Production Manager (Unscripted TV)

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What does a production manager do?

Production managers are responsible for the day-to-day financial running of an unscripted TV production and all the admin involved. They work on location and in the production office. They plan. They schedule. They troubleshoot. They problem solve.

They manage the programme money, invoice, pay bills, keep petty cash floats, book crews and prepare staff and contributor contracts. During filming, they liaise with local authorities for permits and permissions, oversee location searches and release forms, create filming schedules, supervise call sheets and manage health and safety. They are responsible for ensuring the production adheres to data protection guidelines during the entire process.

Production managers are mainly office-based, but during production on an outside broadcast, for example, they might go on location to ensure the production is running smoothly and the crew and production team are properly equipped.

Production managers set up edits. They book edit facilities, ensure rushes are logged and loaded and all copyright material like music and archive is cleared for use. They create edit schedules, allocating staff for certain periods to initially cut the content and then polish it, organising grades, sound dubs, voiceovers and final playouts.

Production managers are generally freelance, although some larger production companies may offer a few staff positions.

What's a production manager good at?

  • Prioritisation: know what requires immediate attention and find quick solutions to enable the smooth running of a production, adapt to a fast-paced, changing environment
  • Financial management: organise, manage, monitor, forecast and implement a budget, plan schedules and staffing accordingly, be responsible for escalating risks and concerns
  • Negotiation: be confident at negotiating and managing a wide range of deals and contracts, ensure everyone understands what needs to happen, when and why
  • Knowledge of law: confidently manage health and safety, data protection legislation, contractual rights, compliance and copyright requirements, ensure paperwork is in order
  • Technology: keep informed of new technologies and advancements and identify the most efficient and cost-effective ways of working

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