Some questions are eternal. Why are we here? Are we alone in the universe? What does a producer, y’know, do?
We’ll let experts like philosophers and pop stars answer the first two questions. But if you’re looking for an in-depth explanation as to what a producer is, what they do, and why your video production needs someone in that role, you’re in the right place.
What is a Video Producer?
In the film world, the role of “producer” can be a bit catch-all whose basic definition is “someone who helped production.” Producer credits can be given to those who helped fund the film or provided the source material the script is based on. Directors and actors also often receive some sort of producer credit.
In B2B video production, though, the producer role is much more specific. Producers supervise the entire production process and are ultimately responsible for the success of the video. They oversee and decide almost every logistical decision, from who to hire to what’s the budget to where to shoot.
Most productions start with the producer. Their relationships and ability to identify talent will help them find cast and crew to fill essential roles during pre-production (e.g., writers), production (directors, on-screen talent, and craftspeople), and post-production (editors). Producers can do it all, and by that, I mean on smaller shoots they may literally take on every role.
What Does a Producer Do?
Put simply, a producer is a person who leads video production from start to finish. They are responsible for putting the right team in place to best balance creative, financial, and logistical concerns.
Because producers can do so much, on larger shoots their roles are broken down into easier-to-manage responsibilities:
- Associate producer: Facilitates the production under the guidance of the executive producer. This role is sometimes called an assistant producer.
- Co-producer: Helps with specific tasks such as post-production.
- Executive producer: Oversees all other producers and has ultimate decision-making authority. In a B2B setting, the client often serves in this role alongside a representative from the agency.
- Field producer: Stays on set and handles day-to-day shooting logistics.
- Line producer: Makes decisions on set when there’s a question or dispute. They often manage the budget.
It should be noted that while producers can rule the production process, they don’t shy away from the dirty work. No production assistant? The producer needs to pick up lunch. Grip got stuck in traffic? The producer may need to start setting up lights. No matter how minor or needlessly sweat-inducing a task, producers should do everything they can to keep production moving.
Is a Producer Different from a Director?
Hearing that the producer supervises the entire video production process can be a bit of a shock if you subscribe to the auteur theory of filmmaking. There’s a reason, though, that when they hand out the Academy Award for Best Picture, it’s the film’s producers receiving the statue.
In B2B video marketing, the director’s role is to bring to life the artistic vision of the script. They may handle some logistical duties as part of this, such as scheduling shooting days or maximizing a tight budget, but their focus is creative decision-making. Looking at the seven phases of practicing video, the director is most heavily involved during production and, in some cases, may have little to do before or after.
Likewise, a producer has some say in the production’s creative components. They may work with the client to understand their creative strategy or offer notes on the script. However, the producer’s main duty is the successful completion of the project by a certain date and on a specific budget.
Somewhat complicating all this is that a B2B video producer can serve as director or editor on the production, too. On smaller shoots, that is a common way to save money; to put it another way, when you don’t have the budget to afford both producer and director, someone is going to be pulling double-duty.
Do You Need a Producer for Your B2B Video?
Yes. Your video needs a producer. It’s understandable if you are concerned about cost, but a producer can be worth their weight in gold. As stated above, you can find a producer who fills multiple rolls on the call sheet. Additionally, their past professional experiences may have afforded them relationships with esteemed craft and crew people willing to do good work on a tight budget. But at the end of the day, someone is going to be managing budgets, timelines, and hiring talent. If that’s you, then congratulations, you’re the producer.
However, your company may not necessarily need an in-house producer. Many businesses that rely on a production company to produce their videos already have a similar internal position filled: production coordinator. If your company is looking to scale your B2B video content, though, it may be worth it to bring on an in-house producer to take ownership of the production process.
In many cases, though, it makes sense to stick with a freelance producer. You may already have a good relationship with one, and you may not be producing enough videos to see the value of making them an employee.
How Do You Hire a Producer?
Since the producer role is so important to your video production, you need to do your due diligence to find the right person. Interviews, for instance, can help you see if they’re a fit with your company culture or understand your vision.
But you’ll also need to dig deeper. References and reels of past work make it easier to discern how they conduct themselves professionally and creatively.
Finally, give them examples of your current or past video content and ask for feedback. Their notes can illuminate how they think about their work and how they gauge success.
If you’re having trouble finding the right producer, lean on your professional network. If there’s a director, editor, or crewperson you’ve worked with in the past and whose opinion you’d trust, ask them for recommendations. At the very least, they can point you in the direction of a good candidate.
Where Can You Learn More About Video Producers?
A producer serves the entire video process from pre-production to post-production and beyond. Finding the right producer for your video can ensure that production stays on time and under budget.
For more on the importance of producers, check out episode 22 of The Video Reformation Podcast.