So, you want to be a production manager?

With so many career options in the film and television industry, it can be overwhelming to figure out where you should apply your skills. Our industry Q&As with local crew provide an introduction to the different career paths available in the industry, helping you find what you’re passionate about and providing advice and tips that’ll help you land that dream job.

For our latest post, we caught up with Caitlin Delaney to learn about the role of a production manager. Caitlin started in the industry 10 years ago as an office production assistant, climbing the ranks to reach her goal of becoming a producer. Along the way, she has production managed over 20 projects, from the animated series Jake and the Never Land Pirates to TV movies and features, like Lifetime’s The Christmas Setup and the recent Sundance hit On the Count of Three. Caitlin currently works at 1 Department Entertainment Services where she’s the VP of Production.

Can you start by telling us what a production manager does?
A production manager is responsible for creating budgets and shooting schedules. She also manages the day-to-day business of production. She is the highest-ranking crew member and often hires all the department heads and oversees the human resources below-the-line (crew members who work on the day-to-day of the production, cast and producers are above the line).

Did you always want to be a production manager? How did you get started?
I knew I wanted to be a producer, which took me 10 years. I started as an office production assistant, then an assistant production coordinator, then a production coordinator, then a production manager to producer.

What skills or training does a production manager need to be successful?
A production manager needs to see the big picture. She needs to know who to hire, who to book gear from, how to schedule and work with different personalities.

Is there anything you wish you knew before becoming a production manager?
Relationships are key. With financiers, with vendors, with crew. Everything is relationship-based. Be nice. Be professional. Be of your word.

What has been your most rewarding experience to date in this field?
Seeing my name in the front credits of a movie was a really cool feeling. It was a life milestone realized. What’s been really rewarding is seeing so many people happy who work on our sets. We work hard but we have fun. There have been more laughs than I can remember with the crew. When you spend so much time with people, it can be infuriating, or it can be great. Our sets are great and I love the team we have built.

What advice would you give others in Ottawa and Canada who are interested in
becoming a production manager?
Get on set in any way you can. Come on time and do a good job in your department. Then, let people know your intentions. We are always looking for organized, committed and good-tempered individuals. Make yourself known and follow up. If there isn’t room on that show, there will be. Stay persistent. That is a very key characteristic for a PM!