Producers and Directors

Summary

producers and directors image
Producers and directors work from behind the camera in motion pictures and television.
Quick Facts: Producers and Directors
2012 Median Pay $71,350 per year
$34.31 per hour
Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation Less than 5 years
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2012 103,500
Job Outlook, 2012-22 3% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 2,900

What Producers and Directors Do

Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

Work Environment

Producers and directors work under a lot of pressure, and many are under stress to finish their work on time.

How to Become a Producer or Director

Most producers and directors have a bachelor’s degree and several years of work experience in an occupation related to motion picture, TV, or theater production, such as an actor, film and video editor, or cinematographer.

Pay

The median annual wage for producers and directors was $71,350 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of producers and directors is projected to grow 3 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Some job growth in the motion picture and video industry is expected to stem from strong demand from the public for more movies and television shows, as well as an increased demand from foreign audiences for U.S.-produced films.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of producers and directors with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about producers and directors by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Producers and Directors Do About this section

Producers and directors
Theater directors give instructions to actors and dancers.

Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, and other performing arts productions. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

Duties

Producers and directors typically do the following:

  • Select scripts
  • 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 performances, lighting, and choreography
  • Oversee the post-production process, including editing, special effects, music selection, and a performance’s overall tone
  • Ensure that a project stays on schedule and within budget
  • Approve new developments in the production

Large productions often have associate, assistant, and line 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 team.

Similarly, large productions usually employ several assistant directors, who help the director with 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.

Producers make the business and financial decisions for a motion picture, TV show, or stage production. They raise money for the project and hire the director and crew. The crew may include set and costume designers, 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 responsible for the way the finished project turns out.

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 rehearsal, they work with the actors to help them more accurately portray their characters. They also work with cinematographers and other crew members to ensure 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 the cast and crew give a consistently strong live performance.

Although directors are in charge of the creative aspects of a show, they ultimately answer to the executive producer.

Work Environment About this section

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

Producers and directors held about 103,500 jobs in 2012. Producers and directors work under a lot of pressure, and many are under constant stress to finish their work on time. Work assignments are usually short, ranging from 1 day to a few months. They sometimes must work in unpleasant conditions, such as bad weather.

The industries that employed the most producers and directors in 2012 were as follows:

Motion picture and video industries33%
Television broadcasting14
Radio broadcasting5
Performing arts companies4
Cable and other subscription programming3

About 15 percent of producers and directors were self-employed in 2012.

Work Schedules

Work hours for producers and directors can be long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. Many producers and directors do not work a standard workweek because they have variable schedules. 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 where all or part of the filming occurs).                                   

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.

Most producers and directors have a bachelor’s degree and several years of work experience in an occupation related to motion picture, TV, or theater production, such as an actor, film and video editor, or cinematographer.

Education

Producers and directors usually have a bachelor’s degree. Many students study film or cinema at college and universities. In these programs, students learn about film history, editing, and lighting, and creating their own films. Others major in writing, acting, journalism, or communication. 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 receive a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. Classes may include directing, playwriting, and set design, as well as some acting classes. The National Association of Schools of Theater accredits more than 150 programs in theater arts.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Producers and directors must coordinate the work of many different people to finish a production on time and within budget.

Creativity. Because a script can be interpreted in different ways, directors must decide how they want to interpret it and then how to represent the script’s ideas on the screen or stage.

Leadership skills. A director instructs actors and helps them portray their characters in a believable manner. They also supervise the crew, who are responsible for the behind the scenes work.

Management skills. Producers must find and hire the best director and crew for the production and make sure that all involved do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Producers and directors usually have several years of work experience in an occupation related to motion picture, TV, or theater production. Many directors begin as actors, writers, film or video editors, cinematographers, choreographers, or animators, and over time they learn about directing. 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.

Directors may also begin their careers as assistants to successful directors on a film set. In nonprofit theaters, most aspiring directors begin as assistant directors, a position that is usually treated as an unpaid internship.

Producers might start out working in a theatrical management office as a business manager, or as an assistant or another low-profile job in a TV or movie studio. Some were directors or worked in another role behind the scenes of a show or movie.

Advancement

As a producer’s or director’s reputation grows, he or she may work on larger and higher profile projects.

Pay About this section

Producers and Directors

Median annual wages, May 2012

Producers and directors

$71,350

Entertainers and performers, sports and related workers

$38,530

Total, all occupations

$34,750

 

The median annual wage for producers and directors was $71,350 in May 2012. 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 $32,080, and the top 10 percent earned more than $187,200 in May 2012.

Some producer’s and director’s income is earned as a percentage of ticket sales. A few of the most successful producers and directors have extraordinarily high earnings, but most do not.

In May 2012, the median annual wages for producers and directors in the top five industries in which they worked were as follows:

Motion picture and video industries$94,110
Cable and other subscription programming83,220
Television broadcasting56,950
Performing arts companies49,690
Radio broadcasting48,110

Work hours for producers and directors can be long and irregular. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common. Many producers and directors do not work a standard workweek because they have variable schedules. 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 where all or part of the filming occurs).

Job Outlook About this section

Producers and Directors

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Total, all occupations

11%

Entertainers and performers, sports and related workers

8%

Producers and directors

3%

 

Employment of producers and directors is projected to grow 3 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations.

Some job growth in the motion picture and video industry is expected to stem from strong demand from the public for more movies and television shows, as well as an increased demand from foreign audiences for U.S.-produced films. In addition, production companies are experimenting with new content delivery methods, such as mobile and online TV, which may lead to more work opportunities for producers and directors in the future. These delivery methods are still in their early stages, however, and their potential for success is not entirely known.

Theater producers and directors who work in small- and medium-sized theaters may see slower job growth because many of those theaters have difficulty finding funding as the number of performances decline. Large theaters in big cities, which usually have more stable sources of funding, should provide more opportunities.                               

Job Prospects

Producers and directors face intense competition for jobs because there are many more people who want to work in this field than there are jobs available. In film, directors who have experience on film sets should have the best job prospects. Producers who have good business skills will likely have the best prospects.

Employment projections data for producers and directors, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Producers and directors

27-2012 103,500 106,400 3 2,900 [XLS]

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of producers and directors.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2012 MEDIAN PAY Help
Actors

Actors

Actors express ideas and portray characters in theater, film, television, and other performing arts media. They also work at theme parks or other live events. They interpret a writer’s script to entertain or inform an audience.

Some college, no degree The annual wage is not available.
Radio and television announcers

Announcers

Announcers present music, news, and sports and may provide commentary or interview guests about these topics or other important events. Some act as masters of ceremonies (emcees) or disc jockeys (DJs) at weddings, parties, or clubs.

See How to Become One $27,750
Art directors

Art Directors

Art directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions. They create the overall design of a project and direct others who develop artwork and layouts.

Bachelor’s degree $80,880
Dancers and choreographers

Dancers and Choreographers

Dancers and choreographers express ideas and stories, using dance. There are many types of dance such as ballet, tango, modern dance, tap, and jazz.

High school diploma or equivalent The annual wage is not available.
Film and video editors and camera operators

Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators

Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate images that entertain or inform an audience.

Bachelor’s degree $46,280
Multimedia artists and animators

Multimedia Artists and Animators

Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other forms of media.

Bachelor’s degree $61,370
Top executives

Top Executives

Top executives devise strategies and policies to ensure that an organization meets its goals. They plan, direct, and coordinate operational activities of companies and organizations.

Bachelor’s degree $101,650
Writers and authors

Writers and Authors

Writers and authors develop written content for advertisements, books, magazines, movie and television scripts, songs, and online publications.

Bachelor’s degree $55,940
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Producers and Directors,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/producers-and-directors.htm (visited November 24, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014