Home Industry 5 Key Differences Between a Producer and Director

5 Key Differences Between a Producer and Director

Individual who could be a director or producer, looking at their mobile phone while on set with cameras and green screens in the background.

Whether you just like to enjoy a good movie on a Friday night, or you’re an in-the-know regular of the filmmaking industry, you might not know just how different the role of producer versus the role of a director can be.

In this post, we will cover the top responsibilities of a director and producer, and the main roles they play in any filmmaking endeavour. Let’s jump right in.

Producer vs Director: What’s The Difference?

In short, a producer is mainly responsible for managing the behind the scenes aspects of production. A director, on the other hand, is more so responsible for the creative elements of the final product that will be put on screen. Both roles are essential to a film production’s success and require a unique set of skills and experience.

Now that we have a general understanding of the difference between a producer and a director in film- let’s delve deeper into their specific roles and responsibilities. As we will see below, while their duties may differ, they both play an essential role in bringing a film or television production to life.

Here is a list of the top 5 role differences between a producer and a director.

The Role of a ProducerThe Role of a Director
Set a BudgetDirect Camera and Actors
Hire Cast and CrewInterpret the Scripts
Create SchedulesChoose the Style
Create a Marketing PlanHelp with Casting
Manage Stages of ProductionWork with Editors

A film set crowded with members of the production crew, likely including the director or producer.

The Role of the Producer

Set a Budget

Although the main roles of a producer can vary by project, as there can often be more than one, the first task is pretty easy to grasp. In order to produce anything, you need resources. But aside from raising funds, producers are also in charge of assigning where funds go once they have a set budget for a film.

The budget will usually include everything from actors’ paychecks, to food, and everything in between. Essentially, it’s like going to a grocery store to get food for a meal. The producer knows what to get based on the budget that reflects the vision for the film project.

Hire Cast and Crew

A key difference in the main role of a producer versus a director is that the producer is very much like the steward of the project. They oversee it from start to finish.

In light of this, the producer is usually involved in casting, as well as selecting key crew members, which includes the director. This is why it’s crucial for directors and producers to get along whenever possible – as they often work closely together throughout the project.

Because producers know the material well, they are able to help with casting, and not just the business side in this stage of production. Again, to ensure everyone is doing their jobs, they are there to guide the project – which includes both cast and crew.

Create Schedules

Once the cast and crew has been hired and brought on board to a project, the producer then helps with creating a filming schedule. Time is money, so this is another aspect of the business side of the producer’s responsibilities.

Of course, this would not be done by someone like an executive producer,  but rather those who are the hands-on producers that will be on set and keep everything moving forward. The everyday scheduling and budget work hand-in-hand. This is key to the project.

Luckily for directors, the high pressure, tedious, and often overwhelming task of managing schedules is a logistical responsibility of the producer.

Create a Marketing Plan

Building an audience before a film is released is not just a good practice in entertainment – it’s also good business. This is why the producer oversees and creates a marketing plan that will take the project the whole way.

From the advertising campaigns all the way to major distribution, unlike the director, the producer’s job doesn’t end until it is out in the world, available to the public and the film’s newest fans.

Manage Stages of Production

No film project is complete without going safely through multiple stages of production. And the producer is in charge of overseeing, and sometimes even funding, all of those stages. From pre-production, to production, to post, a producer’s role is to be available to oversee each one to completion.

In contrast, although a director can often be involved in casting, a producer has many other responsibilities in the pre-production stage, which can include script rights acquisition, scouting key crew members, and funding.

A cameraperson points a camera at an actor. The director is responsible for instructing camera action and actors.

The Role of the Director

Direct Camera and Actors

This one may seem straightforward, but unlike the producer, directors must be more creatively inclined. From operating cameras, to managing people in every department, the main role of a director can be very busy and taxing on set.

For this reason, many directors can be considered multi-taskers, or multi-talented, if you will. On set, these qualities lend the role of the director to uphold the creative process from a technical standpoint.

In other words, the camera and actors are two sides of the same coin – and the director is in charge of managing them both.

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Interpret Scripts

Although the producer may initially find the script, one of the main roles of the director is to rework the script for shooting. The shooting draft will cover how the director sees the script and plans on bringing it to life for the screen.

This can include shot lists, casting, and many other creative aspects. Similarly, this responsibility lends itself to our next item.

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Choose the Style

From the script, the director may come up with the style and tone of the film. This can include everything from coloring to wardrobe to stunts. Essentially, it’s the look and feel of the film that is relayed to the audience when it’s complete.

This part of directing requires lots of preparation, and is one part where the producer and director may work closely together.

Help with Casting

Because the director is in charge of setting the creative tone from the script, they are able to help find the right actors to cast to achieve the creative vision. This is why directors will sometimes meet with potential cast members before production, and may even help with the audition process.

The director’s close dealings with the story and script helps guide him to work with the producer and other people who decide who will be cast.

Work with Editors

In order to maintain their initial vision for the film, a director will often work closely with the editor that will piece the film together. They help guide the editor to use the raw footage and audio to achieve the look and feel of the script that was shot.

This is one of the last parts of a film project, and therefore, one of the final responsibilities of the director in post-production.

A production slate held in front of on-screen talent as individuals prepare to shoot. The production team executes the vision of the director.

Final Thoughts and Recap

Like any good partnership, producers and directors achieve their shared goals by working with – and sometimes around – each other, doing very different jobs, and bringing different skills and strengths to the table.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Difference Between a Movie Producer and a Director?

Put simply, a movie producer manages the financial aspects of film production, whereas a director manages the creative aspects, such as storytelling and visual style.


  • Noel Moffatt

    Noel Moffatt, a graduate of Memorial University in St.John's NL, now works as an SEO specialist for Celtx to help people transform great ideas into scripts.

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