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drama producer Simon Harper represented by UK Film and Music

Simon Harper

Producer and Script Consultant

2 times BAFTA, 2 times CDN Diversity Awards and twice RTS winning producer Simon Harper is a freelance multilingual scripted drama producer based in Amsterdam and London.

He started his career working at Channel 4 Drama as an Assistant Script Editor before joining BBC Drama Independent Commissioning as a Development Script Editor working on HUSTLE, ROBIN HOOD and ROME.

In 2006 he joined the BBCs medical flagship drama series HOLBY CITY, working his way up to Executive Producer of both HOLBY and sister show CASUALTY from 2017 though to 2020. Whilst working on these drama series he won many awards and accolades including two BAFTAs and two Royal Television Society Awards for Best Soap or Continuing Drama.

In 2022 Simon Produced the reimagined Amsterdamset detective drama series VAN DER VALK, starring Marc Warren and Maimie McCoy for Company Pictures/ITV/Degeto/PBS.

Simon is currently developing a German language YA medical drama with Saxonia Media in Berlin.

Simon also works as a freelance Script Consultant in English, French, German and Dutch and Welsh.

You’ve done the hard work and written or found a screen project you’re convinced will work. Now you need a producer to help you get your vision made. Here’s what you need to know about producers and how to find a producer that’s right for you.

What does a producer do?

Most people assume the producer is responsible for the financial side of any film or TV project – and while that’s true, a producer can also be one of its most important creative forces. Essentially, the producer drives a project from start to finish – they’ll be a passionate advocate for the work, they’ll hire and fire, and oversee the various elements to ensure the work is as good as it can possibly be. A good piece of film or television almost always has a talented and relentless producer.   

The producer in both TV and film is the production’s cheerleader-in-chief, leading the team from the front. A great producer is enthusiastic and across everything, big and small. They need to spot problems before they happen, enable creativity, understand logistics, and keep a sharp eye on the finances. They have a legal responsibility regarding on-set health and safety for the crew, so their job truly matters. The producer is the person people come to when they’ve got problems that need solving – they’re where the buck stops.

What’s the difference between a film and TV producer?

The role of the producer can depend on the size of the budget as well as the genre of what you’re producing. TV producers often have a more creative role than film producers, who usually focus solely on logistics and money. A television “showrunner” is usually a writer who is also a big-shot producer with overall creative control. Big-name showrunners in the UK include Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), Jed Mercurio (Line of Duty), and Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe).  

On film sets, the director is in charge creatively and the producer is usually in charge of the huge logistics involved, and keeping the show on the road, overall. That means keeping an eye on the budget and keeping the talent happy and on schedule, as well as shepherding the film from pre-production into post-production, distribution, and marketing. On bigger productions, they’ll often work alongside line producers, who focus laser-like on that ever-burgeoning budget spreadsheet.

That said, film producers can often initiate a project. They find the material, hire the director and writer, and will nurture their baby all the way through to its cinematic release. There’s a reason why the Best Picture Oscar goes to the film’s producers – they’ve earned it.

But the one thing that links producers of film and TV is stress. Find the set’s most tired and anxious-looking person, and that’ll probably be the producer.

What is the difference between a producer and an executive producer?

Essentially, an executive producer (or EP, or exec producer) is a more senior producer. They’re less likely to get involved with the granular detail of production and budgets, more often taking on the big decisions that might involve a more corporate, business eye. They could also be responsible for getting the wider funding together and sorting the contractual side of the production. Everyone has a boss, and a producer’s boss is usually the exec producer. They may have several projects they’re overseeing at once, and have an individual producer on each one who’ll be responsible for the day-to-day running of the project.


That said, some executive producers are almost entirely hands-off, and their name on the credits usually means they’ve put money into the project. A reasonably good rule-of-thumb is that if there are lots of exec producers on the titles, the majority of them will have done very little grunt work towards the end product, and some will have stumped up the money purely in order to get their name in the credits.