A guide to producing your own TV show 

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August 22, 2023

A guide to producing your own TV show 

Not only getting into the TV or film industry, but also producing one’s own TV show, is a dream for a great numbers of us – some might say, even a pipe dream. 

But of course, it evidently happens for some people. So, you might reasonably ask, why couldn’t one of those people be you? Yes, the TV industry is notoriously competitive and difficult to break into, so becoming a TV star might seem vanishingly unlikely… but such a thing is always unlikely, right up until the moment it happens. 

You might be reading this as someone from any of a wide range of backgrounds. You may not have any past association with the world of TV at all, or you might have auditioned for a few reality TV shows in the past. Perhaps you were even fortunate enough to appear on one or two of them? 

Regardless of any experience you may have in the TV industry so far, getting your own TV program produced will be a process presenting a whole other level of challenge. 

So, let’s take a lot at some of the steps you can take to achieve it. 

Build up your experience and track record in the TV industry

Presuming that you really do want to produce your own TV show – and not merely record something informal with your smartphone for posting on YouTube – whatever you can do to embed your associations with the world of TV, is likely to serve you well. 

After all, if key decision-makers in the industry recognize your face or name from elsewhere in the world of TV or film production, they will already perceive you as a safer bet than a complete outsider. 

There’s a good reason why almost all TV creators started out in a role much lower down the “rung” in the industry – for example, as a production assistant, camera operator, actor, or writing assistant. 

Doing this will help you build up the right contacts in the industry, and to learn more about how TV shows are actually produced, from the people literally doing it. 

Put together a compelling pitch for your show idea 

Before you will even be able to get as far as creating a script for your show, followed by a pilot, you will need to assemble the best possible pitch. 

This stage is all about getting a studio or network to give your show idea the “green light”. Creating an effective pitch will necessitate you completely immersing yourself in the world that your show represents, and having the skills to communicate what makes your show idea so relevant and exciting. So, you’ll need to invest a lot of time and energy in the right research. 

But in order to deliver that pitch in the first place, you will need to arrange a meeting with a studio or network executive. By having the right manager, agent, or lawyer by your side, you will be in a better position to achieve that meeting. 

You can further maximize your chances of your pitch being bought by following it up with something known as a “treatment”. This is, in effect, the pitch in written form, and it can be as short as a single page, or as long as 50 pages. 

Write a great script for your TV show 

Presuming your pitch was “green lighted”, the creation of the pitch is the stage at which things will get properly serious for the creation of your TV show. It is, in effect, the point at which your show transforms from that initial sketch into a fully fleshed-out painting. 

There are a lot of great guides online to the process of writing an excellent TV-show script, so we would urge you to consult those; it is an entire subject in itself. 

Nonetheless, there are certain important principles to keep in mind throughout the process. These include getting the format, structure, and tone right, taking into account such things as the genre of TV show you’re creating, and the channel or network it is set to air on. 

It is also crucial to appreciate that this stage of producing a TV show tends to be a much more collaborative process than the pitch was. At this point, TV executives will be providing you with notes, addressing such matters as whether the pitch is in line with what the execs envisaged at the time they “green lighted” it, and how well it fits their brand and budget. 

There’s no question that incorporating such feedback into your script going forward, while compromising your creative integrity as little as possible, can be fiendishly difficult. If there is friction between you and these key decision makers, you will soon appreciate why so many TV projects get stuck in “development hell”

Sort out the practicalities of shooting on location… and then get on with the job 

We know you’re probably getting sick of reading references to “green lighting” by now – but yes, that’s something you will have to hope for with your final script, too. 

If, indeed, you have been granted for approval for your script, you hopefully will be able to swiftly move onto the process of assembling your team who will make your TV show a flesh-and-blood reality. This will encompass hiring the director, casting director, showrunner, and other behind-the-scenes personnel, and getting on with casting. 

You might then, at last, be in a position to film the pilot of your show. That, in turn, will inevitably involve ensuring you have pinned down the use of the right locations, and gained any approvals you will require in relation to this. 

It can all be extremely complicated from a logistical point of view. So, engaging the services of a travel management company specializing in film production crew travel is likely to be a massive help at this point. After all, you will want to be able to free up as much time and energy as possible to concentrate on the finer points of the TV show production itself. 

Could the dream of making your own TV show be more attainable than you think?  

Phew! There is a lot more to be said about the broader process of creating your own TV show. Still, we hope this relatively quick, “whistle-stop” guide will have helped you feel more informed about the huge range of complicated tasks and challenges involved. 

Still, those challenges won’t feel quite as intimidating to you as they might have otherwise done, if producing your own TV show is genuinely your dream. And if that is indeed the case, we’re sure that you will find the rewards are well worth it.  

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Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno has been traveling the world and writing about it for the better part of 20 years. His articles and essays have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, and Transitions Abroad magazine. He blogs at Bohemian Traveler and edits the independent travel magazine GoMadNomad.com. He most recently set up a tour company offering authentic, small group tours at Unquote Travel. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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