How the industry works
The whole process
An animation producer needs a good understanding of the whole production process – whether they are responsible for an animation production for film, TV or other platforms or clients.
Although there will be significant differences between individual productions depending on the size, scope and budget and on the medium or distribution platform, the production process essentially follows five stages: development, pre-production, production, post-production, delivery and distribution.
The producer must know what is involved in every one of these stages – as they hold a significant leadership role overseeing the whole process from end to end. They also need considerable knowledge of the roles and responsibilities of the many other people who will be working with them as part of the production team.
Knowledge and skills
Creative Skillset’s National Occupational Standards for Production (Film & TV) were created in consultation with industry professionals from film and TV to capture the basic knowledge and skills you need when carrying out different tasks in a production environment. They were not drawn up with particular genres of production in mind but may be a useful place to start to get an overview of the role of a producer.
For the purposes of this resource pack a similar approach has been taken as with the NOS, to help give an idea of what the remit of the specific role of animation producer can include.
The five main stages
It is possible to begin breaking down the five main stages of the production, to identify key activities or 'functions' that an animation producer is likely to be involved with at each stage:
The producer is the ambassador for the company, the production and the production team. Producers will hold the vision for the production and will communicate it to partners, distributors and the team. Building relationships and finding backers and partners for a production – both local and international – is a key element of the role. It can involve travelling to trade markets, film festivals, and networking events – all over the world when required.
It’s important to make connections. Someone who you meet at a conference today might be someone who can open doors for you many years later.”
Kath Shackleton, Producer and Founder, Fettle Animation
But as well as raising the finance the producer is the glue that binds every component of the production together. They need to have strong leadership and people skills to be able to drive a production forward and keep up team morale.
Animation production is an ever-changing environment and there are daily challenges across the production that the producer needs to be able to deal with – demonstrating excellent problem-solving skills, great communication skills and considerable adaptability.
Financing animation is a very complicated business. It’s almost impossible to get a full commission for a film or a series. If you are lucky you will get 30-40% from a main source and then have to go out and raise the rest.”
Piers Godden, The Great British Animation Company
Creativity and practicality
Some producers have a more creative role than others depending on the production company they are working for and the nature of the production. For instance, at a large production company that specialises in commercials the producer may be focused on the logistical and practical side of the job, whereas in a small studio making children’s series the producer may oversee key creative decisions.
However, while creativity can be an important element of the role, strong organisational and business skills are essential to be a successful producer. The producer needs to be able to set realistic budgets and schedules based on the medium being employed and the timescale – and ensure that the project is delivered on time and on budget. But even when the production is complete the producer’s job isn’t over.
You think the end of the road is delivering the show but there’s the whole marketing side, talking to distributors and making the licensing deals. All of that also has to be done. It’s a lot of work getting a show off of the ground, it’s a lot of work making a show, it’s a lot of work keeping the show in the public’s eye.”
Owen Stickler, Managing Director, A&O Studios
Additional resources – videos
Phil Davies (Producer, Peppa Pig)
Watch a video extract from Phil Davies: Peppa Pig Animation Masterclass at BAFTA Guru in 2012:
The full interview is available on the BAFTA Guru website.
Melanie Coombs (Producer, Harvie Crumpet and Mary & Max)
Watch creative producer Melanie Coombs speaking about her adventures in animation to Show Me The Animation at Encounters Short Film Festival in 2013:
The Producer Program
Find out what it means to be a producer in a segment of The Producer Program produced by 44 Blue Productions in 2014: