Thursday, December 4, 2008

Understanding the Duties of Television and Radio Producing and Directing Careers

The glamour of show business and the hope of celebrity status make television production an exciting and attractive field for many people. But be warned: television is an ultra-competitive field in which very few people make it to those coveted top positions as the director or producer of a major series or made-for-TV movie.

Nevertheless, for those with the drive and talent, opportunities for television producers and directors do exist, and not only at major networks. Would-be directors and producers also work at local television stations, cable TV channels, and production companies large and small.

Television producers make the behind-the-scenes business decisions that affect TV shows. They approve ideas for development, approve scripts, arrange financing for production, and determine the budgets for shows. They hire directors, principal cast members, and key crewmembers.

Producers also may research material and write scripts. Whether the medium is television movies, series, or TV news, producers coordinate the activities of writers, directors, and on-air talent to ensure that productions stay on schedule and within their budgets.

The executive producer is the top producer in any television production. A studio or a production company generally hires an executive producer to manage all aspects of a television program. In the case of TV series, the executive producer is often the series creator and is usually a writer.

Executive producers and the studio or production company will hire various types of associate producers. In general, producers act as liaisons between the executive producer and the production company. They are responsible for managing the financial side of the television show. Producers also are responsible for hiring and managing crewmembers.

The director is the creative head of a television production. In television series and movies, the director must interpret scripts and screenplays, translating the words into visual images. As the head of a show's production unit, the director auditions and hires cast members, leads rehearsals, and oversees the work of cast and crew members. This person must direct the actors in a television production, and are responsible for translating the screenplay or teleplay into visual images.

Because of the responsibilities involved, directors must have good relationships with both the cast and the crew. They must also understand the technical issues that affect television production.

Assistant directors are workers who handle some of the lesser duties of directing, but they all must report to the show's director. Assistant directors are those who will cue the performers and other on-air talent, as well as supervise various technicians.

Television producers and directors usually are selected for the job based on many different criteria. There are no specific training requirements for producers, as these individuals all come from many types of backgrounds. It is also hard to categorize exactly what makes a good television or radio producer. Some of the best producers just seem to have an innate understanding of the entire production process.

Many producers started out as actors or writers, or in business-oriented positions in television and took advantage of this time to learn how production and direction operated. Still others began their careers behind the scenes in different aspects of television or radio.

There are colleges and universities offer degree programs in arts management and some people who want to pursue production may choose to use this path as a way to enter the production field. Would-be producers and directors can also pursue 4-year university degrees in broadcasting or radio, television, and film direction and production.

The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the Directors Guild of America even sponsor a training program for assistant directors. This highly competitive program requires a degree and/or at least two years of experience. There are also programs available as interns and this is one of the best ways to learn about the way these industries are structured.

Employment in large television productions is generally centered in Los Angeles and New York City, the headquarters of major television networks. However, smaller studios, cable channels, and production companies exist across the country. In addition, local television stations employ producers and directors for newscasts and other local programming.

Employment of television and radio producers and directors is expected to grow about as fast as the average for other occupations. However, competition for these jobs is fierce because of the glamour associated with working in both of these fields.

The television industry is considered to be far more attractive and lucrative as a career than radio, but there are some very famous radio producers today. Talk radio in particular has been a launching pad for many talented radio producers.

Many aspiring producers and directors will leave the field early because of the long hours and low pay in most of the entry-level jobs that are available. It is rare for directors to rocket to the top when they just enter this career field, but a few of them are in the right place and are able to recognize and grab an opportune moment when it happens. A small percentage of top producers and directors have very high incomes, but the median annual earnings for all of the salaried producers and directors were only about $60K in the most recent surveys.

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