- 5,000 employment openings expected in the Canadian job market by 2020
- 4.7 million jobs in North America in the creative and cultural industries in 2015
- $620 billion USD: annual revenue in North America for the creative and cultural industries in 2015
- An executive producer deals with everything from contract creation and funding, to intellectual property management and marketing
By 2020, it is estimated that the labour market for executive production professionals in various creative industries in Canada will reach nearly 5,000 openings annually. The veritable boom the entertainment industry is seeing is no surprise. As the economy recovers from the recent downturn, as consumers have more and more disposable income, and with the rise of the Experience Economy, more and more people are seeking out new and unique ways of being entertained—and more and more companies are looking to create winning experience to win over customers.
Add to this rise of streaming platforms, which now has tech giants like Amazon, YouTube, Apple and Netflix creating their own content, and the explosion in the popularity of video games, many of which are produced on Canadian soil. The federal government hasn’t taken a blind eye. Ottawa recently allocated $16 million in funding to support festivals, performing arts series and promoters across the country, a decision that will only fuel the arts throughout the country. And while opportunities in the creative arts in Canada are multiplying, possibilities abroad are also growing; countries like India, China and Brazil are also seeing their creative industries thrive.
There is no lack of creative talent, yet industry insiders admit that qualified professionals with the necessary skills to plan, lead and manage these intricate projects (read executive producers) are in short supply.
How do you know if a career in executive production is right for you? Discover the profession and industry in this article!
What is an executive producer?
While a director or content creator steers the creative direction of a project, an executive producer handles the business side of things. Whether it be for a television show, film, live show, festival or the production of video game, the executive producer is responsible for:
- Pitching the idea to investors and securing funding
- Handling negotiations and contracts
- Ensuring intellectual property is protected, which means knowing about copyright and trademark laws
- Managing budgets and schedules
- Marketing the project to attract an audience
- Building an exceptional production team and managing the project from start to finish
Many executive producers have a background in the arts — as actors, directors, film makers, event planners, and the list goes on. But while executive producers may be creatives at heart, what sets them apart and enables them to lead creative endeavours from idea to reality is that they have mastered the critical business skills in entertainment. They are able to pitch and secure funding, negotiate deals and contracts, manage brands and portfolios of intellectual property, and, of course, attract audiences with effective marketing, and lead and manage teams of diverse professionals from A to Z in turning an idea into a show, film, festival or video game.
That’s quite a to-do list, and with few formal training programs in executive production, it’s no wonder that nearly all executive producers worked for years, learning in the school of hard knocks, until they reach a point in their career where they finally have the skills needed to successfully run a creative project from start to finish.
What types of companies require executive production?
In the past, executive producers were often limited to careers in TV and film. But today, the possibilities are endless. The media landscape has completely changed over the past 30 years, and a wide range of organizations are now on the hunt for professionals who are creatively inclined, but also have a sharp sense of business savoir-faire. Various types of companies in a variety of industries need the golden touch of an executive producer, including:
- TV and film studios (That used to mean Universal, Disney, and 20th Century Fox, but today includes Netflix, Apple, Amazon, and YouTube)
- Entertainment conglomerates, including casinos and hotels
- Event promoters and companies, such as Live Nation and Evenko
- Virtual reality and multimedia producers such as Moment Factory
- Event planning firms
- Live show producers, such as Cirque du Soleil and Cirque Éloize
- Film and visual effects studios, like Cinésite, The Focus, and Sony Pictures Imageworks
- Advertising agencies
Yep! Even advertising agencies are hiring executive producers. Why? Because as the world of marketing has diversified, and with the rise of the Experience Economy, advertising agencies don’t just create ads anymore. They are tasked by clients to create experiences – both online and off – and that include videos, films, events, festivals, and even video games.
What is the market like for executive producers in creative industries?
Creativity is a hot commodity in Canada as the arts and entertainment industry reaches unparalleled new heights. According to a report by the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, the gaming industry contributed $3.7 billion to the country’s GDP. Another report, from the Quebec Film and Television Council, stated that foreign spending in filming production reached $383 million in Quebec for 2017.
Over the last two decades, some of the biggest names in entertainment have emerged from the Great White North:
- In the world of gaming, Canada has developed household franchises like FIFA, Assassin’s Creed, and Call of Duty.
- Hit American shows like Riverdale, Suits, and Supernatural are filmed on Canadian soil.
- Homegrown talent has led acclaimed films Bon Cop Bad Cop, Les invasions barbares, and C.R.A.Z.Y.
- TV series like Orphan Black, Trailer Park Boys, Degrassi, and Letterkenny are all proudly produced in Canada.
If we look at the field of executive production at large, the creative and cultural industry accounted for 4.7 million North American jobs in 2015, totaling $620 billion USD in revenue in 2015. More recently, in September 2018 alone, a total of 1,703 job offerings for executive production professionals were posted in the US.
To support Canada’s growing creative community, the federal government has recently allocated $16 million in its 2019 budget to the Canadian Arts Presentation Fund, an organization that provides financial support to approximately 600 art festivals and performing arts series, as well as promoters across the country. With this kind of support, smaller or lesser-known festivals will be able to take centre stage and showcase their local creative talent.
What kind of training does it take to become an executive producer?
There are countless courses and programs offering students the opportunity to develop creative skills. You can go to film school or art school, do a music degree or study event planning, but none of these programs teach the business side of entertainment. What is currently lacking in the creative industry help creative professionals develop the critical skills needed to successfully manage creative projects from A – Z, securing funding, managing and leading teams, negotiating deal and contracts, and ensuring that effective marketing draws crowds.
As a hub of creativity, ingenuity, and technological advancement, Montreal is perfectly positioned to accommodate a program showcasing the business side of entertainment, and now there is one. With the recently launched Professional Development Certificate in Executive Production in Creative Industries, the McGill School of Continuing Studies aims to put professionals working in creative industries —technical directors, technical staff, creative content developers, artistic and creative professionals — on track to the executive producer’s chair with skills that go beyond mere creative production.
The program is designed to equip creative professionals with the knowledge, skills, and competencies required to oversee, plan, organize, direct, and control all the aspects and development phases of the end-to-end life cycle of capital-intensive large-scale creative content projects and commercial entertainment products.
To learn more about the program, visit production.scs.mcgill.ca.