How to become a producer

Build a career combining project management, creativity, and problem-solving.

If you've ever watched a TV show, movie, or played a video game and thought, "I'd love to be the one making this happen," then a producer might be the job for you. From movies and TV to podcasts and video games, a producer plans, executes, and delivers the entirety of a production. 

But what does it take to be a successful producer? 

According to Chris Paterson, a Program Coordinator of Screen Media & Digital Technology at RMIT, “You have to be good with people, at managing relationships and people across a broad range of skill sets, age groups and temperaments.”

Andrew Harrison, another Program Coordinator of Screen Media & Digital Technology at RMIT, adds, “You have to be a good negotiator. You may be the one that's driving the project, but you need these other people around you to actually create the project. So, you do need to be able to not compromise, but negotiate and understand the value of being able to negotiate with someone in order to get the creative or financial outcome that you're looking for.” 

RMIT Certificate 4 Screen and Media students Indy Soutar, Michael Pepe and Prinesh Naidu work The Data Game control room

What is a producer and what do they do?

A producer is like the captain of a ship. They're the ones steering the project from the initial idea right through to the final product.

“A producer is basically an overseer of the entire project and they're the ones that make the above the line decisions about how the project is going to proceed. They’re one of a few people that will be there right from the very beginning to the very end,” explains Andrew Harrison.

So, what does a producer do? Well, they wear a lot of hats. They can be involved in everything from raising funds and managing budgets, to hiring the director and crew, overseeing the script, and making sure the project stays on schedule. A producer also works closely with all the different teams involved in a production. They're the link between the creative side, like the director and actors, and the business side, like the financiers and distributors.

According to Chris Paterson, “Being a producer is a bit like being a general manager of a company, but there are two sides to that role. There is the more traditional side, such as negotiating rights, budgets, logistics, and staffing. But in most producing roles, there'll be a creative element as well. So, if you're producing a sports broadcast, you tell the story of the game that you're covering or if you're doing a reality television format, you're telling the story of the contestants.”

In a nutshell, a producer is the person who brings everything and everyone together to make a production happen. They're the problem-solvers, the decision-makers, and the driving force behind the scenes.

How to become a producer

While no industry accreditation or formal qualification is required to work as a producer in Australia, earning a relevant qualification will equip you with the important skills and experience to work in the fashion industry and beyond. 

Apply for a producing course

Build a portfolio and network

Producing student films is another excellent way to gain hands-on experience in the field and build a portfolio of work. It's also a chance to put what you've learned in the classroom into practice, and to learn the ins and outs of film production.  

“In the Associate Degree in Screen and Media Production, students must produce two major projects every year, so they do a major project in Semester 1 and a major project in in Semester 2, which is 4 major projects over the course of the associate degree. Because the nature of the programmes are holistic, that means that the students do a little bit of everything,” explains Andrew Harrison. 

As a production student at RMIT, you'll be involved in all stages of the film's production. This can include everything from developing the concept and script, to managing the budget and schedule, to overseeing the filming and post-production processes. It's a great opportunity to learn about all the different aspects of producing a film. 

Producing a student film is a collaborative experience, as you'll work with other students in different roles, such as directors, writers, and cinematographers. This will help you develop teamwork and communication skills, which are crucial in the film industry, as well as meet the peers you’ll find yourself working alongside in the industry. 

Intern at production companies and organisations

Getting a placement or internship is a fantastic way to gain practical experience, learn from industry professionals, and make valuable connections. It's like a sneak peek into the world of a producer, giving you a chance to see what the job is really like day-to-day.

Internships can be found in a variety of settings, from film and television production companies to theatre, video games, and podcasts. They can be part-time or full-time and can last from a few weeks to several months.

RMIT provides students with support in finding and applying for internships, including networking opportunities with professionals in the industry and invitations to attend industry events. 

“Students at RMIT get several opportunities for attachments or workplace integrated learning programmes at production companies or with independent producers. And we often find that that will be a stepping stone to their first job,” explains Chris Paterson. 

What’s it like to be a producer in Australia?

According to Andrew Harrison, “Our industry used to be called film and television, but it's been re-badged to screen and media because of the growth in screen-based physical devices. Whatever screen people are looking at is where you want to get your content. If people are watching content on a mobile phone you’ve got to be thinking about how can I get that content on there and what's the content that people want to look at.” 

Chris Paterson adds, “A lot of the opportunities in Australia at the moment are in sport and most of that is still free-to-air (FTA), subscription based, or pay TV. The FTA networks themselves don't create as much content themselves anymore. A lot of content is outsourced to independent production companies, as well as small indie production companies that produce social media content and online and digital content such as YouTube channels.” 

What are a producer’s common tasks and responsibilities?

“There’s pre-production, production and post-production and the roles within any of those stages will differ significantly depending on the genre that you're working on,” says Chris Paterson. 

As a producer, you're the one who's making sure everything runs smoothly. This can involve a range of tasks that vary depending on the stage of production, such as:

  • Developing and refining the concept or script

  • Securing funding for the project 

  • Hiring the director, crew, and sometimes the cast

  • Overseeing the production process to ensure it stays on schedule and within budget

  • Solving any problems that come up during production

  • Working with distributors to get the finished product out to the public. 

An RMIT student films another student interviewing a man outdoors.

What are the different types of producers?

A producer’s role can vary depending on the type of production. Here are a few examples:

  • Executive Producers: They're often the ones who secure the funding for a project and have a big say in the major decisions.

  • Line Producers: They're responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of a production, like scheduling and budgeting.

  • Associate Producers: They assist the producer in various tasks, which can range from administrative work to creative input. 

Producers can work in a variety of settings. Many work in film or television, while others might work in theatre, video games, or podcasts.  

How much do producers earn?

The median weekly earnings for producers in Australia is $1,866 per week*. For freelance producers in Australia, the median hourly rate is $47 per hour*.

Where do producers work?

“Opportunities are expanding because we are making more content now than I think we ever have," says Chris Paterson.

Producers work in a variety of different industries including:

  • Advertising, arts and media

  • Marketing and communications

  • Information and communication technology

  • Education and training

  • Government and defence.

As well as full and part time opportunities, there are many freelancing roles available.

Learn more about your producing study options

Whether you're a Year 12 student weighing up your options, thinking about switching careers or a professional looking to expand your skills, RMIT has a range of vocational, undergraduate, and postgraduate courses for domestic and international students that give you access to award winning specialist facilities to help develop your identity as a producer.

*Source: 2023

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Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.