3 Producers Who Started From the Ground Up

Posted on: Jul 05, 2023

Photo courtesy of True Touch Lifestyle // Shutterstock

By Steffanie Bradley

The journey to becoming a producer in film and television is an exciting and challenging endeavor that often starts with humble beginnings. To become a producer in the entertainment industry, set yourself on the path to success by starting from the ground up. Gain experience in an entry level position—such as a production assistant—and embrace every opportunity to learn and observe, building a strong foundation for your future career. With any career path in entertainment, persistence and resilience are key. 

These three producers overcame obstacles, honed their skills and rose through the ranks to make a name for themselves in the world of entertainment—proving if its possible for them, its possible for you, too.

1. Kevin Feige

Kevin Feige is a renowned film producer who has made an indelible mark on the world of cinema, particularly within the realm of superhero movies. He started his journey in the entertainment industry as producer’s assistant on “You’ve Got Mail” before becoming an intern at New Line Cinema, where he worked on films such as “The Fugitive” and “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.” Feige’s determination and talent soon caught the attention of industry veterans and he was hired by Marvel Studios in 2000 as an associate producer and became the president of Marvel Studios in 2007.

Under Feige’s leadership, Marvel Studios revolutionized the superhero genre, introducing the concept of a shared cinematic universe. His unprecedented success and the cultural impact of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have solidified Feige’s reputation as one of the most influential and visionary producers in Hollywood today.

Best-Known Credits:

  • Executive Producer: Spider-Man 2
  • Producer: Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Producer: Avengers: Endgame

2. Irwin Winkler

Irwin Winkler is an American film producer and director with a Hollywood career spanning several decades. In the 1960s, Winkler began as an agent working with rising stars like Sylvester Stallone and Jackie Vernon. From there he co-wrote the screenplay for the film “Double Trouble” (1967) and produced “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” (1969), which earned nine Academy Award nominations. Winkler later went on to produce and executive produce several major award-contending and award-winning films, such as the “Rocky” franchise.

Best-Known Credits:

  • Producer: Goodfellas 
  • Producer: Rocky 
  • Executive Producer: The Wolf of Wall Street 

3. Kathleen Kennedy

Kathleen Kennedy is one of the most influential producers in Hollywood and has left an indelible mark on the film industry. Her journey began humbly as a production assistant, where she discovered her passion for storytelling and honed her skills behind the scenes. Through determination and an unwavering commitment to her craft, Kennedy rose through the ranks to become one of the most prominent figures in the entertainment world. Kennedy’s extensive filmography boasts an impressive array of critically acclaimed and commercially successful projects. Today, she is the president of Lucasfilm Ltd.

Best-Known Credits:

  • Producer: Jurassic Park
  • Producer: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  • Executive Producer: Schindlers List

The inspiring journeys of Kevin Feige, Irwin Winkler and Kathleen Kennedy remind us that success in the entertainment industry may have unclear paths, but with the right skills and determination, the opportunities are limitless. These three producers started at the bottom, and carved their own unique paths toward greatness.

Their stories remind aspiring filmmakers and television professionals that every task, no matter how small, holds the potential for growth, networking and learning potential. Whether it’s making coffee or managing budgets, entry-level positions—such as being a production assistant—can be the first step toward a remarkable career in the industry. Stay committed to your goals, adapt to challenges and keep your passion for storytelling alive. With dedication and hard work, you can carve a rewarding and fulfilling path as a producer in the entertainment industry.

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