Occupational map and job roles
The production team
As a producer it is important to understand the role and functions of other people in the production team. These are the production roles you may work most closely with depending on the scale of the production and the medium you are working with.
For instance on a low budget, 2D animated series you might only have a line producer/production manager and production assistant supporting you to deliver the series.
On a bigger budget feature you may find yourself working as part of a team encompassing all these roles and more.
The managing director is responsible for operational leadership, business strategy and overseeing the company’s finances. They will have experience in business development, raising finance, risk management, legal and compliance, and managing teams of people. The managing director sets the company goals that the producer will work towards, and will approve the budgets the producer sets.
See career paths: Chris White
Executive producer (exec)
An executive producer is often brought onto a project for their specialist expertise. This role may also oversee the business side, with the exec involved in the development of the project, assisting raise the finances, and ensuring that the production meets its contractual requirements. The producer will have to keep the exec informed of the progress of the production and may have to take on board editorial input from the exec into the creative process.
See career paths: Luke Youngman
Head of production
In a larger company with multiple producers and projects on the go there is often a head of production who has the overview on all of the productions. The head will be an experienced producer, and will approve the producers’ budgets and schedules. The producer has to keep the head updated on any delays or issues that will affect the delivery of her production and could potentially affect other productions.
See career paths: Beth Parker
This role is responsible for providing effective financial control on productions. The production accountant will assist with budgeting and provide the producer with regular cost reports and cash flow forecasts to aid budgetary decision making. The accountant will also provide strategic advice on how the money is spent and where costs can be reduced. They will be in charge of preparing statutory financial returns and financial reports for stakeholders.
The role is primarily responsible for ensuring the production is completed on time and within budget. The line producer costs the animation, negotiates deals with contractors, and manages the budget. They also oversee the production pipeline, the asset management and the recruitment and management of all of the crew. They manage the production manager and report to the producer.
Production manager (PM)
The PM is responsible for overseeing the production process from start to finish, and ensuring the projects delivery. The PM produces and oversees the production schedule, working with the animation director and line producer to ensure crew targets are being met and forecasting where delays may occur. They will often oversee the post production process, though there may be a dedicated post-production supervisor they will manage on a larger production. They may also have an assistant on a big production.
This is often a key role to be found in CG productions. The coordinator works closely with the production manager and producer on managing the day-to-day operation of a production. The role is key to ensuring that departments meet deadlines, with the coordinator overseeing departmental schedules and reporting issues to the PM and the producer.
See career paths: Hannah Elder
Production assistant (PA)
Tracking production schedules is a key part of this role. The PA can also often bring creative and technical skills to the role, dealing with script preparation for voice records, animatics and edits. In smaller companies the production assistant is likely to work across departments and productions, and support the crew. In larger companies, they may specifically support the production coordinator or production manager. On big projects there may be more than one PA supporting the team.
This role supports the production team with administrative tasks, such as minuting meetings, plus assisting with basic HR and finance tasks, such as maintaining the crew’s timesheets and monitoring the petty cash. These responsibilities can often be part of the production assistant’s role in smaller companies.
The runner provides support to the production team and the animation studio by taking care of administrative tasks and office management duties such as ordering supplies, maintaining equipment and endlessly making tea and coffee for the crew. This role is a good place to see how a company operates and to learn how the production process works.
A simple breakdown of how these roles are structured within the crew can be found in this map of an Animated Feature Crew List.
The role of animation producer sits within the wider hierarchy of creative and production roles involved in any animation production – whether for film, TV or other platforms.
The role of a producer is a leadership role but you are also part of team managing a complex production process – and your actual role can vary considerably depending on the nature and scale of a production and the size and strengths of the particular team with which you are working.
This link also offers further insight about the role of a producer. It approaches the role broadly from the perspective of film and is not specific to animation but still useful in considering the particular job role of an animation producer.
But to give an example of the broad range of responsibilities you may have as an animation producer and the skills that it is important that you possess, here is a sample job description.
Depending on the type of production and the size of the company you may only be required to perform some of these tasks and have assistance from team members such as production managers, production assistants, line producers or production accountants.
However, regardless of what support you may have in place from your team, as a producer you will need to be on top of every element of the production at all times to ensure that it is delivered on schedule and within budget.
Elements of the role can be broken down into the following six key areas:
- Securing rights to existing material or commissioning new writing
- Asset tracking (breaking down a script and storyboard)
- Script analysis
- Hiring and guiding writers
- Casting voice artists
Business development (often the responsibility of the managing director)
- Establishing a business model for the company
- Setting up a studio and overseeing the operational issues associated
- Risk management
- Identifying funding sources and revenue streams
- Establishing project financing structures
- Working with co-producers internationally
- Answering to executive producers
- Pitching proposals
- Securing funding
- Applying for tax reliefs
- Negotiating deals and licences
- Writing budgets
- Monitoring budget expenditure
Legal and compliance
- Developing contracts with crew, actors' agents and financiers regarding production and distribution
- Obtaining clearances for assets (music, writing, character design, etc.)
- Working with business and legal affairs consultants
- Making deals with distributors and other agents to protect your rights (including ancillary rights: apps, music, print publishing, merchandising)
- Ensuring compliance with company regulations and production regulations (health and safety, employment licensing, production insurance, copyright law, contract law)
- Confirming promotion of the production (billing – crediting funders, music, talent, licenced work, etc.)
- Working closely with the director
- Overseeing scheduling
- Assembling the studio pipeline
- Overseeing post-production
- Ensuring quality control
- Client management
- Talent management
- Selecting, hiring and managing key personnel
- Developing/mentoring personnel
The required attributes can be broken down into the following five key areas:
- Enthusiasm for animation
- Willing to commit and work long hours to hit tight deadlines
- Willing to deal with delivering productions under pressure
- Able to deal with pressure with a positive attitude
- Creative thinker with vision
- Able to uphold a creative vision and share it with the team
- Good at decision making
- Excellent at problem solving
- Great at presenting ideas
- Effective at communicating across multiple channels (crew, funders, consultants, broadcasters)
- Able to negotiate to get the best deal for the production whilst maintaining good relationships
- Able to work with teams in other countries and navigate linguistic and cultural differences
- Confident and assertive in dealing with clients and crews
- Able to collaborate and work in a team
- Good at managing people
- Great at motivating team members
- Adept at resolving conflict or difficulties in working relationships
- Able to delegate
- Willing to seek advice from others
- Effective at building and maintaining relationships with a broad range of people (broadcasters, funders, distributors)
- Flexible in approach and willing to adapt to necessary changes
- Good planning and organisational skills
- Great with numbers
- Excellent attention to detail
- Good with time management
- Great writing skills, use of spelling and grammar