For those who work in the entertainment industries, job titles often take on a special significance. A title such as line producer, associate producer or co-producer may not have the same panache as producer or executive producer, although all of these positions are considered vital during the production of a film or television series. The difference between these roles may be a matter of perception, or there may be a measurable difference as far as overall participation in the project is concerned.
In general, a producer is in the business of making films or television shows or theatrical productions. He or she often has his or her own production company, complete with all of the creative, technical and financial crews necessary to complete a project. A producer could also be attached contractually to a major motion picture studio, which means he or she could use in-house talent or hire independent contractors. He or she is usually involved with a specific project from the very first reading of a promising script to the final promotion of a completed film.
An executive producer, on the other hand, may not be quite as involved with every aspect of the project. The creator of a television series may be given the title because of his or her involvement in the writing process or the long-term vision of a continuing project. A private investor in a film may also be rewarded with an executive producer credit, even though his participation may be minimal. Major studios with significant financial interest in a project often assign an experienced producer or studio screenwriter to oversee a production in an executive capacity. While ultimate authority may still rest with the producer, an executive producer could make sure the production is staying within its budget or sticking to its filming schedule.
There is some debate in the entertainment industry over the various titles provided for producers. Under union guidelines, almost anyone who receives a screen credit must be compensated according to his or her union's wage scales. While a producer may receive a generous salary and other financial perks for his or her dedication to a project, a backer who provided financing or a script doctor who supervised revisions could also be given credit as an executive producer. This practice can cause some friction between those who oversee the entire project and favored actors or writers who are given what amounts to honorary credits.
While a number of contributors to a film could be honored with the executive producer credit, only a producer is eligible for industry recognition such as the Golden Globe or Academy awards.