The production manager oversees what’s known as “below-the-line” crew. “Below-the-line” is a term for all the personnel on a TV show or film who are not the creative principals of a production. The production manager reports directly to the line producer as the chief administrator in the production office. Production managers do not make creative decisions on a production, but they do make budgetary decisions that can have major effects on the end product.
The responsibilities of a production manager vary depending on where a production is in its development process. During pre-production, the production manager focuses mainly on making a logistical plan and detailed schedule for the shoot. The production manager works closely with the producer, line producer, first assistant director, and others to break down a script for purposes of scheduling and budgeting. A production manager’s pre-production work generally takes place in the production office. Key duties include:
- The production manager oversees the initial location scouting and manages any financial arrangements to secure locations.
- Shooting schedule. The production manager works with the producers to make a shooting schedule that satisfies the scheduling restrictions of all cast and crew as well as location availability.
- Creates a working budget that accounts for personnel, equipment, and locations.
- Crew hires. Work with the line producer to hire crews and contract with suppliers.
- Housing and transportation. Coordinates all necessary transportation and housing for the cast and crew for the duration of the filming schedule.
Once shooting begins, the production manager’s responsibilities shift into overseeing the schedule and budget they’ve drawn up to make sure everything goes according to plan. During filming, production managers generally split their time between working in the production office and reporting directly to the set. Production manager responsibilities during shooting include:
- The production manager oversees the working budget. They account for any budgeting changes during production and keep the director, producers, and studio abreast of any deviations from the initial budget.
- Releases and permits. Production managers are responsible for making sure that all locations and cast have the prerequisite releases filed with the production office. They also ensure that all necessary permitting has been taken care of for each respective location.
- Crew liaison. The production manager serves as a liaison between local authorities and the director and crew. This ensures that all local ordinances are being followed and the production doesn’t risk getting shut down, while allowing the director and crew to focus solely on the shoot.
- Production report. The production manager completes a daily production report, which shows how the day’s shooting went and reports any deviations from the master shooting schedule.