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What does a Production Manager do?

A Production Manager works with the management team, technical crew and designers (such as the Set Designer) to make sure the technical elements of a show are completed safely, on time and on budget. Production Managers work on a variety of different shows for a theatre season.

Although similar, there is a difference between a Production Manager and a Stage Manager. A Stage Manager liaises with different departments throughout the day and makes sure everything is running smoothly, whereas a Production Manager liaises with different departments to ensure decisions being made are within budgets and everything is working safely.

What are the main responsibilities of a Production Manager?

The responsibilities of a Production Manager can vary and they can begin from the audition process and rehearsals of a production, through to the first night of performances and to when the show has finished its run. These responsibilities can include:

  • Creating and maintaining a production schedule for each show
  • Maintaining contact information
  • Organising meetings for cast and production staff
  • Working closely with Directors and other department heads to make decisions regarding set, costume, lighting and other aspects of a production and ensure these are within the budget of the production
  • Keeping stage and backstage areas organised
  • Ensuring decisions made regarding the set of a production are carried out safely
  • Prepare budgets and monitor accurate expenses
  • Create construction drawings for all scenery elements
  • Organise the ‘Get In’ and ‘Get Out’ of the set and scenery 

What qualifications do I need to be a Production Manager?

Normally, a Production Manager will have a good knowledge of technical theatre. It is not usually a requirement that you have a formal qualification in technical theatre, but you may wish to develop your knowledge through:

  • Performance production
  • Technical backstage
  • Stage management
  • Lighting
  • Events management
  • Arts Administration 
  • Producing
  • Business studies 

Any experience in production is a great way to learn new skills and improve on the ones you already have. Look at the production management training opportunities available from across the theatre industry here.

What skills do I need to be a Production Manager?

You need to have the right personality for this type of work as you’re dealing with a number of different departments and people. Such as:

  • Project management skills 
  • Good management of people and finances
  • Well organised and able to remain calm and clear-headed at all times
  • Good communication skills, both written and verbal
  • Can work well to deadlines
  • An understanding of technical aspects of the production
  • Problem-solving skills 
  • Attention to detail 

Search all theatre opportunities to help you get into theatre here

What does a career in Production look like?

Most Production Managers will have worked in one or more relevant roles. Any experience of organising events or assisting an organisation with an event is helpful. This includes any sort of experience helping backstage at a local theatre. Production Managers could have started in a lower position such as a member of the Backstage Crew and worked their way up. Many Production Managers work on a handful of shows at the same time, slotting in production weeks throughout the year. 

How much does a Production Manager earn?

A Production Manager fee can vary depending on the scale of the show. They will be expected to be paid higher rate to a Stage Manager, although they will not work on a show for as long as a Stage Manager. See 'What does a Stage Manager do?' for their Equity pay rates. 

The above is a guide. Pay, salary or fee can vary depending on the theatre or company, as well as your personal experience. National institutions or commercial productions can pay in excess of the above, with profit-share or community theatre paying less. 

You can find theatre jobs via The Stage Jobs here 

Reference:

https://uk.indeed.com/career-advice/finding-a-job/what-does-theatre-production-manager-do

https://www.mgcfutures.com/production-manager/

Photo: Alex Brenner

Updated: 4th June 2024

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