It’s a well known fact that there are various producers and numerous minds that go into producing a film, but what isn’t well known is what all of those different roles actually are.
Furthermore, if you’re ready to start producing your own independent film, you know how difficult and costly it can be.
Today, we’re going to focus on unit production managers and line producers and how that plays into alleviating difficulties and managing funds.
We go through the responsibilities of both a UPM and a line producer at the beginning of this post, but if you want to skip right to the list click here.
Unit Production Manager
Simply put, a unit production manager (UPM) is responsible for executing business plans set forth on set, including following the budget plans and filming schedules.
A more detailed description of what a unit production manager is can be found in our post How to Get Experience as Unit Production Manager.
The unit production manager will execute the budget and schedule that is created by the line producer.
A line producer oversees filming from its pre-production stages all the way through post-production. This would include paying close attention to the budget and making sure everything flows throughout the production process.
MasterClass does an excellent job detailing the role a line producer plays in production.
They state that a line producer “acts as the liaison between the above-the-line talent (actors, writers, and directors) and the below-the-line positions (location scouts, makeup artists, and sound editors).”
Line Producer: Key Responsibilities
The line producer is responsible for drafting a budget for production as well as costs like paying crew members, paying for film equipment, and paying for food. Throughout production, the line producer will ensure the production stays on budget.
Scheduling and Breaking Down the Screenplay
The line producer will analyze the screenplay and draft a schedule for filming. Throughout the production process, the line producer will make sure everything runs according to schedule.
They’ll also break down the screenplay and make sure everything is set for filming.
Hire and work with crew
Hire an accomplished team, including the unit production manager, production coordinator, casting director, production assistants, and 1st assistant director.
You’ll work alongside the location manager to find adequate filming locations, and you’ll work with each department to curate a list of necessary equipment for production.Be someone who individuals from every department can come to.
Have experience on film sets. Being a line producer is a position that you can work up to.
You do not necessarily need to attend film school to fulfill this role, but you must have an adequate knowledge of film, which can be learned primarily through working on as many sets as possible.
Be organized and be a leader. Be able to delegate, but also be a face everyone knows they can come to.
Have experience with budgeting.
LP and UPM Overlap
5 ways your LP can double as your UPM
As you can see, the roles of line producers and unit production managers are very similar.
Let’s go over now how your line producer can double as your unit production manager in your indie film.
1. Be the person who everyone else reports to
A unit production manager has to be someone who can use their creative problem solving skills. A line producer takes this a step further.
He or she is the person that every other department reports to. They are the problem solver, they are the person who has to ensure that budgets and schedules are followed, they are responsible for all crew on set.
While a unit production manager oversees production and scheduling, the line producer is at the heart of production, playing a larger role; the line producer is essential in creating things like the budget and production schedule.
The LP creates it, the UPM simply carries it out.
Think of it like this: the line producer is administrative and hands on in crafting schedules and budgets. The unit production manager assists in making sure those things are followed.
Therefore, if your independent production is small enough, the line producer can fulfill both of these roles.
2. Handling Budgets
Because the line producer is responsible for drafting and finalizing the production’s budget, while working on an independent film, they will be able to ensure that the budget is followed throughout pre-production, filming, and post-production.
3. Oversee Scheduling
Similar to budgeting, since it is the line producer who breaks down the screenplay and creates the production schedule, they will be able to handle making sure the filming schedule is followed and retain order on set.
4. Working alongside the director and ensuring you share his or her creative vision
Because the line producer is meeting daily with the head of each department in the production, they should already be well versed in the meaning of the story and the vision of the film’s director.
If the production is small enough, they should be able to also hold the responsibility of providing the director with creative alternatives should he or she think something is not turning out correctly in the film.
5. The line producer must think about the big picture
The line producer must ensure that schedules and budgets are followed and that everything runs smoothly on set in the long run. In contrast, the unit production manager is responsible for making sure that things on set run smoothly on a day to day basis.
If the production is small enough, the line producer will be able to do both of these things while working on your independent film.
While employing both a line producer and a unit production manager can be highly beneficial for your production, if you’re working independently, it could be difficult and costly to hire two individuals to fill these shoes.
The point to be made though is that these roles are so similar, therefore, you could benefit from hiring just one person – a line producer – while working on your independent film if need be.
If you’re interested in working toward figuring out how to manage your funds and production schedule and think you could use the assistance of a line producer or unit production manager, enter our contest to help you gain the funds to do so!