Line Producers, Unit Production Managers and Cost Controls

Film production has a middle management position called “Line Producer” and/or “Unit Production Manager” (or, just “Production Manager” in Canada). This person is charged with the responsibility to bring the production in on time and on budget – really – and from the ground level. Most Line Producers and UPM’s learn their ability to manage film budgets and costs from the proverbial school-of-hard-knocks.

Who Becomes A Line Producer?

In this environment of producing films cheaper, better, faster it’s especially important. How does a 1st Assistant Director, a young producer, a filmmaker, a location manager, bust in as a Line Producer? How do they get their scripts budgeted and cost-controlled?

Some Say It’s Not Creative

Some might say it’s not creative! Do it for a while and you’ll see it’s about the most creative job you could have on set (outside of actually being the Director). For those of you with a love of the set, the balance of confusion and order is a tight rope, and central to it all is – Bring it in on time and on budget – or get out of the way!

How To Become A Line Producer?

The only way I know is to get some training. There just isn’t any time on set for an active Line Producer to apprentice someone. It’s too fast and too late. The only way to learn this very important aspect of the film BUSINESS is to train in a controlled environment.

Visit my website at for workshops on “Managing Film Budgets and Production Costs”. I have done workshops in Toronto, Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, Winnipeg and Florida. The next one is in Toronto on Oct 9th and 10th. Visit my website for an agenda. See also that this will be also delivered as a series of Live On-Line Webinars in late May in order to accommodate those of you who can’t make it – note that the webinars are recorded for your review at your convenience.

See my web site at for the agenda and the when/where for a workshop near you.

Regards to all,

John Gaskin

Veteran of 45 film and television productions of all sizes in 5 different countries. See IMDb for credits.

Link with me on LinkedIn to see announcements of workshop events.


About filmproduction
I have worked in the film production industry since 1985, working on over 50 different productions of every size in 6 different countries. My self-published book, "Walk The Talk" is written in an easy to read manner for film students and working professionals who haven't had the chance to learn how to 'Direct the Money'.

3 Responses to Line Producers, Unit Production Managers and Cost Controls

  1. Eli Woodhall says:


    I am currently working on an independent production, and we are looking to hire a unit production manager. I was wondering what would be the best possible way to do a background check on credibility and security on the UPM, since they will be the person who will be handling all of the films money?

    • The usual way is to make sure that you call/meet the producers he/she has worked for in the past. It’s common to do that and is expected. Check all the productions as listed on IMDb. If there was a problem it’ll come out somewhere along the line.

      Otherwise you can have the prospective UPM sign a general form saying that he/she is willing for you to do a criminal background check – then pay a service to do that (they’re out there, I know that many of the bigger places use such agencies although I personnally have not).

      I hope that helps.


  2. Pingback: 2010 in review – 18,000 Visits « Film Production and The Money

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