I wanted to address the category of production management, partly because it's what I know best, and because I happen to think it's a terrific part of the business to be in.
Production management is another term for physical production. It encompasses the studio and production company execs (mentioned earlier in this chapter) who supervise the freelancers working on their shows and also those who are (back to that term again) "in the trenches": the line producers, UPMs, assistant directors, production supervisors, production coordinators (also referred to as production office coordinators or POCs) and assistant production coordinators (APOCs).
In a nutshell, the production department is a "service" department that handles the logistics for the entire company. It's the ever-so important spoke of the wheel that enables everything else to keep turning and happening. It's exhaustingly hard work and not considered creative or glamorous by any stretch of the imagination, but it's fast-paced, challenging and satisfying. And as in most other freelance positions, there's always something new to learn, new people to meet and work with and new locations to travel to. Production is the behind-the-scenes office responsible for dispersing all pertinent information, making sure everyone involved has what they need to do their job and of ensuring that everyone and everything arrives on the set each day—on time and prepared. Production is responsible for preliminary budgeting; scheduling; negotiating for and securing a crew, locations, equipment and all outside services. They generate and distribute scripts, script changes, schedules and a plethora of other essential paperwork. They make sure all contracts and releases are signed and handle all issues relating to insurance, unions and guilds, safety, product placement, clearances and local, distant and foreign locations. Like a band of gypsies, they're used to setting up mobile and/or temporary, fully functioning units and offices almost anywhere and in no time—experts at transporting entire shooting companies to and accommodating them on just about any location in the world.
Production also tends to the comfort and needs of its cast and arranges for all cast member perks—all those extra goodies listed in their contracts (some of which happen to be the size of small phone books), such as extra-wide "popout" trailers, cell phones, TV/VCR/DVD players, microwave ovens, special food, transportable gyms, personal trainers—and the list goes on.
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When you think of freelancing, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? You probably think of a writer, novelist or journalist right off hand. That is primarily because for centuries, the only real job you could have as a freelancer had to do with your mastery of the written word.