While film producers and tv producers are very similar, there are some key differences. If you want to work in TV, you should know what they are. This article gives a brief overview this producer and answers “what does a tv producer do.” Let’s get started.
What Does a TV Producer Do
The role of the television producer
In film, there are many types of producers who function in various capacities during different stages of a film's production. Additionally, a film's director has a much larger roles so the duties of a producer vs. a director are divided in specific ways.
In television, these responsibilities are consolidated and the producer is often involved throughout the life of a project. In other words, in TV, producers have a lot more power and creative control of a project. Before we get into the broad strokes of what does a TV producer do, let's begin with a quick TV producer job description.
TV PRODUCER JOB DESCRIPTION
What does a TV producer do?
A television producer is a person responsible for a variety of operations on a network show. These tasks are both creative and administrative. In television, a producer is often a writer. In the case of an executive producer in television, it's a "head writer." An "EP" or "showrunner" as they are more commonly called, or some director-producer-writer hybrid would also be accurate. Typically, a TV producer is tasked with concept development, raising funds, commissioning writers, budgeting, guiding crew members, making casting decisions, and evaluating the project’s overall quality.
WHAT DO TV PRODUCERS DO?
- A television producer assists the executive producer(s)
- Pick scripts and introduce new concepts and ideas
- Supervise other producers and ensure they, and the production, work within union regulations
- Assist with the hiring of talent and other crew
- Supervise the post-production process
- Maintain the budget and approve schedules
- Secure right to books or other works
Now that we have a basic understanding of what a TV Producer does on a day-to-day basis, let's hear from two of the most powerful producers working today. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, producers of Game of Thrones, tell us what it was like to produce such a memorable show.
Weiss and Benioff's role and duties on Game of Thrones is very typical — as creators of the show (based on Martin's novels), they transitioned into Executive Producers and Showrunners.
In television terms, the EP/Showrunner sits at the top of the hierarchy but, like film, there are different types of producers with their own job descriptions. Follow the links below to explore those roles in detail.
TV Producer Essentials
Bringing a show to life
There are a number of responsibilities within a TV Producer's job description. In many cases, they are the ones that have been with the project since its inception and jumped through the hoops to get it made.
This includes writing a treatment, writing a pilot, crafting a logline, and assembling a pitch to the network. In our TV Writing and Development masterclass, we walk through each of these processes in detail but we'll cover the basics here on how a TV Producer might take a TV show idea from start to finish.
Developing an Idea
Generating the initial treatment
In many cases, network executives want to see a completed pilot script before they entertain the idea of a greenlight. In other cases, all they want to see is a treatment. Writing a treatment gives any potential buyers and investors a summary of the idea.
Now that we understand what a treatment is how to write one, what comes next? What does a TV Producer do with a treatment? Once a treatment is written and the story beats are ironed out, it's time to focus on the characters. In the next section, we'll go over how to craft compelling characters that will give this series its emotional core.
Designing compelling characters
Audiences might start watching your show because of the story, or maybe even the actors involved, but for them to commit to the series, they need to love the characters.
One of the TV Producer's job is oversee that from episode to episode (and from season to season), there is character development. To ensure that your characters have that potential, this works needs to start early.
With your characters fleshed out, the story can be crafted around them. The treatment gives us the bones of the story and the character development is bulletproof — next up is to turn these elements into the pilot script. Essentially, everything up until now is theory and the pilot will reveal whether we have a viable idea or not. That's what we'll cover in the next section.
Scripting a Pilot
Writing the pilot
The pilot allows the idea that was roughly shaped in the treatment to become something recognizable in script form. As we learned above, Weiss and Benioff wrote the pilot for Game of Thrones and gave themselves the gargantuan task of adapting George R.R. Martin's dense fantasy novel into episodic television.
Writing a pilot is critical to setting the tone and direction for the entire series. In essence, you're not just writing one episode of TV, you're laying the foundations for (hopefully) entire seasons of TV.
Once the pilot is written, its ready to start trying to sell it. What does a TV Producer do with a pilot? They initiate a marketing campaign of sorts called a "pitch" — which involves meetings with various networks who are looking for new content.
If there is one element included in a pitch that is of the utmost importance, it is the logline.
Marketing an Idea
Crafting the perfect logline
A logline is a very short description (usually a single sentence) of your entire pilot. We won't get into details on how to write a logline here but it does require a knowledge of the conventions and lots of practice.
With thousands of new ideas floating around Hollywood at any given time, you can see how important it is to craft a logline that cuts through all the noise.
Writing a logline is deceptively difficult — how difficult is it to write a sentence anyway? It's so difficult, in fact, that we dedicated an entire episode of our TV Writing and Development masterclass to writing the perfect logline.
The logline is key — if you can sell your idea in a single sentence, you will hook any potential buyers immediately. But what does a TV Producer do with a logline? The logline is a necessity in marketing your idea but there is one other element that you'll want to have ready: the show bible. In the next section, we'll dive into this crucial document.
Expanding The Idea
Formulating a show bible
So far, you've written a treatment, a pilot, and a logline but there is on more essential element left — the show bible. When networks consider turning an idea into a TV series, they need to have foresight.
They aren't just committing to one episode, they're committing to many. And even if the pilot is a dynamite idea, does it have legs? The show bible lays out the potential for this idea in the long run.
Now, with everything you've generated so far, it's time to bring these materials to the people with the power to make this idea a reality. In other words, it's time to pitch! In the next section, we'll go over what it means to be "good in the room" and how to win over "the suits" with a brilliant idea.
How To Pitch
Presenting the ideal pitch
Even though a TV Producer literally "runs the show," they first have to get this idea sold to a network. This is where the pitch comes. Armed with their treatment and/or pilot, the show bible, and the logline, the producer lays out their entire vision for the show.
But here's the trick — a great idea needs to be presented and that's where mastering the pitch process becomes vital. You've probably heard the phrase "good in the room," which means that your presentation of the idea is just as good as the idea itself.
With a successful pitch, you can win over the network executives and land yourself a TV show. It's that simple! We barely scratched the surface here on explaining what does a TV Producer do. Don't forget to join the TV Writing and Development masterclass to expand these ideas with additional resources like downloadable templates.
What Does an Associate Producer Do?
Now that we've gone through the basics on what does a TV Producer do, let's move on to the next type of producer: the Associate Producer. What is the role of the Associate Producer (or AP), and how to their duties and responsibilities fit in with the other producers on a give project. All be will be answered here.
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