Field Producer

So who’s really in charge during the shoot? You might think it’s the director – and that’s a good guess. But the person who’s got their eye on the big picture during the shoot is the field producer. While the director focuses on getting the best shots and decides whether a scene needs to be shot again, the field producer makes sure all of the parts fit together so the shoot goes smoothly.

What’s the difference between a field producer and an ordinary producer? Generally, the term “producer” can refer to someone who develops the initial idea, pitches it if needed, and works on budgetary concerns including getting funding.

A field producer makes sure all of the assets needed for a successful shoot are in place. That includes the crew such as the camera operators the grip(s)makeup artist, audio operators, as well as craft services, any special equipment that may be needed (although frequently the camera operators and directors of photography take care of bringing their own) and lighting specialists (again, the director of photography or someone under them may take care of this). Field producers also must make sure everything stays on schedule during the shoot.

But the field producer is more than just an asset coordinator. Along with the director, this person ultimately decides if a scene is being shot correctly or needs an adjustment, or needs to be filmed again entirely. In the film industry, “rushes” or “dailies” are often viewed the next day, but a video shoot is usually on a much tighter time schedule. So the field producer and director may view footage immediately if they have any concerns about a specific shot or scene, so that the retake can be done right away. The field producer must also keep track of everything being shot, from the main scenes to b-roll, so that there’s no risk of leaving anything undone.

On smaller shoots, the field producer and cinematographer(s) may divide the duties of a director between themselves. That means the field producer will call the shots (literally). On the simplest shoots, it’s even possible for the director of photography to fill the role of field producer, but that usually means his or her time will be divided between multiple concerns. At Hencar we feel it’s important for everyone behind the camera to remain focused, so we prefer to always have a field producer involved in a shoot.

And finally, the picture everyone thinks about when a big production is underway: the clapperboard. Yes, the field producer is usually the one who claps down that striped stick. The board has crucial information that will help during the editing process, such as a brief description of the scene (numbered if the video is going to be exceptionally long so it’s clear where in the final product a particular scene falls).

The field producer’s job doesn’t stop when the shoot ends. She or he will also sit down with the video editor to ensure the final product meets your expectations. That includes overseeing any graphics or other special elements that need to be inserted, special effects that need to be applied, and adjustments to audio to get the best quality.

If this sounds like a lot for one person to handle, well, basically it is. But the benefit of having one person coordinating this, rather than several people, is that it’s far more likely the entire project will stay on track and everyone will be on the same page. You can’t overestimate the field producer’s role in delivering your dream.

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