An executive producer oversees a creative undertaking such as a film, album or television series. He supervises the producer on behalf of the studio or investors, ensuring the project stays within its budget and timeline. He might play a hands-on role or launch the project and hand it over to the producer, depending on his interests and the needs of the production. He needs strong people skills and an in-depth understanding of the financial and strategic requirements necessary to bring an idea to life.
As the person responsible for coordinating every aspect of a production, an executive producer works closely with everyone from studio heads to distributors. This requires stellar people and communication skills, in addition to a knack for selling directors on why they should take on a project or investors on why they should make a financial commitment to the endeavor. They frequently have an extensive network of connections within the entertainment industry as well as with potential investors.
The executive producer role requires firsthand knowledge of everything it takes to develop an artistic project and bring it to the marketplace. This includes technical aspects, such as casting, and business aspects, such as financing and distributing the end result. While they might not handle these facets themselves, they must understand what’s involved and the impact each has on the project’s development. The executive producer’s responsibilities vary by project, with some taking on creative or writing duties, especially in smaller productions.
Executive producers often have several years of experience within the industry. Some have previously worked as producers or associate producers, while others come from other areas within the business, such as distribution or finance. Sometimes executive producers are veteran and well-known actors, writers or directors involved in the production, given the title because their names can help open financial and distribution doors. In the case of a television series, the title may be given to the person who created the concept and who writes for the show.
Executive producers need to understand audience tastes and what type of project is most likely to attract a large audience. With so much money at stake, they must identify which projects have the widest commercial appeal and will be easiest to market so the studio can recoup its money. Executive producers sometimes seek out and secure the rights to scripts they consider commercially viable, and might oversee packaging of the finished product to ensure it appeals to the target audience and entices consumers to choose their offering over the many others competing for the public’s attention.
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