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Executive Producer - TV

Executive Producers are responsible for the overall quality control of productions, and for ensuring that final products conform to commissioners' specifications. They are part of the team who are responsible for selecting marketable projects and ensuring that every step is taken to guarantee success in the market. They lead the production of a range of television programmes, including dramas, serial dramas, documentaries, drama documentaries, etc. Commissioners who work for broadcasters are often credited as Executive Producers. On some productions the Executive Producer role may be combined with that of Line Producer, so that as well as procuring the funding, they are also responsible for monitoring its use during production.

On serial dramas, and some entertainment programmes, experienced and well known Writers may also be credited as Executive Producers. On current affairs and news programming, the Executive Producer role is often combined with that of the Programme Editor. Executive Producers are usually experienced industry practitioners, who bring their particular, individual skills and talents to this demanding role.

What is the job?

Executive Producers' roles vary depending on the type of genre, broadcaster or production. They must be able to identify commercial, marketable projects from a range of proposals. They may help to develop scripts, or to identify others who can help to make projects more marketable. They are responsible for finding suitable markets or outlets. They may attend TV & Film marketing festivals such as Cannes, MIP-TV International Film and Programme Market for Television, etc. to promote their projects nationally and internationally, and to secure funding partnerships during meetings with potential sponsors or co-producers. The cost of a television production may be shared amongst a number of partner organisations who will all eventually broadcast the finished programmes, often in different countries. Executive Producers have overall responsibility for the success of the projects.

Executive Producers ensure that a range of publicity and marketing materials are prepared in order to attract co-production partnerships and funding. They manage expectations and ensure franchised series' consistency, as the programme style must be the same across the partnership organisations. They play a pivotal role in ensuring that projects eventually become broadcast programmes.

During production Executive Producers may act as a sounding board for Producers in the decision making processes, and may be involved in some aspects of scripting, casting, and/or crewing. Executive Producers usually work on a number of projects simultaneously, each of which is at different stages of production, and across several different countries. They may view rushes and rough cuts of programmes, and usually have final approval of the edited materials; they provide an objective viewpoint, and are able to "see the bigger picture".

Typical career routes

Executive Producers are experienced industry practitioners, who have usually worked previously for a number of years in any one of a variety of roles: Producer, Writer, Director, Script Editor, etc. Most have some hands-on experience of producing which enables them to appreciate the requirements of their own role within the production process. Knowledge of other grades is also essential. They may perform a dual role on productions, such as Writer and Executive Producer. Programme Commissioners or Heads of Department employed by broadcasters are often credited as Executive Producers on all their departments' programming output.

Essential knowledge and skills

Executive Producers need creative flair and a commitment to quality programming, combined with financial acumen. They must be able to assess projects for their marketability and potential audience appeal. They need practical knowledge of financial, legal and regulatory requirements. They should be exceptionally good networkers, and people managers. They must be able to prioritise effectively across a number of projects, managing their time and resources according to each production's requirements, and, where appropriate, delegating work to suitably qualified personnel. They should understand programme markets and world wide audience dynamics, as well as the requirements of individual broadcasters' audiences, and in some cases, individual commissioners' preferences. They must be able to balance these differing requirements against the finished programme's style and content. A working knowledge of languages other than English is useful when developing world wide partnerships and marketing opportunities.

Key Skills include:

  • highly effective negotiating skills;
  • excellent verbal and written communication skills;
  • excellent presentation, pitching and marketing abilities;
  • advanced analytical skills and precise attention to detail;
  • excellent organisational and managerial skills;
  • initiative and problem solving skills;
  • effective leadership and mentoring skills;
  • diplomacy and sensitivity when dealing with partner organisations and colleagues;
  • ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines;
  • current knowledge of the relevant legislation, regulations, and associated procedures, including Copyright, Data Protection, Public Liability, etc. and how to comply with regulatory requirements;
  • knowledge of the requirements of the relevant Health and Safety legislation and procedures.

Training and qualifications

Although no specific educational or training qualifications are required for the role of Executive Producer, a degree in a media related or specialist subject may provide some useful background knowledge. Wide experience in and knowledge of the production process is essential. Some specialist courses aimed at experienced producers, e.g. those run by UK MEDIA and funded by the EU, offer training in co-production, developing networks and partnerships, pitching, and other topics. 

Where to go for more information

Creative Skillset is the Sector Skills Council for the Audio Visual Industries. The first sources of information for all jobs in the industry are the National Occupational Standards. Browse Creative Skillset's website for links to our network of training partners, information about training and access to the comprehensive Creative Skillset/BFI course database. Finally, Creative Skillset Careers is UK's only specialist media careers advice service; for detailed media careers information and advice, visit http://www.creativeskillset.org/careers/

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