In most cases, an executive producer is someone who has either personally funded or arranged the funding for a motion picture, television show, or musical album. Executive producers, sometimes just called EPs, are usually different from regular producers who often have a more hands-on role in creating the end product. Executives typically see the film, show, or album as in investment, and most of their actions and decisions are driven by the desire to protect it and ensure its profitability. Though some executive producers have extensive artistic experience, others are in the business purely for financial reasons and may have no recording or on-camera expertise whatsoever.
The main role of any EP is to foot the bill for a given project. Most movie, television, and music productions are very costly, at least at the outset. The EP essentially acts as a financial backer, investing in the creative team upfront with the expectation that the overall product will make a profit. Executives usually stand to collect a significant share of any profits that are earned, though the specific amounts often depend on how the parties drew up their original contracts.
A person need not be personally financially responsible in order to claim EP status, and in many cases he or she simply acts as a representative for a larger company or entity that is actually making payments. In some cases, a person can be given EP status on account of fundraising activities. This is often the case when an actor of featured artist is named as the executive producer of one of his or her own projects — this does not usually mean that the project was self-financed, but rather that the artist in question was responsible for raising the funds and convincing others to invest.
Oversight and Direction
On a film set, the EP’s main job is usually to ensure that the project is proceeding according to schedule. The executive rarely has any control over how a movie is actually being executed, but he or she does have an interest in any changes to the script or plot that may have an effect on the film’s marketability. The executive usually engages directors and producers in regular dialogue to ensure that the investment is being properly managed.
Writing and Scripting Duties
Executive producers may have more of a hands-on role when it comes to television work. As in film, the title is often given to those who provide or procure the basic funding — but it may also apply to the person who bears the most of the writing and scripting responsibilities. In some settings, this person is referred to as a “head writer”; modern television production tends to assign an executive producer title to this position today, though. As such, it is not uncommon to see two or three names listed as TV show EPs, though it is fair to assume that each may have slightly different responsibilities.
Nuances for Musical Albums
In music, particularly for small releases or new artist albums, an executive producer may also act as a director. He or she often funds, oversees, and even arranges albums or musical collections. This person often represents the entire business side of the album production process, often even going so far as to negotiate marketing and sales pitches.
Executive producers who are also writers or album managers usually have to have a lot of experience in their chosen field in order to find success. This is not usually the case when it comes to films, though. In the movie making business, access to funding and business savvy enough to negotiate and represent financial interest is usually all that is required.