Writing Your Way Up

The hierarchy of a TV show staff is a many-layered thing.  Specifically, a TV writing staff is a confusing place where half the people in the “room” are called producers.  This whole system was confusing to me until a few weeks ago when one of our guest speakers explained it in depth.

A few terms to know:
“the room” refers to the writers room.  It is often an actual room with a conference table and white boards and or cork boards on the walls where the writers will sit together and figure out the story of a TV show.  Sometimes there are ping pong tables.  Or at least, that’s what I hear.
“Staffed” is to be working in the room.  All the positions I’m going to list are staff positions except for the last two.

Rolling credits (shown in the list of names under the first few scenes of a TV show):
Showrunner–This one is actually not listed as “Showrunner”, but as “Executive Producer”.  This is the one in charge of everything.  He or she is the person to whom everyone is asking questions of how the show is going to look, feel, sound, be written, and everything else under the sun.  Often, this is also the person who created the show.
Executive Producer–Sometimes also referred to as the “EP”, there will often be more than one of these, and they are the second in command.  These guys are in charge of the room while the Showrunner is busy with other things.
Co-Executive Producer–“Co-EP”.  Similar to the EP in a lot of ways, but with slightly less pay.
Supervising Producer
Consulting Producer–This is sometimes someone who was brought in for their knowledge on a particular subject.  A doctor on a medical show, a commander on a military show, ect.
Producer–All types of producers can be involved in varying degrees in aspects of the show besides writing.
Co-Producer

End Titles Credits:
Executive Story Editor
Story Editor
Staff Writer–Credited as “Writer” in the end credits.  Not be be confused with “Written by” in the opening credits, given to whoever wrote the specific episode that is being shown.
Script Coordinator–This person is not directly involved in Writing the show, but getting the scripts from the writers to the directors, producers, actors, and other technicians who will turn it into a full TV show.

These guys, and their friends below are not members of the Writers Guild and are therefore not protected by mandatory minimums like the more senior positions are.  There is a significant pay difference between the Script Coordinator and a Staff Writer.  Also, while there is only one Script Coordinator, there can be multiples of all the others above.

Writer’s Assistant–The coveted job among low level people.  This person is pretty much the note-taker for the room.  They listen to the discussion and take notes on what’s being decided.
Writer’s PA–The guinea pig for the office, the one getting coffee and lunch orders.  Not all shows have them, sometimes the Writer’s Assistant will take on these tasks.
Writer’s Intern–Again, not a position every show has, but some shows will have an intern available to do research.  This is especially pertinent if it’s a historical show because they want to be accurate whenever possible.

*

Of course, all this should be taken with a grain of salt.  This list is nothing official, and is only something that was discussed in the class I’m taking.  Titles and positions will vary with different shows, networks, showrunners, and studios.

While there is a loose system, this is not like the corporate ladder.  The most significant difference here is that if a writer/creator is talented enough they can jump the hierarchy.  A new writer who pitches a show and gets green-lit can jump from zero to Co-EP with the push of a button.

What’s the organizational structure in the job that you’re hoping get?

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