Writing For Television
People think that writing for television and film is the same but on the contrary both the industries are different. The main elements of the television industry are networks, studios and production companies. Writers are basically hired by a studio to write for a particular network or channel. They even have the rights to sell the material elsewhere. This material is then used by the production companies to bring the script into action.
The writers face two kinds of deals, a development deal and overall deal. Development deal requires the writer to write for only a single project. Only a single story is being developed for which the writer gets paid from $30,000 – $50,000. Overall deal requires the writer to write on a long term basis and the income is more than development deal.
After the initial filtering, about 4-10 writers are selected and they are placed in hierarchy. Showrunner is at the top and is the program creator. They are the ones which have maximum experience in writing and receive an Executive Producer status and earn up to a million. Later in the hierarchy of writing team are co-executive producers, supervising producer, producer, co-producer, and executive story editor and at the end is the staff writer, also known as baby writers as they are the starters.
Aspirant writers should start by joining classes which are taught by experienced TV writers. The classes help to get the basics right and the same time helps increase the friend circle, which will be of help at some point of time. Beginners can get a break by hiring an agent which has contacts as most of the shows don’t hire baby writers and it would take about three years to get the break. But at this level originality of work is what matters. Original material relating to screenplays or even a sketch material will be of good help. One can also work on spec. Specs are trailers which give the outline of the story. This shows the grasping power of the writer. Plays should be carefully chosen when writing a Spec. Do not choose a series just because it is hot or is based on fiction. While choosing a play the writer should keep in mind what he finds interesting and what he wants to work on in future. After preparing the spec, send it to the showrunner of the same show, because the showrunner will be under the assumption that no one knows his show better than himself. It is advised to send the spec to showrunner of a similar show. Specs reflect the writing ability, the grasping ability, the scene structure sense, story narration style of the writer.
With these entire qualities one can land up as a writer’s assistant and if a showrunner hires the starter, it would be a good boost to him. An assistant can also witness the actual proceedings of the show and the basics get brushed up .One must never quit writing. Even if a writer doesn’t get anywhere for a short period of time at least he will improve his writing skills which will be of great use in the long run. The writer should meet the deadlines when on job. Sometimes the deadlines can be short too. So constant writing can train in that aspect too.
The writers have the greatest power. He can play with the mind of the viewer. He is responsible for the shaping of dreams of millions of viewers and all this can be achieved by constant practice.
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