I figured this would be a good addition to Darlene's fine 'what the heck does a producer do?' Discussion.
As anyone who has watched the opening credits of a film, there are half a dozen different types of producers listed. What the heck is the difference?
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: This is the person who controls the purse strings. If it's a big studio job, this is the man who read the script, liked it, approved the director, and gets the money for the production. If it's a small movie, it's usually the person who supplied the money. Did you fund your movie by pawning your senile uncle Milos' solid gold menorah when he gave it to you because he thought the nazi's were after him again? Then maybe you should credit him as Executive producer.
PRODUCER: This is exactly as Darlene put it. This is the person who gets the picture made. Depending on how much power they have over the project, they might have the final say on everything from casting to the final cut. They make sure things and people are where they should be, and doing what they should be doing. The smaller the budget, the more that falls on the shoulder of the producer. Who secures the location? usually the producer. Who makes sure you've got enough coctail shrimp to get through twenty takes of the wedding scene? That's right. Often on a small budget the producer and director are the same person....as i can attest from personal experience, it's not the best idea. You'll nearly die [the life expectancy of a producer is a decade shorter than average, as is!] and will make a ton of mistakes. Go ahead and take responsibility of some production tasks, but have someone else there to do nothing but produce. You'll be happier, healthier, and you're movie will be better.
LINE PRODUCER; This is pretty much Boba Fett to the Producer's Jabba the Hut. This is the person who holds the checkbook and demands a good reason for ever handing over any money. It's their job to keep an eye on the spending to make darn sure you don't run out of money two days into production because the director tried to buy sushi for the whole cast and crew. In a low budget production this is usually another task that falls onto the producers shoulders.
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: This is a person who, creatively speaking, probably had nothing to do with creative or financial aspect of the movie, but brought something important to the table for production.
Shooting a cat and mouse thriller set on a luxery yacht? The guy who donates you his boat for a week is going to be given that credit. Your ex-girlfriend who let you use her house as location/production office while she's on vacation with the guy she dumped you for because all you care about is making movies? Yup, she's getting that credit, too.