Film Industry

Showrunner: What Is A Showrunner In TV & How Can I Become One?

Photograph of the blog post author, Carla Johnson

Carla Johnson

9.3.2021

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If you love screenwriting, or the idea of overseeing the everyday operations of a television show, you might want to check out becoming a showrunner.

showrunner

Being a showrunner is a slightly new job title that has only emerged in the TV regeneration over the past two decades. In short, a showrunner is the top dog on a TV show. This is why we have dedicated this article on how to become a showrunner.

Stay tuned for everything you need to know!

What Is A Showrunner?

showrunner

A showrunner is the individual who has primary creative control, creative expertise and management of a TV show.

The showrunner has creative and organisation duties of a television series production within the accountabilities of the employer.

In films, the director has creative control of the production. However, in television, the showrunner outranks the episodic directors.

What Does A Showrunner Do?

showrunner

Regularly, the showrunner is a writer. They are not normally the creator of the TV show, but always an executive producer.

Showrunners are responsible for many things. They need to ensure that scripts are finalised. They also need to make sure that the budget is abided by as suggested in line with the producer. Furthermore, they need to make sure that actors are content, and that the writers’ room is progressing forward. They work with the crew and with the studio and/or network.

Showrunners will interact with the network and/or studio regarding the development of the series. They assist as the primary point of contact for the network, studio, and production company. They also deal with delivery requirement matters including final scripts, cuts, air dates, show timings, and standards and practices.

Furthermore, they select and approve all department heads. Including the Casting Director, Cinematographer, Production Designer, Costume Designer, and the team of editors. They also select and approve the talent (the actors).

Additionally, they run the writer’s room. This includes choosing and/or favouring all writing staff. Showrunners are responsible for turning in seasons and episode outlines to the network or studio. As well as assigning episodes to writers, and making sure the series maintains a consistent “tone of voice”.

This usually comprises doing a check on all scripts, irrespective of which writing staff member receives “written by” credit for that episode.

How To Become A Showrunner

Feeling inspired?

Let’s look into how you can become a showrunner and make your dream of working in the TV industry come true!

Do You Need A Degree?

girls graduating

For showrunners, there is no easy way of learning the role unless you get into the actual job. 

With that said, the best path to take to become a showrunner is to work your way up through the writer’s room. From writer’s assistant, to staff television writer, to story editor. 

A degree isn’t necessary. However, having one or an HND in a media-related subject within this field could be beneficial for starting out. Alternatively, you can get into the industry by taking a broadcast production apprenticeship and gain invaluable experience.

The vital experience you gain from working under other showrunners allows you to observe how they run a writer’s room. As well as teaches you how to deal with obstacles in production and post-production, and learn what works and what doesn’t.

When it comes to finding success as a showrunner, you will gain experience from being on the job and seeing how your choices and decisions get validated. When you’re running a show and doing lots of episodes, you won’t have time to question yourself or your instincts. So, it forces you to be more confident than perhaps you ever were prior to the role.

Similarly, the best thing you can do is let your ideas come through. The more your ego gets in the way, the less productive you will be. So, stop overthinking that you’re in control of what the show is, and just write what feels right.

For more information on film schools, check out our article on What Are The Best Filmmaking Colleges And Universities?

How To Get Hired By A Company

showrunner

Like getting to the top of any field, it takes time and lots of hard work. This is not an entry-level position, and is therefore not one you can just walk into.

Showrunners need to not only demonstrate their writing capabilities. They also need to have lots of experience with the producing side of shows. It’s often about who you know, and who knows you. 

You have to prove yourself in many other aspects in order for somebody to put you at the helm of what is sometimes a multimillion-pound budget. Showrunners are in charge of every single area of a show, from conception to pre-production to shooting and all the way to post-production and delivery.

Entry Level Roles

showrunner

A showrunner particularly works in TV. However, as you know from tuning in to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, the array of TV that now exists is limitless.

Discover the genre and style of writing that states you as an artist, and seek out ways to bring your own distinctive concept to life.

The best way to start is by writing spec scripts and pilot scripts. Also known as a speculative screenplay, a spec script is an unsolicited script from a screenwriter that is either a fresh project. Or, could be an episode in an existing series.

To practice and improve your skills as a TV writer, start by working on original scripts. Some showrunners get their start in related fields like social media, stand-up comedy, and journalism. Essentially, any other medium in which you determine exceptional work that can show the value you add to a writing team can be helpful.

Take Up A Different Role To Get Your Foot In The Door

film producer

If you enjoy working in television, get your head in the game and get as much experience as possible.

Getting some experience within the creating and directing world can be extremely beneficial when preparing for your career as a showrunner.

A creator is the individual who comes up with a concept for a show, pitches and sells the idea to a network or studio. As the creator, you will always get executive producer credit. However, you won’t always be the showrunner.

If you are a newer creator without significant credits, oftentimes the network will pair creators with a separate, experienced showrunner who will execute the creator’s overall vision for the TV series. In many cases, the creator is also the showrunner.

A director decides the creative vision of a feature film, television show, play, short film, or other production. They have complete artistic control of a project.

In addition to having a strong grasp of technical knowledge taught in directing classes, they must also have a personal or emotional connection to the material.

If you would like to read more about directors, check out our article on What Do Film Directors Do?

Now You Know How To Become A Showrunner

film director

That’s everything you need to know about how to become a showrunner!

In summary, you can start from the bottom as a writer’s assistant to a staff television writer, to a story editor to a showrunner’s assistant, and so forth. It’s a long ladder up, but worth it for the right individual.

We hope that you found this article useful!

If you’re a movie fan then you have come to the right place. Here at Music Gateway, we have plenty of interesting articles for you to read. Why not check out the Best Comedy Movies Of All Time: Our Top 10 FavouritesFamous Movie Scenes, or Famous Filmmakers?

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