The Line Producer
When I made Pickings, I opted to save the $3,700 it would have cost to hire a Line Producer and decided not to hire one, but instead to be my own Line Producer; it was probably one of the big- gest mistakes I made on that shoot. That decision ended up costing me a lot more money and wasted a lot of time. For starters, a Line Producer is your “event coordinator;” it’s their job to make sure that the project stays on budget, on schedule, and that the film isn’t being derailed due to unforeseen events. And if it does, a good Line Producer can put you back on track ASAP and take a lot of pressure off you. Now, will I hire a Line Producer when shooting a one-location, $20K romantic comedy? Maybe not.... The logistics aren’t that complicated, and the budget is pretty straightforward, but when you’re filming a movie like Pickings for $350,000 with six locations, 115 cast and crew members combined, 35 days of shooting, stunts, effects, prop guns, cars, squibs, visual effects, police presence, and complicated permits, then yeah... maybe find room in the budget for a good Line Producer.
Many low-budget indie filmmakers will end up hiring their Line Producers as Unit Production Managers as well (UPM). The UPM title itself is actually reserved for DGA-approved films, but their duties remain the same. In a nutshell, a Unit Production Manager is responsible for organizing the business and finance ends of things; it’s their job to keep the production under budget and to make sure that everything is running smoothly. They’ll draw up the shooting schedule, oversee the budget, hire crew, negotiate rates, book vendors, suppliers, and equipment, oversee location bookings and arrange for permits, and make sure that your film keeps up with union rules and regulations. They are some of the hardest-working people on a movie set and will often be credited first during the film’s end title credit sequence.