What is the difference between Line Producer and UPM? Well, I am glad you asked! I get asked this a lot.
Line Producers create a budget (usually several budgets) for a production - then are responsible for keeping to the budget during production. Line Producers are 'on the line' or 'responsible for each line' of the budget. They are involved with all aspects of the production and are directly in contact with the rest of the crew and the producers above. Line Producers typically hire the key crew (alongside the director and producers) like the Director of Photography and Production Designer and oversee the hiring and approve everyone else the UPM would like to bring onto the project.
Unit Production Managers (UPM) on the other hand is the person who executes the plan and reports to the Line Producer. They are the person dealing with the daily approval of timecards, reviewing the production reports and approving call sheets.
The Producer's Guild of America (PGA) counts many Line Producers among its membership (but does not officially recognize them) - while the Director's Guild of America (DGA) officially covers the union status of UPM's.
It can be argued that a Line Producer is a non-union UPM, and vice-versa, but there are many shows which have both positions. However, these tend to be larger budget project. There is a fine line of grey which differentiates the two positions. Sometimes they are the same person.
For further clarification, the differences between a Unit Production Manager (UPM) and a Production Manager is nothing - except a little knowledge of Hollywood history. Back when studios had in house production departments, there was a production manager (today they are called production executives) and each project was completed by a 'unit' of crew and cast. Remember, the old studio system contracted talent (cast and crew) to work exclusively for the studio. These 'units' had their own Production Manager. As things evolved, these UPMs became freelance, but never lost the 'Unit' part of their title.
Today the clearest position which technically denotes a 'UPM' vs. a 'PM' is the PM on an additional unit, like second unit. That would be a UPM is it's cleanest definition. However, both first and second unit PM's are likely to keep the full UPM title.
Simply stated, different projects mean different types of Line Producers & UPMs. It is an aim of this website to consider those differences. LineProducing.com is to be a place for ALL types of Line Producers and UPMs and will effort to include any project type.
I have worked as a UPM in reality and both Line Producer & UPM in television (as well as each for many feature films). In my experience, these definitions follow to television, documentaries, reality and other project types.
Here's how Wikipedia* defines each:
Here is a bit of history on the guilds for those inclined to read up:
*Wikipedia definitions used with permission.