decisions about, film, television, stage, and other productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain, inform, or instruct an audience.

Duties

Producers and directors typically do the following:

  • Select scripts or topics for a film, television, video, stage, or radio production
  • Audition and select cast members and the film or stage crew
  • Approve the design and financial aspects of a production
  • Oversee the production process, including sound, lighting, and performances
  • Oversee the postproduction process, including editing, music selection, special effects, and a performance’s overall tone
  • Ensure that a project stays on schedule and within budget
  • Promote finished productions or works through advertisements, film festivals, and interviews

Although producers and directors have distinct roles in a production, their work may overlap. For example, directors ultimately answer to producers, but some directors share producing duties for their own films.

Producers make the business and financial decisions for a film, stage production, or TV show. They raise money for the project and hire the director and crew, which may include designers, editors, and other workers. Some producers also 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.

Various producers often share responsibilities on large productions. 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.

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 accurately. For nonfiction video, such as documentaries or live broadcasts, directors choose topics or subjects to film. They research the topic and may interview experts or relevant participants 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, location scouts, and art directors to build a project’s set. They also work with costume designers to ensure that clothing suits the overall look of the production. During a film’s postproduction phase, they work closely with film editors and music supervisors to make sure that the final product meets the producer’s and director’s vision. Stage directors, unlike television or film directors, who document their product with cameras, make sure that the cast and crew give consistently strong live performances.

As with assistant producers, several assistant directors may work on large productions. Assistant directors help the director with small production tasks, such as making set changes or notifying the performers when it is their time to go onstage. Their specific responsibilities vary with the size and type of production they work on.

For more information about occupations related to producers and directors, see the profiles on actors, writers and authors, film and video editors and camera operators, dancers and choreographers, and multimedia artists and animators.

Work Environment About this section

Producers and directors
Producers and directors audition and select cast members.

Producers and directors held about 131,000 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of producers and directors were as follows:

Motion picture and video industries 25%
Radio and television broadcasting 24
Self-employed workers 13
Performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries 7
Advertising, public relations, and related services 6

Producers and directors are often under pressure to finish their work on time. Work assignments may be short, ranging from 1 day to a few months. They sometimes must work in unpleasant conditions, such as bad weather.

Theater directors and producers may travel with a touring show across the country, while those in film and television may work on location (a site away from the studio and where all or part of the filming occurs).

Work Schedules

Workdays for producers and directors may be long and irregular. Many do not have a standard workweek, because their schedules may change with each assignment or project. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. Most producers and directors work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become a Producer or Director About this section

Producers and directors
Producers and directors ensure that a project stays on schedule and within budget.

Producers and directors typically have a bachelor’s degree. They also typically need several years of experience working on set in film, TV, stage, or other productions in positions such as actors, cinematographers, or film and video editors or in related occupations, such as theater managers.

Education

Producers and directors typically need a bachelor's degree in film or cinema studies or a related field, such as arts management, business, communications technology, or theater. In film or cinema studies programs, students learn about film history, editing, screenwriting, cinematography, and the filmmaking process.

Stage directors may complete a degree in theater, and some go on to earn a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. Courses may include directing, playwriting, set design, and acting.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Producers and directors might start out working in theatrical management offices as business or company managers. In television or film, they may begin as assistants or in other low-profile studio jobs. They may also participate in internships that provide opportunities to work alongside producers and directors. For more information, see the profile on film and video editors and camera operators.

Advancement

As a producer’s or director’s reputation grows, he or she may work on increasingly large, challenging, and expensive projects that attract publicity.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Producers and directors must convey information and ideas clearly in order to coordinate many people to finish a production on time and within budget.

Creativity. Because a script may be interpreted in different ways, directors must decide on their approach and on how to represent the script’s ideas for the production.

Decision-making skills. Producers must find and hire, within budget, the best director and crew for the production. Directors must make choices that affect the look and feel of the production.

Leadership skills. Directors instruct actors and help them portray their characters in a believable manner. They also supervise the crew, which is responsible for behind-the-scenes work.

Pay About this section

Producers and Directors

Median annual wages, May 2021

Producers and directors

$79,000

Entertainers and performers, sports and related workers

$49,470

Total, all occupations

$45,760

 

The median annual wage for producers and directors was $79,000 in May 2021. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,210, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $206,860.

In May 2021, the median annual wages for producers and directors in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Advertising, public relations, and related services $99,810
Motion picture and video industries 98,680
Performing arts, spectator sports, and related industries 80,570
Radio and television broadcasting 60,550

Some producers and directors earn a percentage of ticket sales. A few of the most successful producers and directors have extraordinarily high earnings, but most do not.

Workdays for producers and directors may be long and irregular. Many do not have a standard workweek, because their schedules may change with each assignment or project. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. Most producers and directors work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week.

Job Outlook About this section

Producers and Directors

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Producers and directors

24%

Entertainers and performers, sports and related workers

22%

Total, all occupations

8%

 

Employment of producers and directors is projected to grow 24 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 15,600 openings for producers and directors are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Much of the projected employment growth in this occupation is due to recovery from the COVID-19 recession that began in 2020 and is likely to occur early in the decade as operations resume.

Consumer demand for reality shows on television is likely to increase, so more producers and directors will be needed to create and oversee editing of these programs. In addition, the volume of TV shows is expected to grow as the number of online-only platforms, such as streaming services, increases along with the number of shows produced for these platforms. This growth should lead to more opportunities for producers and directors.

Theater producers and directors who work in small- and medium-sized theaters may see slower job growth due to limited funding. Large theaters in big cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, which usually have more stable sources of funding, should provide more opportunities.

Employment projections data for producers and directors, 2020-30
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Producers and directors

27-2012 131,000 162,500 24 31,600 Get data

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