Profile: line producer, drama

Line producer Chris Ballantyne describes his role in the production process, and discusses the challenges of keeping an eye on budgets throughout the production.

Line producers are in charge of all the business aspects of the production of TV dramas or films and are responsible for the production budget. They are involved in the entire production process, from scripting through to filming and editing, because they have to weigh up the cost of each scene against its on-screen value.

"90% of the job is solving problems by working closely with people." – Chris Ballantyne

Line producers must possess an in-depth knowledge of scheduling and budgeting, and of all the physical and technical processes of filmmaking. Exceptional communication skills are also required, as well as the diplomacy to balance the creative expectations of the director, artists and creative personnel with the financial resources available. They have overall responsibility for health and safety and insurance on a shoot.

Chris started out as a runner over 25 years ago, and has worked his way up through different production roles. This is a typical career path for a line producer and this experience enables him to empathise with his colleagues and negotiate successfully with different departments.  

Like many productions Chris has been involved in, on Waking the Dead, his key challenge has been to constantly monitor production costs and juggle the budget accordingly.