What does an executive producer do?
The executive producer is usually the leader of the whole TV drama – the person who oversees its journey from script to screen.
However, the role varies considerably depending on a variety of factors. Sometimes the title of executive producer is a nominal. It’s used to credit an established writer who has signed off a drama but had little to do with its production. It’s a role that applies to TV drama, rather than film.
Mostly, executive producers acquire screenplays for development. They pitch ideas to the TV commissioners and deal with the legal, financial, and marketing aspects of the TV series. They are the spokesperson for the production and have the final say.
The extent to which they’re involved in the production itself varies. Sometimes they play a role in scripting, casting and crewing. Other times those tasks are left to the producer, production manager, and casting director.
Many executive producers are freelance. Often, they are the owners of the production company that’s making the drama. They usually are working on several productions at the same time.
What’s an executive producer good at?
- Leadership: take responsibility for decisions and outcomes, lead all departments from the top, communicate, be a figure head
- Knowledge of the industry: have extensive knowledge of and a passion for TV drama, appreciate trends in viewing, predict what will be popular
- Creativity: generate new and exciting ideas, recognise new and exciting script ideas in others, have an entrepreneurial spirit
- Negotiation: have a good business head, be good at selling, persuading, and striking a financial deal
- Understanding of production: understand how programmes are made, production schedules, and the decisions which need to be made and be able to liaise successfully with programme makers