How to become a Production Manager?

Written by 90 Seconds
Last updated: October 4, 2023
How to become a Production Manager?

A production manager is a person who takes a lead role in organizing video productions.

They oversee hiring a staff and crew, structuring the company and deciding how finances and resources are efficiently brought into play.

Production managers are among the top positions in video production. They require a wealth of experience because they are involved in every facet of the business and creative process to some degree.

Get some experience

Experiences that best serve production managers:

Pre-production duties

Before the shoots happen, production managers generally meet with producers and upper-level production members to go over things such as dialogue, staffing requirements, outsourcing needs, equipment and potential set locations.

Background in these areas helps them work effectively with key people.

Taking care of business

Once a production manager gathers the pertinent information, they establish the business’ needs, budgets and important details.

Duties often include risk evaluations, hiring rates and union requirements, securing permits and locations with local government, booking talent, determining costs and adhering to a budget.

A background in some form of business management can be a key asset.

Time to shoot

Once the shoot is underway, the video production manager handles the various schedules, deals with unforeseen challenges and reports back to the producers.

Some of the behind the scenes issues that are of importance are following proper copyright, insurance and safety guidelines. Production managers are the lynchpin that holds everything together.

Experience with multitasking may be quite helpful.

Play to your strengths

If you want to learn how to be a freelance production manager, it’s important that you gather information, experience and lean on your natural gifts.

Are you a good bean counter?

One of the less-than-glamorous aspects of the industry is managing money. A tremendous number of projects fail because they run over budget and, thus, out of money.

Being able to keep that bank ledger in your head or visiting it daily can make the difference in both the quality and completion of the creative process.

Are you a people person?

Getting along well with others can be a terrific asset if put to good use. Production managers work with real people every day and plenty of unique personalities.

The job is a lot like being a president, you have a lot of power, but you must negotiate just about everything.

Persuading others to move in one direction takes interpersonal skills. Being an effective production manager means utilizing the power of persuasion.

Keep developing

Those that want to learn how to become a freelance production manager will need to travel a path that includes formal education and on-the-job training.

It may seem strange that those that elevate themselves to top positions in the industry start out in entry level positions such as runners.

However, the two things go hand in hand. If you compared being a production manager to a professional sports coach, you’d find that both have formal education, worked in the trenches and took that background to elevate themselves to top positions. So it goes with production managers as well.


The wider your background, the more unique experiences you bring to the table.

Keep in mind, everything you have learned in life can be put to work. From hiking to short-order cooking to being a weekend EDM DJ, art reflects life and life reflects art.

If you want to learn how to become a freelance production manager, all of your experiences are relevant, just start focusing them on the video industry.