If you’ve gone to film school, made a film, or otherwise have any sort of experience with the film industry, the answer is really obvious. But, to some, the role of a producer or director may sound vague and confusing. Today FilmToolKit is going to teach you the difference between producer and director.
This is going to make me sound silly, but before I started my formal film education, I had no idea what either of the roles entailed. If you’ve found your way to this article, chances are you feel a similar confusion. Movies take a long time to make, and they require a lot more effort than one might consider.
I’ll give you the short answer so you can get back to your debate. Then we’ll break it down for a more detailed analysis.
A Director is in control of all of the artistic and dramatic aspects of a film. The Director will collaborate with the many department heads to fulfill his vision, and is typically in creative control of the film.
A Producer coordinates and plans the logistics of several various aspects of the film production. This role can entail a wide variety of responsibilities and can change drastically from production to production.
Smaller indie films have a much greater sense of collaboration. The director may assist the producer with many responsibilities in an effort to help the film get made. Larger Hollywood-type films are often highly specialized ordeals where responsibilities will be heavily segregated. Directors and producers are way too busy with their own tasks to do each others jobs.
- 1 What Is The Difference Between A Director And Producer? – In Depth Analysis
- 1.1 Difference Between Director And Producer – Pre-Production
- 1.2 Difference Between Producer And Director – Production
- 1.3 Difference Between Producer And Director – Post Production
- 1.4 What Is An Executive Producer?
- 1.5 What Is An Associate Producer?
- 1.6 What Does A Line Producer Do?
What Is The Difference Between A Director And Producer? – In Depth Analysis
To those of you who don’t know, the process of the creation of a film is always broken down into three phases. Pre-Production, Production, and Post-production. In essence, these stages represent planning/fundraising, shooting/execution, and editing/distribution respectively. Each phase generally sees the director and producer taking on different responsibilities, which we will examine in the following sections.
Both jobs are incredibly stressful and can have days that last between 12-24 hours. The director and producer are both intimately involved in every aspect of the filmmaking process. Pretty much everything creative needs to be run by the director and everything logistical needs to be run by the producer. Both roles are similar to trying to put out a fire while every single other crew member continuously throws matches at it. It never ends. Until the premiere that is.
Difference Between Director And Producer – Pre-Production
Anyone who’s produced a film before understands what kind of hell pre-production can be. But that is not to say that the director won’t have his fair share of responsibilities.
Producers will typically find themselves with the following tasks during pre-production:
- Develops the Script/idea with the writer, obtains rights.
- Negotiate deals with vendors and sponsors.
- Hiring a director, participates in casting and hiring department heads.
- Obtaining funding, creating a budget which will need to be overseen throughout the entire show.
- Approving the work of assisting departments, like the locations, studio, and production schedule.
- Appointing other line producers and UPMs to assist with the producers best interests.
- LOTS AND LOTS OF PAPERWORK
Yeah. It’s a lot. I knew a few people who would joke around and say that it’s their job to yell at people, and that’s kind of true in many ways. They’re the boss that everyone reports to at the end of the day making sure everything gets done. I always joke around that it’s the least fun job in Hollywood. Your opinion might differ though.
Directors get to have a lot more fun in Pre-Production. This is where their creative muscles are really put to the test. Usually directors deal with the following during pre-production.
- Participating heavily in casting, making the final calls on which actors are chosen.
- Have extensive meetings with all of the department heads to ensure they are in tune with the director’s vision.
- Working heavily with actors to dial in their performances to match his vision.
- Creating visual guides that the art and camera team can work off of to create an official “look” for the film.
- Putting together a storyboard of all the shots and scenes they would like for the film.
- Figuring out how they can make their vision happen in the best way possible with the budget provided.
Often times department heads will spend a lot of time during pre-production approving stuff with their director. This adds up and becomes very time consuming and stressful for a director.
Difference Between Producer And Director – Production
Production is the stage where much of the producer’s efforts begin to come to fruition, while the director is thrown directly into the fray.
The producer will have to manage these duties:
- Managing the day-to-day operations, typically through a Line Producer (discussed at the bottom of the page)
- Supervise all aspects of production, solve problems.
- Make sure everything is staying on budget, making calls to cut out scenes entirely
- Approving purchases and requests from different departments.
This phase is somewhat straightforward, but these few tasks are very time consuming and producers find themselves getting very little sleep during the production phase. This can also be said about directors.
During the production stage, the director will be handling the following:
- Watching every take closely. Keep in mind he will likely be keeping track of actor performances and “feel”. Other departments will watch for technical faults like lighting errors.
- Talk with actors to make adjustments to their performances between takes.
- Adapting his vision to match the circumstances of the day-to-day production.
- Being reasonable and keeping on schedule to keep the crew’s morale up.
This is the hardest part about the job. Directing a film during the production stage is very demanding and almost everything requires your absolute attention. It’s a lot harder than it sounds.
Difference Between Producer And Director – Post Production
This is the final stretch of the production’s lifespan. One may think that once a film is done shooting it’s simple to just chop together and put in the theaters. However, there are many steps that need to be taken before this can be possible.
The following are most of the producing duties during post-production:
- Obtaining and managing distribution deals
- Overseeing the editing/post production process and managing the budget for it.
- Hiring editors, CGI studios, etc
- Obtaining rights for music and setting up marketing.
- Setting up test screenings and possibly demanding re-shoots if parts of a film test poorly.
A producer’s career lives or dies based on the success of the movie. Many producers care less about the creative integrity and more about whether or not the film is going to be a financial success. Such is the nature of the job.
A director on the other hand, has much more simple duties:
- Overseeing the editing process and making key creative decisions, sometimes making major changes to the story.
- Working with departments to direct the creativity of re-shoots.
- Attending interviews and participating in promotional material (Especially if they’re famous!).
- Directing ADR and other recordings.
That’s definitely a lot of work, but for a director, once production has ended the process becomes much more smooth and relaxed. All the puzzle pieces have been gathered, now they just need to be put together.
Note: On small scale indie productions it is not unheard of for a director to actually do all the editing himself, especially when passionate about the film. On large films this is typically not a feasible solution, as the editing process requires a great deal of time and technical prowess.
What Is An Executive Producer?
You may be familiar with the term “Executive Producer” – It’s often used in the marketing of films and TV shows. So what’s the difference between an executive producer and a producer?
The title of executive producer doesn’t always come with responsibilities. Often times the executive producer simply owns the rights to the properties within the film or contributed a large portion of the film’s budget. As financiers they often have creative power, but rarely have time to be involved as they usually are contributing to multiple projects at a time.
If anything, they are responsible for the quality control of the production, as it is their investment where they stand to gain or lose money. You could compare a regular producer to a manager and an executive producer to a business owner. Films typically have several executive producers, and they may sometimes fill other roles on the production if they desire to.
What Is An Associate Producer?
Similar to the term “Executive Producer”, you may have also seen some people listed as associate producer. On some productions, it may refer to a lower level member of the producing team, or an assistant to the primary producer. Generally however, this term is often used as an honorary title that doesn’t necessarily represent a job. If you made some sort of major contribution to the film or are owed something from someone important, you may find yourself with an associate producer credit.
What Does A Line Producer Do?
We’ve mentioned the title Line Producer earlier in this article. You may not be familiar with this position, but it is a very critical role on shows of all sizes. On some productions, a line producer may be hired to manage the day to day operations of a shoot. The line producer will handle any and all issues that arise, and will supervise the production to ensure everything goes smoothly. They represent the best interests of a normal producer, and typically on smaller shoots the producer and line producer are one in the same.