Film budget “Guru” Norman C. Berns is that rare breed that understands how to bridge budget with creativity. He is a respected producer, unit production manager, line producer, and supervising producer. I respect his work. He is one cool cat. Moving on…
Those jobs above stood out to me as an indie filmmaker listening to an interview he did with Movie Biz coach. Norman C. Berns put that experience to work when he directed “The Writing Code.” What made Norman’s skills jump out at me was key roles he had taken on before directing. This is strictly my take on job titles.
Producer – Initiates a project at the story idea or script stage, develops a production budget, attaches actors to a movie, hires the director and other key personnel, oversees every part of production from script to completed film, raises financing, coordinates all phases of production with budget considerations and schedule in mind, is responsible for communicating information and decisions to key personnel, solves problems quickly, even if it calls for a snap judgment based on only a gut feeling, deals with the money people financing the production.
Unit Production Manager (UPM) – Creates and oversees the budget from pre-production through the physical shooting of a movie keeping track of every dollar spent to avoid going over budget. They prepare the preliminary shooting schedule of the movie, negotiate deals for equipment, and hires crew members except those hired by a producer or director. They function much like a line producer. On large budget shoots the duties of line producer and unit production manager can and do overlap one another. With smaller budget independent projects there is usually either a line producer or unit production manager hired. Not both. With very lean projects a producer could also function as unit production manager and line producer.
Line Producer – Creates and maintains the budget that is used for pre-production through the physical shooting of a movie. They also negotiate contracts for crew. Once a shoot is wrapped their job is done. They are the “bean counters” reporting to an executive producer or producer. In some cases the producer acts as a line producer too. Often on independent projects a line producer and unit production manager function as one in the same.
Supervising Producer – Depends on what TV show or movie you are working on. Comes down to what power your contract says. Safe bet is they give the marching orders from the Executive Producers (people that put up the money) to the ground troops (writers, actors, crew).
What I want to stress is that the more experience you have in all areas of movie making like a Norman C. Berns (ReelGrok) the better your chances to be a successful director. Knowing how a budget works will make you a strong director.
You will be able to balance your creativity with your budget. I wrote this spur of the moment after listening to the replay of Norman C. Berns interview with Movie Biz Coach. I can only share with you my take on things. On indie movies most likely you will do one or all of the roles above. Embrace that. It will make you a savvy director. This is indie filmmaker Sid Kali typing SMASH CUT.