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Doing the job

Fulfilling the producer role

To be a producer it helps to have substantial experience in both the creative and business sides of animation production and a great awareness of the industry and funding sources – both locally and globally.

You need to be able take a production from conception to delivery, from presenting ideas and calculating production costs to setting distribution plans in motion and sending in the paperwork.

You need to be able to keep everyone on side from the investor to the director to the runner, to ensure the production runs smoothly.

You can’t just be the money person, you can’t just be the creative person; you have to be aware of the balance. You have to keep your passion for the artistic side, keep watching animation and going to festivals. Be aware of what’s going on in the industry, you can’t just operate in a bubble.” 
Jamie Badminton, Creative Director, Karrot Entertainment

The animation production pipeline

The producer often is tasked with establishing the pipeline for the production. The producer will oversee every stage, with approval stages built into the workflow where they and other stakeholders can give feedback.

To be able to competently establish the pipeline and know what is needed at every stage, a producer needs to have prior experience of working with the pipeline and an understanding of each element of production.

Animation production pipeline

2D/3D CG animated children’s series pipeline

Click on the titles below to see a breakdown of elements within the pipeline for each stage of the production:

Pre-production

  • Concept development
  • Script development
  • Design backgrounds, characters and props
  • Storyboarding
  • Voice recordings
  • Animatics

Production

  • Assets built
  • Characters rigged
  • Layouts
  • Animation
  • Compositing (3D only)
  • Visual effects (3D only)
  • Offline edit assembled
  • Rendering

Post-production

  • Online edit
  • Music
  • Sound mix and sound effects added
  • Grading
  • Mastering
  • Layback (putting sound and picture back together)
  • Quality control check
  • Output to broadcaster

Aptitudes and competencies

 Although the aptitudes or competencies listed on this page are numerous, this is not an exhaustive list, but gives an idea of what you need to be able to do and what you need to know and learn to be a good producer.

In this instance, the term ‘stakeholders’ refers to the broadcasters, distributors, sales agents, investors and production partners you may be working with on a production.

The purpose of the list is to help potential new entrants to the animation industry, interested in production, to understand what is expected of those in more senior roles – and for those already in the industry to benchmark their existing knowledge and skills, and identify gaps they may need to address if hoping to develop a career as an animation producer.

You’ve got to have good political skills. Sometimes you have to make choices that feel uncomfortable in the moment but are for the greater good of the project, and that can be a hard thing to sell. You need to ensure that the creative people around you know that you will move heaven and earth to get their creative vision up on the screen.” 
Allison Abbate, Producer

These competencies offer a greater level of detail about the requirements of the job than are to be found in the How The Industry Works section – but it is possible to broadly relate the tasks and knowledge listed here to the different stages of production referred to in that section, as they have been grouped accordingly: development, pre-production, production and post-production, delivery & distribution.

What you need to be able to do

Click on the titles below to see a list of tasks associated with each stage of production:

Development

  • Build a network of industry contacts
  • Develop multiple projects at any one time, as there are no guarantees when a project will be picked up by a distributor
  • Research into the market for your property
  • Find potential financing opportunities – both local and international – to raise the production budget
  • Identify the requirements of stakeholders
  • Hold the overview and creative vision of the production
  • Write pitch documents, proposals and presentations that clearly communicate the vision and highlights the advantages to stakeholders
  • Present your project targeted to potential stakeholders at meetings, trade markets and animation festivals
  • Work with creatives on developing taster material such as pitch books and pilots
  • Develop distribution plans and multi-platform versions of your idea
  • Negotiate contracts with stakeholders to ensure you are getting the best deal to realise the creative vision

Pre-production

  • Set clear approval stages for the stakeholders in the schedule
  • Manage the expectations of stakeholders, their feedback and requests for changes, dealing with concerns before they can adversely affect the production
  • Manage cultural, legal and language differences when dealing with international stakeholders
  • Negotiate the scope of the work and its parameters before production begins
  • Make sure that all paperwork and agreements are put in place, maintained, appropriately stored and delivered in accordance with the contract
  • Set up the studio and oversee operational issues such as equipment hire, health and safety and purchasing production insurance
  • Recruit the production team ensuring they have sufficient time to undertake the work
  • Collaboratively work with partners, co-producers and distributors
  • Work closely with the director to bring overview to the production
  • Work with writers to produce strong stories
  • Give constructive feedback on creative elements including scripts, storyboards, designs, animatics, voice records
  • Write a realistic budget that is right for the nature of the production and the creative vision, using accurate information to estimate project costs
  • Be able to present the budget to stakeholders for agreement
  • Cash flow the budget and be aware of any issues that might lead to overspends and how to rectify them
  • Set an achievable production schedule that takes into account its impact on production costs

Production

  • Track the schedule, anticipating issues and reacting quickly to avoid delays
  • Manage difficult situations and deal with challenges efficiently when they arise
  • Communicate with the production team to ensure they understand their place in the pipeline and the deadlines they need to meet
  • Monitor the production process and key personnel to ensure the production is meeting scheduled targets
  • Ensure that the production team is able to produce its best work as efficiently as possible
  • Manage the production team and deal with conflicts that may arise among the personnel
  • Take responsibility for difficult decisions that need to be made, taking on board the views of key personnel and stakeholders
  • Keep the team motivated by providing a pleasant working environment, making sure that the crew are not over stretching themselves by working too late or not taking breaks
  • Maintain effective working relationships with stakeholders, explaining about the production process and how it may affect their expectations for the project
  • Communicating with stakeholders throughout the production process
  • Navigate cultural and language differences when working with overseas studios
  • Handle actors' agents and be clear about what you require of the talent

Post-production, delivery & distribution

  • Understand and assess the commercial and toyetic potential of the production’s intellectual property and exploit this appropriately
  • Work with stakeholders on promotional and marketing activities and work with the media in promoting the production at the appropriate time
  • Check that promotional material is prepared in a style appropriate to the production
  • Ensure the quality and consistency of the final product, guaranteeing that the creative integrity is upheld and that it meets the requirements of the contract
  • Deliver the project on budget and to schedule 

A good producer will be looking to exploit rights on lots of different platforms in every market, so they need to keep on top of the global opportunities with new and emerging platforms. With platforms like Netflix and Amazon who want global rights, you need to consider if they will do the best for your project globally.” 
Lucy Murphy, Creative Director and Head of Content, Azoomee

What you need to know and understand

Click on the titles below to see a list of the required knowledge associated with each stage of production:

Development

  • The global animation industry and latest industry trends and developments
  • The market and potential audience for the production – and their expectations
  • Key buyers, broadcasters and relevant trade markets internationally
  • The commissioning process in the country or countries in which you are operating and who to approach for commissions
  • The different platforms for animated content and how to access them
  • The creative vision, objectives, technical demands and estimated timescales of the production to be able to prepare a thorough proposal
  • How to position the production to appeal to funders
  • The potential value of your production
  • The different ways to raise the finances for a production including the opportunities presented by tax breaks
  • Where to find information about national and international tax breaks, grants and other opportunities that can help finance the project
  • The opportunities presented by working with co-producers in other countries with available tax breaks and funding
  • How to give effective presentations and communicate a creative vision and clear rationale for funding to potential stakeholders
  • How to make effective taster material such as a pitch book, with its synopsis, treatment, script, etc.

Pre-production

  • How to negotiate so that all parties are satisfied with the outcome
  • Matching the needs of the production with the budgets, requirements and expectations of the stakeholders
  • The rights you can negotiate in contracts for ownership, licences, distribution, merchandising and deliverables, etc.
  • The rights that stakeholders can take and how this can affect marketing and distribution activity
  • The clearances you need to obtain on material you use in the work from writers, composers, designers, etc.
  • The paperwork required for the delivery of the project including clearances, billings, etc.
  • The importance of obtaining approval from stakeholders at key stages of the production process
  • The risks that funders may take in backing your project
  • The issues that can arise when working with co-producers or studios overseas
  • How to minimise risk factors

Production

  • The animation technique being used in the production, the production process, and how these elements impact on the schedule, budget, and the personnel’s ability to deliver
  • The technology that is available, what it can do, and how it can be employed on the production
  • The terminology and how to use it when speaking with directors, lead artists and supervisors
  • The relevant personnel you need to recruit to deliver the production
  • How to work with others in an encouraging and constructive manner
  • Every aspect of production from development to delivery
  • How to establish a realistic production schedule and how to tie it in with the budget
  • What budgetary constraints might impact on creative decisions
  • How to accurately calculate a budget and forecast the finances
  • Who needs to agree to and access the budget
  • The cost of personnel, equipment, facilities, insurance and how to identify options that offer the best value
  • How to work with spreadsheets and what functions and formulas you will need to use in scenario planning
  • Setting a profit margin
  • Contingencies that may arise that you need to account for

Post-production, delivery & distribution

  • The potential for distribution in multiple territories
  • The different ways a project could bring a return on investment, with branding, merchandising including toys, spin-off productions, e-books, smartphone applications, etc.
  • The importance of promotional marketing and the key media to contact
  • The legal status of written, verbal and electronic communication
  • How to find the right specialists to assist with areas such as contracts, intellectual property rights, financial planning and accessing tax breaks

Read the industry magazines: Animation Magazine, Kidscreen, C21 Media and so on. It’s important to know who is who and to get a sense of what the shape of the industry is at the moment. Don’t over calculate your projects, but be aware of the trends and ensure that there is space in the market for your property.”
Jamie Badminton, Creative Director, Karrot Entertainment

Additional resources – links