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Hollywood Titles and What They Mean

I’ve noticed that a lot of people report that George and I are going to be “co-producers” on the Wild Card movie.  That’s not actually correct.  We will each be Executive Producers on the film.  Now this may sound like a distinction without a difference, but there is actually a vast difference.

You see, in Hollywood these different titles imply various levels of power and responsibility, and of course, money.

In television the only title with “writer” listed on the card is the lowest of the low, ie Staff Writer.  That’s the entry level position on a show.  You get a salary, but you don’t generally get paid for the scripts you write.  

Next stop on the ladder is Story Editor.  Here your contract generally specifies “scripts above” meaning you get paid for the scripts you write in addition to your salary.  Both of these positions generally have you getting paid a weekly salary.

Then you rise to c0-producer which is the lowliest of the producer titles.  At this point your salary is paid on per episode basis, and you get paid for your scripts.  Supposedly you have more power as a co-producer, but really it’s just a glorified Story Editor and you get paid every two weeks.

Next stop producer.  Sometimes you just skip this level and go to Supervising Producer.  At this nebulous  level there are also a lot of ancillary producer titles — Consulting Producer is the most common.  Sometimes that means you are just coming in occasionally and offering your wisdom and an occasional script or it can mean you’re on staff full time.  

Next step Co-Executive Producer.  This is one step below the rarified heights of Executive Producer.  More power, more money, more authority, but you are still subordinate to the Executive producer(s).  Sometimes you can end up with a weasel title here too.  I had that happen to me on a show where the other co-exec had it in his contract that no other writer could have the co-exec title so I was given the Consulting Producer title.

Finally the apogee.  Executive Producer.  The writer/creator of the show always has that title.  Often the director of the pilot is given an executive producer title.  Recently shows just seem to be filled with producers of all kinds and stripes and you see very few staff writers or story editors.  Which I think is a shame because it means fewer newcomers are getting in.

On the movie side c0-executive producer is a nothing title.  Nobody wants to hear from you about nothin’.  The fact that George and I have executive producer titles may not mean a lot, but it gives us a shot at having some input in the actual decisions about this movie.

So there’s a little primer about titles in Hollywood.  I hope to learn more about the titles and powers on the movie side.  I know TV, but this is new territory for me, and it’s very exciting.

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