The path to being a produced TV writer is a peculiar one. Some writers can languish in the realms of writers assistant for years, while others can become a TV showrunner just as fast.
TV broadcast networks tend to have a more rigid structure, while the newer TV cable and streaming platforms are more fluid. They may not contain all the steps.
Here is a rough pecking order of TV writing staff:
SHOWRUNNER / EXECUTIVE PRODUCER– is the CEO of a roughly $100 million operation. He/she hires writers, production staff, editors, deals with networks, advertisers and stakeholders. This is often the creator of the TV show, but also a senior writer/ supervising producer after the creator has moved onto other projects.
CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER – Is the Executive Producer’s wingman/woman.
SUPERVISING PRODUCER – Takes care of the daily production management of the TV show.
PRODUCER and CO-PRODUCER – Is responsible for a particular episode.
EXECUTIVE STORY EDITOR – Pitches stories to networks and deals with rewrites and story notes.
STORY EDITOR – Deals with writers to modify stories to the networks’ requirements.
STAFF WRITER – Is in the writers’ room and actually writes their assigned episodes.
WRITERS’ ASSISTANT – Types and distributes story notes arising in the writers room.
The best way for aspiring TV writers to break in is as a writers’ assistant. It is unlikely that a new writer will have their TV series commissioned without the backing of an established show runner. That said. this is Hollywood, so I relish the chance to be proven wrong.
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