What is a Series Producer?
Series Producers, or SPs, have overall responsibility for making programmes happen. They begin work at the pre-production stage and work right through until the series is delivered for transmission. It’s a senior editorial role and particularly important when different directors are making individual episodes, as they are responsible for making sure the overall editorial and narrative structures, as well as the creative look-and-feel of the series, are achieved and maintained.
A Day in the Life of a Series Producer
The Series Producer is usually one of the first people to join a new production and they use their contacts and experience to recruit the best possible production team. They often approach Directors, Producers and Assistant Producers they’ve worked with on previous productions. A Series Producer’s team can vary in size and specialisms, depending on the type of production. They may need an Archive Producer for a history documentary, for example, or a Casting Producer to run a large casting team for a talent show, or a team experienced in live programming.
Series Producers manage the editorial team and make all the content decisions, including which on-screen contributors, such as actors, presenters or experts, should be put forward to the channel’s commissioners (who usually have the final say). They drive all research, edit all scripts and oversee filming in the studio or on location, in the UK and abroad. It’s their job to create a good working environment and they constantly communicate with everyone involved to help the production run smoothly. Series Producers also have the ultimate legal responsibilities for the health and safety of the team and anyone involved in the making of their series.
SP’s drive the key creative elements of a show, from specifying shooting styles to ensuring studio sets don’t just look the part but can deliver the content. In post production, they oversee music choices, graphics and title sequences and drive the edit forward, ensuring the final programmes are polished and delivered on time.
On daily, consumer affairs or magazine-style programmes, this role is often known as ‘Series Editor’. Very experienced Series Producers are also sometimes referred to as ‘Showrunners’ as they run the show with less guidance and support from the Executive Producer. Series Producers are almost always freelance, unless working for a very long-term production, and often specialise in certain genres.
- Have the experience and skills to sustain editorial, entertainment and creative values across a TV series. Be full of, and open to, ideas. Able to think laterally and creatively, with strong editorial judgement.
- Have the skills to advise and guide multiple Directors attached to the series including juggling multiple shoots, multiple edits and multiple teams at multiple locations, sometimes while on location yourself.
- Be a good communicator, able to convey your creative and editorial vision and expectations, liaise confidently and professionally with TV commissioners and keep the Executive Producer up-to-date whilst managing expectations.
- Be familiar with the entire range of the technical processes of television production, from pre-production through to post-production.
- Understand the extent to which role each part of the production and post-production contributes to the desired end-result in terms of the completed product.
- Be fully conversant with production budgets and their management.
- Have full knowledge of all contractual, legal, employment, regulatory and compliance issues that apply to TV production management.
- Have a large contacts book so as to recruit the best production team for the job, have excellent established relationships with presenters, agents, experts and TV commissioners.
- Be able to problem solve. Always have a plan ‘B’, be able to prioritise and make quick and effective decisions, take calculated risks, listen to others and be proactive.
How to Become a Series Producer
Series Producers will have several years’ experience as Producers on one-off programmes or shorter series. Prior to this they may have first been successful Production Managers or Line Producers. Aspiring SP’s will need to demonstrate a strong portfolio plus have First Aid and Health & Safety training. Education is often broad, including in Humanities or Media Studies. Series Producers are often educated to degree level, but this is not necessary. Early in your career, you could look to gain experience by starting out as a Runner, an entry-level role, which would allow you to gain a good understanding of the entire production process and enable progression in various directions.
Developing your Skills
For senior roles like Series Producer, experience is key – the broader your experience, the stronger you will be at demonstrating the skills required. Another thing to consider is specialising in how you want to produce and develop that skill. That could be by finding passion projects and making it your job to get stories that interest you out there. Or, if you enjoy the people management responsibilities then engage more in that aspect of the process. You will be instrumental in defining the team, so work to your strengths and use your contacts to hire people to fill the gaps.
Salary & Working Hours
The salary of a Series Producer can vary hugely depending on the scale and profile of the production, not to mention your level of previous experience and reputation. An experienced Producer can earn £40k-55k , with Series Producers making up to £80k. Most roles are freelance, project-based positions.
Become a Series Producer Today
If you are ready for the next step in your career, why not take a look at the latest Series Producer vacancies on our jobs board? You can view our latest Series Producer vacancies here.