Production associates, also known as associate producers, work in the media and entertainment industries where they contribute to the production of television shows, movies and music videos. Although specific duties vary with workplace settings, these associates commonly have a variety of technical and administrative tasks, such as acquiring production equipment and hiring production staff. Employers of production associates include media houses, advertising agencies, film production companies and performing arts firms.
Doing the Work
To coordinate the day-to-day operations of a film project competently, production associates need excellent communication skills. They must arrange the work of production personnel, which often involves sending emails, making phone calls and having direct conversations. Production associates also need good problem-solving skills to find appropriate solutions to production challenges, such as equipment failure during shoots, and technical skills to maintain positive relationships with various service providers, such as suppliers of production equipment.
Production associates are involved in making decisions that can increase the efficiency of all pre-production and post-production operations. For example, at the beginning stage of a movie production project, the production associate may hire key personnel, such as line producers and coordinating producers and allocate their responsibilities. Production associates also may work with the producer to secure funding for film projects, identify and secure suitable venues for shoots, coordinate the transportation of crew members to these locations, monitor production budgets and compile financial reports.
When they are not discharging administrative duties, production associates can operate production equipment, such as video cameras, teleprompters and computer editing systems and implement sound or lighting plans. After completion of a project, they can conduct film screenings for producers and directors to review the final product. In television broadcasting, production associates ensure audio and video segments are in order before broadcasts.
Although having an associate or bachelor's degree in fields, such as film production, audiovisual communication and photojournalism, is enough to qualify for a production associate’s position, experience is essential. Typically, production associates begin as actors, writers or equipment operators to gain the experience required of production associates. There are career advancement opportunities for production associates with the ambition and drive to take their careers to the next level. Although having vast production experience and a master’s degree in media production or fine arts and joining professional unions, such as the Producers Guild of America, can be a springboard to becoming a producer or director, cultivating professional networks and industry connections is also crucial to breaking into these positions.
2016 Salary Information for Producers and Directors
Producers and directors earned a median annual salary of $70,950 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, producers and directors earned a 25th percentile salary of $46,660, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $112,820, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 134,700 people were employed in the U.S. as producers and directors.