- Job title:
- Line Producer
What does a line producer's job involve?
The Line Producer's job is to set up plan for making a film and then, working as part of a team, to make that plan work. A line producer is basically there to make the director's vision achievable.
A line producer can join a production at various points. I might get called in very early on to produce a preliminary budget so that a producer can know how much money he or she needs to make the film. The producer can then use this figure to raise the budget from financiers.
Then, things will probably go quiet while the budget is being secured. Once it is raised, I'll get the script and be asked to work out how to make the film for the money available. If $20m has been raised, my job will be to work out how to bring the film in for that figure.
Above me are the director and the producer. You can't just say to them, "you can't afford to do this, you can't afford to that but you can do this."
Instead, you have to help them in a practical way to achieve the director's vision and decide where best to spend the money.
For example, on Pride and Prejudice I came on board at a later stage than usual - when most of the locations had already been sorted. I was asked to draw up a plan for the shoot and had to work out whether we should go to all the locations in places like Derbyshire, Dorset and Kent or cut some of them out.
The big decision that we took on that film was to shoot it entirely on location - and away from London. It's very expensive to shoot on location because you have to house the cast and crew.
But it meant that everyone was together for the shoot and we ended up making the best of our time as well as filming at beautiful locations. It proved to be the right decision to make.
We also took a key decision to build a ballroom set on location in Lincolnshire. It was quite risky to build something far away from a traditional set building skills base like London. But in the end it worked out well and proved cost effective because the local people who built it were also used in the street scenes.
It was also easier to film in than a real location because we could move walls and create more space for the cameras.
What skills do you need for the job?
The most important thing in this job is communication. You have to have good negotiation skills and to be able to get along with other people.
You also have to be quite experienced in the process of filmmaking and understand the needs of the director and the producer, and key department heads like the art director, location manager, cameraman and lighting people.
You also need to be an optimistic, but realistic, person - someone who can make things happen. Sometimes it can be a tough job, particularly if you are working with a director who doesn't understand that money is limited.
You don't have to be particularly numerate. But, through training, I've become very good at recalling budget numbers, scanning down film cost reports and budget sheets. It all comes with experience - I certainly didn't have it to start with!
What I did have though, was an absolute desire to be on top of everything - you really have to be up on every detail.
How did you get into the business?
I got into the business through pure luck. I did politics at university and then went travelling for five years. I got a few jobs after like being PA to Barry Humphries and then got offered a job as secretary to film producer Sarah Radclyffe who started up Working Title.
I was suddenly given a whole load of chances and moved on to production managing for them and then became head of production for Working Title for eight years.