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Going Behind (and Beyond) the Scenes with a Media Production Manager

Posted by Maslow on 16 Mar 2018

A media production manager’s work is rarely boring, and never-ever done. One part advisor and one part accountant – with a bit of travel agent, tap dancer, and spin doctor mixed throughout – these wondrous professionals are responsible for organizing the business, finance, and employment issues in film and television productions.

But it’s so much more than that.

Production managers are entrusted with a project’s “below-the-line” budget, which typically entails production crew not associated with creative direction.

They not only oversee how a production budget is spent, but also guarantee that everything goes smoothly for a film’s producer, line producer, and first AD.

That means that experience and a solid track record are of the utmost importance in landing this role. And, in fact, many production managers learn on the job, working their way up from the position of runner and production assistant.

The role requires self-motivated go-getters who are good at math and mediation. Other essential skills include:

  • Planning and organization – Money makes a media production manager’s world go round, literally. The right person for the job will ensure that all bills are paid, on time, and that the production is running on schedule. He or she prepares weekly cost reports and provides the producer and director with daily schedules, notes, and updates.
  • Excellent communication –Production managers often serve as a go-between for production staff and local law enforcement, etc., and are on the business end of all negotiations and legal correspondences. On top of it all, he or she serves as a one-person complaint department for the producer, crew, and assorted associates.
  • Negotiation – Speaking of negotiation… From rates of pay and other contract conditions to the rental and purchase of all materials and supplies, the buck stops with the production manager. He or she books all resources, recruits and hires crew members, and hammers out contracts with casting agencies. They scout for locations, secure permits, and navigate licensing and copyright laws, in addition to obtaining licenses and permission for the production’s music and imagery, and dealing with unions on a routine basis.
  • Balance – Production managers are able to juggle the aforementioned skillsets seamlessly. They are the happy (or, at least, harried) medium that exists between creative ingenuity and budgetary concerns, and are equally comfortable ensuring health and safety compliance on set as they are handling script review duties.
  • Grace under pressure – In many ways, the production manager is the nucleus of a project. Most are instinctive problem solvers, approaching crises with a blend of common sense and damage control. They’re the first line of defense when something goes awry, or unforeseen circumstances such as illness or weather cause production delays. It is a high stress, fast paced job. And the best production managers wouldn’t have it any other way.

Media production managers are also adept at knowing when to seek outside assistance. And those that have outsourced their routine operations management to Maslow Media Group have discovered that doing so saves money, reduces risk, and streamlines critical operations.

MMG has also placed production managers with film and television crews worldwide. If your production is looking to hire, we can fill the role with a professional (on a temporary or full-time basis) that embodies all of the skills above. Request a free quote today!

Topics: Blog