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TV or film production manager

Production managers take care of the business, financial and recruitment side of film and television productions.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: Variable average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: Variable per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements.

You’ll need a lot of experience in TV or film, and an in-depth understanding of the production process. 

You'll also have an advantage if you've accounting skills and qualifications, as you’ll have to manage budgets.

You'll need a first aid and health and safety certificate.

You could: 

  • start as a runner or an assistant in the production office, progressing to production coordinator or assistant production manager
  • start as a trainee production accountant
  • complete a media production course that may lead onto a trainee or assistant role

Several broadcasters offer new entrant training schemes where you could gain experience, including

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

Creative Skillset has details of courses.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • excellent financial and business skills
  • IT skills
  • excellent planning, negotiation and problem-solving skills
  • written and spoken communication skills
  • the ability to work well under pressure and to tight deadlines

3. What you'll do

During the planning stages of a production, your day-to-day duties may include:

  • working with the producer and senior production staff 
  • drawing up a production schedule and budget
  • negotiating costs with suppliers
  • hiring crew and contractors
  • approving bookings of resources, locations, equipment and supplies
  • arranging permissions and risk assessments
  • managing a production office team

During filming, you day-to-day duties could include:

  • making sure the production runs to schedule
  • controlling and monitoring production spending
  • reporting on progress to the producers
  • dealing with any problems during filming
  • making any necessary changes to the schedule or budget, like rescheduling filming in bad weather
  • making sure that health and safety rules, insurance terms, copyright laws and union agreements are followed

4. Salary

Freelance production managers are paid a fee for each individual contract or project.

Freelance rates can vary widely, and may be negotiated based on the type of production and your track record.

The Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU) has information on current pay guidelines.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

Your working hours could be long and irregular, depending on the demands of a production. Freelance contract work is very common.

You’ll usually be based in an office, but you’ll also visit studios or filming locations. You may need to travel and be away from home for long periods.

6. Career path and progression

You could work on freelance contracts for television broadcasters or independent production companies and negotiate better fees based on your experience and reputation.

You could open your own studio or move into working as an executive producer, where you'll be responsible for several productions at once. 

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Last updated: 07 December 2016