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Career paths

Line producers and production managers come to their roles by many different routes so there is not a single career pathway.

These roles are very demanding and require a huge range of skills and knowledge from how to take a script and break it down to create a schedule and budget, to how to ensure your production is complying with all its legal, contractual and regulatory requirements.

You need to be able to use standard industry scheduling and budgeting software, as well as having great contacts so you know where to find the best production personnel, crew and equipment suppliers. You need excellent analytical and problem-solving skills along with patience and diplomacy.

So there is not a fast-track route to gaining this knowledge and experience and even those who have studied production management will usually be expected to work their way up from the bottom to gain on-the-job experience and the trust of employers and colleagues.

However, there are some more well-trodden paths to these roles – progressing through a series of production jobs while observing and gaining as wide an understanding as possible of the whole production process.

The most obvious route is through the production office, where you may start out as a production runner or production secretary and move up to production co-ordinator working directly to a production manager or line producer and then step up.

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Or alternatively you may come by the set or location route working your way up from floor runner through 3rd/2nd/1st assistant director developing your knowledge of scheduling and dealing with cast and crew, or via location management from assistant location manager to location manager, or through production accounting from assistant production accountant to production accountant.

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With any one of these routes you will develop significant skills and knowledge about a key part of the production manager role and have the chance to learn about what other people do too. But to make the transition to production management you are likely to need some training to plug some of the gaps in your skills and knowledge – whether about budgeting and finance, scheduling or legal requirements.

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