What does a TV producer do? If you want to know how to become a television producer, you should research what they do. You’ll find the job description and responsibilities are a bit different than you might expect.
The job of a television producer is very different from what many people might think. Unlike an actor, you are not the face that people see on the TV screen.
You don’t get the applause and you don’t get paid millions of dollars like a Charlie Sheen or a Ray Romano.
What Does A TV Producer Do?
A TV producer is someone who contributes in a large way to the production and running of a television show.
A TV producer is responsible for selecting, developing, and producing TV shows.
Their work is similar to that of a film producer in Hollywood but they often work with smaller budgets and more modest viewing audiences.
Producers must be able to attract sponsors, negotiate contracts with the networks, commission scripts from writers, oversee story development, and hire actors.
And, in some cases, even direct scenes, and give approval over scenes when shooting.
What’s Their Main Role
To make things simple, we’ll consider the TV Show as running a business. So, the TV Producer is basically the CEO of a business.
They basically do everything to get the show-up and running.
They hire, fire, manage, supervise, and ultimately, they hold the rights to the show. The TV Producer is the bright light behind the camera that keeps the cogs running.
I hear a lot of you are still asking. What does a TV Producer actually do? Well, the answer is short, simple, and complicated at the same time.
They have their hands in everything. From pre-production, the production itself, and post-production.
First, let’s take a look at some of their roles and responsibilities:
- Oversees the direction of a show or program.
- Plans shoots and production days.
- Plans pre-production and post-production.
- Oversee the budgets, hire staff, and deal with networks.
- Their role can overlap with that of a TV director.
- Pitch new shows to networks.
- Pitching shows that have already been made.
1. Teamwork Makes The Dream Work
The producer is working with the team. Making sure they hire the right person for each role is key, and they are the ones who have the last say when it comes to hiring.
After hiring, they also need to gather the team for the project and pass every step towards making the show happen.
They also make sure that everything runs smoothly once they’ve found the best person for each role.
2. Writing Is a Producer’s Wheelhouse
Writing is often a central part of a producer’s role. And many of them are writers themselves.
If they’re not a writer themselves, a key role of a producer is to watch over the writer or stable of writers on their project. Once the TV producer has found their screenwriter or screenwriters, they still need to oversee their work.
The screenwriter has freedom with writing the script, but they still need to follow some guidelines, and the TV producer is here to make sure that they’re doing just that.
The producer needs to make sure that each episode is consistent with past and future episodes. And they also need to make sure that each episode fits the project’s budget. This is, of course, key!
3. Adhering To The Law
Creative work is not as simple as it might seem at first sight. There’s a lot more work going on than just writing the script and shooting the show.
There are, of course, laws in place that don’t permit someone to use other people’s creative work without paying them the asking price.
So, to include songs, videos, and other creative stuff, the producer needs to make sure that they’ve secured the rights to use these creative works.
4. Watching The Beans
Yes, TV producers are often bean counters, too. They’re in charge of making sure that each episode meets the set budget.
In most cases, producers get a set maximum budget from the TV studio.
They still need to specify the final budget. And, as we said in some of the previous paragraphs, they need to make sure that episodes meet the standardized budgets.
As you know, meeting budgets is hugely important in any creative discipline where money is at stake.
5. Script And Shooting Schedules
Another important part that the TV Producer needs to do is choosing the locations, number of actors, and times of the day to shoot. Thus, creating the shooting schedule.
Shooting a TV show chronologically doesn’t make much sense.
You might need to shoot at one location for the 1st episode and then again for the 10th. So it makes better economic sense to do it in one day instead of making the trip twice.
This is a great thing that producers do all the time, thus saving time and money.
6. Post-Production Duties
A TV producer also oversees the post-production process.
But the producer’s potential nightmares don’t end when the filming ends. There are tons of things that they need to oversee while the project is in the post-production stage.
What gets ironed out in the pro-production process is what the audience sees onscreen. So getting the best bang for their buck in post is where producers really shine and earn their money.
A great producer will string out every ounce of value he can get from everyone involved in the post-production stage.
How To Get a Job as a TV Producer?
There isn’t one special thing you need to do to start working as a producer. The same can be said with screenwriting.
But, here’s a list that we’ve gathered to help those of you who want to try getting a job as a TV producer:
1. Good Education
If you take a look at some of the top TV producers, you will notice one thing in common with all of them. They all have a Bachelor’s degree or even an MFA.
There are also those producers who don’t have either one of these. We would recommend you get some form of producing degree before dipping your toes into this deep industry.
Although that’s not always necessary! Plenty of examples prove that.
Suppose you don’t want to get a Bachelor’s degree. In that case, you can visit lots of film academies, which will give you the starting knowledge you might need. Whether online or in person.
Or, get some experience onset and working on projects and build your career from there. Many great TV producers have taken this route!
2. The Beginning Is The Best Place To Start
There isn’t a shortcut to success in filmmaking. This is the same as any industry. McDonald’s has each of its employees start with cleaning the bathrooms and progress from there.
The goal for you, in the beginning, is to be present on set. And, the best starting role for that is lowly Production Assistant.
This will help you learn a lot of things and get you the connections you might need to progress.
3. Connections Are Key
Connections are key to success in this business, but so is staying up to date
Keep yourself up to date with all the things you might need to know. Keeping up to date with the fast-moving world of technology is never a bad thing for your career progression.
Find opportunities like YouTubers looking for ideas, local indie projects trying to get off the ground, etc.
Do these things and never expect anything in return.
All you need to do in the beginning is start networking with people working in the industry.
One connection might lead to another, and one day you might wakeup being a producer on a major project!
4. Build a Reputation And a Body of Work
Building your own body of work is one of the most important things you can do as a TV producer.
It’s the key to getting hired for TV productions, and impressing producers will help them remember you amongst hundreds of other applicants.
Slowly go up the ladder. Even starting with simple TV show pitches between your friends is a strong beginning and can set you on the right path when you’re young.
This way, you get a taste of the work, but you’re not in the limelight immediately.
The journey to becoming a TV producer might look long and filled with ups and downs. And that’s true in lots of ways – it’s certainly not an easy career path.
But it’s a rewarding one.
What Does a TV Producer Do – Wrapping Up
A TV producer works behind-the-scenes to help produce everything you see on screen.
A typical day involves meeting with producers and directors to develop storylines, assisting with the writing of scripts, searching for talent to fill roles in a show, and preparing materials for postproduction.
It’s fair to say that some TV producers wear a lot of hats!
Every day when you’re watching any kind of show on TV, from news to sitcoms or game shows, someone is working hard behind the scenes to make sure that what you’re seeing looks as good as possible.
And that’s largely a TV producer’s role.
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