Production Manager

What does a Production Manager do?

As you may expect, Production Managers are a crucial part of a production, ensuring the whole process is smooth from start to finish. They are often the second-in-command to the Line Producer, who is responsible for the overall production, but the Production Manager may oversee a particular unit or shoot and they are the go-to person for any problems.

Even before film shooting commences, a Production Manager is responsible for drawing up a schedule and budget for the overall production, hiring of the necessary crews and negotiating with suppliers.

Once a production begins, their role will transform into a management role overseeing the production process. They’ll ensure it sticks to the budget and schedule, while also dealing with any potential problems that arise during filming.

What skills does a Production Manager need?

Negotiation: As a Production Manager will be hiring the majority of the crew and contacting external suppliers, their negotiating skills must be top-notch to secure the best deal at the right price, without negatively impacting the budget.

Organisation: Managing the production process takes effort and a lot of organising – making sure everyone’s on the right location for each day, they’re happy throughout the shoot and making sure the schedule and budget are adhered to.

Problem Solving: This is absolutely key skill for a Production Manager. They will be the go-to person on the production should any problems arise, hence they must stay calm under pressure and draw on experience to solve the problems that pop up.

Industry understanding: It’s vital that a Production Manager has a good understanding of the industry, especially the production process for film or television.

Who does a Production Manager work with?

They’ll work closely with their boss, often the Line Producer, to set the budget and plan the schedule for the production. Depending on the scope of the PM role, they’ll act as a Line Producer for a second unit, managing all the budgets and crew requirements for it.

A Production Manager will often have Production Coordinators or Assistants reporting to them and they’ll take on responsibility of the production office if the Line Producer and PM are needed on set.

How to become a Production Manager?

Production Managers need several years experience working on productions in their relevant field (film, drama, unscripted television etc.), ideally coordinating parts of the production process. Many will start out as Runners before progressing to Production Assistant roles in the production office, before taking that step to the Production Manager position.

How much does a Production Manager earn?

The earning potential of a Production Manager can vary depending on a number of factors. On a personal level, your previous experience and credits will influence the rates you can demand heavily, however other factors include both the format, content type and the budget.

Thankfully, industry trade union BECTU recommends a minimum amount which most Production Managers should charge. For feature film productions, a PM can expect between £28 and £45 an hour, the latter for feature films with budgets over £30m. For those working on high-end TV Dramas should quote above £37 an hour, down to £28 an hour for lower budget dramas.

Career Progression

A Production Manager is highly sought-after right now – the UK doesn’t have enough of them to keep up with all the productions that are filmed here. After several high-profile Production Manager credits, the next logical step is become a Line Producer as a freelancer, or taking on a permanent role with one production company to become their Head of Production, where you’ll oversee similar responsibilities but on a larger scale and across multiple concurrent projects.