Written by Branden Scott Stewart

Creating your own film can be hard. You’ve got a lot to do; chances are you’re writing it, directing it an producing it. That’s a lot of work. Hiring a Production Manager can make your life so much easier, and your film so much more successful.

What is a Production Manager?

A Production Manager, or PM, is a catch-all title. In the indie world, a PM can also function as a Unit Supervisor, a Line Producer, and so much more.

A Production Manager is a person who supervises everything production related, collects and disseminates information, contacts people, and runs the things you don’t have time for. 

What would they do in a short film?


1. Schedule the production.

Chances are you’re working with actors and crew who have day jobs and other projects. The PM is a useful tool to collect and combine all those conflicting schedules and figure out when you can meet, shoot, edit, etc.

PMs are also masters at time management. They’ll ensure that the time you spend on your production is maximized. It can be hard to get everything accomplished in a day of shooting. A good PM will line everything up for you and keep you and your team on track throughout each day.

2. Budget the production.

This can be huge deal. If you have a budget, let your PM handle it. Not only will it keep you from going overbudget, but a talented PM will find deals everywhere. Your shoot requires transporting 10 people to a city on the beach? Your PM will find you the cheapest rooms, travel, and chances are, will have connections already in that area to make life easier.

3. Document Tracking.

This is SO helpful. The PM can put together your bible. Contracts? Appearance rights? Location deals? Notes on gear and storage? Scripts and analyses? Having all of these put together in one place and organized neatly can make your film much more attractive for distribution.

4. Analyze Your Script.

Holy, moly.  This is one of the most helpful things about a PM. An objective production analysis not only can help you realize the needs of the production, but can save you tons of time when it comes to budgeting.

(If you don’t know what a Production Analysis is, I wrote an in-depth post about it on my blog, ShowCaller).

Why do I need one?

Having a skilled Production Manager will make your life easier, your production cheaper, and your pre-production, shooting, and post-production so much smoother.

Where do I find a PM?

A great place to start is to look at local colleges; theatrical Stage Managers will often times love to work for very little to have a film credit on their resume. Even local smaller theatres often have Stage Managers who are trained in film production management.

Of course, Job Boards. Sites like ProductionHub, OffStageJobs, and Backstage can be very helpful.