The Company Producer works within a specific department in the different post-production houses to coordinate and manage schedules for the sound, color, visual effects or editing talent.
Color, Sound, VFX, Editing Supervisor, Studio Manager
$70,000 – $100,000
How To Become a Company Producer
What Exactly Does a Company Producer Do?
A Company Producer oversees managing a facility and business opportunities for a post-production house, whether it is in editing, visual effects, color, or sound. While the creatives may find their own work, the Company Producer helps negotiate rates, set up schedules and oversees the entire process so it runs smoothly. Hamed Hokamzadeh has worked as a Company Producer for the past four years in a post sound house, overseeing commercials, short films and feature length movies. He says, “I have my hands in everything we do, from contacting new leads, negotiating and paperwork, to signing deals. I also attend spotting sessions, production meetings, and the mix.
It’s facilitating everything so that the creatives can do their work, whether that’s talking to the rental studio for an extra microphone or making sure everyone takes a break. Also, if the project needs to do a music agreement, license agreement, an invoice or any number of things, I’m in the middle of all of it. The Company Producer is responsible for the entire studio and facilitating the process.”
Many people get confused by what a Producer does because there is a myriad of types. The easiest way to understand the different types and what their responsibilities are is to look at which creative aspect of production they’re supporting then derive what would logically go with that.
There are a couple of different ways to break into the career field that would ultimately yield a role as a Company Producer. Hokamzadeh says, “A person could start at a quality control house, mastering house, or as an Assistant/Intern. Then they’d move up to whatever level of Mastering Engineer or Project Manager through the years. It’s kind of all over the place because the aspiring Company Producer needs to develop an understanding of the artistic field they’re going to support while developing business skills.”
Advancement will come with proving responsibility and learning how a company sets up their business. The individual will then either move up with that company or develop relationships with up-and-coming creatives to make their own company. It’s a matter of gaining practical experience and seeing what opportunities present themselves.
Education & Training
The training and education required to become a Company Director have less to do with developing a specific pedigree and more about acquiring the necessary skill sets to do it. Hokamzadeh says, “An aspiring Company Producer needs to know a bit of everything. It’s first and foremost a business career. A certificate program or something like that is good, just for someone to get their feet wet, before joining a company. It’s good to remember that it’s also a highly creative world which can put a spin on traditional business. Therefore, a Company Producer needs to have some experience in the field they are representing. Film school is a great option or a person could get an MBA and take art classes on the side.”
A lot of training and education for this career comes from working at a company and developing relationships there. However, if an individual feels that they need more experience than getting a business degree or filmmaking degree, it is advisable they also take supplemental courses. Otherwise, it’s easy to get one-sided on the art or business aspects.
What skills do you need to be a Company Producer?
The prior experience and special skills required to become a Company Producer are usually learned by working within a post-production company. Hokamzadeh recommends, “People should do a couple projects within the field where they want to work. That could be sound editing work, color correction, or visual effects. It can also be good to go on set and see how things are recorded. This gives a perspective on how the assets are being made. It can also be good to gain some experience managing people but that doesn’t necessarily have to come from the film industry.
A lot of starting a career as a Company Producer and getting good at it is just doing it. Hustle and learn along the way. There’s really no set path that will yield a specific result.” This position is a synthesis of art and business that is unique to the entertainment field. The best way to develop the skills for it is to start doing it.
Working in the entertainment industry can be tough. There are a lot of big personalities and the deals are constantly changing because almost every job is set up in a freelance format. Additionally, it’s very competitive so there is always a possibility that clients will be poached if a strong relationship isn’t formed.
Hokamzadeh advises, “The Company Producer has to be super chill and very well organized. They are very focused and goal-oriented but also need to know when to push when doing sales.”
Sometimes a deal is made to create a relationship for the future. However, they’re also balancing the workload with available employees’ schedules and making enough money to keep the lights on. Dealing with very big personalities is always a factor when brokering a deal.
“The Company Producer works pretty much six days a week, from 9 am to 8 pm,” says Hokamzadeh. For every one Company Producer, there are three to six creatives. Each of the creatives can have four to five projects in the various stages of post-production. It’s a large balancing act. The Company Producer is constantly hopping from client to client, making sure that everyone has what they need without adding tension or making things seem too chaotic. They also want to help foster a relationship with the client to help support the creative. Thus, usually as late as a creative is willing to work with a client, so must the Company Producer.
The Company Producer works with the entire creative team at a post-production facility. For post-production sound that would include the Supervising Sound Editor, Dialogue Editor, Sound Designer, Backgrounds Editor, Foley Artists/Foley Engineer, Interns, and Assistants. On the client side, they also work with the Director and Producer as well as the movie studio. For commercials, an Agency Representative will also be involved.
When trying to become a Company Manager, Hamed Hokamzadeh says, “I think it would be rare to find a job posting for a Studio Manager or Company Manager. It’s such a diverse sort of role. Anybody interested in pursuing it must start from the bottom. The best way to begin is to start knocking on doors, metaphorically, of post-production companies. Once there, work on a couple short films, either as a Business or Creative Assistant. If a person shows that they’ve got drive and decent business skills then eventually they’ll move up as the company expands or as bosses retire/move to new jobs. The way I did it was to create my own company.”
No matter how someone prepares, there is always a steep learning curve with creating a company. However, it also has the benefit of jumping in and not waiting on others. Usually, entry-level opportunities come after contacting a lot of companies and expressing interest a couple of times.
How Much Does a Company Producer make?
If a Company Producer is working for a large entity they are usually on a salary. However, if someone creates their own company, then it’s a matter of bidding. The more money that comes in for a job the easier it is for the Company Producer to make sure they’re getting paid for their efforts. In the beginning, it can be a lot of work for no pay.
Hokamzadeh states, “You have percent of hard cost, percent that goes to overhead, and the rest is divided by the people who own shares of the company or the Company Producer. When in negotiation, it’s important for the Company Producer to account for their time and effort, as well.”
When figuring out rates, the Company Producer should always make sure that they’re earning at least $150 a day, otherwise, they’ll sink if their company hits a rough patch due to their own debts. A successful company will be working on multi-million-dollar projects, bidding hundreds of thousands of dollars for their labor. This career can become quite lucrative.
Unions, Groups & Associations
While there isn’t necessarily a union for Company Producers they need to know the unions and groups that their creatives could potentially be working within. These might include The Colorist Society International, Association of Sound Designers, or The Editor’s Guild, IATSE. Hokamzadeh also recommends, “Some publications and websites like PostPerspective.com and PostMagazine.com are good to visit. It can also be good to check out some of the big post-production houses’ websites, like Skywalker Ranch, Technicolor, Company 3 or Formosa, because they’re constantly posting articles. The more a Company Producer is familiar with the unions and guilds their creatives are part of the easier it will be for them to support their collaborators. Essentially, the Company Producer is negotiating the job so they must make sure that the bid will turn into a workable budget if their team gets the job. If the company is non-union it is still good to be aware of what the industry standards are for negotiating.”
- Gain business experience by taking classes or attending a certificate program.
- Practice managing people. This can be in any sense, as long as staffing employees and timelines are involved
- Do as many different jobs within the desired sector of the post-production community. The better a Company Producer understands the jobs of their creatives the more capable they’ll be of fighting for them.
- Get your foot in the door of a post-production company. It may not be the number one place to work, but it’s an opportunity to learn.
What is the single biggest suggestion you would give to someone wanting to get into this career?
“Humility. Be nice and be humble. Most of the Company Producer’s job is dealing with egos. Whether it’s their own creatives or a client, it’s a position of keeping projects on track within the scheduled time frame, with everyone leaving happy. If the Company Producer starts throwing their ego around it’s just a greater chance that a fight will happen.
Large personalities aren’t only necessary in many fields of the film industry, they’re required for many jobs. It takes a lot of confidence to spend tens of thousands of dollars a day and believe that the outcome will be good.
There’s a sort of insecurity that can’t be gotten rid of, too. It’s the Company Producer’s job to make sure that nerves can relax so the client and creative don’t blow up at each other over senseless things. It’s very much a peacemaker career.”
What’s the #1 mistake people make when trying to get into this career?
“The biggest mistake that people make is they think technology can solve all their problems. Actually, there’s a tie for largest folly in the Company Producer world; the other thing is a know-it-all attitude. That can be crippling because it rubs people the wrong way and limits its practitioner’s capability to learn.
Jumping back to relying on technology, the reason that it is bad is that everyone has the same technology. Rarely are the tools a sole proprietary program. Even if it is, there’s another version out there. What clients want is a unique perspective that will get the job done in a timely manner and make their product stand out. The Company Producer is in many ways a facilitator; they are helping the overall experience. If somebody can stay in a good mood they’ll be more collaborative and easier to work with, which allows everything to move forward. Fights over small details are time drains and they are rarely about the art itself. The Company Producer must avoid these skirmishes at all costs or their budget will suffer.
What is the question people should ask about this career but rarely do?
“Why is separation between work and personal life so crucial?
Most people don’t talk about separating their personal life from what they’re working on. There is a propensity to make work the only thing that matters and while it is great to be driven, it’s also what leads to burn out. The human mind needs to focus on multiple things, which can be as simple as taking an exercise class in the morning. Everyone in the business has a passion to make films. If it’s done day in and out, then when burnout hits, it’ll be crippling.
A lot of times the brain takes twice as long to recover and during that time it hurts to even think about doing work. This isn’t an excuse to be lazy but a call for people entering this career field to take a moment and check in with themselves. Taking a moment can feel needless but making it a constant practice will give a better perspective on workloads. After all, the Company Producer is managing a lot of other people’s work schedules so if they burn out everything can go up in flames.”
What is one thing I should have asked which I didn’t?
“Why does making your workplace ergonomic matter?
Once someone begins to feel the effects of sitting at a desk with the wrong mouse and keyboard, it’s already too late. If the pain starts then it takes forever to heal and usually, it gets ignored. It’s a bit strange to think that physical injuries happen from working at a computer but sitting down for ten hours in a day can destroy a back. The best thing to have is a standing desk. And if that isn’t available, then invest in a good chair. Additionally, the position of wrist and keyboard matters. How is somebody supposed to stay focused if they’re being constantly distracted by the pain in their wrist? Ergonomics is an issue that should be taken very seriously. It can easily put a hardworking individual out of commission.”
If you could describe in one word what makes you successful, what would it be?
“Opportunist. I’m always looking for who I can work with and what opportunity will be the best to pursue. It’s a constant search of discovering companies.”
Hamed Hokamzadeh’s passion for music started like it does for many: on the piano bench. He fell in love with writing classical music but it provided limited career choices…unless you combine it with a story! He decided to head to the City of Angels to pursue scoring. While studying at CSULA, he got his first gig scoring a graduate thesis project from Chapman’s film school. He has since scored commercials for Quicken Loans and Foot Locker, arcade game for the 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium, and the racially-charged drama Boiling Pot (Danielle Fishel, Louis Gossett, Jr., and Keith David).
Driven by his entrepreneurial spirit and an innate desire for perfectionism, he started MelodyGun to have greater quality control over the entire sound process from pre-production to deliverables. He has supervised projects ranging from location sound recording to producing songs to post-sound editorial and mix. He’s currently supervising Future World (James Franco, Milla Jovovich, Suki Waterhouse, Lucy Liu, Snoop Dogg, Method Man) and CAMP (Joey King, Annalise Basso, Nolan Gould).