Reality TV: Careers in television
By Michelle Filippini, OnlineDegrees.com
Fall is here, and that means this season's hopeful new (and returning) series are all vying against each other for audience share and advertising dollars so that they may live to see another season. Here's how the process works: Broadcast networks order pilots at the beginning of the year based on pitches for new shows they've received from writers and producers. By springtime, actors and crew have been hired, sets are built and the show is produced and presented to the network and potential advertisers -- all before May, when the upcoming fall schedules are announced.
It takes a small army of writers, editors, producers, camera operators, artists, set designers and others working behind the scenes to bring a television pilot to life. Here are some of the different careers that can be had in television, and what's typically required to land them.
It all begins with the writers, without whom there would be no show. Writers for television and movies are generally known as screenwriters, notes the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and they're the ones who create the scripts around which the television show is based. The stories, characters and dialogue they produce may be original content, or they might adapt a book or comic into a television script. Most salaried writer positions require a bachelor's degree, often in English, journalism or communications, as well as proficiency with computers. Job experience is sometimes gained at college television stations.
Television producers and directors
Television producers and directors create the shows by interpreting a writer's script. Typically, it's the producers who make the business and financial decisions for a television show, including setting a budget, and who hire the director and crew -- so ultimately, the success or failure of the finished project rests on their shoulders. Directors, who report to the executive producer, are the creative heart of a production, choosing the cast members, conducting rehearsals and generally overseeing the work of all cast and crew. Once the show is in post-production, they'll work with film editors to ensure the finished product meets both their and the producer's expectations. According to BLS, both producers and directors usually have a bachelor's degree and major in writing, acting, journalism or communications. Some start out in the business as actors, writers, choreographers or film editors, picking up experience along the way. Because of the financial aspect of their job, producers may have a degree in business, arts management or nonprofit management.
Editors and camera operators
The visual images seen on screen are brought there by editors and camera operators, who work closely with each other and the director). In television, camera operators capture material for TV shows or news and sporting events, then the editors craft a coherent story from the numerous images shot. The increased use of digital filming has changed how camera operators and editors work, with many camera operators now preferring digital cameras and editors performing the majority of their work on a computer.
Types of television camera operators include studio camera operators, who work in a broadcast studio and shoot their subjects from a fixed position, and electronic news gathering operators, who work on location as part of a reporting team, often capturing breaking news and live events. Both camera operators and film editors usually have a bachelor's degree in a field related to film or broadcasting, with many colleges now offering courses in camera operation or video editing software.
Other behind-the-scenes occupations in the television industry include set designers and multimedia artists and animators, which -- similar to many other careers in television -- require a postsecondary degree in a related field, according to the BLS.
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